Considering how big even mid-size pickup trucks are getting, there’s been a rise in demand for smaller trucks. Car-based pickups, like the Chevrolet El Camino, are experiencing a revival. One YouTuber turned her Tesla Model 3 into a pickup. Hyundai is gearing up for the Santa Cruz compact truck. There’s even a company that’ll turn a VW Beetle into a truck. But once upon a time, there was another, even smaller car-based pickup: the original BMC Mini pickup truck. While a brilliant example of efficient design, it was compact and light, but not exactly speedy. One owner decided to change that, by installing a twin-turbo V8.
The original Mini pickup truck
Like the revived Morris JE, the original Mini is a British icon of utility and style. The Mini was made in a variety of body styles, including a sedan (‘saloon’), a panel van, and of course, a pickup truck. BMW Classic reports that roughly 58,000 Mini trucks were made from 1960-1981. That’s actually only 1% of all the Minis ever made.
Unlike the Morris JE, though, the Mini truck was always a fairly bare-bones truck. It was actually based on a stripped-down version of the Mini sedan, albeit one stretched by 9.8”. But it was light, weighing in at just about 1500 lbs, according to The Drive. Which was good, because the original ’61 engine made only 34 hp from 0.85 liters. Luckily, in 1967, this was increased: the pickup now had a 1.0-liter engine making 38 hp. But, with that lightweight body and frame, the Mini pickup could carry 700 lbs.
Impressive, for a truck that can almost fit inside the bed of an F-150. But Aaron Morris, the owner of one 1969 Mini pickup, wanted more.
The twin-turbo V8 Mini pickup truck
According to The Drive, Morris originally swapped out the engine in his Mini truck with a V6 taken from a Euro-market Vauxhall. However, someone rear-ended him, ruining the engine. Once Morris got off his crutches—this is a classic pickup we’re talking about, no crumple zones—he got to work.
He replaced the V6 with 4.2-liter V8 from an Audi. And, for good measure, he strapped two Garrett GT17 turbochargers on it. Stock, the engine developed 340 hp. Now, The Drive estimates it could be hitting 450. Previously, the Vauxhall V6 and all its plumbing took up the entire bed. Now, there is no bed: all that power required a custom tube frame.
Aaron Morris completed this build fairly recently, so no word on how powerful or quick it is. But considering how quick the V6 made his Mini truck—as seen in the footage above—the Audi engine might just turn it into a rocket.
Other insane builds like this
Morris’ pickup isn’t the only Mini truck equipped with a V8. According to V8 Church, British shop GTD Cars built a truck like that in 1994. However, this V8-powered Mini pickup was a little different.
The truck was built on a Ford GT40 frame, for one. And its 4.9-liter V8 wasn’t turbocharged. However, it was tuned to deliver 280 hp. Sadly, there’s been no news of it ever since it was sold a few years ago.
Now let’s see if anyone converts a Mini pickup truck to electric drive. That’d been an interesting drag race.