What is it with British engineers at the moment? Whatever the guys are drinking in the water over here, it’s clearly having an effect. Whether it’s the amazing Bloodhound story, shaking out nearly 500mph in just its test runs, or every race or restoration workshop I visit, I’m seeing simply amazing feats of craftsmanship and fabrication. It’s a wonderful thing to see.
Shell shock. This thing is utterly clinical
A fine example of this leftfield, yet beautifully executed thinking has been Powerflex’s ‘Vini’ project. On paper, it makes sense as one of the most fun marketing exercises ever conceived. In case you missed the memo; British suspension bush manufacturer and chassis specialist decides to build a demo car. The owner, being a true petrolhead, wants a RWD weapon - but wants to wrap it up in something suitably British, an R56 Mini. Sounds easily when you say it quickly, doesn’t it?
A long way from how it left the factory - and that tunnel is there for a M-dispensing reason
What followed was a feat of Frankenstein creation, allied to a surgical precision that would leave any F1 team happy. Under the watchful eye – and in the talented hands – of Eliot Dunmore at EDM in Oxfordshire, the unsuspecting Mini was rent asunder, to be stuffed full of a BMW S6540 V8, complete with 7-speed Getrag DCT gearbox - both of which were 'liberated' from an E92 M3. That’s an easy 415bhp before the ECU and exhaust are tinkered with. And believe me, this lot plan on doing a lot of tinkering…
The workmanship on this car is incredible - and a true cocktail of the finest parts
Engineered to take Impreza front and rear subframes, which have proved to be perfect in their operation, size and compact footprint, the resulting placement sees the wheels sit perfectly in their arches. When we last joined the car, everything had been ‘dry’ fitted to make sure everything would go where it was required. Since then, however, an awful lot of additional work has been carried out. Many initial fits have been finalised, and all surfaces have been prepped with an inch of their lives, ready for the ultra-tasteful Land Rover green to be applied to its flawless flanks.
BMW meets with Subaru in perfect harmony
Why such a tasteful colour on such a lairy car though? That’s an easy one for big boss, David Power. ‘I wanted the car to be a little bit of a sleeper,’ he grins. ‘We’ll have some subtle graphics, sure. It’s a showpiece for what Powerflex is all about. But, I want the engineering to do the talking, rather than the paintjob.’
Some show cars shout. Others whisper - and let their underpinnings do the talking
Part of Vini’s raison d’être for David is to act as a showcase for some of the best manufacturers that the UK aftermarket has to offer. He is a founding member and director of the UK performance automotive association, www.paaa.eu.com and has used contacts from across this network to develop and manufacture bespoke parts for Vini. Unique suspension from Bilstein, a one off monster brake kit from Alcon, a spectacular air filter that was a massive challenge for ITG, are just a couple of parts that have been developed specifically for Vini. This car is a engineering testament to the quality of the manufacturers in Powerflex’s clique – as well as being a potentially internet-breaking demo and fulfilment of a dream for its owner.
From a bespoke tank, to one-off ITG induction set-ups, this car has had the best in the business on it!
There are almost too many amazing parts on this car to note. The complexity of the bespoke cage, the quality of the tunnel work, the one-off, tailored fuel cell. Everything’s been designed to work as perfectly as it can, without compromising the relatively stock aesthetic of the car. Although creating cages and neat bracketry is very much the day-to-day for Eliot, getting the M3’s engine and box to work seamlessly with the rest of the Mini’s brain has been a little more challenging. Now though, with a fully CANBUS integrated ECU solution, and the retention of the ‘flappy paddle’ shifters, Vini should be an absolute hoot.
Everything is done to motorsport standard, but car will be fully road legal
Since we last joined the car, the engine has been apart for a little future-proofing. ARP bolts and ACL race bearings should make track work a little easier to bear. A superb custom exhaust – on Powerflex hangers, naturally, has also been test fitted – and it’s all ready to be gingerly bolted back up underneath that pristine floor.
This was the first dummy fit - the 'M' motor has come a long way since then!
Much still to do then, but a home straight of jobs that all parties can clearly see the finish line from. Hurry up lads, will you? We all want a go!!!
Find out more at www.powerflex.co.uk