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// chase gamblin – buddy

In the car scene, many times the term “from humble beginnings” is a phrase that is followed by the story of someone’s success or spotlight that leaves them with an inflated ego. While this isn’t always the case, in today’s day and age, it seems more and more that it is becoming the norm rather than an anomaly. That’s why it’s so refreshing when you find a build and the person behind it that has truly come from humble beginnings, and sticks to those roots. That’s the absolute epitome of who Chase is and what his Mini Cooper, Buddy, is all about.

While not a spotlight car in recent years, Minis have always been considered a classically fun sports coupe that offer the driver a great connection with the road and the experience of driving. What you get with Chase’s Mini, though, is a passion that is desired by many and rivaled by few.

Unlike many builds that come together in a year, or two if we’re really pushing the envelope, this has been a 10 year build for Chase that’s not only come a long way, but evolved from version to version. The idea of sticking with a single car for so long is something that so many enthusiasts love, but very few are willing to accept the patience and dedication it takes to follow through with it. These days, it seems that people go through cars and builds like candy, each just trying to be “the next big thing” to hit the scene, or to blow up on Instagram.

After getting to know Chase and spending some time with him here in Indiana, his story and build are not only inspiring but highly impressive. Having always been a Mini enthusiast, Chase picked up this car, which he endearingly named “Buddy”, back in 2006 and began the long process of turning it into the monster it is today. As many enthusiast builds start, many of the first necessities were taken care of quickly: wheels, tires, exhaust, sway bars, end links, etc… the little things that we all mindlessly add to our cars without really thinking about them, they just kind of happen. But things didn’t stay the same with Chase, they never did and never will, he makes that clear with how much his car has evolved over the years. As he continued to modify his Mini, his love for touge continued to grow, and as we all know, a love affair like that breeds bank accounts being emptied. Big brake kits, changing the car up with a different color scheme, etc. After a while modifying things here and there to give Buddy more grip and response on backroads, Chase began adding things that were not only different, but they were truly unique and custom fabricated.

Chase began sourcing and fabricating parts that gave Buddy an aggressive, yet not overdone, look. Light bars, yellow hella lights on a front rally bar, shaved and color matched roof, clutch masters clutch and flywheel, LSD, the list goes on…but Chase definitely wasn’t done yet. And not in a “killing the game” sort of way, but a gradual evolution that seems so foreign in this day and age. And with evolution comes trials, too. Broken axles, control arms, curbs and potholes taking tolls on wheels, careless drivers backing into the car, etc… But that’s the beauty of this passion we all share. Things get reinvented, and we see things in a different light than we did before. We make things better and mold them to what we like and what we think looks good.

As he neared the 4-year mark, the decision was made to have the motor pulled and sent to ENDYN for a complete engine build that would set the benchmark for the rest of the build to come. While that was in play, he had acquired a set of wide-arches from a friend and planned to fit those on the car. Now, we hear the term wide-body with just about every make and model of enthusiast car these days. Wide-body is all the craze right now, but Chase decided to pursue that option before many of the wide-body scene owners nowadays even had their license or were out of high school. Not only did this set Buddy apart even more, but it was something Chase could do and work on while his new motor build was being finalized. As soon as the motor was delivered to his home, things began to take a different turn… A unique thought had begun to creep into his head and he began taking the steps to secure a turbo in addition to his supercharged motor in order to twin charge the car and take it a step further yet again, but after purchasing the turbo and toying with the idea even more, the decision was made to switch the car from a supercharger to solely a turbo instead of both. With that decision, Buddy began to take the shape of what he currently looks like, with the final (for now) stage of the build taking another two and a half years from that point.

The addition of a custom carbon fiber hood, full cage, gutted interior, new radiator and piping, a roof swap from the OEM sunroof to a solid roof, Relax seats and SSR wheels from the guys up at Touge Factory, and small odds and ends were scattered around in that time period, but the ever present frustration of turning a factory supercharged car to a turbo charged car seemed to stick out more and more for Chase, not to mention his finishing of his thesis with school. Finally, the car was sent to Track One Motorsports to finish the complications of the turbo build that seemed to continually plague Chase day and night, and the car began to take shape in the way only an entirely unique and custom fabricated monster can. After almost a year of dealing with shops and custom fabricators, Buddy was able to start up for the first time with the turbo, and the finishing touches were on the way. Bilstein coilovers, new front splitter, a tune leaving him with a conservative 330whp and 236wtq from Dynasty Tuning in Kentucky. Finally. Buddy was done and Chase couldn’t have been happier. 10 years, 4 states, countless hours, 5 sets of coilovers, numerous sets of wheels, a turbo swap from an OEM supercharger, wide-body arches, a completely custom and standalone ECU, undergraduate and graduate classes, and untold passion later, Buddy had evolved through Chase’s careful and dedication molding into an icon in the Mini world, and a truly unique car to anyone else.

Fast forward a few months from that time frame, and a friend sent me info about this car and I knew I had to get it over to Wooley and get it in S3. After having met Chase and shooting with him, he’s become a good friend and an example of what I feel like is missing in the car enthusiast scene these days. We get so caught up in “killing the game” or trolling someone’s build that we lose sight of the fact that what really brought most of us into this scene in the first place was the passion and dedication of cars. Not often do you meet someone with a build as extensive or time-consuming as Chase’s, and the forum thread of 200+ pages and 200k views over 10 years really hit that home for me when I researched the build to write this article… It’s something that is truly inspiring and I can’t wait to see where this build goes. And in lieu of Chase’s love and passion for his car and what it has become, let’s never forget this:

“Whatever it is, the car has to look good. If your car doesn’t look good, sound good, and feel good, you’re not going to drive it like you should.” Akira Nakai