Can a Charger Hellcat embarrass this Honda-swapped Mini?


What is a hot rod? Ask around, and most will describe some vehicle that has been modified with a larger engine in an effort to enhance speed and acceleration. A 1932 Ford with a small-block Chevy swap fits the description, this Mini Cooper powered by a Honda J-series V-6 just might be that classic combo’s modern equivalent.

Even if you disagree on whether this Mini satisfies the traditional hot-rod criteria, you have to agree the build is very well-executed. The Honda engine was sourced from a mid-2000s Acura CL and is mounted right behind the front seats. Simply adding two cylinders and relocating the engine was not enough, so there is also a supercharger which bumps output to 500 horsepower. The width of the transaxle necessitated fender flares which push the “bulldog stance” of a Mini to a new extreme. A roll cage, nice pair of seats, snazzy billet shifter, and infotainment dash round out an interior that looks akin to that of most muscle car restomods.

To see how this build holds up on the drag strip, the team over at Hoonigan put it up against a 1000-hp Dodge Charger Hellcat. The sedan wears traditional big and littles, with slicks out back. Its four-digit output surely means the Mini will get trounced … right?

This Mini gets right down to business when the starter’s arms drop. In the first 1000-foot stand-off, held from a dead stop, the Charger spins its tires at launch. The Mini squats down and opens a five-car gap by the finish line. From a 40-mph roll, the 1000-foot race tightens and eventually favors the Charger, but the contest is far closer than most would assume from the spec sheets alone. The key factor? Weight.

The Mini tips the scales at a scant 2000 pounds; the Charger is said to weigh 4575. The owner may have cut a little weight by choosing skinny front wheels, but compared to two-ton bulk of this sedan, the savings are probably negligible. Less than half the weight and at least half the power is a combination for a fair race. This unusual comparison proves that horsepower is only part of the equation. Would most people call this Mini a hot rod? Perhaps not, but we’re here to make the cast that the potent little Brit is worthy of the title.

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