One of the things I enjoy most about Speedhunters is the way we try to break down barriers and showcase car culture that exists outside of its traditional borders. It could be a wide body Porsche on the narrow streets of Tokyo, a rare JDM import cruising through the canyons of California, or a beastly American muscle car on the highways of Stockholm. You just have to love the idea of the unexpected – and we really pride ourselves on showing that sort of stuff.
But that doesn’t mean we are adverse to discovering cool cars in their natural habitats. There’s definitely something proper and pure about experiencing a Skyline GT-R on a winding stretch of touge, hustling a BMW around the Nürburgring or unleashing an American V8 across an endless desert highway.
And that brings me to this car – a classic Mini owned and built by a Jonathan Faulkner of Dorking, a small town outside of London. It’s hard to think of a more quintessentially British automobile than the Mini, and it was at the UK’s Players Show where we spotted Jonathan’s aggressive and unique example.
Like a lot of Brits, Jonathan grew surrounded by Minis and the passionate following that they enjoy. His father learned to drive in one and then worked in a Rover dealership for 24 years, so it was only natural for Jonathan to take an interest in the little cars from a young age as well. There was also something he loved about the whole underdog character that came with modified Minis.
As soon as Jonathan passed his driving test as a teenager he too would get a Mini to play around with. Along with his father, he began to fix up his car – fitting its 998cc engine with breathing modifications and eventually a race-spec cylinder head. Next, he decided more power was in order so him and pops went to work building a new 1,380cc motor.
This was Jonathan’s first real taste of modifying a car, and while the power was significantly upgraded with the new motor, he began to notice some of the car’s other shortcomings. This Mini was an older restoration, and daily driving had began to take its toll. More importantly, he began to see that rust was creeping in again – something that old Mini owners are all too familiar with.
In 2010, Jonathan came across an extremely rare item for sale – a Status Motor Company Mini Minus body shell. A ‘Mini Minus’ you ask? What’s that? Well, it’s essentially a replacement body for classic Minis, made from fiberglass (and a bit of steel) that was aimed at owners looking to replace the rust-devoured bodies on their aging cars.
Along with its unique construction, the Mini Minus body is also sectioned and sits three inches shorter than a standard Mini. Not only does this help to cut mass from the already featherweight car, but its lower profile gives the Mini a more aero-friendly shape. Production numbers for the Mini Minus were extremely low, and production ended in the early ’90s, meaning they are quite rare today.Small Body, Huge Project
Jonathan’s plan was to purchase the Minus shell and combine it with the running gear from his previous car to create a faster, lower and lighter Mini that would also be protected from the rust that bothered him so much.
After acquiring the shell, Jonathan discovered that the project would be much more involved than originally planned. This was because the fiberglass body itself had deteriorated significantly from being stored outside for decades in the UK climate. It was actually a full year before he began working on the project, as he spent many months gathering parts and determining exactly what his plans would be.
Finally, in December of 2011, the build began, The first step was to strip everything he could off the old car, and to get the new shell in rolling condition so that he could move it around. Things got tough when Jonathan began to go through the Minus body. He knew almost nothing about bodywork, but even he could see that the fiberglass shell was in rough shape. It was so bad that on a few occasions he considered abandoning the project altogether.
But in the end perseverance paid off, and slowly but surely Jonathan began to tackle the weathered fiberglass, tediously grinding every crack before carefully filling it in. It was a painstaking process, but by September of 2013 he finally had the shell coated with primer.
And when he wasn’t restoring the body, Jonathan was working on the car’s chassis – trying to get the Mini to sit as low as possible. He tubbed the front and rear fenders, fitted internal gear linkage and modified the front and rear suspension turrets to accommodate a coilover setup. When he had the car sitting on its tires, the front coilovers were binding so Jonathan had Force Racing fab up some extended control arms for more clearance.
With the body and suspension issues being adressed, the next order of business would be to transfer over the 1,380cc engine from his previous Mini. Prior to dropping it in the new car, he gave the motor a minor refresh including new valve guides, a lightened timing gear, and some additional head and intake porting.
