Is there anything that a Mini can’t do?

The Mini was conceived by Alec Issigonis to be the ultimate city car, small in proportions but featuring a groundbreaking platform that made it surprisingly spacious on the inside. It sold in over five million copies and is considered one of the most influential designs ever. So good was BMC’s biggest hit that it even made waves in the racing world, both on the rally stages and on the circuits of the world. It is, then, not that surprising that a latter-day Mini with enough mods is capable of putting 500 horsepower to the ground.

This monster Mini’s got supercar credentials

A RWD Mini Cooper and 502-Horsepower Honda Engine Create the Power-To-Weight Ratio of a Bugatti Veyron
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Gildred Racing is a California-based tuning and restoration company that deals in reviving and restoring old Minis. And by reviving we mean making them quite staggering indeed in terms of both the quality of the build and the performance that these pocket rockets can produce. Gildred Racing can build you all sorts of modernized (resto-modded, if you will) Minis including a Wagon, a Truck, a Woody, as well as three versions based on the typical two-door body style.

The first of the three is the Classic which, by all intents and purposes, looks nearly identical to a late '60s BMC Mini right down to the 10-inch rims.

However, under its skin, there are tons of upgrades including a modern drivetrain, A/C inside (where you also get leather-wrapped bucket seats, a touchscreen display in the middle of the dash, milled knobs, and a sporty steering wheel), and a choice of three engines including the 200 horsepower B18C Civic Type R engine.

A RWD Mini Cooper and 502-Horsepower Honda Engine Create the Power-To-Weight Ratio of a Bugatti Veyron
- image 927683

Beyond the Classic there’s the Sport and the Type S, the meanest and grittiest Mini that Gildred Racing can cook in its ovens. As you’d expect, Matt Farrah of TheSmokingTire took a Type S out for a spin and suffice to say that the warning on Gildred Racing’s website, that the Type is is ’recommended for advanced drivers only’, should be taken seriously.

Why? Well, let’s talk numbers for a second here. The original Cooper S from the early ’60s (named ’Cooper’ because John Cooper of Cooper Cars fame fiddled with it to make it go in a proper way) was powered by a sub-1.1-liter engine, namely the BMC A-Series four-pot that developed 70 horsepower and 62 pound-feet of torque, all sent to the front axle via a four-speed gearbox. The car weighed little over 1,400 pounds and, while the speedometer on later models went all the way to 120 mph, it would never go beyond 90 mph and a run from naught to 60 mph took over 13 seconds.

Engine 1.1-liter four-cylinder
Horsepower 70 HP
Torque 62 LB-FT
Weight 1,400 lbs
0 to 60 mph 13 seconds

So, now that we’ve loaded your head with all of that, here’s what Gildred Racing’s Type S brings to the table: for starters, the engine is no longer in front of the cabin but behind the seats.

That engine is an aluminum Acura J-Series 3.5-liter V-6 engine fitted with a supercharger from an Acura CL Type S. This combo produces 500 wheel horsepower (!) in a car that tips the scales at about 2,000 pounds (due to creature comforts such as electric windows and heated seats).

With a wheelbase the length of your forearm, the Type S likes to move around a bit when you lift off the throttle, as Matt Farrah is quick to notice but the brakes are huge (for a car this small) so you’ll be stopping in no time.

A RWD Mini Cooper and 502-Horsepower Honda Engine Create the Power-To-Weight Ratio of a Bugatti Veyron
- image 927685

The gearbox is a close-ratio six-speed manual with an exposed linkage for a bit of that Pagani glitz and there’s a limited-slip diff in the back there too where all the power’s being dispatched. Equipped with sticky Toyo R888s, the car reaches 140 mph in a quarter-mile run. If that’s not impressive then get this: the power-to-weight ratio of this Mini not only matches that of a Veyron, it soundly beats it at 551 horsepower-per-ton compared to 523 horsepower-per-ton for the Veyron. The Chiron, for reference, boasts a power-to-weight ratio of 552 horsepower-per-ton...

As you’d expect, something like this is expensive and when we say expensive we mean really expensive when you consider that a 2020 Cooper S is under $31,000 before options. But it’s also not expensive at all if you take into account the multi-million-dollar price tag of a Chiron or a Veyron. And the Type S will be rarer than both of those cars because Tyler Gildred, the founder of Gildred Racing, will only build ten of these.

A RWD Mini Cooper and 502-Horsepower Honda Engine Create the Power-To-Weight Ratio of a Bugatti Veyron
- image 927682

That’s 23 fewer copies than Ferrari made of the 250 GTO. So, here’s what you’ll have to pay for a Type S specced just like the one Matt Farrah drove: $150,000. There you go, now start thinking about which organ you don’t particularly like or need because we’re sure you’ll love this!

Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert - fira@topspeed.com
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read More
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