Inventor’s rocket Mini makes its jet-powered debut

Andrew Pleszko with his jet engined Mini which will debut at Santa Pod at the weekend.Photo: Sonya D

Andrew Pleszko with his jet engined Mini which will debut at Santa Pod at the weekend.Photo: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan- Archant

An instantly recognisable icon of British design it may be, but you've never seen - or heard - a Mini quite like this.

From the front end, Andrew Pleszko's dark blue 1989 Mini Classic looks like it wouldn't be out of place zipping around the streets of Turin in the Italian Job.

But go round the back and you're faced with an unusual sight sticking out of the boot - a Rolls Royce helicopter jet engine.

Flick the starter switch and the deafening roar makes it even clearer that you aren't dealing with a classic 1,000cc Mini.

The 27-year-old Thetford inventor believes his DIY creation is the only one of its kind in the UK and it makes its public debut at Santa Pod Raceway in Northamptonshire this Sunday.


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Mr Pleszko, an engineer at Atkin Automation in Thetford and former student at Methwold High School, said he started work on the car just before Christmas 2012.

'I got the idea after we went to Santa Pod last year with a jet-powered go-kart.

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'Those can hit 70mph and are pretty edgy to drive.

'Then someone suggested putting a jet in a Mini and I had seven engines which I'd been collecting so I thought I'd better use one,' he said.

Getting the un-aerodynamic Mini up to speed is a tricky challenge, according to Mr Pleszko, who describes it as being 'like trying to push a brick through the air'.

But if testing is anything to go by, the Mini in the Park event will see Mr Pleszko's car cover a quarter of a mile in 16 seconds, breaking through the 100mph barrier in a car with a nominal top speed of 77mph.

He says that is just the beginning, and once a bigger exhaust tube is fitted the car could top 130mph.

That speed comes at a price, with the Mini guzzling 40 litres of fuel a minute in order to reach 800lbs of thrust.

And with the jet engine coming in at £1,500 with the Mini to pay for on top, it hasn't been a cheap venture.

But Mr Pleszko has received help with the project, with wheels and tyres being donated by local firms and increased interest from sponsors.

His work on the car began with stripping out the interior. He then moved on to removing the original engine and put two large batteries in its place.

Squeezing the sizeable jet engine in was tougher, involving some clever welding and moving the seat forward as far as it would go, leaving the driver virtually pressed up against the windscreen.

A removable steering wheel and sticker job later and the car is ready for tomorrow's run.

He now has a series of events lined up for the summer and beyond with motor enthusiasts eager to see his one-of-a-kind creation.

The testing he has carried out suggests the real thing will be one to watch.

'I was told to keep it below 30 on the first run and it was pretty scary even then.

'The next time I was told to keep it below 60 and ended up doing 98.

'On Sunday it will be flat out so we'll see what happens.'

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