There have been some fine looking versions of the MINI since 1959 when it first appeared, but very few have gone quite as extreme as the John Cooper Works MINI Buggy which affectionately tips its cap to the beach buggy fad of the sixties and seventies.
This is designed to be a rally vehicle, and with that in mind, JCW are aiming it squarely at the 2018 Dakar Rally – the hardcore off-road endurance event that spans several countries. So the John Cooper Works Buggy will need to be pretty adept at coping with sand dunes, camel grass (those large wiry clumps you see in deserts I believe) and rocky terrain then.
The Buggy was developed in conjunction with X-raid, a company that has previously secured 10 world titles along with 4 consecutive Dakar Rally wins. They have worked with MINI before of course when the MINI ALL4 Racing vehicles were introduced to Dakar in 2011. The team have put the car together not with all-wheel drive as you might expect, but as a rear-wheel drive vehicle.
There is some astute thinking behind this as you might imagine, because according to the Dakar rally rules, such vehicles are allowed to have bigger wheels and increased ground clearance – add to this the weight saving compared to 4×4 and you start to understand the thinking behind this. It’s not such a great gamble though, as alongside the John Cooper Works Buggy will be the tried and tested all-wheel drive John Cooper Works Rally. Seeing them side-by-side, you really do see how much effort has gone into designing a buggy that is as eye catching as it is powerful.
Regarding the Rally, X-raid Team Manager Sven Quandt has praised the older car’s reliability – and the Rally hasn’t been ignored by MINI because of the Buggy either, for 2018 it will have a new chassis, will be lighter and have improved suspension…
The Buggy is powered by a 3-litre twin-turbo diesel engine putting out 335bhp and – crucially – 590lb ft torque. MINI and X-raid decided to build the exterior shell from bomb-proof Kevlar and CFRP over a tubular steel framework for protection which has been fatigue tested to withstand a gruelling 5,000 miles of racing.
The 2018 Dakar Rally will be the 40th event and it kicks off on 6 January in Peru with four MINI Rallys and three Buggys. The event will take MINI and X-raid from Peru to Bolivia and end on 20 January in Argentina.
MINI aren’t just planning on competing, they are aiming to win Dakar in 2018 with their two-pronged attack. Last year the JCW Rally finished 6th, a fine achievement, but this does allow room for the planned improvement.