David Brown Mini Remastered (2020) review

David Brown Mini Remastered

My first car was a Mini. If you’re fast-approaching middle age, yours probably was too. I bought my (t)rusty 1983 Mini City for £325, sprayed go-faster stripes on the bonnet and shoehorned a subwoofer into the boot.

After passing my test, I enjoyed one day of glorious freedom, then crashed it in Croydon. Result: a write-off. My Mini adventure was over before it began.

Twenty-four years later, those memories are all flooding back: the Tardis interior, the bus-like steering wheel, the whining gears, the rorty A-Series engine. I’m driving a Mini again, but this one took 1,400 hours to hand-build and its stripes weren’t applied with a rattle-can.

It’s also worth 300 times more than my ill-fated teenage jalopy, so I’m giving Croydon a wide berth.

That price tag – anything from £90,000 to £130,000 – is impossible to ignore, but the David Brown Mini Remastered isn’t a mere Mini. Its strengthened, de-seamed and rust-resistant bodyshell is all-new, a donor engine is rebuilt for 30 percent more power (71hp, plus 88lb ft of torque) and its interior is lined in plush leather and knurled aluminium.

Creature comforts include air conditioning, remote central locking, puddle lights, electric windows and a touchscreen media system. This is luxury on a Lilliputian scale: more pint-sized Rolls-Royce than rebadged Rover.

David Brown Mini Remastered

There’s no such thing as a ‘standard’ Mini Remastered either. David Brown Automotive can match the paintwork to your shoes or lipstick, embroider your family crest on the seats and offer carpets made of leather or deep-pile wool (neither sounds particularly practical).

Everything is bespoke, limited only by your largesse. My must-have from the accessories catalogue is an open-face crash helmet – colour-coded, of course – and pair of flying goggles. Chocks away!

This particular Mini has an Alpine theme and was originally supplied with a teak roof rack and hand-made skis, although they’ve been detached for a blazing July day in Battersea. Shame the matching picnic hamper is missing, too. David Brown’s PR people have prepared a ‘swinging London’ playlist, so six speakers kick into The Who’s My Generation as I press the start button. This feels like a nostalgia trip already.

Driving a Mini forces you to recalibrate your reactions. Its steering is so sharp, so hair-trigger responsive, my brain feels hard-wired into the wood-rimmed wheel. The ride is firm, bordering on bouncy, but the pay-off is handling that shamed most 1960s sports cars – and made the Cooper a giant-killer on the rally stage.

The Mini seems to pivot on its own axis, clinging to corners like an eager puppy with a chew toy. As I blast across Clapham Common, T. Rex’s 20th Century Boy on the stereo, I can’t suppress a smile.

David Brown Mini Remastered

It’s still a brilliant city car, too. Punchy power delivery and a tiny footprint (a metre shorter than a Ford Fiesta) make light work of traffic around Elephant and Castle. The fact that everyone let you out of junctions also helps; you don’t get that in a Porsche, nor will you turn half so many heads.

Despite extra soundproofing, the 1,275cc engine is still pleasingly gruff, exhaling with occasional pops from the twin tailpipes. The optional five-speed gearbox is definitely worthwhile if you plan to venture beyond London limits, though.

The Mini is the best-selling British car of all time, with 5.4 million made between 1959 and 2000. David Brown’s ambitions are modest; it currently builds just one car a week and hopes to double that later in 2020.

The notion of a £90,000 Mini is crazy, of course, yet the demand is clearly there. And after a few hours criss-crossing the capital, I’m also in thrall to its charm. Roger Daltry hoped to die before he got old, but the Mini has life in it yet.

Price: From £90,000

0-62mph: 11.7 secs

Top speed: 90mph

CO2 G/KM: 185

MPG combined: 43.0

Photos by Max Edleston. 

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New Mini Moke on sale in the UK

You can order a NEW Mini Moke in the UK

New Mini Moke on sale in the UK

You can now buy a NEW Mini Moke in the UK. Place your order before the end of March and it will cost less than £20,000.

There is a caveat. Moke International says the launch is subject to the Moke receiving official regulatory approval in the UK. This is expected on 21 April, after which deliveries could start within 30 to 40 days.

Only a limited number of street-legal Mini Mokes will be built, and customers are invited to register their interest now. If nothing else, you can while away a few minutes having a play with the online configurator.

