The Mini-Trac had a brief stint in Antartica in 1965. — Image from BMC Experience via Youtube/Calum G
PETALING JAYA: An Australian engineer and fabricator crossed the Mk 1 Mini and a Swedish Snow Trac ST4 to create one of the most bizarre cars ever to roll across Antartica.
The embedded video tells the fascinating history of polar transportation and for a brief moment in time, the Mini-Trac's role in it.
The clip, created by YouTuber Calum Gillies, with help from various contributors, was posted up on Jan 23.
The 1950s and 60s were a period of intense exploration of the southern continent by various countries. The expeditions required large and small track machineries that had to be reliable in the face of a hostile environment.
In the early 1960s, the Australian National Antartic Research Expeditions (now known simply as Australian Antarctic Program) was looking for a smaller and cheaper snowmobile to complement its fleet of complex and heavy duty machinery for transport and day-to-day activities in the frigid land.
The long and short of it was that Australian engineer and fabricator Terry O'Hare proposed the Mini-Trac and refined its design before it was shipped for polar duty in 1965.
The standard 848cc Mini engine was deemed underpowered and was swapped with the 1,098cc mill from the BMC Morris 1100. This resulted in the Mini-Trac producing 50bhp and 81Nm of torque.
O'Hare sought to use as many of the parts of the Mini as possible. The four seats were retained while a heater was installed. However, the steering wheel was replaced by two vertical levers for turning left or right. Braking was still done using standard Mini drum brakes operated hydraulically at the rear wheels only.
Only one unit was ever sent to Antarctica. As the smallest and admittedly the most stylish track vehicle there, it was described as being capable and smooth to drive by users. However, it was plagued by clutch issues and returned to Australia before the year was out.
Only three were ever built and they have since faded into the annals of history.