Mini Magazine - - Contents - Words and Pho­tog­ra­phy Willy Car­son

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!


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!

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