Combine an ultra-light frame with an outrageously powerful motor, and you have a recipe for disaster — especially when it’s fired alongside guardrails lining narrow country roads. The certifiable Chris Slade is a special breed of kook — one who gets his kicks by riding this English ICBM along circuits and hillclimbs and escaping unscathed. As it turns out, this Mini is (under the skin) almost entirely German.
Initially, this Mini was built for Gatebil — the Norwegian automotive festival known for attracting some of the wildest builds — where if it’s custom, it fits the bill. Those with a trained ear will immediately note this Mini’s engine note seems out of place. The motor, an inline-five from Audi, displaces only 2.5-liters but makes nearly 900 horsepower and 770 lb-ft of torque.
To produce that pavement-rippling power, the Audi 20-valve 07K engine sports a Precision 64/68 turbocharger and 1600 cc injectors. Of course, the rest of the motor needs to be strengthened to suit, so JD pistons, H-rods, a forged crankshaft, and a dry-sump oiling system are part of the package.
Putting that power to the pavement, especially in something designed to drive the front wheels alone, required a lot of ingenuity. The drivetrain is now a hodgepodge of Audi parts, including a 02Q six-speed manual transmission from an Audi A3 TDI attached to a Tilton two-disc clutch and billet flywheel — though Slade has since upgraded it with a six-speed sequential. GKN custom driveshafts and a modified Haldex center differential, which splits power evenly between both axles at all times, make up the rest of the drivetrain.
As you might imagine, the body is custom-tailored. Built by Z-Cars, the entire body is fashioned from fiberglass and studded with Lexan windows. These weight-saving measures trim the heft down to just a tick under a ton. Of course, the chassis needed an overhaul to prevent crumpling under acceleration, and so it was tube-framed. Honestly, there’s nothing left of the original Mini, save for its basic shape.
Underneath the fiberglass skin, the custom independent suspension sports Bilstein shocks. The brakes are perhaps the least extreme aspect of this build; in front are AP Racing four-piston with 310mm discs and Audi S3 brakes with EBC Turbogroove discs in the back. The whole package is bordering on overkill — like cutting a sausage with a chainsaw. But seeing how it fires off the starting line like a scalded cat makes it all seem reasonable.
As is evident from the start, traction is incredible. Even out of hairpins, the way this Mini catapults off the corner effortlessly (1:48) has to be seen — there’s not even a hint of wheelspin at slower speeds! Interestingly, the drivetrain keeps the car planted and stable when deploying the power, though the short wheelbase does make the Mini just a little skittish over crowns and cambers.
Watch how at 1:48, after straightening somewhat, the rear lets go as the road falls away. The breakaway still looks manageable, but that twitchiness understandably keeps Slade from extracting every iota of performance on the narrow St. Goueno Hillclimb.
Fortunately, the confines of a hillclimb don’t keep this Mini from meeting its potential. Slade dabbles in a little road course racing and occasionally stretches the Mini’s legs at faster tracks like Brands Hatch, where its outrageous speed can be appreciated — and where a wiggle won’t put this unique creation into the barriers.