This Moke is owned by Michael Sloan on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, but has been a test bed and show-piece for Matt Read, in developing a twin-cam conversion for Minis.
Matt grew up around Minis. His dad, Jack, was well known for running the business Readspeed in the 1960s and 1970s, so it is not surprising that Matt ended up making his own life as a Mini mechanic.
When he left school in 1980 he started looking for a twin-cam head to put on a Mini, that could be done without spending the family inheritance. “Originally I was looking at cutting apart motorbike heads, when they had the cam chain between the cylinders. I even looked at a Fiat head, and thought I’d get two sections, then a Kwaka (Kawasaki) head, a Suzuki head and finally a BMW head came along, with the cam drive on the end of the head, and that was it. I grabbed a head gasket and went for it.”
That was back in the early 1990s, and while it was probably not the earliest similar conversion – apparently Gregg Temkin in the USA built one in 1989 – without the Internet in those days, Matt and his mates were flying a little blind. “We actually had it running in 1992 or 1993. Not that well, though. We didn’t really know what we were doing back then. We got the head on and working, though.”
Matt said that the project got a little blind-sided early on, because of his inexperience with engine management computers. “Yeah, we were pretty green in that department. We grabbed a computer off a mate of mine, that he previously ran on a Toyota. We chucked it on and it worked, so we kept tinkering with that. In hindsight we should have binned that and gone for a whole new computer and new loom back then, because as soon as we put this one on, within minutes we had it running way better than we’d ever had before.”
That turning point came in 2004 with the Aussie-made Adaptronic system. “Andrew at Adaptronic in Sydney is a legend, and Anthony the Qld distributor”, Matt enthuses. “Very helpful. They do anything for you.”
Although he spent many years sorting out the system, Matt was determined to get it done himself. “As a mechanic, I didn’t want to pay someone else to tune my own Mini for me”, Matt laughs. “I couldn’t have that.”
That, of course, has paid dividends, as Matt has so far sold around 30 of his conversions “and helped with loads all over Australia, and around the world really”.
Matt said a variety of heads can be used, all from the BMW K-series motorbikes, and they provide an affordable alternative to the custom-made twin-cam conversions from a number of overseas suppliers.
If you would like to read the rest of this story, order your copy of Issue 24 of The Mini Experience. <plumshop>41</plumshop> <plumshop>44</plumshop>