MINI BROADSPEED – A RARE AND FAST MODEL.
Perhaps one of the best-known MINI derivatives is the Mini Broadspeed – an all-out racing model that garnered incredible results in races across the world in the early 1960s.
The Broadspeed bears the name of Ralph Broad, a racing driver who in 1959 raced a BMC Mini, to much success, in the UK.
He designed the Broadspeed which was an aerodynamic version of the basic Mini - often referred to as a “brick”. The new aerodynamics gave the car a much higher top speed, and a number of the cars were sold in the UK to Mini enthusiasts.
Already successfully racing Mini Coopers in Australia, Laurie Stewart imported a Broadspeed Mini from the UK and was given the rights to build and sell them in Australia – a cheaper option than importing the complete car.
The speed came at a price though – almost double that of a standard Mini Cooper.
The roof and tail of the Mini Cooper S were cut off and replaced with fibreglass, which also took around 150kg off the weight of the car.
“With a 1310 cc engine and five-speed gear box, that little car won every sports racing event it was in,” Laurie recalls.
“They were so nimble, and it so easy to throw them around corners – and throw them around we did.”
Five Mini Broadspeeds were built in Australia, and Laurie raced a lightweight version which was unbeaten in its class during the mid 1960s. One of those was at the 1967 Bathurst Easter meeting, where he finished second outright to Kevin Bartlett’s Works Alfa Romeo GTA - after leading the race for five laps.
It was at that meeting that it also set a world speed record for a Mini, clocking 127.8 mph (204km/h).
That car has been restored a couple of times, and as Laurie recalls, it still hasn’t lost its charm.
“Minis really were the young person’s car,” he says.
“In their day, they were the king of all cars and every young man wanted to own one.”
These days, there are only two known owners of Australian-made Broadspeeds.
One of those owners is Barry Dare, who managed to buy the other one.
“The old Mini was like a house brick,” he says.
“The Broadspeed is designed to go through the air – and it does actually work.
“They were so much faster, when they were first released there were a couple of magazines that did a road test and they had quite a reputation.”
The reputation of the Broadspeed has endured, and after gaining a cult status among the racing community, is now revered among enthusiast as being one of the quirkiest derivatives built.