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Nick Swift and his Gp1 Mini: Man and Machine

Nick Swift and his Gp1 Mini: Man and Machine Classic and Performance Car

Nick Swift built this Gp1 Mini just for the Goodwood Members’ Meeting


If you were at the 75th Goodwood Members’ Meeting in March, you might have witnessed the fantastic performance in the Gerry Marshall Trophy race by the ex-Richard Longman Patrick Motorsport Mini Clubman 1275 GT. Against the heavyweights, some with four times as much engine, Nick Swift and Andrew Jordan brought it in fifth after rabidly snapping at the tailpipes of a Rover SD1, two Camaros and an RS2000 for the entire race. 
 
A fantastic outing for a historic legend that won the British Saloon Car Championship outright twice, in 1978 and 1979.
 
Except this one’s a replica, magicked out of nowhere by A-series tuning gods Swiftune, whose engines were in the first three cars of the all-Mini St Mary’s Trophy race at the Goodwood Revival in 2009. Nick Swift has won at Goodwood three times driving his own cars.
 
‘Goodwood asked us if we could build it, just to scatter the big cars,’ says Swift, who runs the business his late father Glyn started in 1965. ‘The original car is just as Richard stepped out of it in 1979, and it’s too original to change: it would have needed different rollcage, seats and harnesses and a complete rebuild – and, besides, it’s just been sold to BMW for its historic collection. So we built this – the only trouble was, we only had about two months.’
 
Swiftune had a 1275 GT knocking around at its Kent base, so work went ahead, mostly by Phil Anning. The original car was built to Group 1 rules, which allowed a few more mods than FIA appendix K, which the pre-’66 Minis in the St Mary’s Trophy have to run to. Goodwood rules permit an 0.65in overbore, so the motor’s a 1330, with Swiftune’s all-steel internals. Split Webers were homologated in 1968 for the works rally Minis, so it can run them, on a period pair of Maniflow manifolds.
 
It has an extra front-mounted radiator: ‘The rules say the original has to be retained,’ says Phil, ‘but you can run an auxiliary, as long as it’s mounted within the bodywork.’ So they do away with the mechnical fan, which liberates a couple of bhp. This screamer of a motor makes mid-140s bhp at 8000-8500rpm plus over 100lb ft lb at torque at 6000-6500rpm.
 
‘With a 310º cam in the search for that ultimate horsepower it’s horrendously peaky,’ says Swift, ‘and it’s a real sod to get off the line as it only starts to make power at 5000 – so I have to keep it on the boil. On the track we’re always between 6500 and 8500, and I might have seen 9000 in the MM race in my exuberance.’
 
The transmission has to remain a four-speeder, a dog ’box with a Swiftune Mk6 plate-type LSD, which has no preload and is less snatchy than the original Salisbury type. Nick is testing a sequential five-speeder as an exciting road-car and sprint/hillclimb development.
 
There’s a little more leeway on the suspension, so it runs a shade of negative camber all round, and an anti-roll bar at the back – on dry suspension, of course. Wheels are 13in, with Avon racing tyres, and the whole thing weighs 620kg. It will hit 8300rpm in top by the end of the Lavant straight, which equates to 125mph.
 
‘It’s a bit of an animal,’ says Nick. ‘You really have to pick it up by the scruff of the neck.’
 
Words: Paul Hardiman // Photography: Jayson Fong

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