Turbo Technics conceived the Minker which was based around the XR4x4, it was decided to rebadge the car as it was very different than the car originally produced by Ford. There are two distinct models, the K1 and the 323. The K1 came with the spoilers where as the 323 did not.
The Minker K1 was powered by a 2.9i 320 bhp engine and first appeared around 1988. It featured forged pistons, a revised lubrication system, uprated fuel injection system, reworked heads, twin Garrett T2 turbochargers and stainless steel free flow twin exhaust system. A completely reworked suspension based around koni struts and uprated springs was also fitted. It had a maximum speed of about 165mph which was electroncially limited to 150mph on the production version. 0-60 was achieved in about 4.8 seconds. It also featured leather trim, cd player and air conditioning. The launch price was to be about £30,000.
This was what Performance Ford said about the K1 in their review in January 1989 :
"Turbo Technics' entry into the world of car manufacturing is a high performance machine based on a much modified Sierra XR4x4 bodyshell.
Power comes from a twin-turbocharged Ford 2.9 litre V6 engine which is treated to forged pistons, tougher connecting rods, a lowered compression ratio, revised lubrication system, re-ported cylinder heads with sodium-cooled valves, and much tuftriding and balancing of moving parts. A pair of Garret AiResearch T2 turbochargers are employed, with a revised exhaust system built out of stainless steel. The Ford EEC 1V engine management system is retained, but augmented by a set of modules which allow the ignition and fuel systems to be reprogrammed to suit the new induction system. Power is stated at 320 bhp, with 330 lb/ft of torque at 3800 rpm. Maximum boost is 14lbs.
The new Ford MT-75 transmission is employed (although fifth gear is replaced by a taller gear than the standard ratio), and an AP uprated clutch is used. An oil cooler is used on the gearbox to control temperatures. The front and rear transmission final drives are standard Ford, as is the central transfer box - all of which have FF developed viscous couplings to ensure smoothness.
The front suspension system has been totally redesigned from that of the original XR4x4 and now features wishbones and concentric coils with gas filled dampers. At the rear the standard Ford arrangement of semi-trailing arms has been retained, but uprated by changing the springs and dampers, and uprating the bushes. Four pot calipers with ventilated front discs and solid rears are used to stop the car. ABS is a standard feature.
The bodywork is still identifiable as Sierra, but has become far more purposeful thanks to the aggresive styling work designed by former Ford stylist Neil Birtley, who is now at Coventry Polytechnic. A downforce of 350 lb at 110 mph and exceptional stability are claimed. The appearance of the car is neatly finished off by a set of polished alloy rims with 205/50 VR15 tyres.
The inside of the car is very opulent, having electronically controlled Recaro seats in the front, with the rear standard Ford item recovered to match in a soft leather. Wilton mats are used atop the deep pile carpet, and additional courtesy lights are fitted. The specification is completed by extra warning LEDs, a compact disc player, high standard stereo radio cassette, and a coded security system.
Performance of the car is said to be phenemonal, with 0-60 taking five seconds, 0-100 eleven seconds, and 50-70 in fifth exactly four seconds. Maximum speed is stated at 170 mph.
Deliveries of the car commence in mid 1989, at a price in the region of £33,000."
After the K1 came the Minker 323, mechanically identical to the K1, performance was no different. This was introduced around 1991 so was based on the facelifted Mark Two Sierra. The cost of the 323 was about £33,700. Again it is not known how many were made, only the one being seen in all magazine articles and adverts.
The Minker was to all intents and purposes the ultimate 4x4 Sierra that you could buy. It was quicker than a standard Cosworth achieving sixty miles an hour a full 1.8 seconds quicker, by 100mph it would be 4.9 seconds ahead. In fact at the time most road going supercars would struggle to keep up with it, the beauty of it was that it looked like a normal Sierra bar a few discreet Minker badges !
The advert to the left states "THE ULTIMATE UNDERSTATEMENT - THE MINKER 323 - Amidst the vast array of superlatives from roadtests in numerous Magazines, Autocar & Motor sums up Turbo Technics' Minker in one succint sentence."
"The Minker 323 is an astoundingly fast, surefooted and intrinsically safe, total performance machine."
"Each Minker 323 is hand built to customer specification and is only available from Turbo Technics' Head Office at the address below."
0-60 4.8 secs. 0-100 12.3 secs.
50-70 (in 4th) 3.6 seconds.
60-80 (in 4th) 3.6 seconds."
Fast Ford magazine pitched it against a standard 4x4 Cosworth in July 1992 and the figures below bear testimony to how quick it was. One quote from that article sums the car up perfectly "In another car you would probably select third to tackle a steep incline; the Minker simply soars up it in fifth, requiring only a slight increase in pressure on the accelerator."
|From Rest (mph)||Minker 323||Sapphire RS Cosworth|
|Gear||Minker 323||Sapphire RS Cosworth|
I am trying to research the Minkers and anybody who has any information, no matter how small, please contact me.
