Welcome to this week’s FC Throwback, where we take a look back at some of our favourite previous feature cars. This week it’s 1320’s MINI from way back in 2014…
A road-legal 1.6-litre, front-wheel drive MINI that can out-accelerate a Bugatti Veyron… impossible right? Wrong.
The Bugatti Veyron is easily the most famous fast car in the world, and understandably so. It’s a record-breaking monster, and with an eight-litre, sixteen-cylinder, sixty-four valve, quad-turbo engine, it’s got to be almost untouchable, right? Well, almost.
Most other supercars certainly can’t get close to it. Where as a Lamborghini Gallardo will run a 1/4 mile drag strip in around 12 seconds at 125mph, a Veyron would do the same in just 10.4 seconds and hit just under 140mph in the process. What can get close to it however (in fact it would be the Veyron that would be playing catch up), is the car you see on these very pages – this cool looking, but surprisingly normal, MINI.
Let’s be honest, most people wouldn’t expect a common, small-engined hatchback to match even the Lambo, never mind the Veyron. But ‘most’ people would be wrong, as UK-based MINI nutters 1320 MINI have proven with this hypercar-killing super-sleeper.
This car’s life began almost ten years ago, when 1320 picked it up as a fire-damaged MINI One from a salvage auction with the intent of having a bit of fun with it. The car was quickly repaired, fitted with the supercharged Cooper S engine, a Quaife diff, and a set of drag slicks, and instantly bashed out a 15.5sec 1/4 mile at 86mph on the strip. Which while miles away from the speeds of the aforementioned supercars, was still faster than a production Cooper S.
As the years passed the car was gradually tweaked and got faster and faster on the strip, and even did a stint in the Time Attack championship in 2010. But fast forward to 2013, and it was time to get serious.
Many would suggest you’d need an engine swap to something much bigger than the single-cam 1.6 MINI lump, maybe even a four-wheel drive conversion for traction. But the guys at 1320 wanted to keep this car as a true MINI. The engine is still running the standard block and crankshaft – albeit with Wossner forged pistons, steel rods, CatCams supercharger cam, and highly modified cylinder head. One thing it’s certainly not is naturally aspirated like a standard MINI One. It’s not even got a little supercharger or turbo like the hot Cooper S models. Instead it runs a flippin’ massive turbo – a Forced Performance GT3586HTA billet turbo from Owen Developments, complete with trick Tial turbine housing.
1320 really is a one-stop shop when it comes to MINI tuning, and they’re expert fabricators too. This is evident from the amazing manifolds – an equal length tubular exhaust manifold, which sits the turbo right over the gearbox, and an alloy inlet plenum complete with internal trumpets, and a 3in drive-by-wire throttle body. More of 1320s fabrication skills are evident with the massive, ice-filled chargecooler that keeps inlet temps at bay, and custom alloy header and oil breather tanks.
Finally, a set of huge 1350cc ASNU injectors feed the engine under the control of a 1320 ECU. Fully mapped in-house, the final result is claimed to be around 640bhp at 29psi boost, with the engine revving way beyond 9000rpm and loving every minute of it. There’s more power to come too…
It’s all well and good having power, but big power and front-wheel drive usually means massive, uncontrollable wheelspin, rather than rocketing off the start line, so how does this MINI do it? Well, the most obvious things are the 15in M&H drag slicks they fit to the front on the dragstrip (instead of the 16in tyres they run on the road), but one thing that never changes are the flat black Rota Slipstream alloys.
They’re not only light for maximum performance, but suit the car’s super-sleeper look perfectly. Amazingly for a front-drive drag car, it hasn’t got the weird stance you’d expect, with massive tyres sticking out of the arches and a jacked-up rear end. In fact the car looks damn good with a low ride height and the wheel and tyre combo sitting perfectly in the arches. Even the suspension is amazingly normal, with rear springs set very stiff to prevent the rear-end squatting down, helping give maximum traction. And while there’s certainly a few other little suspension tweaks, the car is still simply a modified road car.
Considering it’s pushing out nearly four times the power of a standard Cooper S, it’s amazing that it runs a standard Cooper S gearbox – albeit fitted with a twin-plate clutch, heavy-duty driveshafts and a Quaife ATB diff to improve traction. Running a standard gearbox is one thing, but most powerful cars smash gearboxes every other week. But 1320 have discovered the Cooper S unit is freakishly strong – the current ’box has been in the car for around six years now!
