Normally, we reserve this space for a story about a truck outfitted with audio and video upgrades that outshine the rest of the modifications on the vehicle. But when it comes to this pickup truck, we really have no excuse. We plugged the story into any available slot for one simple reason: This truck is SICK.
Yes, this is a pickup truck - a version of the Mini Cooper called the Austin Mini Pickup released for the '65 model year. These were quite popular in their day, but you won't find too many of them around...and none like this one. England's quintessential compact cruiser collided with the mad hatter of English customizers, Paul Ireson. Paul has been tinkering with cars since before he opened his first shop in England in 1976, where he set up customers' cars for racing. He's tuned plenty of his own cars too, and for decades has jumped behind the wheel for competitive laps. His first exposure to the world of glossies was a story on his '59 Ford Popular that ran in Street Machine magazine in the early '80s (it had a blown V-8 and a Jaguar rearend. Paul said it was one of the first street-legal supercharged cars in England.). An automotive tinkerer that comes from a land of tuners and racers, Paul now lives in Fort Meyers, Florida, where he opened a shop, Classic Auto Sport, for building customs and importing classic Mini Coopers. He's built a lot of Minis-even raced a few in his day-but not like this (has anyone?).
A single gullwing opens to reveal the 15-inch monitor mounted to the inside of the door.
Where do we start? Really, where? Everything's been touched on this vehicle, so there really is no hierarchy of fabrication to be addressed here. Let's begin, then, with the overall form of the vehicle. The body was completely handmade, from the very identifiable Mini front end, along the 3-inch-chopped roof, to the truck-like cargo box. Sherwin-Williams colors wheel about the vehicle with Jekyll-and-Hyde dualism. Medieval tribals cut across a disintegrating, swirly green background on the passenger side of the vehicle, while realistic flames flash across the blue body color on the other side.
There is one door, a gullwing (with shaved handles) that swings upward to reveal a 15-inch LCD set into the inside of the door. But that's not the most spectacular view. The originally cramped interior volume of the Mini has been squeezed into the configuration of a single-seat cockpit, colored to match the overall paint scheme on the exterior of the vehicle, and comes complete with a fiberglass seat custom-formed to Paul's butt. Twenty-two Stewart-Warner gauges (11 for each motor) and buttons are arranged in a line that follows the curve of the wraparound fiberglass "dash" that encases the rider, anchored by the Momo steering yoke and monitor for the Pioneer AVIC-Z1 in the center. That Momo yoke is linked to a Porsche 911 steering rack.
Two 8-inch JL Audio W7 subwoofers flank the seat, while ZR650-CSi 6-1/2-inch component speakers in the kick panels radiate the highs and middle frequencies. A two-channel 300-2 JL Audio amplifier feeds the component speakers, while a mono 5000/1 amp powers the subs. Two 6-inch LCD screens are mounted into the headliner and replace the rearview mirror. Pedal boxes from Wilwood Engineering hint at Paul's enthusiasm for racing (or, perhaps, they indicate that he is keen on stopping safely after the racing has been done). A full rollcage protects the driver should heroic attempts at braking suddenly and alarmingly fail.