BLACK AND BLUE
Jason Barr’s Polestar Blue race car-inspired custom saloon is now an Instagram sensation.
By the time Jason Barr turned 12 he knew he wanted to drive a Mini. His cousin, Mark, provided the inspiration, as bit-by-bit he transformed his Mini from a complete rust bucket banger into a road-going vehicle of dreams. So thorough was the transformation that over a decade later the car is still on the road. The seed had been sewn.
Jason’s first Mini, registered PIJ 8530, was a 998-engined 1985 saloon
in Gunmetal Grey. We all remember our first Mini and how we made it our own and Jason is no different.
Before long the 12-inch Minilites were replaced by 13-inch deep dish versions, in went a custom-made interior and out went the 998cc engine to make way for an ex-Metro 1275cc power unit. Dealing with previous owners’ mechanical misdemeanours is not a new problem in Mini circles so it’s not surprising to hear that Jason was soon spending less time with the car on the road and more time with it in the garage. He remembers: “That car really broke my heart. There was always something going wrong with it.” For the next two years local Mini specialist, Boo McCurry, became to go-to man, sorting out one problem after another until eventually Jason decided
“Jason wanted a reliable car with a ‘60s influence and mild road manners”
to sell the car and start again with a clean slate. This wasn’t the end PIJ 8530’s misfortunes though, because shortly after he sold it, the new owner called to ask Jason to keep an eye out for it. Some low-life had stolen it!
RACE CAR INFLUENCE
For his next Mini, Jason wanted to build a reliable car with a 1960s race car influence yet mild road manners. Before long he found a 1979 Mini for sale with a reasonably sound shell but in need of the usual repairs. Boo was the obvious choice to help put Jason’s ideas on the road by first turning the shell into a rust free base for the project.
It won’t surprise many that the entire front end had be replaced followed by new sills and rear valance along with the associated closing panels after which it was pretty much ready for paint. Sticking with the race theme, Jason had purchased a bonnet and inner and outer Mk1 boot lid skins in fibreglass, the latter allowing him to fit a ’60s-style, upwards-facing rear number plate light. Since he intended to fit an alloy fuel tank in the boot, the lid needed to have a functional locking handle, hinges and check stays. A steel central core was needed to provide the necessary strength so Boo peeled the steel skin from a standard boot lid inner panel and built fibreglass panels around that, maintaining both strength and the race car influence. Fitting the square race spec alloy fuel tank into a round boot involved a lot of trial and error, adapting the pipe fittings to match the Mini’s fuel lines and finding a mounting position which allowed unobstructed access to the filler cap with a bulky, cumbersome fuel pump nozzle. Just in case Jason wishes, at a later date, to refit the standard tank, the original hole in the rear quarter panel remains with a dummy fuel tank neck and cap fitted.
Inspiration for the colour scheme came from an Instagram post of a blue race Mini with a carbon fibre roof panel, bumpers, and headlight rims. Before long Jason had found a colour for his
little blue Mini, Volvo Polestar Blue, which was applied to the shell and wheel arches. There is no denying the striking contrast with the black roof! The black and blue theme was continued on the brightwork, including the bumpers, headlight rims, door handles, tail light unit trim, indicator surrounds and badging. All of the chrome was patiently removed from these components with nothing more than sandpaper and time, lots of it, before they were primed and resprayed black. Add to this a pressed steel grille of 1980s origin, door mirrors and a window rubber filler strip all in black, and the result is outstanding.
While Boo was working on the little blue Mini he was asked to undertake some restoration work for another Mini customer. This work involved removing a road-use roll-cage, which Boo recognised as one that he himself had fabricated a decade earlier. Good timing or what! Jason snapped it up, had it sprayed in Old English White and got it installed; further adding to this car’s race theme-.
While planning the interior, Jason decided to keep it as clean as possible. He acquired a pair of period low-backed Cobra bucket seats which were in need of some serious TLC but which, when refurbished, would fit in well with the plan. They were stripped and the bare frames resprayed before the retrimmer worked his magic, recreating that ’60s look which Jason had in mind from the start, all held together with double stitching in blue giving a subtle
connection to the more modern colour scheme. The rear seat was also given a new twist when the trimmer reshaped it into a more sculpted, separate pair, reminiscent of the 2+2 sports cars of the past. Black carpets, headlining and door cards add a functional look.
This look is continued in the dash and instruments, or rather lack of them as Jason had decided not to fill the space in front of the steering wheel with an array of gauges and switches. Keeping the central speedometer company are two Smiths gauges showing water temperature and oil pressure, both mounted in a stainless steel bracket under the lower dash rail. Other neat interior touches include an OMP steering wheel, retrimmed with that neat double blue stitching, Momo pedal extensions, alloy door furniture, alloy gear knob and handbrake lever grip and some carbon hydro dipping for the
“The retrimmer worked his magic, recreating that ’60s look”
speedo binnacle, the heater control panel and the steering column shroud.
When building a Mini with a racebased theme, the 998cc power unit was hardly going to be part of the plan so it was out with the old and in with the new, with a low-mileage 1275cc A-plus engine from an MG Metro. That was sourced along with the gearbox, which were both stripped and rebuilt with new piston rings, crankshaft bearings, seals and gaskets. The build was completed with a pre-Verto clutch setup, a 1.5-inch HS4 SU carb mounted on a water-heated alloy inlet manifold, an alloy radiator, blue silicone hoses, an LCB exhaust
manifold, Playmini back box and some beautifully-engineered details from DSN Classics in Norfolk, such as the combined thermostat cover/engine steady bracket kit and the coil bracket.
Hidden underneath are two blasted and resprayed subframes fitted with uprated components. Hi-Los, heavy-duty adjustable tie rods and polybushes accompany KYB dampers in the suspension department while the braking is assigned to a new master cylinder, a Cooper 7.5-inch set up at the front with Minifins at the rear. All this sits on 10x6-inch Mamba rims wearing 165/70 Yokohama Advans.
In possession of a crisp new MoT certificate, Jason set about putting some miles on his boy racer rep, going to the
“The 998cc power unit was hardly going to be part of the race-based plan”
2017 Causeway Coast Mini Club Show in Portrush. All went well until the 80-mile trip home when heat built up under the bonnet, causing it to warp and twist itself off a hinge bracket with alarming results. After a discussion with Boo it was decided to revert to the original steel bonnet which thankfully fitted into place with reasonable panel gaps.
Jason has set up an Instagram account for his car under the name ‘ little_blue_ mini’, so other Mini fans can follow the life of his little black and blue raceinspired creation
Keeping things very simple, Jason just has the speedo and two Smiths gauges for water temperature and oil pressure. Momo pedal extensions. Rear seats were reshaped to be reminiscent of the 2+2 sports cars of the past. Retrimmed OMP steering wheel.
Alloy fuel tank hiding in the boot. Refurbished low-backed Cobra bucket seats with that neat double stitching in blue. Bolt-in road use roll-cage keeping things strong.
Refurbished MG Metro 1275cc A-plus block sits nicely inside. Boot lid skin was reworked in fibreglass. Mamba 6x10s shod in Yokohama Advans.
Original logo badge. Grille was painted in black to match the car’s colour scheme. Volvo Polestar Blue and black brightwork colour scheme looks striking.
Shell was rebuilt and lightened, adding to the race car theme of this Mini. We recommend you follow Jason’s little_blue_mini on Instagram now!