ON THE JOB
Gordon Brown's incredible saloon project with Japanese power.
Gordon Brown can remember wanting a Mini from a very young age, even going as far as doing drawings of how he wanted his Mini to look! Then, at the tender age of just 14, he got a Minivan to restore.
Unfortunately, this project was never finished as the car was too far gone to be saved. But from that moment on, all the way until he bought this very saloon, he always planned to own another.
However, it wasn’t until Gordon went to visit a friend who owned a Ford 100E, that his long-lived Mini-owning dream became a reality. Gordon’s friend wanted him to have a look at the Ford and paint it for him, as Gordon is a coachbuilder by trade. And as luck would have it, in the same garage as that Ford 100E was this very Mini Flame!
The Mini soon became Gordon’s and plans were then hatched to restore it. However, he wanted to seriously increase the power at the same time, and this Nissan-powered beauty is the result of his efforts!
How did this Mini end up becoming yours?
After finding out that my friend was putting it up for sale as the MoT had run out, I agreed I would do the work needed to his Ford 100E and take the Mini as full payment.
What was the original plan you had for it?
Initially, I was going to restore it to originalspec, but then I was offered a Vauxhall 2.0 16v engine and I thought that could be fun! So I got the engine and gearbox and started building the car to suit it. That was until I was offered this Nissan engine, which came from a friend’s S13 200SX, which he’d decided to break as it had been off the road for a while. I decided this would be a bit different and a bit more fun than the Vauxhall swap.
So what did you change after buying the Nissan engine?
I decided to go RWD! After fabricating floorpans and a tubular subframe to take the rear diff and suspension, but I didn’t think it would be strong enough to handle the power, or if I was ever involved in an accident. So I decided to build a full boxsection chassis, but I wanted to build it using as many of the Nissan parts as possible.
Why did you want to use so many of the Nissan parts?
Simply because these parts are easily available off-the-shelf, rather than needing to be custom-made. So all suspension arms are from the Nissan 200SX. Although, these will be changed to fully-adjustable arms once it’s built. All the brakes and hubs I’ve used are 200SX too, although the fronts are from an S14 as they are four-pots.
What sort of power are you expecting from the engine?
This engine was running 286bhp in the Nissan, so I’m hoping to get it to around 300-350bhp.
What is the next job?
To get it to the rolling chassis stage, so I need to get the wheels and suspension done. Due to the brake/hub setup, I will need to run 15-inch wheels. For the suspension I have been speaking to specialists to get the sizes of HSD coilovers and they should fit under the bodywork. There’s still a lot of fabrication to be done though. Actually, since Ade’s photoshoot, I have changed part of the rear arm setup as I wasn’t happy with it. Once that is complete I will start on the front suspension. Then, I will move on to the floor panels and bulkhead fabrication.
What’s the bodywork like?
It still needs some work, as the door steps still need to be replaced and I will be doing some more de-seaming which I have already started. Plus, due to the 15-inch wheels, I will either have custom-made arches or something like the Fortec kit. The car will have sit as low as possible to try and pull off these large wheels and arches! At the front, it will have an all steel, standard length front with custom-vented bonnet for cooling — which still has to be done!
Do you have any worries with this rebuild?
My only worry is how it’s going go handle on the road once it’s all complete. Hopefully with the coilovers and adjustable arms, it should be possible to be set it all up okay. However, with the short wheelbase and RWD it could be a handful. Also, I’m aware people might not like what I’m doing and will say it’s “no longer a Mini”. People will either love it or hate it, that’s for sure!
When you get it resprayed, will you keep it in the original colour?
At the moment the colour is undecided until the bodywork is complete. But the full fabrication to paint will be done by myself.
What wheels are you going to run?
The wheels are going to be 15x8-inch and I’m looking at getting a set of Japan Racing ET0 JR19s — these look like a larger Minilite.
Other than the engine, what other modifications over standard will you be making?
The Mini will have full roll-cage.
Do you think your budget is going to dictate what you’re going to do with this Mini?
I have not set a budget, I’m just doing bits as and when I can. It will only be used in good weather and I hope to do some track days, but it be fully road-legal.
Getting the wheels and suspension on is Gordon’s next priority. Gordon has decided to go RWD! The floorpans have already been fabricated.
The Nissan engine is from a S13 200SX and Gordon’s hoping for over 300bhp! Custom fuel tank with Walbro fuel pump. Some of the parts are still to be decided. Gordon is carrying out much of the work. These Recaro seats might feature in the interior.