DOU­BLE DUTCH

The Lint­ing broth­ers run around in two very cool Minis - one a 164bhp turbo, the other an Al­mond Green cus­tom.

Mini Magazine - - Contents -

We know the Mini thing can be as in­fec­tious as any hobby, but three broth­ers all driving and mod­i­fy­ing the same car mar­que? That has to be rare. Roland, Niek and Erno Lint­ing from north Hol­land are the guys be­hind Mini Projects NL, a club fly­ing the flag for taste­fully mod­ded Minis on the con­ti­nent. “Our dad bought his first Mini in the ‘70s, a brand new Mini­van,” says el­dest brother Roland. “When we were 13 or 14 we bought a Mini to­gether to work on with Dad, and af­ter that many more. We’ve col­lected quite a few, back when they cost maybe 500 Eu­ros for a good one, and now we’ve got around 15 be­tween us.”

The fam­ily col­lec­tion now in­cludes a Cabrio, VTEC Club­man, MkI, Mr Bean-themed car and even a Metro, but we won’t judge. Erno is a qual­i­fied me­chanic and Niek sells cars for a liv­ing, whereas Roland just en­joys tin­ker­ing with Minis at the weekend for fun. All three have their own

in­di­vid­ual take on the per­fect Mini, but it’s fair to say they share a de­sire to build unique cars, an im­age por­trayed via the club’s show stands and so­cial me­dia pages. “Mini Projects was just us three broth­ers to­gether at first,” Roland ex­plains, “then we had some other lo­cal friends join us. Now there’s around 25 of us who reg­u­larly meet up. In Hol­land we’re known for rep­re­sent­ing the tun­ing side of the Mini, not purely for restora­tion and the clas­sics. We still like those cars, we just like to do some­thing a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent.”

As a case in point, th­ese two Minis have their own dis­tinct styles, Roland’s white Mini with a stonk­ing turbo mo­tor and Niek’s low and wide on MB Rac­ing splitrims. Un­like many per­for­mance show cars, they’ve been built to be driven all over Europe, each year to the In­ter­na­tional Mini Meet­ing and then to Mini in the Park for a blat down the drag strip. Clearly they must en­joy get­ting their hands dirty as much as writ­ing about it.

ON BOOST

We’ll kick off with the most pow­er­ful of the two Minis – Roland’s turbo, which he bought in 2012 ahead of the Hun­gar­ian IMM. “It was ba­si­cally a stan­dard Mini with a Metro Turbo en­gine in­stalled up front,” he says. “The first mod­i­fi­ca­tion was go­ing from 12-inch to 10-inch wheels, then it broke down very soon af­ter, as the fuel pump wasn’t good enough and I ended up melt­ing a pis­ton. At first I was aim­ing for a mod­est re­build, think­ing it was the head gas­ket gone or some­thing small like that.”

“In Hol­land we’re known for rep­re­sent­ing the tun­ing side of the Mini...”

With the head off and the en­gine’s in­nards wav­ing back at them, Roland and Erno de­cided to up the ante and per­form a full re­build. They low­ered the com­pres­sion ra­tio by in­stalling a new gas-flowed cylin­der head, which also had larger ports and valves for ex­tra power. A new turbo man­i­fold was cus­tom made by a friend to suit the Gar­rett T3, while a Sierra Cos­worth in­ter­cooler and front-mounted ra­di­a­tor aimed to keep things cooler un­der the cramped front end. There’s also an Avon­bar Phase 2 camshaft and fet­tled crank and rods to make the most of the turbo in­stall.

“We re­built the car be­fore IMM Hun­gary and it was only fin­ished the night be­fore,” Roland con­tin­ues. “It had bro­ken down again, this time with the Me­ga­jolt ECU, so we had to dig out an old dis­trib­u­tor and bolt that in to get it run­ning again. Then we drove to Hun­gary over two days with no prob­lems at all.” We should prob­a­bly men­tion that he’d opted for straight-cut drop gears as part of the re­build, and that whine gets tire­some af­ter a cou­ple of hours, let alone a cou­ple of days! So to make it all the way from north­ern Hol­land to Lake Bala­ton must have been hard go­ing. “No I

love that noise, it’s awe­some,” he says. “Ac­tu­ally I bought the Mini to be a daily driver, but af­ter we re­placed the clutch with a pad­dle plate and grey di­aphragm, that idea quickly changed. It is driv­able, al­though the clutch is hard and fuel con­sump­tion’s not that great…”

This was the first turbo en­gine the broth­ers had worked on, so they of­ten had to learn about power and re­li­a­bil­ity the hard way. Each re­build has seen an­other mod work its way into the spec list, and by 2015 the MG en­gine was push­ing out over 150bhp with rea­son­able re­li­a­bil­ity. That’s pretty im­pres­sive when you re­mem­ber Roland uses the car for both long road trips and drag rac­ing. We of­ten strug­gle to get from one road trip to the next with less than half that power!