Thirteen colours are available for the chassis, bumpers, central bars and grille. You can also add alloy wheels, fog lights, headlight guards and an automatic transmission.

The full hood and plastic doors might be advisable in the UK, but the seats are waterproof.

Power is sourced from a 1.0-litre four-cylinder engine producing 67hp at 6,000rpm. Performance figures aren’t quoted because, quite frankly, they’re irrelevant. 

There’s no five-star Euro NCAP rating to report on, but the Mini Moke does come with a safety roll bar and seatbelts. Airbags, ABS and traction control are conspicuous by their absence.

Military, thrives

Original Mini Moke

The original Mini Moke was designed in the 1950s at the request of the British Army. Alec Issigonis, the father of the Mini, was asked to create something that was small, light and parachute-droppable.

It wasn’t a success. Shunned by the military for its lack of ground clearance, the Mini Moke was destined to become a footnote in the big book of automotive failures. Fortunately for Issigonis, the Moke captured the hearts and minds of the hip and trendy folk of Carnaby Street.

Despite being crude, uncomfortable, unsafe and slow, the Mini Moke became an unlikely global star. Around 14,500 of the things were built in Britain and exported to sunnier climes around the world. The sight of Brigitte Bardot driving a Moke in St. Tropez did wonders for its image.

Although UK production ceased in 1968, assembly of the Moke in Australia was already underway. Some 26,000 were built by BMC Australia before production ended in 1981.

Remarkably, the Moke was also built in Portugal until 1993. In total, some 50,000 Mini Mokes are thought to have been built.

‘Call to duty’

Mini Moke interior

The new Mini Moke is designed in Britain and built in France. British designer Michael Young was tasked with bringing the Moke to life for a new generation. He said: “As a Moke enthusiast, when the email came in asking if I was interested to talk about the project, it was like a call to duty for me.

“I had recently been commissioned to rebuild a Moke in Australia from the ground up out of old parts, in 2012. I was fully aware of what needed to be done. It has been more than 20 years since the last Moke rolled off the assembly line in Portugal.

“The world has changed dramatically. We could not just replicate the original model as times have changed, and music and fashion have changed accordingly. So the car’s main requirements actually need adjustments too: enhancements, improved road-holding, braking, suspension and so on.”

“It was essential to strike an equal balance for the old enthusiast and the new generation of Moke drivers – like me. I was equally aware that I had to respect the past and make sure the overall visual aspect was kept intact.”

If you fancy adding a little colour to UK streets, you should get in touch with Moke International via its website. Remember, you are not a number, you are a free man (or woman). The compact crossover can wait for another day.

Simon Cowell’s new Mini is inspired by Bond’s Lotus

David Brown Mini homage to Bond Lotus for Simon Cowell

The latest Mini Remastered build by David Brown Automotive is an absolute showstopper. Whatever you think of the price of these little hot rods, you just can’t put a number on cool.

It’s the Mini you’d spec if you had the resources of Simon Cowell.

It takes inspiration from the Lotus Esprit Turbo used in the James Bond film, For Your Eyes Only. That means bespoke ‘Copper Glow’ paint over DBA’s ‘Fade to Black’ wheel arches and roof.

Even the ‘Turbo’ graphic from the original Esprit features down the side, along with gold striping.

As for whether there is actually a turbocharger fitted to this Mini, DBA claims the standard 1,330cc remastered A-series remains, sans boost.

David Brown Mini homage to Bond Lotus for Simon Cowell

Matching the stripes are the wheels, painted in Sahara Gold with a silver rim, again like the Lotus. Unlike the Lotus, there isn’t a set of skis on the top, perhaps due to fears they would cause the little Mini to take off. They are an option, however.

The wheels are 13-inch items and hide black brake callipers. At the front, this Mini is mission-ready, with an arsenal of lighting, from the standard LED headlights, to the bumper-mounted auxiliary driving lights.

David Brown Mini homage to Bond Lotus for Simon Cowell

The interior is trimmed like one of Mr Cowell’s Britain’s Got Talent suits. That’s to say, the leather is a striking ‘Arctic White’, contrasting the ‘Dark American Burr Walnut’ dash.

Adding to the high-spec Remastered Mini are the LED-illuminated Smiths dials and up-to-date seven-inch touch screen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Bluetooth connectivity. The six-speaker audio system should give Mr Cowell a clear listening experience when he’s critiquing demos on his travels. 