This was in addition to the performance modifications that had already been completed – things like the bored out block, upgraded head, fully-built valvetrain with a Kent 276 camshaft, a modified HIF 44 carb and a ported LCB exhaust manifold. All said and done, the engine setup is good for 92hp and 105lb/ft of torque.
While that’s surely one of the lower output numbers ever seen on a Speedhunters feature car, you need to know that the Mini weighs just 562 kilograms (1,239 lbs). That makes for an excellent power-to-weight ratio and lots of fun on the backroads.
The engine is paired to a reconditioned manual gearbox with an X-pin diff with a Verto clutch and lightened flywheel, along with the aforementioned KAD internal gear linkage.Lightweight & Low Height
With the running gear sorted, the next thing was to address the interior – and more specifically the rollcage. Jonathan wanted a cage that would tie the car together both literally and figuratively. He ended up working with Nickson Motorsport, who have handled a number of drift cars for the Driftworks crew.
The completed cage ties together the fiberglass shell, the front and rear subframes along with the steering box. It also helps to serve as a mount for the pedals and the seats.
Aside from the cage, the Mini’s cockpit is stripped of everything but the essentials. There’s a KOSO-RX2N digital dash, a custom control panel mounted near the shift lever – and not much else.
Seating accommodations for the driver and passenger are handled by a pair Sparco Sprint buckets with TRS 3-inch racing harnesses.
With the interior and cage straightened out, the last order of business was to finalize the Mini’s exterior. Here Jonathan fitted a set of lightweight carbon mirrors along with polycarbonate windows to match the GRP doors, hood and rear decklid.
Everything is set off by a unique paint hue applied by Pete Delia, who has done a lot of work for Jonathan’s father over the years.
The finishing touch is the Curley carbon fiber over-fenders, which sit atop the Mini’s 10×6-inch Force Racing ST10 wheels. The tires are grippy Yokohama Advan A032Rs in 165/70R10 sizing all around.
Visible behind the spokes are the car’s KAD 4-pot calipers and 8.2-inch front discs, which together with the wheels are one of Jonathan’s favorite aspects of the car.
While the build has been a long and sometimes frustrating process up to this point, Jonathan says he’s far from done with the project. He’s actually in the process of building a new motor with a Garrett GT17 turbocharger pushing 20psi, which he hopes to have completed before the end of this year. He’s also going to see what he can do about shedding even more mass, with an ultimate weight goal of 500 kilograms.
What I like most about about Jonathan’s car is that it’s still immediately recognizable as classic Mini – albeit one that’s quite different from the norm. With its aggressive stance, unique body shape and extremely light weight – it’s a fresh, but retro-minded take on an icon of British motoring and a fitting symbol of the UK’s ever vibrant car culture.
Photos by Rod Chong
Jonathan Faulkner’s Mini Minus
A+ block bored to 1380, Powermax pistons, Stage 4 head, Rimflow valves, double valve springs, 1:5:1 full roller rockers, Kent 276 camshaft, Kent lightened vernier duplex timing gear, modified HIF44 carburetor, ported/knife-edged, ported MG Metro inlet with water way removed, ITG stub stack air filter, Radtec extreme radiator, Revotec electric fan, electronic distributor, ported specialist components LCB manifold, 2-inch twin box exhaust modified to fit tighter in tunnel, Radtec extreme radiator, Revotec electric fan, Brise alternator
Standard reconditioned gearbox, Mini Spares X-pin diff, 2.9:1 crown wheel & pinion, lightened Verto clutch and flywheel
Gaz coilovers (front), Minisport aluminium drive flanges, rear beam axle cut for exhaust clearance, Protech coilovers (rear), KAD aluminium rear arms, Specialist Components aluminium rear hubs. lightened 4-bolt subframe tied to rollcage, adjustable tie bars and bottom arms, Force Racing titanium top arms extended for an improved coilover angle, KAD 4-pot calipers, 8.2-inch vented/drilled/grooved discs, Minifin alloy rear drums, Goodridge brake lines, OBP hydraulic handbrake, Wilwood dual bias aluminium pedal box
Force Racing ST2 10×6-inch alloys, Yokohama A032-R 165/70R10 soft compound tires
Status Motor Company Mini Minus body shell, Arc Angels GRP doors, boot and bonnet, tubbed arches, bolt-in polycarbonate windows, Curley carbon arches, P700 style headlamps, Innocenti rear lamps, small carbon F1 mirrors, Innocenti grill
Nickson Motorsport rollcage tied to front & rear suspension, pedal box and existing steel inside the shell and seat mounts, TRS 3-inch harnesses, Sparco Sprint seats, custom switch box behind gear lever, KOSO-RX2N digital dash, wiring loom hidden under wing, OMP steering wheel, NRG snap-off boss, DSN door handles, DSN door hinges, KAD internal gear linkage
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I read the title as 1200HP of fun, thinking that there was a giant twin turbo V8 crammed in the back.
