ONE MINI. TWO ENGINES. THE LIFE AND LEGEND OF THE TWINI-MINI.
MINIs have been making their presence felt on racetracks all over the world for decades. They’re fast and they corner like nothing else.
But as BMC proved in the early 1960s, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.
In 1963, inspired by the capabilities of the BMC Twin Moke (a vehicle designed for military use and that had two engines for off-roading) John Cooper came up with the idea for a Mini with two engines and 178bhp, as a new type of race car. Inspiration came quickly and it reportedly took only six weeks before the prototype was finished.
There was an engine in the front and one in the back (where the backseat would usually be), two gearboxes and two fuel pumps. It was hoped that this new Mini would be a force to be reckoned with on the racetrack.
The Twini-Mini, as it became known, was short-lived.
Originally tested by Sir John Whitmore, the Twini-Mini certainly had speed. It took him just over a minute to finish a lap at Brands Hatch. Soon after this, however, John Cooper crashed the car on a highway in England, and shortly after that, plans for the car were shelved.
But the legend of the Twini-Mini lived on, and a handful of enthusiasts set about designing their own two-engine Minis.
Dave Wallis, who lives in Adelaide, was one of those enthusiasts.
“For me, it was about the technical and engineering challenge of building the car,” Dave says.
“I’m not a huge Mini collector necessarily, but I thought it would be a good challenge to see if I could do it.”
The car took five years to complete – and rather than going for sheer power, Dave built it around two 1100cc engines with identical specifications.
The Twini Mini also features two complete sets of gauges, with a tachometer, oil pressures and water temperature and amps and volt gauges either side of the speedometer.
“It’s certainly very noisy,” Dave says.
“And it’s quite impractical. It has virtually no backseat – we’ve been away for weekends in it and you really can’t fit a whole lot in.
“But it’s a lot of fun to drive, and it definitely turns heads.”