FEA­TURE CAR

New Zealand Classic Car - - Feature Car -

Gra­ham has al­ways been some­thing of a Mini lover, his first ex­am­ple be­ing a white and black Bri­tish-built Cooper that he owned for a few years un­til he was 21. Driven as an ev­ery­day car, the Mini was used by Gra­ham to travel from his par­ent’s house in How­ick to his place of work, at that time NZ Steel in Waiuku, a 100-kilo­me­tre round trip. As well, the Mini was pressed into ser­vice for ski­ing trips to Mt Ruapehu, and once to Mt Hutt.

With that first Cooper sold, Gra­ham wouldn’t re­turn to Mini mo­tor­ing un­til he was 27 — now res­i­dent in Welling­ton, he ac­quired an or­ange and black car.

This one was a bit spe­cial, in that it had been worked on by Peter Zivkovic. If that name seems familiar, just ask any Mini en­thu­si­ast — they’ll all know Peter as the man who did most of the stunt driv­ing for that iconic Kiwi road movie, Good­bye Porkpie.

At the time, this Aus­tralian-as­sem­bled Ley­land Mini was run­ning a 1310cc mo­tor, and sucked petrol from its twin fuel tanks through a We­ber down­draught car­bu­ret­tor. Af­ter pur­chas­ing the car, Gra­ham re­turned it to Zivkovic’s John­sonville work­shop for fur­ther al­ter­ations — in­clud­ing the ad­di­tion of rac­ing seats and a fi­bre­glass bon­net and boot lid. Ad­di­tion­ally, the down­draught We­ber was swapped for a 40 DCOE car­bu­ret­tor, while later-model disc brakes were fit­ted up front.

Long-term Project

Gra­ham left New Zealand in 1995, head­ing to­wards Liver­pool in the UK to ful­fil an IT con­tract. While he was away, his Mini found a new home at his par­ents’ place in East­bourne, Welling­ton. How­ever, Gra­ham had def­i­nitely not forgotten his car, and a list of go-faster bits, pro­vided by Peter Zivkovic, ac­com­pa­nied him to the home­town of The Bea­tles. There was noth­ing too ex­treme on the list — a sportier camshaft, four­speed SCCR gear-set and larger valves, plus a few more items. As Gra­ham slowly ticked off the parts on his list, he shipped them back to New Zealand.

Gra­ham’s plans to re­turn to Welling­ton and per­son­ally su­per­vise the in­stal­la­tion of all th­ese per­for­mance parts at Zivkovic’s work­shop soon fell apart, and in the end he re­mained in Liver­pool for the next three years.

In the mean­time, he com­mis­sioned Zivkovic to start work on the Mini, who com­menced trans­form­ing it in late 1996. At this time Gra­ham’s fa­ther be­came the go-be­tween, ef­fec­tively act­ing as project manager, as he reg­u­larly vis­ited Welling­ton air­port to pick up the parcels of parts sent by Gra­ham from the UK, and then de­liv­ered them to Zivkovic’s work­shop. As well, he kept Gra­ham in touch with progress on the Mini — and the bills that needed to be paid.

Un­for­tu­nately, Gra­ham’s fa­ther passed away while he was living and work­ing in Liver­pool, and he never got to see the end re­sult of his in­volve­ment with the Mini. Gra­ham re­turned to New Zealand, where he con­tin­ued to work on the project.

Targa In­ter­lude

While work con­tin­ued on Gra­ham’s Mini, in 2000 he took on a short-term con­tract based in Christchurch and, whilst in the Gar­den City, he spot­ted a Cooper S at an auto-elec­tri­cal work­shop. A deal was done, and Gra­ham pur­chased the Mini and drove it back to Welling­ton af­ter he’d com­pleted his con­tract.

His ini­tial plan was to freshen up the Cooper’s mo­tor and gear­box and use the car as an ev­ery­day run­ner — ev­i­dently Gra­ham was suf­fer­ing from Mini with­drawal pangs, as his other Mini re­mained

In the Name of the Fa­ther

Although work had com­menced on Gra­ham’s Mini in 1997, it wasn’t fin­ished un­til 2002. Since then, the Mini has only com­pleted around 2000 kilo­me­tres, and is now based in Auck­land fol­low­ing Gra­ham’s re­lo­ca­tion from Welling­ton. He at­tended a few car shows over the sum­mer months, but he’s still tweak­ing his Mini, and fu­ture plans in­clude adding some more car­bon-fi­bre parts, cour­tesy of Car­bon Weezel in the UK, and re­turn­ing the car to Peter Zivkovic (now based in Tau­ranga) for the in­stal­la­tion of a fuel-in­jec­tion set-up.

Of course, Gra­ham also added that per­son­al­ized plate – TO DAD – in recog­ni­tion of the part his fa­ther played in the over­all project.

This is what Gra­ham’s much-mod­i­fied Mini looked like be­fore the start of his on­go­ing project

BODY: EN­GINE AND GEAR­BOX:

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