As a ‘Throwback Thursday’ this week, I thought it was time for a notable look at the legendary NCK – the prestigious Road Rally car to be exhibited on the 28th of March at our Mini Sport ‘Cooper Mini Day’. Cyril Bolton’s NCK has been regarded my enthusiasts as the ‘Ultimate Road Rally’. A unique example of a Rally Mini, which poses some unconventional modifications and a lot of history.
Above: Cyril Bolton and NCK at Rallye Bristowe ‘1975
Sponsored by Mini Sport, Cyril a mechanic himself dedicated over 700 hours of critically logged time to building NCK for its rally purposes. Before 1974 the car had already secured several wins alongside three high-ranking places in the major British road rallies across the country. The car showed great potential and in 1975 finished fourth overall in the Motoring News Rally Championship – a firm contestant amidst the golden era of road rallying.
At first glance the car seems to meet all standard specifications of a Rally Mini, strengthened in parts and lightened with relevant replacements such as Perspex instead of glass and the complete removal of the rear seat and trim. Cyril understood that a power disadvantage would be prominent in contrast with the RS 2000’s, BDA’s and Datsun 240Z that he was regularly competing with. So weight was kept down to try and restore balance.
Other slight modifications include standard suspension with Mini rubbers at the front and a simple coil/damper arrangement at rear, power attained from a five port, 1380cc S unit, a worked cylinder head and a specialist Mini Sport camshaft and exhaust system. Additionally an all synchro close ratio gearbox with a low final drive was used.
Above: NCK conversion profile 1976
However, it is the acute attention to detail that ensures that NCK certified its exceptional reputation as the ultimate road rally Mini. Most striking were the 12 in diameter wheels at the front and 10 in diameter wheels at rear. Strengthened throughout the body shell with three, quarter inch thick, steel strengthening members that run across the floor pan with additional plates running lengthways, centrally and vertically to reinforce strengthening of the floor pan joining the rear and middle cross pieces – designed to diminish floor flexing.
Most remarkably the front sub-frame is fully seam welded and pleated to increase strength and various other stress points in the body, allowing the front end to be removed entirely when necessary.
In June of 1976 ‘Cars and Car Conversions’ featured a four page spread surrounding NCK, Cyril Bolton and Mini Sport which still, today, acts as a nostalgic reference to excitement we still feel for a car that made such waves in the Rally scene. Not only does the article explore the modifications and conversions that proved so innovative for Mini Sport and motorsport at the time but it represents entirely, the passion for a Road Rally scene which is still equally as prevalent almost 40 years later.
Above: ‘Nice one Cyril’ featured article and cover story in June 1976 issue of ‘Cars and Car Conversions’ magazine.
The article ends with the poignant words that effectively define the strength and determination of all Mini enthusiasts across the globe who continue to acknowledge the Mini as a humble car with exceptional potential and capability.
‘Cyril’s car is without doubt the ultimate road rally Mini development. Like Terry Kaby’s stage car the Minisport Mini seems to be the confounding all those who every now and again leap up to announce the Mini’s competition career is over. By careful planning and preparation Cyril Bolton has produced the car that could well bring road rallying honours back to British Leyland.’
Cyril Bolton’s NCK will be displayed at Mini Sport, Padiham on the 28th March as part of the debut ‘Cooper Mini Day’. This is a free event for all enthusiasts who wish to see a full exhibition of classic and contemporary Mini’s with big stories to tell. Plus – guest appearance from Michael John Cooper.