MINI COOPER S
MR. BEAN APPROVESText and Photo: Reinis Babrovskis
Is Mini really a girls car? Think again! Clark proved this car can win multiple shows and be as macho as you can imagine. This air'ed out Cooper S turned heads everywhere it went and was featured on magazines and various automotive blogs.
By now anybody in the local car scene in Northern Ireland should know Clark. No? He's the one that looks like Harry "Opie" Winston from the Sons of Anarchy? Still nothing? Well he is the one everybody mixes up with Peter from Paintworx. In full seriousness, this 29 year old man from Bangor has some serious talent in building multi-award winning show cars along his mates.
WHY A MINI?
For God's sake Clark, what happened, you were a VW man at heart?! Let's be honest we all knew Clark from his eye-catching purple MKV VW Golf GTI that won multiple shows both here and across the pond, and we were all aware of his passion for the German manufacturers. But it turns out Clark never intended to swap the seat to a Mini to begin with. Once the time came to sell the GTI Clark had full intentions of building an R32 powered MKII Golf; however, the project wasn't really playing ball. The project was abandoned, and his show-winning car was sold to his long time friend Peter. Additionally, Peter came up with the perfect purchase plan - what he missed in the full asking price was compensated with a car. Yes, you guessed it - the Mini Cooper S. And whilst it was never intended as a long term car, rather a run around, Clark did fall in love with this classic and decided to build it up to his usual standards.
Just like the original, the modern version of the Mini Cooper is equally artistic and really requires minimal changes to make it wonderful.
One of the things I loved most about Clark's Mini were the subtle changes to it, leaving it nearly impossible for others to figure out what makes it actually so nice. Little changes like facelift front xenon headlights and facelift taillights make a world of difference to me.
The front lost all the "blingy" chrome parts that were replaced with proper John Cooper Works bonnet grill.
As the car was reaching a "teenager's age" the paintwork was a bit of a let down, especially as the car started coming together so well. Luckily Clark's best friend is handy with the spray gun. He settled for a lovely dark silver and the car went away to Paintworx for a fresh layer of paint.
Whilst getting the respray Clark also decided to address the bootlid that was suffering from the usual rust issue. The Mini was debadged and smoothed giving it a very clean look.
To complete the look the Mini was in desperate need of sideskirts. Clark opted for the beefy John Cooper Works that dind't only look well but also helped to achieve the slammed look.
Now there is a subject Clark probably could talk about for hours. We all know that a set of wheels will either make or break the car. Clark somehow always managed to chose the right set for his cars. And to be honest this is the very first mod the car actually received - a set of glamorous staggered 17" Magnesium BBS Motorsport E49 wheels with a 6.5inch lip at the front and 7 inch at the back. They were spaced out for the ultimate look with a 20mm spacer at the front and 25mm at the rear wheels.
And my lord it looked AMAZING.
C'mon who are we fooling; there were never going to be any other option than air suspension. Clark doesn't do arch gap. He sourced and fitted D2 Air Suspension, modified lower front strut mounts, rear camber arms and trimmed the front bumper to allow the car to go lower.
The Air suspension was controlled via Airlift V2 digital management.
The Viair 480C compressor and air tank were displayed beautifully in the rear where normal people might have car seats for the children for example!
Probably the least modified part of Clark's Mini was the engine, and you know what - there really was no need for it anyway. The Mini Cooper S is a stunning piece of kit from factory. This go-kart vehicle is powered by an amazing 1,6 litre inline 4 cylinder turbo engine producing a healthy 163 horsepower.
The only thing that the heart of Clark's Mini received was an Alta 17% supercharger pulley. The whining noise of the supercharger is so addictive; if you never driven one, I beg you to try one. They are a glorious vehicle to drive.
The mini also received a custom-made cat back exhaust system.
The lively engine is attached to a well balanced 6 speed manual gearbox that will never need to be used for more than two gears, as it will easily do the UK speed limit in second.
The interior of a Mini is a beautiful place to be in, and it really didn't need anything, but.. it turns out it did. Clark just couldn't find it comfortable at all.
Struggling with the lack of legroom Clark knew the seats had to go. Luckily Valentine's day was just round the corner and as always our supportive other halfs came to the rescue. Clark's girlfriend Nicki got him an amazing set of Corbeau bucket seats that Clark mounted on custom lowered rails. Now this was comfy!
Once that was sorted it was "fasten the seatbelt" time, and a few minutes after the seats were in, a few clicks on the world wide interweb and a set of Takata Race harnesses were ordered.
Next up was the roll cage and false floor to accommodate the air suspension reservoir.
Lastly Clark decided to retrim the Mini steering wheel to finish the off the interior.
I was sad to hear Clark made up his mind to return the the car back to standard and sell it on, but you know what - he'll come back with another awesome project soon. It was certainly my favorite Mini on these shores.Well done Mr.!