David Brown Mini homage to Bond Lotus for Simon Cowell

When MR’s Tim Pitt reviewed the David Brown Mini Remastered, he wrote that “this is luxury on a Lilliputian scale: more pint-sized Rolls-Royce than rebadged Rover”.

“The notion of a £90,000 Mini is crazy, of course, yet the demand is clearly there. And after a few hours criss-crossing the capital, I’m also in thrall to its charm. Roger Daltry hoped to die before he got old, but the Mini has life in it yet”.

David Brown Mini homage to Bond Lotus for Simon Cowell

The verdict, then? Practicality and sensibility aren’t the order of the day with a Mini worth over £90,000. But we don’t blame anyone for falling for its charms, and finding it impossible to resist.

When the likes of Simon Cowell and his kin do take the plunge, we all get to enjoy incredible builds like this. Power to him, and anyone else that drinks the Mini Remastered coolade. It looks delicious.

Five classic Minis available at CCA’s March sale

CCA March sale Minis

The CCA March sale at the Practical Classics Classic Car and Restoration Show will see five different classic Minis hit the auction block. Different eras, different body styles, and differing condition levels at different budgets. There could be a classic Mini for everyone. 

The first is a 1962 Mk1 Mini Cooper which, amazingly for its 58-year life, has been with the original owner that bought it new all those years ago. That owner put it to work, too, with the car covering around 300,000 miles over six decades.

CCA March sale Minis

Needless to say, a life at work means this Mini could use a spruce up. It comes fitted with an 850cc short-stroke engine, in place of the original one-litre. 

The prospective buyer might like to return it to its almond green with an old English white roof specification. The cabin remains the original dove grey, with porcelain green vinyl. The car as it is, will be driven to the show for the auction. 

“The 300,000 mile Mk1 Cooper is staggering and has the most fascinating story,” said Gary Dunne, Classic Car Auctions (CCA) manager.

“The vendor told us it was bought new for him by his mother-in-law because she didn’t like his choice of cars to drive her daughter around in!”

CCA March sale Minis

Joining it will be one of the quirkiest variants of the Mini, the Moke. Originally destined for military duties, when deemed unfit to serve, it became a fan favourite as a recreational vehicle. 

The example for sale with CCA is a 1968 car with 89,000 miles. It’s described as having the potential to be made ‘concours’ condition, though as it stands there is age-related wear. It’s estimated to make between £10,000 and £12,000. 

CCA March sale Minis

The third car is an Italian-built 1975 Innocenti Mini Cooper. It was imported in 1982, and following the current owner buying it in 2014, the car was faithfully restored and re-trimmed with correct Innocenti features. £12,000 to £15,000 could buy you one of the last export 1300 Minis, in fine fettle.

The fourth Mini is an early 1962 Mini Seven pick-up. This car comes in spectacular condition, having undergone a bare-metal restoration starting in 2010. Presented in its original tweed grey paint with a tan interior, it has all the correct period features and even the original engine. 

CCA March sale Minis

Finally, the newest Mini of this five-piece offering. It’s a 1984 25th Anniversary edition, which has covered just 8,730 miles.

It even gets trailered to shows, to save it from the rigours of today’s road network. This clean original late-era Mini, could be yours for £6,000 to £8,000.

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Next Mini development delayed due to Brexit

Next-generation Mini delayed by development costs and Brexit worries

Next Mini development delayed due to Brexit

BMW is throttling back on the fourth-generation ‘new’ Mini. The decision is partly due to worries over Britain’s post-Brexit relations with the EU, which muddy the waters in terms of making long-term investments. 

“The lifespan of this platform has been extended… for cost reasons and because of Brexit,” said BMW spokesman Maximilian Schoeberl when talking to Reuters.

Minis more affordable now than in 1959

Last year, BMW Chief Executive Oliver Zipse said the business case would probably not change if the tariffs are “in the range of zero and five percent”. However, if import and export costs are much above that, BMW may be forced to reconsider Oxford’s role, versus its Born facility in the Netherlands.

In 2018, Mini production at the Netherlands facility was up 39 percent on the year before. A total of 211,660 cars, including Mini models and the BMW X1, rolled off the production line. The Oxford plant made 234,501 Minis in 2018.

Ultimately, the all-new model, whenever it arrives, will demand significant updates to both facilities. Exactly what Britain’s relationship is with the EU, financially and otherwise, will directly affect BMW’s decision for that investment. 