I have managed to gather some details of the nine cars that are believed to have been built, which is as follows :
|MNK001||323||Black||Ex Geoff Kershaw|
|MNK002||K1||Blue||Ex Press car|
|MNK004||323||Black||Ex Press car|
It is known that Geoff Kershaw, owner of TT, wrote off a Sierra running Minker running gear during a saloon car race, this is certainly MNK001. He now owns and races a Sierra running a 600bhp 24v Cosworth 2.9 lump generally regarded as a Minker 2. In fact Turbo Technics offer the Minker 2 conversion for Sierra's to much the same level as that raced by Geoff for a price of about £15,000.
I have also found out that TT offered the car without the interior modifications, just a standard Ghia type interior as per the original XR4x4. It is assumed that this would have bought down the price to a more reasonable level, the kind of person that the car would of have been aimed at would have been more interested in the running gear. To the average man on the street the car would have been no more than an extremely fast and capable Sierra and was never going to be considered a luxury car. This is where the pricing of second hand examples can be difficult because they would only really appeal to an enthusiast and certainly couldn't be considered in the "run around" mould !! Petrol consumption when driven hard can fall to about 6-8mpg so the car would be hard to use on a daily basis unless you have shares in a petrol company !!
Autocar Road Test - 1990
Autocar tested the car in 1990 and the following quotes again bear out testimony to the ability of the car.
"To put the Minker's right-foot effect into perspective, take the following list of exotica : Audi Quattro 20v, Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1, Ferrari Testarossa, Lamborghini Countach 5000QV, Nissan 300ZX, Porsche 911 Turbo 3.3, TVR 390SE. You've beaten them all from zero to 60mph. The Minker's 4.8 secs time is unbeatable. You are the fastest thing on the road. For the standing quarter mile, there are only two cars which will be just ahead : the Porsche (by 0.2 secs) and the Countach (0.3 secs). Fast company indeed."
"The car deceives to flatter. Looking like it does - a rudely adulterated Ford Sierra - you'd naturally think "it can't be that good". But it is. In terms of handling and braking - both ultra-important areas with a saloon car this quick - the Minker excels."
"The responsibility for safe progress rests fair and square with the driver, because the Minker will out-drive just about any other road-going chassis."
"How do you turn a Ford Sierra into something that Turbo Technics calls a "totally practical, family-sized, grand tourer" ? It is just that, and there lies the rub. The Minker is an astoundingly fast, sure-footed and intrinsically safe, total-performance machine. But it still looks like Dagenham."
Performance Car Test - October 1990
Performance Car tested the car as part of a general article about Turbo Technics, and how the business has grown into what it is today. This is an edited version of their write up on the car.
"It was embarrassing returning to the Turbo Technics Minker-K1 after a short shopping spree. Not because of the car's outrageous appearance, although a startling metallic blue paint job, shovel nose spoiler, Opel Manta 400-style rear wing and fat wheels and tyres are far from my idea of subtlety. No. Mainly because a middle aged couple were inspecting the car as if it were some alien craft that had just materialised, Star Trek style, next to their Nova.
As I approached, the lady was down on her hands and knees reading the script on the centre caps of the alloy wheels, and as I walked past - to save her embarrassment, you understand - she muttered to her companion : "It says Bottger, here". Scratching their heads and muttering dunnos, they climbed into their car and departed unenlightened. Had she inspected a wheel on the car's other side she would have found the words Turbo Technics.
This kind of subtlety (the badging, not the visuals) has long been a trademark of Turbo Technics. But why so coy about the Minker-K1 ? It represents the most thoroughly Turbo Technics-engineered car yet and takes their interpretation of the Sierra 4x4 to its ultimate conclusion. In addition to completely rebuilding the V6 and adding twin turbos, doubling its output to 320bhp, they strengthen the 4wd chassis, add larger brakes, re-style the front and rear ends, and, if requested, re-trim the interior. Alpina rebadges BMWs as homemade for less, yet only the centre caps of the Minker's Bottger alloys carry the TT logo, and then only on one side of the test car.
Minker - a strange name if ever there was one - writ large in crimson letters between the rear light clusters is a cryptic clue, one trickier than you'll find in a Telegraph crossword. It is formed from the first three letters of the surname of the man behind Turbo Technics, Geoff Kershaw, and those from his wife's maiden name.
When the Sierra XR4x4 and the new 2.9 litre V6 became available, TT really went to town. The 2.9 is better suited to tuning as its aluminium alloy cylinder heads have three separate exhaust ports, as opposed to the one siamesed of the 2.8's cast iron items.Twin turbos had been tried on a Sierra XR4i 2.8 with superb results and were the first step with the 2.9.
