At first glance, this just looks like a nice Mini pickup. As you move around it, though, you see that the proportions aren’t quite right – the trend for extended cabs on North American pickups has been applied to a Mini pickup, probably for the first time in the world.
This was done mostly for fun, and it’s an excellent visual joke in an area where there are almost as many pickups on the road as there are cars. Many North Americans drive very large pickups as status symbols, which are polished lovingly and never used for actually carrying anything in case the bed gets scratched, so this pickup is subtly and quietly subversive.
As if that weren’t enough, it also goes a lot faster than most chest-wig pickups, because it’s fitted with a Suzuki engine and box.
Paul lives near Toronto, and is half of MrMiniCanada.com, which supplies Mini parts to Canadians. He has spent 36 years building special interest and racing vehicles, including 22 offroad 4×4 racing trucks, many hot rods and pro-street cars, and of course many Minis.
His first Mini rebuild was standard, which was fairly dull as far as he was concerned, but provided useful experience. Next came a wide-arched and radically lowered saloon with tubular subframes anda 1380cc A-series engine.
After that came a rear-wheel-drive GT5 Mini with an 1800c Nissan engine, and then a RWD Estate with a Ford Pinto 2.3-litre engine: the smaller 1600 and 2000cc Pintos were the UK sizes, 2300cc is the US and Canada size.
A couple of front-wheel-drive Suzuki powered Mini saloons followed, and then this 1980 Pickup with its Suzuki twin-cam engine.
Next up is a fully de-seamed saloon with a Promotive front subframe and a Yamaha R1 bike engine.
The Pickup is a 1980 Austin imported from England: its panels were all original and the body has been stretched by 10”, which has allowed the inclusion of rear windows in the American extended-pickup style. The doors have been treated to hidden hinges and shaved handles with modern door latches, and at the back, the tailgate has been de-swaged – there’s a new word for you – so that it’s flat, and then a Canadian-sized licence plate depression has been Frenched in. To carry on the less-is-more styling theme, the tail lights have also been Frenched in and changed for a plain modern type.
The rear wheel arches have been tubbed, and there’s now a sideways-hinged cover for the pickup bed. Inside, the original single instrument has been retained but used in an aluminium dashboard, and the 1990 Suzuki GT that died for this project was also grave-robbed of a pair of nice high-back seats.
Under the bulged and flip-fronted bonnet sits a twin-cam Suzuki Swift GT engine and box, a DOHC 16-valve twin-cam producing 100bhp at 6500rpm.
It has a pair of fat SU HS6 1.75” carbs on a custom-fabricated intake manifold that looks very purposeful, and a very large-bore exhaust manifold with pretty well-matched primary pipes and a stainless system with twin tailpipes. The usual frustrating conversation with the donor car’s on-board computer was cut very short by throwing away the ECU and replacing it with simple earlier Suzuki electronic ignition. Those carbs can throw in a lot of fuel and air, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to find that more power and rpm have been squeezed out of the engine than standard.
A nice change for a Mini is the fifth gear, as A-series engines can get a little raucous at highway speeds with just four gears.
The Suzuki front hubs and shafts were used as well, although the adjustable unequal-length wishbones were fabricated. Long coilover shocks are a product of offroad racing – smooth and supple, but offering a lot of control of compression and rebound rates.
The rear suspension comprises fabricated tubular trailing arms with Mini hubs fitted with Suzuki brakes, adjustable for camber and toe-in.
The Suzuki also donated its four-wheel disc brakes. Rear discs are overkill in an almost weightless Mini Pickup, but there is a big advantage in using a complete and already balanced braking system. One major bonus being, of course, that it all came free with the rest of the scrapped Suzuki.
Most of the story is best told in pictures. Bear in mind that these are snaps taken by Paul during the build, rather than professional photographs.