Mini Plant Oxford

Registrations of the Mini were down 18 percent in December. Overall sales were also down 4.1 percent in 2019, to 346,639 cars.

However, Mini isn’t the only small car manufacturer to have suffered. Expensive emissions upgrades and poor sales recently forced Opel/Vauxhall to drop its Adam and Viva/Karl models. 

Mini Sidewalk Convertible

Mini Sidewalk Convertible revives a 25-year-old special edition

Mini Sidewalk Convertible

The Mini Sidewalk Convertible is a new special edition that revives an old name first seen back in 1995, for just 150 eager buyers.

Priced from a decidedly un-retro £34,215, the limited-run model is a fully-loaded Mini Convertible based on the potent 192hp Cooper S.

Whereas the 1995 Mini Sidewalk didn’t even have central locking or electric windows, the new special edition builds out modern Mini luxuries with an avalanche of extras.

Mini Sidewalk Convertible

Fitted as standard is a head-up display, Harman Kardon premium audio, a seven-speed automatic gearbox with paddleshifters, plus touchscreen sat have with built in Amazon Alexa functionality.

Mini Sidewalk Convertible

Heated seats, rear-view camera and wireless smartphone charging are standard.

Mini Sidewalk Convertible

Mini’s given the Sidewalk Convertible a unique paint job, called Deep Laguna. There are also special pin-lined bonnet stripes and Sidewalk graphics on the side.

Mini Sidewalk Convertible

The electric convertible roof gets a bespoke ‘arrow’ design and the 17-inch two-tone alloys are unique.

Inside, the firm’s best ‘Mini Yours’ leather covers the seats, which carry ‘Sidewalk’ badging and contrast blue and yellow seams. These carry through to the Sidewalk-branded steering wheel.

Mini Sidewalk Convertible

Mini’s even fitted unique piano black dash trim with contrast accents.

Keen to be one of the 150 British buyers of the limited-run Mini Sidewalk Convertible? Get your order in now while stocks last; production begins in March 2020, just in time for the new ’70-plate’ registration.  

Numbers crunched: how a Mini is vastly cheaper now than 60 years ago

Minis more affordable now than in 1959

A Mini is more hugely affordable now than when the original car debuted in 1959. That’s despite a typical car being around 32 times more expensive today

Research by Mini shows that, if the cost of cars is compared to average UK household disposable income, drivers in 2019 are far better off. 

Minis more affordable now than in 1959

The original Mini’s £780 typical purchase cost was 307 percent of the average disposable income in 1959.The average disposable income of drivers in 1959 when adjusted for inflation is £5,474. Adjust the original Mini’s price for inflation, and you get £16,784.

By comparison, the average price of a modern Mini was around £18,139 in 2018. Yet the average household disposable income per-head is £20,504.

So the cost of the average Mini today is 88 percent of the average disposable income per-head in a household. Indeed, even if £10,000 was taken off that figure, we’d still be in a better position today than 60 years ago.

Minis more affordable now than in 1959

Around eight in 10 of all new private car registrations today are via finance, while a prospective buyer in 1959 would be looking at saving up every one of those 780 pounds.

Today, a four-figure deposit and a three-figure monthly payment will get you the keys to a Mini. Take a £2,000 deposit and £250 per-month as very generic figures: £2,000 is around nine percent of the total average cost of a modern Mini, while £250 is less than one 70th of the total price.

Adjust those amounts for the 1959 price, and you get a deposit of £70, plus monthly payments of £10.80.

Minis more affordable now than in 1959

“Over the past 60 years, how we buy and finance Minis has evolved just as much as the cars themselves,” said Phil Kerry, sales and marketing director at BMW Group Financial Services.

“Motorists now have more choice, and this will only increase over the next few decades.”

Future electric Minis will be built in China

1.5 million households could have electric cars with ease

BMW Group is teaming up with Chinese car manufacturer Great Wall for a new factory, plus the ongoing development of electric cars. The plant in China will produce future fully-electric models from Mini.

“Today we are taking the next step in our collaboration,” said Klaus Fröhlich, head of development at BMW.

“With the BMW Group as a pioneer in the field of electromobility and Great Wall as a major player and expert in industrialisation in the Chinese market, we are joining forces for development and production of the future electric Mini and new Great Wall models.”

