The humble Mini has been customized in almost every way imaginable, but this is the first time we’ve seen a mid-engined, rear wheel drive example come up for sale powered by a 200+ hp Honda Civic Type R K20A2 engine.
This car is one of many around the world that was resurrected during the Covid Era, when people had plenty of time at home on their hands and the excuses not to finish the project vehicle in the garage slowly evaporated.
Fast Facts – A Mid-Engined Type R-Powered Mini
- This car was built using a kit from Z Cars in the UK, this provides the rear subframe and many of the parts needed to convert a Mini to mid-engined, rear-wheel drive car.
- With 200 hp in standard tune, the Honda Civic Type R K20A2 engine provides approximately 260 bhp per ton when installed in a Z Cars Mini, and up to 430 bhp per ton with forced induction.
- The Type R K20A2 engine is a 2.0 liter (1998cc) inline-four cylinder engine with double overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, variable valve timing, and 200 hp at 7,400 rpm.
- Z Cars was originally founded in Britain in 1999 by Chris Allanson to provide both kits and turnkey cars, in the years since the company has been responsible for some of the fastest Minis in the world.
The Z Cars Mid-Engined Mini
When the Mini was first released back in 1959 the engineering team behind it could never have known that over 60 years later people would be building 400+hp mid-engined, rear wheel drive versions of the car in their sheds.
Above Video: This episode of Petrol Ped features a Z Cars Mini powered by a Civic Type R engine, it includes plenty of onboard driving footage and engine audio.
The Mini is historically notable for its use of a transversely-mounted inline-four cylinder engine that includes its transmission, and sends power to the front wheels. This powertrain layout is now used by the majority of passenger cars in production worldwide.
Due to the small size and low weight of the Mini it’s long been attractive to those who want to take it racing, John Cooper created the Mini Cooper in 1961 which went on to become one of the most successful rally cars of its time.
The Z Cars approach to getting more speed out of the Mini is relatively complex, it requires a new tubular steel frame be bolted into place to accommodate a new rear-mounted engine powering the rear wheels.
A number of engines can be used in this conversion, the most popular choices are engines sourced from the Suzuki Hayabusa superbike, as well as the Subaru flat-4 boxer, and of course, the Civic Type R K20A2.
During the build the rear seats are removed, the new frame is installed, the track width of the car is increased considerably which requires flared wheel arches. The original engine and transmission is removed from the front and replaced with a radiator and cooling fans for the new mid-mounted engine.
The new engine sits close behind the driver and passenger offering excellent weight distribution, and it’s accessed through the rear of the car.
Depending on the final specification, the Minis from Z Cars are more than capable of wiping the floor with essentially any modern hot hatch and many modern sports cars.
The Z Cars Mini Shown Here
The car you see here was originally built in 2007, it’s powered by the engine from a UK-spec 2002 Honda Civic Type R which feeds power to the rear wheels via a 6-speed manual transmission.
The donor car was a 1993 Mini Mayfair, however apart from the unibody not much of the original vehicle remains. Inside you’ll now find BB5 bucket seats, new carpets, a custom dashboard, and an OMP fire extinguisher system.
A quick-release steering wheel has been fitted and the car uses a Kpro V4 reprogrammable engine management system, and it has a digidash with laptop/GPS plug-in ports, a 12V plug, a voltage meter, and a start button.
The car now rides on fully adjustable coilover suspension front and back, and it’s fitted with Wilwood disc brakes front and rear with four-piston calipers up front on drilled and vented rotors.
This extremely quick Mini is now being auctioned live own Car & Classic out of the UK, if you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing.
Images courtesy of Car & Classic.
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.