“Next we wanted to use a much larger ex­ter­nal waste­gate and with a screamer pipe, be­cause the sound it makes is awe­some. Ba­si­cally that only opens when the turbo pres­sure is over 17psi,” Roland con­tin­ues. Screamer pipes aren’t a com­mon sight on turbo Minis, as they’re gen­er­ally only use­ful on higher boost lev­els where a reg­u­lar waste­gate strug­gles to reg­u­late the pres­sure. It’s es­sen­tially a straight pipe out of the bon­net to re­lease ex­cess turbo boost

pres­sure when re­quired, where it would usu­ally pass back down the ex­haust and out the back to keep Green­peace happy. “It’s funny some­times when wa­ter has col­lected down the pipe, you rev the en­gine, for­get the sun­roof’s open and it all comes in the car!” Roland jokes.

BRO­KEN TEETH

Usu­ally, run­ning such high boost pres­sure on an A-Se­ries is a recipe for trou­ble, but the Lint­ings have fig­ured out a neat trick. “It’s now run­ning a wa­ter methanol in­jec­tion sys­tem, with a tank and pump in the boot that in­jects the 50/50 mix to the in­let to cool the charge,” says Roland. “It also in­creases the oc­tane rat­ing so you can run more ad­vance on the ig­ni­tion map with­out det­o­na­tion. From what I know there are only a few guys in Greece that are run­ning a sim­i­lar set-up. It does work.”

Roland’s been drag rac­ing at Mini in the Park for the past two years, most re­cently achiev­ing a 14.3-sec­ond quar­ter mile on the Santa Pod Race­way. Once he’s fin­ished play­ing on the black stuff, the kids jump back in and they’ll all con­voy back home like noth­ing’s hap­pened. Of course it hasn’t been quite that easy, and with 164bhp and 162lb.ft torque, some­thing was bound to break again at some point. “The weak parts have al­ways been the gear­box, the dif­fer­en­tial and the ex­haust gas­ket,” Roland ex­plains. “We’ve never blown a head gas­ket in all the years it’s been go­ing. Af­ter the IMM in Bel­gium we had some gear­box prob­lems, break­ing off a tooth. I’ve also fit­ted a Quaife ATB dif­fer­en­tial at the same time as re­build­ing it.”

Over the years, the brakes have also been up­rated to match the per­for­mance. There’s now Mini Sport four-pots in place of the stan­dard Cooper S calipers, with vented discs and de­cent pads for some ex­tra bite. In­side, a clas­sic Porsche has been lib­er­ated of its bucket seats, while a full-width

“We’ve never blown a head gas­ket in all the years it’s been go­ing...”

dash gives ex­tra space for much-needed boost and AFR gauges. Al­though Roland’s not sure ex­actly which Porsche the seats are from, they’re se­ri­ously comfy and make a de­cent match for the com­pact black in­te­rior.

Now win­ter’s ar­rived, the Mini will be off the road again briefly for the next batch of up­grades. “My prob­lem is torque steer, es­pe­cially on the drag strip,” Roland con­tin­ues. “I think it’ll need some work on the sus­pen­sion to sort that out. We’re also go­ing to ex­per­i­ment with fuel in­jec­tion, which is far from sim­ple, and change the turbo for a smaller one this win­ter. At the mo­ment there’s no power un­til 3500rpm, and then bang! With a smaller tur­bine it will come in more grad­u­ally I hope.”

He also fan­cies hav­ing a fresh re­spray on the Mini, as the body­work’s not minty fresh af­ter all the road trips and fre­quent us­age. Quite sen­si­bly though, he’s not plan­ning to take the car off the road and strip it right down un­til it needs a com­plete restora­tion, quite aware that it may end up tak­ing a cou­ple of years of spare time. He’s keen to keep the project rolling, not to for­get test­ing out those new up­grades be­fore tak­ing it all to pieces.

GREEN MA­CHINE

If Roland’s Mini is the shouty one of the pair, Niek’s must be the civilised younger brother. “I’ve owned mine for five years now,” he says. “I bought it pretty much as it is to­day, al­though it was ac­tu­ally Erno who did most of the work on the car, so we know it well.” It was a friend of the fam­ily that orig­i­nally de­cided to re­build the Mini, a crash-dam­aged saloon with all the best bits of a Rover Cooper SPi. Erno was tasked with weld­ing on a com­plete front end and cut­ting out all the rot, be­fore it was fully re­sprayed in 1960s-in­spired Al­mond Green and Old English White.

