Mini Cooper Build – For Brent Cheney, the Little Tikes race car bed is always cool. In fact, as an adult, he wanted to make one out of a Ferrari F40.
It was an overly high order, so Cheney looked for something else to satisfy his car obsession. A kid from the 80s, he has fond memories of the arcade game Cruise’n USA. It had a seat, steering wheel, gears and pedals, all of which accommodated him in the game. With that in mind, he went from the idea of a race car bed to a race car simulator and decided to build it for the men’s cave in his new home in Salt Lake City.
Mini Cooper Build
Cheney, a painter and art marketing consultant, is no stranger to cars. He owns a racing shop and tuning company, Turtle Factory, which modifies Nissan, Mini, and Toyota for use primarily in Time Attack Racing. He clearly has the skills to build a simulator.
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Projects start with software, not cars. Cheney chose iRacing as a simulator because “it’s probably the best computer racing game ever,” he said. This allows the seat position to be moved relative to the screen and gives the left side view like a real car.
Cheney decided to upgrade the computer to run the software. This doubles all the requirements of the iRacing system. The hardware he chose were all top shelf.
The computer is powered by an 8-core Intel Core i9 9900K 3.6 GHz processor with Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition 57.3 CFM CPU cooler and an Asus PRIME Z390-ATX LGA1151 motherboard. Two 8GB Vengeance DDR4-3000 memory sticks provide 16GB of RAM and the video card is an 8GB NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Founders Edition. The system runs Microsoft Windows 10 Home and has 1 TB of memory thanks to a 2.5-inch SanDisk Ultra 3D SSD. All are housed in a Thermaltake View 37 ATX case and powered by a Corsair CXM 750W 80+ certified ATX semi-modular power supply.
With the system built in, Cheney needed a car to enter. He had several criteria for which car he would use. At first, he wanted to make as few small changes as possible. It had to be a sports car that an enthusiast could modify. “I wouldn’t buy a four-door 1999 Toyota Corolla,” said Cheney.
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The car also has to have a cool factor, but it can’t be too cool. “Even if I got a free 911 Turbo, there’s no way I’d cut it and put it under my house,” Cheney said.
Cheney had a $2,500 budget for the car, and he wanted a convertible car first. He found a broken 1997 BMW M3 droptop in a local classifieds, but sold for under two. Looking back, Cheney says he’s glad it didn’t work because of the light pollution the convertible made possible. A cup would be a better choice as it provides a dark environment.
The next option is a 1990 Mitsubishi Eclipse wrapped like Brian O’Conner in “The Fast and the Furious”. However, he knew he had to cut it to fit his basement, and it would be difficult to re-weld it without unsightly seams.
Cheney noticed that the R53 Mini Coopers had a rear window covering the rear pillar, lots of plastic, and a two-tone look that made it easy to hide the seams. He knew that these qualities made him the right choice.
Silver Mini Cooper Photo
A 2005 Mini Cooper S with an engine listed in a local ad for $2000. Cheney offered the owner $1000 and the car was his.
Cheney listed the Mini powertrain in the classification as an offering. One man offered to build the entire drive train and suspension for $1,000.
While buyers pulled the strings that made it happen, Cheney dismantled the interior trim, doors, hatches, headliners, glass and every wire and fastener until the Mini was stripped to metal. Both work in the garage.
Cheney then cut the body into 8 pieces using a DeWalt 60V Max FlexVolt Cordless rear saw with a 6-inch Diablo Steel Demon Blade.
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To make sure the house doesn’t smell like a car (Editor’s Note: Is it really like that?), Cheney pressure washes the parts more than once.
He used more than 200 metal staples to glue his car back together. Starting with the back three, Cheney worked on the top four, then added the roof.
“When I got to the roof, I realized how much it all came out,” Cheney said. He tied one side, then watched the other side slip by about an inch. The entire roof must be trimmed and up to an inch of variance covered with trim.
With no suspension to attach the wheels to, Cheney simply placed the wheels on the axle.
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Prior to installing the carpet, seats and trim, Cheney installed the Harman Kardon 5.1 home theater surround sound system behind the kick panel where the factory speakers will be used. He then added a Fanatec Podium DD1 F1 Edition steering wheel and column, both of which are customizable. The original driver’s seat works with the system.
Fortunately, the Samsung CHG90 curved monitor that Cheney chose exactly aligns with the edge of the window from the A-pillar to the A-pillar. “It looks like they made a monitor for this car,” said Cheney. “This car is an absolute miracle that all of these things match up to what happened.”
With the car back together, Cheney stuffed the contents of the simulator into the engine compartment and placed some iPhone-controlled LED light rolls underneath for full effect.
Cheney also added a keyboard to the cockpit to control the computer. He turns the system on and off by opening the hood and shutting down the computer, but he plans to bring a start button in the cabin of the Mini.
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The entire project set Cheney back about $6,500 and six weeks of his life. That’s a lot cheaper than a Ferrari F40 bed, and the resulting simulator offers hours of fun.
Cheney turned his childhood dream into something unique, achievable and memorable. In the process, it surpassed the captivating experience that Cruise’n USA provided years ago.
Spy Shots Video Super Cars Concept Cars Hybrid SUVs First Drives Muscle Racing Industrial Cars Electric Cars Luxury Cars Feature Cars Technology Display A passion project that he will express at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, called “Vini.”
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This wild creation has been around for the last four years and while it looks like a Mini Cooper body kit from the outside, it’s much more than that.
Firstly, the hatchback is powered by the BMW S65 4.0 liter naturally aspirated V8 used by the E90 and E92 M3. This engine produces a cool 414 hp and is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. To fit this engine, the floor pan and cylinder head had to be changed and the car sat in a Subaru WRX STi subframe with special MacPherson struts and Powerflex’s own polyurethane bushings.
The hatchback’s exterior has been revamped with flared fenders, a new hood and gold alloy wheels, but given the overall makeover under the skin, the exterior isn’t much different from the standard Mini Cooper. The same cannot be said about the interior.
The Mini is equipped with a Cobra Motorsport racing seat and a full roll cage. There are also hydraulic handbrakes, a motorsport-inspired carbon fiber steering wheel and a new carbon fiber dashboard. No luxury in sight, even the carpet and seats have four-point racing seat belts.
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“Vini’s Powerflex V8 Mini is an iron fist in a velvet glove: fully-used road engineering, that’s as comfortable on the track as it is on the road,” Powerflex said in a statement. “With 414bhp available and a short wheelbase body weighing over 1300kg, the Vini has the ability to push the boundaries of physics with the Toyo Proxes R888R track tyre.”
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