The original Mini with its sublime handling was a tuners dream and giant-killer in its heyday. While the A-series remains infinitely tuneable today and in part has benefited from advancements in technology with 16v heads and 5 speed gearboxes and so on, the cost of achieving 150 BHP or more is extremely expensive and the engines lose some of their tractability for everyday use. Torque steer, understeer and excessive traction issues are often a consequence of chasing power from an A-series.
The Z Cars conversion utilises a more modern engine centring on a superbike power unit or the highly-acclaimed Honda Civic Type R unit. Whilst these engines are at a premium with prices climbing they still represent greater value over the A-series and can be tuned reliably from a standard 160 BHP to 400 BHP onwards utilising forced induction. With the engine relocated to behind the driver in a mid-engine configuration, there is an instant transformation to a micro modern-day giant-killer with genuine supercar performance, whilst retaining that classic Mini silhouette.
The heart of the conversion is a rear-mounted precision engineered bolt down rollcage which doubles as the engine cradle and locates the bespoke Z Cars suspension, drive shafts, brakes and all the mechanical components to complete the installation as a home-assembly project with clear instructions and a DVD build guide. Factory builds are also available as a turnkey solution. We generally encourage customers to source their own engine and gearbox.
Upfront we offered our front subframe and suspension package with adjustable coil over shock absorbers, double wishbone suspension. The kit can be supplied with an aluminium fuel tank and new radiator.
There are a vast array of upgraded parts such as Wilwood brakes, limited slips differential, bulkhead, and various engine upgrades.
Please take a look at the Autocar review video of one of our Kits above.
We are currently reviewing the range of kits with a view to adding a few enhancements to facilitate an easier installation and routine maintenance. Furthermore there are likely to be developments for improved handling characteristics taking advantage of developments in technology and materials complemented by the use of some new components. We have also embraced feedback from customers who have raced their cars (and yes, some have crashed them) where they felt improvements could be integrated. In respect to the existing kits, these are essentially under review as the availability of the cornerstone engines, the Hayabusa and Honda K20 carry a premium due to their limited supply. Whilst these engines were perfectly suited to our mid-engine kits, their numbers are dwindling and they are if anything, a victim of their own success commanding a premium as their availability becomes ever more limited. These kits will continue to be available but we are looking to make a few enhancements to improve; kit quality, handling and to facilitate an easier installation and routine maintenance. These improved kits will be relaunched in Q3 but it would be unwise for the relaunched business to rely solely on kits based on these engines. To give a feel for the original kits perhaps to allow newcomers to Z Cars to appreciate what is generally included within a typical Z Car kit, we have put together a collection of images and video clips. However we would emphasise, the relaunched range will more than likely have a few enhancements and new components to the traditional kits in addition to the new engine options currently in development.
We have been researching the addition of further engine derivatives given the scarcity and rising prices of the ‘Busa and K20. Given the industry shift toward embracing the turbo engine with it’s efficiency, tunability and reliability, we are presently looking at the viability of the latest engines from VAG and Ford, namely the TFSI and TSI, Ecoboost and the normally aspirated versions; FSI and Duratec engines. These are more freely available and common to countless models across the VAG and Ford ranges. These would carry over the same enhancements planned on the legacy kits.
In addition to the mid-engine variants, we are keen to introduce a FWD addition to the Z Cars range. We have selected an engine, and will be undertaking the development in the next few months. These kits are likely to be an entry-level in terms of cost with the intention of developing an engine, subframe combination as a straight replacement and substantial enhancement over the standard A Series engine and heavy duty subframe. We are expecting this to be a simpler conversion than the mid-engine conversions.
The final development of the Hayabusa QBA kit will be completed to take the new Quaife QBA drivebox with integrated reverse. This will be our preferred Hayabusa-based kit which has numerous advantages over that of the chain driven variant.
A new subframe will be developed which will be closely associated with the kit fitted to the Monte Carlo which had a number of bespoke components. We are looking to utilise freely available components whilst mirroring the better handling characteristics of the Monte over that of the original front subframe.
Further development will be undertaken to finalise the Fiat 500 and Lotus Elise kits.