Many years ago a man named Harry Ratcliffe, the owner of the UK-based BRT tuning company, decided to take on a project with his co-director, Jeff Goodliff. The plan was to swap a 3.5L Buick V8 into a Mini Cooper. Yes, that’s right, a V8-swapped Mini.
We came across this historical build thanks to Road & Track. During their digging around, they found this quote from Ratcliffe, describing the feel of the Cooper-Buick:
To actually drive it was like throwing a hammer shaft first. It was the best and worst thing that we ever did. The best thing being all the publicity it brought us, especially when we took it to Oulton Park with Stuart Hall.
It was lethal to drive. It was very nicely built, road registered, & used an [Jaguar] E-Type differential upside down on the front end and an E-Type gearbox on the back. It was front wheel drive, which is why it oversteered so nicely because all the weight was in the back. In a race you had a good chance of being well up the field because nobody could get past, due to the car skating about all over the place!
After publishing the story, Road&Track was also contacted by a man named Brian Redman, who allegedly sold the Buick V8 to Harry for 100 pounds. He claims the build was an honest attempt to build a powerful racer, and was not a publicity stunt.
Whether or not this was done for attention is irrelevant to us. We’re just curious to see what it would be like to get behind the wheel of such a thing.
We’re also wondering what the modern day mimicry of this V8 Mini would be like. Any takers? Perhaps one could somehow shoehorn an LS V8 into a Mini hatchback, maybe even make a mid-engine track car? There’s roughly 10 months until next year’s SEMA convention – just sayin’.