Mike Guido, from Florida in the US, calls himself the World’s Fastest Clown, and with this outrageous Mini he has the credentials. But he has a serious message, too.
The Clown fronts an anti-drug and anti-smoking campaign - www.worldsfastestclown.com. Mike has no problem with adults making choices with their own bodies, but he objects to companies deliberately targeting children when selling their lethal poisons – so he fought back by going to schools and giving a fun magic act with a very serious message. As he’s crazy in a cool kind of way, he gets through to the kids where advice from parents and teachers often won’t.
To their credit, the Nissan company in the US gave Mike a ride in one of their factory race cars for a year or so, because he’s fast, and allowed him to race in full clown make-up and a fireproof clown suit. This helped raise the profile of his anti-drugs campaign, and left him with a great respect for Nissan’s bulletproof V6.
When Nissan pulled out of racing in the US, Mike decided he needed something else that would get the clown noticed.
Thirty years ago, when 19 years old, he bought a rough 1962 Mini. It was horrible but he loved it, and when it died he couldn’t bring himself to throw it away. He stuck it in a corner, where it sat until he had the bright idea of turning it into a monster clown car.
The Mini is fabulous for packaging and space efficiency, but Mike reckons it’s lousy for getting loads of power down on the road. In any case, the only way he could use his favourite engine was in rear-drive form, so that’s how it went.
Mike’s car is half Mini and half Nissan, and quickly earned the name Minissan – but is basically a race-based rollcage inside a Mini shell. The front end includes a Mini subframe and the cage has various bars passing through the shell into the engine bay, and welded in to form a rigid structure. Each weld has been ground, sanded, wet-n-dried, prepped, painted and wet-sanded to perfection. In all my years of photographing and writing about crazy Minis, I have not seen another car of this type with this level of detailing.
The firbreglass body kit was handmade by Mike, using assorted wood and filler to make the moulds. The body additions are all designed to reflect 1960s design and to follow the lines of the Mini.
Despite all this, Mike wanted to retain as much of the original Mini as possible. Much of the original steel shell has been retained, and Mike’s even kept some of the factory spot-welds under the bonnet visible to prove the point. He even kept it right-hand-drive.
The cooling system is massive. With no room at the front, the radiator had to go in the boot, the worst place for it. Huge scoops and tubes feed air to it, and there are more holes in the fibreglass bootlid than in a politician’s election promise. The cooling fan is vast, and the temp gauge drops from 135 to 90 degrees in seven or eight seconds.
The rear-mounted cooling system also helped with weight distribution, with the engine mounted back as far as reasonable. With Mike sitting in the car, virtually where the old back seat would have been, the car’s weight distribution is almost exactly 50/50.
There are no emissions restrictions in Florida for a Mini of this age, so cams and a Holley achieved 225bhp out of the 3 litres, and the nitrous bottle offers 150bhp more. The engine came out of a junkyard 300ZX, but is in fine condition and very frisky.
If you would like to read the rest of this story, order your copy of Issue 23 of The Mini Experience. <plumshop>39</plumshop> <plumshop>40</plumshop>