The first version produced 225bhp and was initially installed in a Granada, Kershaw's favourite Ford. The benefits would be better illustrated in a lighter car, though, and with the Capri and XR4i now defunct, TT elected to direct its efforts towards the Sierra XR4x4. The Minker project was already lurking in the background and TT knew that the car's running gear would have to be uprated to handle the 300+bhp they knew the 2.9 was capable of producing.
Stronger differentials were manufactured and these underpin the subsequent, more powerful versions of the 2.9, the 250bhp and "full house" 280bhp. A handling package was under development, too, and TT eventually had a complete high performance chassis.
Meanwhile, Neil Bertley of Coventry's Lanchester Polytechnic had penned the car's, erm..distinctive lines. After some rudimentary aerodynamic work at the Bruntingthorpe test track to tune the amount of downforce generated by the spoilers, the car made its debut at the Birmingham International Motorshow in 1988. A year later, at Motorfair, it appeared again in company with the new Lotus Elan and Panther Solo. As the others were in static display, it was Noel Edmonds driving the Minker that kicked off BBC2's Top Gear show report.
If you're not taken with the car's looks, to drive it is to forgive all. Despite the 280bhp conversion being described as "full house", TT's ultimate 2.9 is reserved for the Minker. Like the 280, the Minker unit is hand-built and fully balanced, has forged pistons and cylinder heads accurately machined by a CNC miller. Unique refinements are nimonic valves and a fully remapped ignition and fuel computer.
With the twin, water cooled T2 turbos blowing hard through the air-to-air intercooler, the 2.9 produces a whopping 345lb ft of torque at just 2800rpm and 320bhp at 6000. That's more than enough to mix it with a Porsche 928GT, plenty to tease a BMW M5 with, and, as I found, sufficient to make the rider of an 1100 Suzuki look down to check that all his spark plug leads were connected.
Those familiar with the standard 2.9's coarseness wouldn't recognise this incarnation with its silken delivery and gorgeously throaty exhaust note. It's an engine you could never tire of hearing or using. There is virtually no lag and the action starts as low as 2000rpm which, with the car's optional long gearing, makes third gear a devastating overtaking ratio. On A and B roads it is the only cog you need, it's effective span of 30 to 90mph lending the term "primary safety" new clarity. In regular passing manoeuvres, the rest of the world seems to stand still while the Minker exploits the gap.
The first Minker customer has handed over a cheque for £37,000 and firm orders for seven more are to be fulfilled.
For the less extrovert, the 280bhp conversion provides much the same entertainment for a more modest £8700 on top of the price of the base car. Performance naturally falls short of the Minker's sub-5 seconds to 60 and sub-14 second quarter mile, but 5.4 and 14.2 are nothing to be ashamed of. Like the Minker, it is governed to 150mph, though this electronic limiter of our test car was set just below this, at 147mph. The joy is that apart from its Bottger alloys anf fat tyres, the 280 looks rep-Sierra standard.
Beneath it's Clarke Kent exterior is the Minker chassis with its firmer springs and dampers and stiffer bushing which retains the XR4x4's naturally supple and relaxed feel. Indeed, it seems slightly too compliant, though there is never any doubting its cornering ability. On a dry road, unleashing all 280bhp at the wrong time during a corner does nothing to upset the car's line, if you manage to set any wheels spinning it will be the two on the inside."
Performance Car Test - May 1991
In May 1991, Performance Car magazine pitched the Minker against a much modified BBR Cosworth Sierra. Again the results were astounding and for a better comparision figures for a Ferrari Testarossa were included.
The article was entitled "Dance With Wolves" of which I have included a small section below :
"Q-cars. Street sleepers. Wolves in sheeps' clothing. Or just plain discreet. Whatever, cars like these two Ford specials make an awful lot of sense. Confirmation of that came from two day-glo clad traffic policeman ahead of me in the queue at the paydesk of our nearest filling station.
"What's that then ?" said one, looking out of the window to where the Minker was parked. "Looks like a Sierra", said the other, uncertainly. "No, it's not quite right. It must be one of those Nissan Primeras." In fact it doesn't look anything like a Nissan with its sharp front end and smart alloy wheels. The Minker is a Sierra hatchback based special built by Northants firm Turbo Technics.
You may recall that the original Minker K1 was a bright blue thing, festooned with spoilers, shown at the 1989 Earl's Court Motorfair with extraordinary claims for 170mph performance. It was based on Ford's XR4x4 and had twin turbos and much modified suspension. It was anything but subtle.
Nevertheless, Turbo Technics found a buyer for that Minker but summised that the real market lies with quieter, less attention grabbing road expresses. Hence the Minker 323 which captured the attention of those eagle-eyed coppers because they couldn't recognise it, not because it shouted "come and get me"."
|From Rest (mph)||BBR Cosworth||Minker||Standard Cosworth||Ferrari Testarossa|
|BBR Cosworth||Minker||Standard Cosworth||Ferrari Testarossa|
|Speed||BBR Cosworth||Minker||Standard Cosworth||Ferrari Testarossa|