Felixstowe man to star on small screen with converted Mini Cooper
- Credit: Simon Benton
A Felixstowe man is counting down the days until he features on TV with his 1960s Mini Cooper, now fully equipped with an electric engine.
Simon Benton, 56, will feature in an episode of ‘Vintage Voltage’ on Quest TV channel on February 11, which follows the journey to convert the Mini to a Tesla electric engine.
Simon rediscovered the car in the back of his parents’ garage in 2018, where it had been languishing for almost 30 years.
Reunited with the car he and his sister learnt to drive in, Simon was determined to not only bring it back to life, but install it with the latest technology, too.
This newspaper first heard of Simon’s ambitious project in May. Back then, he told us: "The car was built in 1967 and given to my mum by my dad for Christmas in 1977 and has stayed in our family and in Felixstowe all its life, except for the last six months, when it's been in Wales.”
Now, Simon has had the Mini (nicknamed ‘OBie’ after the first two letters of its number plate) back home for some months, and to say he is thrilled is an understatement.
He says: “It’s fantastic, it’s got so much power now. It's 300 brake horsepower, which is super car performance. It can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just under five seconds, too.
“It's so drivable on modern roads, whereas the old Minis were so powerless, you couldn’t keep up with traffic. This car now with its Tesla motor is reliable, it doesn’t break down like the old petrol versions used to, it doesn’t need oil and it doesn’t pollute, either.
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“For me, it ticks all the boxes.
“You can switch to street mode and track mode, so you can tune its power right down for the roads or switch it back for the race track.”
Simon says he has indeed tested OBie on the race track, but says we’ll have to wait for the show to come out to find out how he got on.
He says: “The whole point of this was I wanted it to look like a 1960s classic Mini cooper. I wanted all its clever technology to be hidden. This is what you call a ‘sleeper.’
“This is the ultimate sleeper. It’s hiding a Tesla power unit, but to look at it, you’d never know. You’d think it was just a cute, nicely-restored 1960s Mini.”