The Mini is one of those rare examples of a car which manages to cross all boundaries, be they social, cultural or geographical. Put simply, it doesn’t matter your colour, creed, class or view on cars in general, there’s a very good chance that you harbour a soft spot for the British motor industry’s most famous creation.
The overwhelming popularity of the Mini presented us with something of a poser when the time came to give one ‘the Retropower’ treatment, namely how best to put our signature stamp on one without also diluting the essential ‘Mini-ness’ that has made it such a cultural icon.
We did at least know that we wanted to plough our own furrow with the project by moving away from some of the Mini’s more obvious cultural associations – so no references to Swinging London, ‘Twiggy,’ Paddy Hopkirk of the Monte Carlo Rally, just lashings of good old fashioned British engineering, very much in keeping with the ethos at the heart of the car.
One aspect of the build had already been decided – it was to be powered by a tuned version of the C20XE, or the ‘Redtop’ to its fiends. Very nearly as iconic as the A-Series in its own way, the Redtop which eventually found its way into the nose of the Mini grew to 2.1L, gained forged pistons, double valve springs and fast-road cams, not to mention a set of ITG’s finest direct to head throttle bodies. The result? A full 240bhp, routed through a Vauxhall F20 gearbox with a Quaife gear-set and a custom Retropower rod-shift mechanism.
Having strayed so far from the Mini’s original engine the way was clear for us to really get creative with it exterior, which is how the car came to sport the one-off shade of paint seen here. It’s actually a mildly tweaked version of a hue found on the Diesel Jeans Fiat 500 special addition, albeit with added gold pearl to make it ‘pop,’ with contrasting gloss black for the roof panel and arches. And the flip front? A mix of Retropower creativity and BMW bonnet hinges.
The Mini’s original interior is a bit of a design classic, a study in ‘less is more’ minimalism and a very tricky thing to improve upon, which is why we had to get creative. The bucket seats and rear bench were re-trimmed in red with diamond pattern stitching, while the interior itself was repainted in the closest approximation to anodised red we could muster – Jaguar Flamenco Red. We also added a custom, one-piece with a bespoke carbon fibre facia, Smiths gauges and billet switches.
As to the icing on the cake, well, that honour probably falls to the wheels – achingly cool Force Racing three-piece split-rims.
It has been completed for several years and has graced the pages of many of the UK’s most popular classic publications, yet this particular build retains the power to amaze thanks to its mix of custom styling, engineering and brute power. Get in touch if you’d like us to build you something similar.