A couple of weeks ago, I was browsing the social networks in order to see the latest pictures of other Mini projects. Fortunately, this tiny car maintains a strong and active community, so there is always something to discover. The project I found this day was nevertheless exceptional: A highly customized Mini Leyland from 1980 featuring the well-known Martini Racing livery. The car is owned and built by Joachim Van der Goten and I took the chance to get into a conversation with him.
A livery that made racing history
Without any doubt, the Martini Racing livery is one of the most known racing paint schemes ever. It’s fairly difficult to identify its first appearance as it gradually evolved from a few Martini stickers in the 1960s to the famous three-colored stripes from the early 1970s onwards. The Porsche 917 which finally won the 1971 Le Mans race is often considered to be the first car to wear this dress. While its origins are veiled in the dust of history, the subsequent success of Martini Racing is well-documented. A range of Porsches successfully participated in racing events wearing this livery, Bernie Ecclestone’s Brabham Team was clearly visible sponsored by Martini Racing in the mid-70s, and finally Lancia’s Group B rally cars rose the Martini livery to the pinnacle of its fame.
Though I am not aware of any classic Mini originally sponsored by Martini Racing, to put a Martini livery on a classic Mini seems to be a natural symbiosis to satisfy the outstanding racing history of both species. This said let’s turn back to Joachim’s interpretation of the Martini look.
Stripes to make a star
In essence, the Martini livery is made of three-colored stripes in conjunction with additional Martini Logos. The role of the stripes is to emphasize certain design elements of the body. Joachim did a fairly good job in this context, as the straight center stripes feature the aggressive look that is supposed for a racing car, but still the side stripes emphasize the classic design elements of the Mini’s body. I am pretty sure that if Martini Racing had ever sponsored a classic Mini, this is exactly what the livery would have looked like.
The Martini livery is a no-compromise racing look, but the chrome bumpers or the narrow wheels which are originally fitted to a classic Mini do not necessarily live up to its reputation. In removing the bumpers all around and mounting flares to cover the extra-wide wheels Joachim managed to match the classical look of the Mini properly with the Martini dress.
Look good, feel motorsports
The interior of the car got as much attention as the exterior. Joachim did several iterations until he was satisfied with the interior. The door cards and the dashboard are self-made. The clean design and the suede leather they are made of, gives a fine compromise of good looks and motorsports feel. Similarly, the roll cage is restricted to rear part what promotes racing feeling, but does not hamper the daily use like a full cage most probably would do. The three-spoke Sparco wheel seems to be a logical finish of the car’s styling, but in fact it is there from the very beginning. A neat detail borrowed from the racing scene is the yellow stripe that marks the center position of the wheels.
The Mini is powered by a 1275cc A+ engine which is equipped with a Stage 3 modified cylinder head, a single carburetor, and the usual range of plug-in performance upgrades. This might be nothing uncommon under the bonnet, but it provides a decent power output to let the Mini run. Joachim probably takes care about the engine in the future. I am very sure that he will do this with the same passion he did the rest of the car. A good reason to keep myself ready for another article.
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