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Ford V8-powered Mini pro street ute - flashback

By Damon Dupriez | Photos: Martin Wielecki, 01 Jan 2020 Features

Ford V8-powered Mini pro street ute - flashback

A former Summernats trophy winner is reborn, smaller and badder than ever

YESSIREE, scan back through your copies of Street Machine and you’ll find this very same Mini gracing the pages of the Sept/October 2000 issue, albeit in a rather different guise. In a former life the Mini was originally conceived, built, and displayed at Summernats 2000 by previous owner Dale Ostrofski from Mini Care in Toowoomba. Shortly thereafter it passed into the eager mitts of Kelvin Brown and Frank Iirilli who, under what must have been some seriously drug-induced state, decided to rebuild the project from the ground up, transforming it into something uniquely theirs.

This article was first published in the March 2002 issue of Street Machine

Mini ute

The original build, if you recall, only took Dale a short 10 weeks to complete, and while it was still good enough to net him the Extreme Machine trophy from the Summernats judges in ’01 both Kelvin and Frank had higher goals – the first of which was to convert the wagon into a ute.

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mini ute side

Tough stance, bike shocks, big bucks and fat pipes make this mighty Mini a showstopper

“We started out by scanning pictures of the old wagon into the computer and then we used Photoshop to cut bits off here and there until we ended up with the desired ute shape, which is what you see here!” Kelvin says with a justifiable degree of pride.

Read next: Blown 392-cube Hemi-powered 2003 Mini Cooper

mini ute wheel

The guys’ aim was to return to Summernats and achieve higher acclaim in ’02, and with more like 18 months to play with, it offered the panel beater and mechanic team (a very useful combination) plenty of time to improve what was already a great starting point.

With Dale having done a sterling job of creating the full chassis and cage under the Mini’s skin, Kevin and Frank took to the body shell with the aim of improving the overall fit, finish and detail of the body. To begin, the 289ci Ford V8 and driveline were removed and the guys built up a rotisserie onto which the bare chassis could be mounted to assist in fabrication of the new rear end sheet metal.

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mini ute strut

After stripping every last nut and bolt to bare metal in preparation for the new colour scheme, it took 23 sections of metal to produce the new ute-style turret and surrounding pillars. The new scratch-built tailgate is one piece and functions perfectly – not that the Mini will be hauling anything in a hurry with the massive wheel tubs filling virtually the entire rear half of the body!

In and around the body other significant alterations were done to improve the overall appearance including the removal of all body seams, relocating the outside door hinges to internal items, the fitting of gas struts to allow smooth door actuation, and the fabrication of a new flat floor pan that forms neatly into the wheel tubs. All of the bolts that secure suspension and steering components were also capped to further clean up the undercarriage appearance.

mini ute

The new Sikkens custom gold tinted yellow livery is infinitely fresher and more modern than the well-used mint green worn previously. With the painted shell rolled out of East Wagga Smash Repairs it was off to Signs Plus Graphics where the marble-effect purple flames were applied to the exterior flanks, inside door trims, trans tunnel and ceiling. As a neat final touch Don from Signs Plus added some $50 bills into the graphics around the trans tunnel, hinting that this project soaked up significantly more cash than the $6000 it originally cost Dale to build, and altered the dash gauges to offer yellow and purple numerals.

mini ute engine

Returning from P&P Performance, the Windsor 289 V8 was now prepped with oversized valves, 40 thou oversized pistons, and a tunnel ram with a pair of 600cfm vacuum secondary Holley carbies sitting proudly on top in a hat scoop. Since the Windsor sits halfway back into the firewall the front screen had to be replaced with a perspex item with a large recess hacked into it.

mini ute roll bar

Not much room for the kids, but working on the diff is easy

The air-brushed money theme also makes an appearance on each rocker cover, and exhaust gases flow out through twin four-inch oval pipes that run around the diff and fuel tank at the rear.

While there was no real need, as the Mini is a show-only cruiser never to be registered, Kelvin wired up the indicators and headlights to function properly and mounted the switches in front of the driver’s seat along with those for fuel pump, electric water pump and ignition.

mini ute

Even with 10 times the preparation time of the previous owner the sheer work involved in getting the Mini’s new alterations competed in time for Summernats ’02 pushed the guys to the very last minute.

“Yeah, we decided to build a fully-enclosed custom trailer to transport the Mini to Summernats,” Kelvin laments. “But at 11pm on the Wednesday night before the show we were still welding the guards onto it! We finally left at 1am to head for the ’Nats.”

mini ute interior

Still, Summernats wouldn’t be the same without a swag of top-shelf cars turning up with last minute preparations only just completed. Making good on their intentions the Mini placed in the Top 20, bagged third place in Best Bodywork, and third in Best Special Effects Paint. It isn’t built for all show and no go though, is it guys?

“Oh, hell no,” Kelvin boasts. “Third gear burnouts from a standstill are no problem!” Like they say, smoke ’em if you got ’em.

mini ute switches

MINI SERIES

DALE Ostrofski was the madman who first came up with the idea of cramming the Ford V8 driveline and massive fats under the shell of this Mini back in 1999. Dale owns Mini Care in Toowoomba, and his original goal was to build a wild promotional vehicle for his business using tough Ford mechanicals.

He built the chassis and roll cage using steel he had laying around the workshop shed. The 289ci Windsor was also a revived workshop relic, as was the original wagon shell which was actually laying out under a tree in the backyard!

While the new incarnation soaked up an additional $18,000, Dale was able to create the original version for just $6000 since he was able to do much of the work himself. Unbelievably, the gestation period from brainstorm to Summernats winner was just 10 short weeks! The Mini was eventually sold to Kelvin and Frank to make way for some new projects including an Austin 1800 powered by a blown 351 Windsor.

KELVIN BROWN & FRANK IIRILLI
MINI PRO STREET UTE

Colour: Sikkens custom gold tinted yellow

Moving the load
Engine: Ford 289 Windsor V8
Intake: Tunnel Ram
Carbies: Twin Holley 600 cfm

Under the skirts
Gearbox: Ford C4 auto with manual valve body shift kit
Diff: Ford nine-inch shortened with 4.11:1 gears
Shocks: Motorbike coil-overs

Steamrollers
Rims: Center Line Convo Pro 15 x 3 and 15 x 12-inch
Tyres: 145/15 Michelins & 29x15.5/15 Mickey Thompson

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