this is cooool
Fiberglass Mini? HELL YEAH!!!
I would be really proud to build this car. The power-to weight ratio and the extreme modifications that blend into a relatively subtle whole make it a really outstanding piece of work!
I somehow misread it was 1,200-hp at first , too .
Also , after I got the title right , I thought it is a regular Mini that had been made longer to have an epic engine behind the driver seat ; you can say I'm really surprised to find the engine still sit up front ... and , I really didn't know Mini Minus exist until today ! They made Mini looks longer while actually it is making the Mini lower .
Tip of the cap to the owner/builders.
I'm very impressed, especially with the body and engine work.
I love this thing already...
More small car features, please.
all that work and no 1600 VTEC?!?! badass car though
That is a quality build. Love the interior, and that engine, even though its not making 1200hp, is a thing of beauty.
Wow this is what it is all about i guess i really like this car and after seeing the gt-5 mini race car ... Maybe i should buy a mini
Really like the weight aproach i can't even imagine how much fun this thing is to drive
Great article mike and some really good pics rod !
Lovely car, boot fuel system install is very neat.
It reminds me of one I saw in Japan a few years back, where else but Super Autobacs!
Project Binky is another Mini that will definitely be worth a feature, once complete: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hCPODjJO7s
The build process through their youtube channel is just awesome.
everytime i see one of this kind of cars... i always think... where´s all the mkII's, all the vw bugs, the Renault R8's, bmw 2002's???!!
hope to see more of this little cars!!
Thanks for the nice reading!
Hope my b18 mini will meet to this level of perfection some day!
I know exactly what he means about the rust.
From a distance mine looks alright tho ;D
500Kg Mini with turbochargered engine @ 20psi !!!
will be a Lamborghini killer.
Starting from here two features are inevitable:
The "Eichhörnchen" (Squirrel) of Achim Korden, Germany, a Honta VTEC swapped, 4WD converted Mini-Ringweapon used for local rallying (google "Ringmini"
And of course the http://www.zcarsuk.com/store/, where those brilliant bike-engined RWD-conversions kits come from
Love the sectioned body on this, super cool. Building one of my own at moment.
I forgot to mention: Honda VTEC swapped, then turboed 4WD Mini-Ringweapon
what an appropriate build! 96hp and 1200lb sounds perfect for having a little fun
cool little car...that turbo motor will make it a rocket..My engine choice would be a turbo street bike motor. lighter and able to make tons more power.
Nice take on classic mini and good colour choice. As crazy as it seems 90bhp is plenty for these cars and really keep in character of the vehicle. You learn how to keep momentum and speed up whilst using all the cars. All who have owned one will know! If you have never been in one or had a drive don't underestimate how much fun these simple simple cars are! Man this makes me want another - off to the classifieds i go!
Loving this build, my mates dream lol. Personally, I would've put a Yamaha RS or Honda FireBlade engine in it
BenXL Looking good!
Awesome Mini, I think I remember it from Players at North Weald... was it red back then?