“Erno helped the pre­vi­ous owner to fully re­build the car ex­actly as he wanted it,” says Niek, “but by the time it was fin­ished, our friend had had enough of Minis. It was left stand­ing by his house and I didn’t like to see that, af­ter all the work that had gone in, so I made an of­fer and bought it for my­self.”

And there’s a good rea­son why Niek hasn’t made many fur­ther changes to the car, as it’s ef­fec­tively the ex­act Mini he would have

built him­self given half the chance. “We said to our friend that we re­ally loved those MB wheels at the time, and would have bought them if we could,” he says. “So we per­suaded him to buy those, and be­tween the four of us, the Mini was largely built on our own ideas! For me it’s no prob­lem to work on cars, but I don’t en­joy the weld­ing and body­work side.”

That seems al­most too good to be true – per­suad­ing a friend to build your dream Mini, then buy­ing it from them, all with­out get­ting bogged down in the restora­tion. Aside from the reg­u­lar pol­ish­ing of the pris­tine body­work and those 7x10-inch rims, Niek’s changed the rollcage to bet­ter suit his fam­ily road trip needs. “Orig­i­nally it had a Roll­cen­tre ‘cage in the rear and it wasn’t work­ing well with two kids trav­el­ling in the back,” he says, “so we went for the clas­sic-style in­stead, which gives far more space. This win­ter I’ll get the en­gine out and re­paint it and all the en­gine bay. The gear­box also has a prob­lem with the sec­ondgear syn­chro­mesh and is a bit crunchy.”

With that in mind, Roland’s now try­ing to per­suade Niek to start mod­i­fy­ing the en­gine so he can keep up, but Niek’s hav­ing none of it. “No I’m more happy with a stan­dard-spec car that works all the time with­out break­ing down,” he says. “I don’t mind hav­ing a slightly dif­fer­ent cam, but I’ll leave the more ex­treme tun­ing to Roland, as I don’t want to have to ask Erno to keep fix­ing it ev­ery week. We tend to do all the work to­gether, and while Erno’s far more handy with the span­ners, I’d like to be able to fix it my­self if some­thing breaks.”

It makes sense to us, es­pe­cially as Niek can just go for a spin in Roland’s turbo, or Erno’s VTEC Club­man if he fan­cied a bit of high speed Mini ac­tion. It’s the best of both worlds, surely – cool show car with re­fined run­ning gear and loud turbo Mini for weekend fun. Once the win­ter tweaks are sorted, next on the broth­ers’ to do list is a Ri­ley Elf restora­tion. Roland says it’ll be his first com­plete project, from start to fin­ish. So look out for that one soon, tear­ing up the dragstrip a long way from home.

“I don’t mind a dif­fer­ent cam, but I’ll leave the more ex­treme tun­ing to Roland...”

Sub­tle looks keep peo­ple guess­ing as to what’s un­der the bon­net.

Metro Turbo en­gine has been con­stantly evolv­ing to the cur­rent 164bhp spec. It now runs a wa­ter/methanol in­jec­tion sys­tem to cool the in­take.

Cus­tom-made man­i­fold to cater for the turbo, large ex­ter­nal waste­gate and screamer pipe.

Roland’s into mod­i­fied Minis, but he’s not strayed too far from the tra­di­tional look.

The full-width dash is less orig­i­nal, but it gives space for the ig­ni­tion ECU, ex­tra gauges and sen­sors.

Clas­sic Porsche seats – snug as a bug in a rug.

10-inch rims and sticky Yokos are just enough.

Thanks to Cir­cuit Park Zand­voort for al­low­ing us to photo at this his­toric venue. The Bri­tish Race Fes­ti­val re­turns on 13-14 May.

The SPi Cooper en­gine is ideal for Niek’s road trip­ping - it just needs a re­paint and gear­box over­haul.

Half-leather SPi re­clin­ers are par­tic­u­larly comfy for the long Euro road trips.

Cooper-spec in­te­rior still looks fresh.

Niek’s green car was re­stored five years ago.

With a fam­ily col­lec­tion of Minis, there’s al­ways an­other project.

The work in­cluded a com­plete front end and two-tone Cooper re­spray.

Rover wal­nut dash keeps things civilised - this one’s no race car.

Roland, Erno and Niek each have their own take on the per­fect Mini. One for drag rac­ing, one for track­days and one for road trips. For a long-dis­tance tourer, Niek’s Mini is in­cred­i­bly low! Screamer pipe makes an un­mis­tak­able noise. Large in­ter­cooler was sourced from a Sierra Cos­worth and the ends mod­i­fied to suit.

French-style yel­low head­lamps and the clas­sic front end - it’s a match made in mod­i­fied Mini heaven.

There’s a mild ICE in­stall in the green Mini’s boot.

Fully re­stored and still in great shape af­ter years of fun.

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