Typically, an R50 MINI--the first-generation of BMW-owned MINI hatchbacks–never made a lot of power. Even its sportier spec, the MINI Cooper S, made less than 200 horsepower from 1.6-liter supercharged four-pot. That clearly wasn’t enough for hot-rodder Duane Smith, who decided to rip that little engine out, in favor of a small-block Chevy V8.

Instead of 1.6-liters, the newly enhanced MINI Cooper S displaces 355 cubic-inches and is paired with a Tremec 5 five-speed manual transmission. Oh, and they power the rear wheels instead of the fronts.

To make it all fit and handle properly, Smith took the front and rear subframes, as well as both suspension setups, from an E36 3 Series. Not only do they fit nicely, requiring very little modification, they make the little MINI handle really well, too.

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Other modifications were necessary to get it all to fit and work properly, including mods to the pedal box, HVAC, and software. The latter was the trickiest bit of the build, getting the GM electronics in the small-block V8 to work with the MINI electronics. Though, some things just ironically fit easily, such as the GM power steering pump fitting perfectly to the BMW’s rack and pinion steering setup.

The rest of the car looks pretty much bone stock. From the outside, with the engine off, you’d never know it was anything other than a normal MINI. Once it starts up, though, the small-block Chevy-powered MINI Cooper S is a proper monster. It sounds every bit like an old-school Chevy V8, too, which makes the custom MINI sound so much better than stock. When anyone hears the small-block-MINI drive by, they’re immediately intrigued but what it might be.

Smith takes his car to car shows, enters it in contests, and brings it to local gatherings, to show off his creation. And we can see why, it’s awesome.

[Source: Motor Trend]