Tired of modern cars covered in retro slap? Well, this one’s got real history in its bones
Remember the 2011 Mini Rocketman concept? Course you do. That was BMW firting with the idea of building a Mini-branded city car, comparable in size to the Issigonis-designed original. But whether it was the fnancial case or crash regulations that killed it, it’s gone awfully quiet since then.
Not to worry, because for all those that think a true Mini should actually be mini, a small British coach-building frm – David Brown Automotive (he of the £600k, Jag XK-based Speedback GT, of which they’ve sold 12 to date) – has come up with a solution. A £75k solution, but a solution nonetheless.
It’s called the Mini Remastered and is, in essence, an original Mini retro-ftted with refurbished and improved mechanicals, a subtly modifed exterior and an interior upgraded to cope with the demands of a wealthy modern city type.
Built, or should that be rebuilt, by hand in DB’s brand new, 18,000sq ft Silverstone factory (the Speedbacks were built in Coventry until now), it features new deseamed panels for a smoother look, additional structural beams to improve stifness and extra sound proofng, so you might actually have a chance of hearing calls over the hands-free. The grille is aluminium, the rear lights LED and there are even Mustang-style puddle lights on the underside of the wing mirrors. Snazzy. All in, the whole thing weighs around 30kg more than the donor car, but still in the 700kg ball park – less than half of a modern Countryman.
Hang on a minute, did I say hands-free, in a Mini? Oh yes. DB has dragged the interior kicking and screaming into the 21st century with a built-in
infotainment screen (complete with Apple CarPlay no less), a push button start, a four-speaker stereo system, USB sockets and remote central locking. Sculpted seats are leather-wrapped, naturally, and a cupholder has been added to the centre console. Whether any of this is actually a good thing we’ll leave you to decide.
There’s no arguing that more power from the fully rebuilt 1.3-litre engine is excellent news. You’ll get 60bhp in the standard model, or between 75bhp and 90bhp in a pair of racier special editions – that’s plenty to see of modern Coopers at the lights. All get a fully reconditioned 4spd gearbox, plus upgraded suspension and brakes, so you’ve got a fair chance in the corners, too.
Each customer is invited to choose their exterior paint (which takes up to 400 man hours to apply... no spray cans here), the colour of their contrasting roof, their interior hue and wheel design. Though, if you can’t be bothered, two launch editions – “Inspired by Cafe Racers” and “Inspired by Monte Carlo”, will be ofered. Each of these special editions will get a run of just 25 units a piece, but DB is banking on selling between 50 to 100 of the Minis overall each year.
Now back to that price, because around £75k for the “standard” Mini Remastered – and upwards from there once you start adding custom paint colours and extra power – is, well, quite a bit for a new-old Mini. But we’ve seen it up close and the attention to detail is pretty remarkable, not surprising when each car takes a combined 1,400 hours to complete. So, this or a modern BMWengineered Mini and £60,000 change? That is the question. Not a very relevant question to the vast majority of us, but a question nonetheless.
Interior includes all modcons, including gadget known as a “cupholder”