Mini Sport — in the big time

Posted on 02 Jan 2018 and read 910 times
Mini Sport — in the big timeFor the past 50 years, Padiham-based Mini Sport ( has been at the forefront of keeping classic Minis ‘on the road’. It supplies a wide variety of after-market parts for this iconic car, while its sister company — Motorsport Advanced Developments — manufactures ‘own brand’ performance parts for Minis, both classic and new.

The ‘own brand’ parts were originally produced by neighbouring company Hope Technology, but as Hope’s mountain bike
component-manufacturing business grew, its capacity to take on sub-contract work for Mini Sport diminished, prompting the latter to take its first steps into machining.

As demand grew, the company soon realised that it needed a separate machining facility, and Motorsport Advanced Developments was “born in a facility just across the road”.

From having a single CNC machine, this business has grown into a world leader in the machining of high-performance parts for rally cars; it is also a leading supplier of sub-contract machining to a variety of customers, with work split 60/40 between Mini Sport work and its external customer base.

Daniel Harper, Motorsport Advanced Development’s managing director (and son of Mini Sport founder Brian Harper), has made a significant investment in machine tool technology and now has 10 Mazak machines: six twin-spindle lathes, three vertical machining centres with fourth-axis capability and an i600 five-axis machining centre (the latest arrival).

Motorsport Advanced Developments has also invested in 3-D printing and scanning technology to reverse-engineer parts and developed a partnership with the Sheffield-based tooling company WNT (, which is a member of the Ceratizit Group.

Mr Harper said: “We have worked with this company from day one. In the early days, we came to rely on the expertise and experience of its technical sales engineer Nigel Walls — and the support offered is just as vital now, as we move into five-axis machining.

"For me, it is important to have that personal contact as we develop our machining capabilities and our staff. We have a relatively small and young workforce — just 12 people, with an average age of less that 30.

They include an apprentice — Ben Anderson — who has been ‘crowned’ the number-one turner in the country.”

As a result of this close working relationship, WNT now supplies around 70% of the cutting tools used by Motorsport Advanced Developments.

Regularly used tools are stored in one of the company’s Tool-o-Mat vending systems (this also provides detailed reports of tool usage and automatically re-orders stock), which is replenished by WNT on a regular basis.

Any requirement not covered by these regular tools is ordered using the company’s ‘next day before noon’ delivery service.

In addition to following in his father’s ‘business’ footsteps, Mr Harper is continuing the family love of rallying. Having used a variety of cars in a number of different classes over the years, including classic Minis, his attention has turned to developing and rallying the modern BMW Mini; in 2004, Mini Sport was the first team to rally a new Mini, developing a ‘showroom car’ that subsequently put the Mini back at the forefront of rallying.

In 2016, Mr Harper won the Manx Rally Championship, prompting the introduction of a new car — the JCW-01c World Rally Car. P

roDrive built 33 of these Minis, which cost £350,000 each. They produce some 300hp, Mr Harper describes as a ‘lot of torque’, and they feature modifications based on parts machined by Motorsport Advanced Developments.

“This new car contains a very high level of technology, much of it on the level of Formula One, which is why the working partnership between ourselves, WNT and Mazak is a powerful combination that works to everyone’s benefit.”

Speaking on behalf of WNT’s involvement, UK and Ireland managing director Tony Pennington said: “The opportunity to support Daniel and his rallying activities was a good fit with our engineering technical support and tools.

"We use our participation in sport to strengthen our core philosophies of teamwork and fighting spirit. This partnership with Motorsport Advanced Developments is simply an extension of that.”

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