I'm surprised that the Mini Minus idea wasn't more successful. There must be countless donor Minis out there just rusting away despite their owners best intentions.
Back to the feature car. Man that little car must be a right hoot around the more twisty circuits and backroads.
Nice Mini, three times the power and 200lbs lighter than my '70 Clubman. Also, reminds me of the Chilean Mini de Fibre that was made during the '60s.
Very nice, but it would be nicer with more motor. Can't wait to see it with the new turbo motor.
what's that think on the 3th pic of 2nd chapter on the window?
fresh air vent.
SlickAttire Speedhunters Yep, it's pretty sweet, that one!
SlickAttire Heres another properly exciting Mini: https://twitter.com/dogknob1/status/559490562135703553 (including a mildly amusing timeline hijacking by Dogknob1 n me)
PeterGriffithss Dogknob1 Very funny! My cuz Ady up in Lancs has a Clubman I think, I'll message him to see if there's any 4 sale near him.
SlickAttire i would be interested to see if he knows of any Fancy a trip to Weston on Saturday?
PeterGriffithss Weston? Not really TBH! Isn't it worth waiting til u can actually drive b4 going to look at stuff?
SlickAttire i'll be able to drive on Saturday etc!
PeterGriffithss Hmm, do I get to see what we're due to look at first?
SlickAttire PeterGriffithss You guys going Mini shopping?
Joe_Hallenbeck SlickAttire with a bit of luck! I don't mind going on my own, tho.
Joe_Hallenbeck SlickAttire Dan - lookin at this wee Clubman on the right for 2k, or the black one for a bit less. http://twitter.com/PeterGriffithss/status/559856904676335616/photo/1
PeterGriffithss SlickAttire Cool. Will this be in conjunction with the E30?
Joe_Hallenbeck SlickAttire Any future tiny addition to the fleet would be just that
Joe_Hallenbeck SlickAttire Did you say 'try n borrow that tool kit your friend's grandad made especially for working on the damn things?'
PeterGriffithss SlickAttire Set of spanners & a hammer. You'll be fine.
Joe_Hallenbeck SlickAttire man it's ten kinds of exciting. Will be taking my time to make a purchase unless something special occurs.
PeterGriffithss SlickAttire I love car shopping. (Sigh) been ages since I experienced it though. Maybe later on in the year...
Joe_Hallenbeck SlickAttire If i find any up by you then i'd be honoured to have the pleasure of your company, innit bruv!
PeterGriffithss SlickAttire I'm scouring my local listings as we type. I'd love to help / come & play.
Joe_Hallenbeck SlickAttire oohhh be fun to see if you uncover anything!
PeterGriffithss Well I owe you a lift mate so we could go, but only if yr serious about buying it. Joe_Hallenbeck Don't encourage him!
PeterGriffithss Joe_Hallenbeck The orange Clubman FTW, BTW. Always buy the best you can afford – plus it's a Clubman. Lose the bullbar!
SlickAttire Joe_Hallenbeck thanks for the encouragement! I'll make a decision today/tomoz.
PeterGriffithss SlickAttire BUY EVERYTHING IMMEDIATELY!
Joe_Hallenbeck SlickAttire AAARGH OK OK!
PeterGriffithss Joe_Hallenbeck SlickAttire I prefer the black one.
m_plewes Joe_Hallenbeck SlickAttire it seems so much smaller than the S-reg? Im not au fait with the model designations yet.
PeterGriffithss Joe_Hallenbeck SlickAttire It does for some reason.
BenXL Now that thing must be a rocket
Great photos Rod, love all the detail shots and love the car! The carbon overfenders and cage do it for me.
Now somebody make a Miata with this clean of a setup.
Saw this at Brooklands Mini Day this weekend gone. It has the new turbo engine as mentioned in the article..... very nice. I was massively impressed by this car and very pleased to see it. As we were leaving it was brought to centre stage for the judging finals....
Not sure how it did but I hope it won!!
Wicked! Loving the variety SH!
Kudos to the builder the Mini is sano