The final thing that helps this car get the power down is the ECU. It not only features two-step launch control – which gives them the ability to launch at full throttle at the perfect rpm and boost pressure for the ultimate acceleration – but boost is automatically increased as they blast down the strip. This allows them to run the engine right to the limits of traction, and give the full 29psi boost the moment the car has enough traction to put it down.
Outside, the MINI is totally in contrast to the usual wild and garish drag cars, but it’s all the better for it. While it looks great in red with the black highlights, a closer look shows how well the performance of this car is hidden, with the black front grilles doing a great job of hiding the cooling setup. The exhaust tailpipe is just as subtle looking as the standard item; it even has the ‘One’ badge on the tailgate! Amazingly for a drag car, the styling exercise continues under the bonnet, as 1320 have very cleverly designed the custom wiring loom to make things look as tidy as possible, and even cut and shaved parts of the bay to give it a smoother look.
Things stay just as classy and ‘un-drag’ like when it comes to the inside, as while the car has safety features such as the hardcore Kirkey bucket seats and custom rollcage, the interior is fully trimmed. Remember, this is a fully MOT’d road car, and 1320 wanted it to look like one.
There are plenty of trick additions that aren’t easy to spot at first glance, all in the name of performance. These include the Race Technology digital dash – they’ve even relocated the fuse box and ECU for easy access when doing quick tweaks between runs in the FWD Drag Series.
Although 1320 don’t want to strip the interior or add fibreglass body panels, they estimate, without any more tuning, it would be running 9sec quarters if they made it a hardcore stripped out drag car. But that’s not their aim; they want to go as quick as possible while keeping it as a true MINI. The current monster billet turbo is actually capable of over 700bhp with increased boost, and the engine certainly isn’t at its limit either, so once the new fuel system is installed, the guys plan to increase the boost to at least 35psi. In the fantastically capable hands of 1320, will this MINI monster get down in to the 9s on the strip and even give a £1.5 million Veyron Super Sport a run for its money? We’d be willing to put money on it!
1320 MINI in numbers
Full boost: 29psi
Start line boost: 15psi
Maximum revs: 9400rpm
Full boost revs: 5750rpm
Quarter mile: 10.2sec
Quarter mile speed: 142mph
TECH SPEC MINI ONE
Standard Cooper S 1600cc block, standard crankshaft, Wossner .25in oversized pistons, 1320-spec steel conrods with ARP rod bolts, 1320-spec modified cylinder head with uprated valves, titanium retainers, and Crower valve springs, 1320 supercharger camshaft, 1320-spec custom alloy inlet manifold with internal trumpets, 1320 Sidewinder equal length tubular turbo exhaust manifold mounts, Owen Developments GT 3586 HTA turbo with Tial v-band turbine housing, Pro Alloy ice-filled chargecooler, ASNU 1350cc injectors, 1320 Extreme head studs,1320 ECU with integrated 5 position boost control and adjustable launch control, Tial 42mm external wastegate, Tial blow-off valve, custom 3in exhaust system and external wastegate screamer pipe, standard BMW MINI coil and leads, 3in drive by wire throttle body, 1320 alloy header and breather tank, custom Pro Alloy radiator, Vibratechnics race engine mounts, Motul fluids, aerospace spec alloy fittings, twin standard MINI Cooper S fuel pumps, ELF race fuel, Standard Cooper S 6-speed MINI gearbox, Clutch Masters FX 7.25in twin-plate clutch, Driveshaft Shop uprated drive shafts, Quaife ATB diff, lightweight race flywheel, custom clutch slave cylinder support bar
Mini GP spec rear trailing arms, Cross coilovers with custom springs to prevent rear squat. Wheels: 8x16in Rota Slipstream alloys with 205/45×16 Neuton tyres front and rear (road), 8x15in (front) and 7x16in (rear) Rota Slipstream alloys with 24.5×8.5×15 M&H drag slicks (front) and 195/50×16 Toyo T1R tyres for racing
Steve Green 8.50sec spec six-point weld-in rollcage with door bars, fully trimmed stock interior, OMP steering wheel and boss, Kirky bucket seats with TRW harness, custom 1320 spec wiring loom, MSD shift and oil warning light, Race Technology Dash2 Pro digital dash
MINI One shell, Aero side skirts, Cooper front and rear bumpers, red bodywork with black grilles, mirrors, and arches, custom chrome moly front panel. MINI GP undertrays, smoothed engine bay
Words Stav Photos Matt Woods