We’re in a bit of a golden age of resto-mod cars right now, with firms like Singer and ICON reworking icons like Porsche 911s, Land Cruisers, and Broncos into vintage-looking, but mechanically modern masterpieces of style and craftsmanship. Finally, the trend is making its way to iconic everyman’s cars like the legendary BMC Mini.
There’s something sort of delightfully perverse about taking an entry-level, cheap and basic car like the Mini and turning it into something incredibly refined and luxurious. Personally, I’d like to see this treatment applied to all sorts of these people’s cars, from Volkswagen Beetles I’ll never be able to afford to Citroën 2CVs and Renault 4s and maybe even Hyundai Ponys (to be really, really perverse) that make me broke just by looking at them.
That’s pretty much what David Brown Automotive has done with the humble original Mini: they’ve taken Alec Issigonias’ timeless space-maximizing design and made every part you can touch or use or smell or look at as good as it can possibly be.
You might remember David Brown Automotive for making that almost-Aston Martin DB5, the Speedback GT.
They’ve slathered leather over every possible interior surface like a bovine Ed Gein, they’ve added a modern center stack system with a nice big LCD and every switch looks like it came off a stereo system that somebody would rather I not touch.
Plus, these Minis now have a modern HVAC system, so you can drive around in the summer with the windows up in a trip that won’t necessarily end at the hospital.
The exterior has a few subtle changes, most notably the taillights (which are now separate round units) and the grille. The paint looks to be incredibly well-done, but overall it still looks like a Mini, which is a good thing.
Under the stubby hood they’ve made some improvements, but they haven’t gone nuts. The car still uses the same basic engine, here in 1275cc form, making a plenty-for-a-Mini 78 horsepower, good for a top speed of 90 MPH.
There’s a five-speed gearbox now, so highway driving just got that much more calm, compared to an old Mini, and the whole car is still the weight of a handful of marshmallow Peeps, just over 1600 lbs.
The levels of charm in this little British bastard are probably going to end up giving you charm cancer one day, but what a way to go. These very, very re-worked Minis start at over $60,000 and get close to $90,000, depending on how you spec them. Also, not many of these will be made; two of the special editions–one Monte Carlo inspired, one cafe racer-inspired–will only have 25 copies each.
It’s also worth mentioning that this isn’t the first time a luxury take on the humble Mini; in the late ‘60s, coachbuilder Radford made the Mini de Ville, a significantly-uprated Mini full of wood and leather and a popular choice for wealthy Britons and Beatles and those sort of folk.
It’s a lot of money for a Mini, sure, but If I had the money to throw around, I can’t say I wouldn’t be pretty damn tempted by something like this.