We love Minis around here. And really, what's not to like? They're quick, they
have a supercharged engine, great handling and braking, and they can fit taller
drivers with ease. And that's just the stock car. Any time you super charge
anything, it's going to get extra attention from the aftermarket. We've been
waiting a while for a Mini like the one built by Pilo Racing in Wyckoff, New
Jersey. Pilo offers a comprehensive line of upgrades
for the Mini, with everything from cosmetic enhancements to full-on race-engine
components. As of this writing, the company is working on internal
modifications and building a 300-plus horsepower race engine.
The formula for making any boosted car whether it's turbocharged or
supercharged-appears simple: Just add more of what makes the car good in the
first place. But it's not always that easy. Take the Mini, for example. While
it offers a zingy little 1.6Šliter four banger, the engine has a head with tiny
ports. You can cram as much boost into it that you want, but you'll quickly run
up against some pretty major flow problems.
Daniel Churco of Pilo realized this, so he sent the head west, to DPR in Gardena, California.
You old timers out there will remember Dan Paramore as one of the key guys in
the early sport compact performance movement, going back over 30 years. His
head helped power some of the fastest professional and armature drag , rally
,road race, off road, and land speed cars around. Cominging
from drag racing into other venues, such as land speed records and off road
But those hyperkinetic hands still know their stuff, and Paramore turned his
full attention to the head. The stock valves were reshaped with a custom
radius, and both the intake and exhaust valves were polished with a fine swirl
finish. The combustion chambers were reshaped and polished to a mirror finish.
But the biggest improvement was to the tiny intake and exhaust ports, which
were barely big enough for a finger to fit through. Paramore increased the size
and improved the shape on both sides of the stock head dramatically,
significantly improving flow. On its own, DPR and Pilo claim an extra 13
horsepower and 11 lb-ft of torque. All this grinding was done with one goal in
mind: more then factory boost. When the head was returned, the New Jersey crew kicked
things off with a reduction pulley on the Eaton M45 Roots-type supercharger,
which bumped boost up to 18 pounds. Pilo kept the stock intercooler, but added
its C02 spray bar kit, which the company claims adds a couple of
horsepower-thanks to the colder intake charge. The engine inhales through a
Pilo cold-air intake, and exhales through a UUC Motorwerks dual muffler.
Ignition is handled with a Pilo Racing coil and Fire Wire plug wires attached
to Accel plugs. All told, Pilo says the enhancements make for 181 horsepower at
the wheels, a good chunk more than the roughly 150 to 155 it puts down to the
ground stock. Upon Paramore's coaxing, we applied a Microlon CL100 treatment to
the crankcase, transmission/transaxle, and also to the fuel system. We were very
suprised to pick up an additional 3 1/2 horsepower at the rear wheels!
Since its dyno run, the car has been modified a hit more, and
Pilo now estimates around 195 wheel horsepower..
The goal of this Mini is not just to go fast, but to take advantage of the
Mini's greatest asset: Handling. With its stubby wheelbase and wide track, the
Mini has the potential to be the greatest autocrosser ever built, and Pilo
fully intends to make its Mini the best of the best in that category. So off
went the stock springs, replaced with H-Sport springs that lower the car 1.5Šinches.
Struts are still stock, but the anti-roll bars are adjustable units from UUC,
19mm in front and rear. Under the hatch is a Pilo Racing strut-tower brace.
Brakes are also an important consideration, so the stock rotors were replaced
with crossdrilled and slotted units from RacingBrake on both ends, clamped by
EBC Greenstuff pads. Rolling stock consists of Yokohama AVS ES100 205/45ZR-17 tires wrapped
around 17-inch Kazera KZ-V wheels. Pilo says that the suspension modifications
make for 1.15gs of cornering force. That's a hell of a lot, and a number that
we didn't get a chance to independently verify, but if true ... damn. Pilo's
car has won both M-Club and SCCA autocross events, so clearly they're on to
Exterior enhancements are subtle but effective. The electric blue paint is
accented with a white roof and exterior mirrors from the factory. Adding to
this are the aforementioned wheels, plus chrome surrounds for the stock grille.
It's inside where things get a little more dramatic. On the driver's side
A-pillar is an AutoMeter Ultra Light boost gauge. Directly beneath it is an
A'PEXi RSM/GP GeForce multimeter. A shift light has been mounted to the
tachometer, and Pilo installed its own even shorter shifter for the stubby
6-speed, along with a Whalen shift knob. The stock stereo has been ditched in
favor of a Pioneer Avic-N1 unit, plays DVDs and CDs, and also functions as a
navigation system with a motorized screen that doubles as a set of accessory
gauges. Pretty cool, huh?
Some Future items from this team of Pilo and DPR are, bigger Pilo / DPR bullet
proof high flow valves, Custom pistons and a 300 hp target street legal engine.
It's great to see the Mini aftermarket starting to open up, and Pilo's car is a
fine example of where it's going. Hell, how could you not love these things?