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Mid-Mount Moke Madness

A supercharged Toyota 20-valve four mid-mounted in a Moke?!

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

Click on pics to view larger images


This article was first published in 2001.

Is it true that all Mini Moke owners are nutters? It sure looks that way. But Scott Walker isn't the same kind of flower-power freak that you often see behind the wheel of a Moke. He is still a bit "out there", however. How else can you regard a guy who rips around in a 13-second, mid-mount engine'd '76 Californian?

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Scott started getting just a little bit nutty back when he owned (and fell in love with) a stockie 1275cc Moke. Knowing how much fun they could be, he later leapt at the opportunity of purchasing this particular Moke. At the time, he was drawn to its aftermarket mags, roll bar - and its nitrous whiffin' 1380cc Cooper S engine! Of course, when you start off with a bare-bones vehicle that weighs only 632kg (standard), you don't have to be a professor to realise that this little monster could put the wind up some much more powerful machinery. A genuine 15.0-second quarter mile run (while still owned and driven by the previous owner) is not what you'd expect from your average Moke!

And Scott isn't your average guy.

Then came the same old story - "I just couldn't get enough power." One solution was to further develop the old Mini engine, but it was gonna be much more practical to convert to a high-tech Japanese-import engine. This would give the potential for (much) higher max power as well. Scott was initially planning on slipping a Honda V-TEC motor under the bonnet, but this changed after some conferencing with Yager Race Engines (the guys who built Trent Young's successful Toyota sports sedan). Scott was swayed in the direction of a 1.6 litre, DOHC, 20-valve quad-throttle 4A-GE beastie. All factory-rated 160hp of it.

Oh, and this screamer of a motor had to be mid-mounted and rear-wheel-drive - coz the Moke's off-the-line traction was bad enough even with the Cooper S engine!

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Converting the Moke to mid-mount RWD Toyota power involved such fun as cutting out the back floor, installing full-length chassis rails and fabricating mounts for new rear suspension. The motor went in using a Corolla crossmember and a brass/copper radiator went in at the very back. An aluminium fuel tank found a place under the bonnet, together with a swirl pot and a Bosch EFI pump. Then came wiring in and tuning the programmable fuel and ignition computer - an Injec EM3.

The transaxle in service is the unit that came bolted to the motor - and which was originally found in a Japanese Corolla Levin. Clutch slippage is now less likely thanks to a ceramic brass-button device teamed with a lightened off-the-shelf flywheel. Custom driveshafts are fitted. The intake system commences with a K&N conical filter, while the exhaust (what short length there is) uses aftermarket Japanese extractors leading into a 2½-inch pipe with a straight-through muffler.

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Once back on the road, Scott could feel that his demented little monster had more go. One hundred and thirteen horsepower (at the wheels on a Dyno Dynamics) is a lot of grunt in a car of this type. But it didn't go q-u-i-t-e quick enough. After six months of running around in a Moke equipped with two and a half times its factory power output (of 54hp), Scott still needed more.

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The car revisited Yager. This time the 1.6 litre engine was split open for a little bit of head porting - primarily to the exhaust runners. The chambers were also "taken out" to lower the compression ratio. You can guess what followed - yep, forced induction.

Since the Moke was running the same 4A series block that comes equipped with a Roots-style blower in Japan, it was the perfect opportunity to unite the 20V head with Mr Blower. Rather that stick on the standard sized 4A-GZE unit, however, the guys elected to go for the up-scaled 1G-series unit. This is presently set to boost up to 10 psi - nothing too extreme. But, still with a relatively high static compression ratio, it was essential to intercool it. Without having to worry about anything like core clearance or end-tank space, Scott went for a fairly large air-to-air intercooler that used to belong on a Nissan. Carrying over the previous 2½-inch exhaust, K&N induction and the (remapped) Injec ECU, the boosted bugger now pounds out 174hp at the back wheels. Y-eah! Scott knew he was in for some fun with this engine combo.

He wasn't wrong.

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At the car's first drag outing at Willowbank, it bewildered a mass of spectators with its tyre frying 13.7-second pass (at 97 mph). Yes, despite having the weight of the engine and gearbox placed directly over the drive wheels, traction is still a major issue. But that's kinda fun in itself.

During the build, the suspension has also copped a makeover. The lightweight (engine-less) front-end squats on Moke suspension (modified for height and camber), while the business end sees a pair of custom coil-overs. Take into account the vehicle weight, engine power and the upgraded suspension and you'll understand why this 2.25 turns lock-to-lock vehicle feels so much like a racing kart. With the vehicle's weight now up to 690kg (ooooh!) you might not think there's much call for improved braking. There is! Scott (very wisely) reins back the stampede of horses with full compliment of early Camira brakes - front and rear.

Cosmetics haven't gone untouched. When it came to recolouring the galvanised panels in BMW grey, it was soon discovered that not much paint was required... There was enough left over to respray the interior as well (and not many cars can lay claim to that!). Complimenting the fresh lick are sports mirrors and a Sailfish Marine modified roll bar and aluminium engine housing. Note the mesh-covered cutout in the rear panel, which lets air flow through the radiator. Fourteen by six-and-a half Dragways j-u-s-t fit within the guards, but don't ask Scott what sort of rubber he's riding with. "They're cheap ones," he says - there's not much point investing money in a product with such a short-term lifespan...

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Indoors (?) take a look at the tricky contoured dash that was made at Yager. The basic dash shape was carved in foam, smoothed and then covered in fibreglass. The foam backing was then removed from behind the glass skin. The dash inserts are filled with Autometer gauges for rpm, mph, boost, oil pressure, water temperature and fuel level. Other touches completing the interior are a Momo wheel and harnesses (it's easy to fall out of a flying Moke). Scott again took advantage of the good stuff coming in from Japan when he installed these late-model sports seats.

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So, has Scott finally finished playing around with his little Moke yet? No sir! He's already got his hands on a turbo exhaust manifold, which will give rise to a supercharged and turbocharged super-monster. With plans to blow through the supercharger (to give higher maximum boost) and a change to more up-market management (probably MoTeC), it's quite probable that Scott will achieve his goal of cracking the 12s.

It sure is bloody long way away from the standard Moke's 20.3-second 0-100 km/h performance!

Contact:

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Yagar Race Engines/Austinville Wreckers
+61 2 6628 0206

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