Big power is always fun, but it pairs best with a small, lively chassis.
As any informed performance enthusiast will tell you, it's not just horsepower that matters; it's horsepower per unit weight. Put 350 horsepower under the hood of a full-size truck and the results are merely adequate. Put that same 350 horsepower under the hood of a tiny, lightweight car and the results are absolutely exquisite.
That's exactly what elite tuning outfit Manhart has done with the Mini John Cooper Works GP, tuning the ECU for 350 peak horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque, and tweaking with the suspension and styling to craft what it calls the Manhart GP3 F350 - a thoroughly bonkers car from a company renowned for doing bonkers things.
Not that there's anything wrong with the John Cooper Works's original 301 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, which has already been more than a handful for some new owners. The new 350-horsepower rating is made possible by an Airtec intercooler and a cat-back exhaust with a new gas particulate filter pipe. All four corners of the car sit on lowering springs, dropping the ride height by about eight-tenths of an inch up front and six-tenths at the rear, over matte black-finished 19-inch Manhart Concave One wheels.
That's not where the aesthetic upgrades end, though. The Manhart GP3 F350 also rocks a huge aftermarket wing, bulging fender flares, and a full matte black vinyl wrap with plenty of bright gold accents, including racing stripes and body side graphics. The tuning firm says that for a few dollars more, they'll toss in a multi-function digital gauge and any of a host of aftermarket Cravenspeed interior and exterior parts.
It's not clear whether the limited-volume Manhart GP3 F350 will make its way stateside, but most of its upgraded bits are available for individual purchase through the company's web store. And moreover, this won't be the last we hear of the German tuning firm's Mini tuning efforts; they say they're already working on still more performance upgrade parts, as well as "another limited edition of the same JCW GP."
Bearing in mind that only 3,000 Mini JCW GPs will be produced and the limited allotment in the US is already sold out. The first deliveries have already taken place, though, so should you ever cross paths with a Manhart version, you can be sure it's an incredibly rare item.