Spotlight Automotive LimitedBMW Great Wall Spotlight Automotive electric Mini

The joint venture is called Spotlight Automotive Limited. The plant will be able to produce 160,000 cars a year, employ around 3,000 people and mean a joint investment of £550 million.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Mini’s Oxford home is being retired. In BMW’s words, ‘Mini Plant Oxford will remain the heart and home of Mini manufacturing, while the Spotlight Automotive joint venture will provide additional capacity and flexibility’.

“This joint venture will enable us to produce a larger number of Mini-brand fully electric vehicles at attractive conditions for the world market,” Dr. Nicolas Peter, head of finance at BMW.

“This is also an important strategic step for the Mini brand. The joint venture with Great Wall underlines the enormous importance of the Chinese market for us.”

One million BMW EVs on the road by 2021Mini Nurburgring no brakes

BMW Group will have five electric cars in its portfolio by the end of 2021, by which time it hopes to have sold one million EVs and hybrids. 

Joining the new Mini Electric are the existing BMW i3, plus the iX3, iNext and i4.

You could own one of the rarest classic Mini Coopers

Mini CCA sale

A rare Mini 970S, a homologation special and one of just 965 made, could be yours for around £40,000.

Perhaps more significant than how many were made, however, is how many are left: less than 60 are known to survive.

This might be the best example, too. The car has been used sparingly since undergoing a bare metal restoration, as evidenced by its five-star exterior condition rating from Classic Car Auctions. The Mini is part of the company’s December sale.

Mini CCA sale

That restoration was a faithful one,  keeping to its original Surf Blue colour and specification. Across all other measures assessed by CCA, including the interior, engine, transmission, running gear and electrics, the car scored between four and five stars. Overall, it gets 116 out of 135.

The 970S was one of two Mini Cooper S variants offered for sale in 1964, with the 1275S being the other. The 970S homologated the sub one-litre racers and has a shorter stroke than the 1071S, but a larger bore. It also used larger valves, making for a 66hp output.

Classic Car Auctions December saleMini CCA sale

There are a wide variety of other road-going racers joining the Mini at CCA’s December auction, from a 1996 Audi S2 Quattro to an ex-G4 Challenge Land Rover Discovery 3. Yes, there’s even a place for an old Disco in motorsport, albeit in very specific off-roading conditions.

“With 140 lots, we are really pleased with the high quality of cars in our December sale and look forward to seeing the year out on a high,” said Gary Dunne, manager at Classic Car Auctions.

Mini adventure: Yiannimize goes rental for Hertz

Mini now part of Hertz British Collection

Hertz has added the Mini One, Mini Cooper and Mini Countryman to its British Collection rental fleet. To celebrate, it called upon the help of vehicle wrapping company Yiannimize. The results are certainly eye-catching.

The artwork features the traditional red, white and blue of the Union Flag, plus 16 references to British culture. Highlights include the Pizza Express in Woking, Jo Swinson’s battle bus and people arguing on social media. Probably.

Hertz launched the British Collection in March 2019. The fleet includes the Land Rover Discovery Sport, Jaguar F-Pace, Jaguar E-Pace, Jaguar XE and Jaguar XF. Now, for the first time, customers can rent one of the three Mini variants.

Hertz British Collection Mini

Richard Davies, country manager, Hertz UK, said: “Mini is an icon of British style and culture, and, as such, it had to be part of our British Collection. The exclusive wrap designs we have chosen to mark the expansion, along with the high-end service that characterises our British Collection, will offer customers a fun, yet classy, way to travel.”

A total of 60 Minis – well, it is the car’s 60th anniversary – are available at Hertz locations in Edinburgh Airport, Heathrow Airport and Marble Arch. The Jaguars and Discovery Sport can be rented from the same locations, along with Manchester Airport and Glasgow Airport. Bookings must be made online via the Hertz website.

Hertz British Collection Mini and Yiannimize

For the authentic British experience, customers are treated to a complimentary door-to-door concierge service, access to a dedicated lounge featuring designs from Tom Dixon furnishings, botanical drinks and flowers by McQueens.

They also get a make and model guarantee, meaning the car they book is the one they drive away with. Drivers must be aged 25 or above and must be able to present two credit cards.

The Yiannimize Mini Coopers are subject to availability, so your rental car might not feature the eye-catching wrap. You can decide whether or not this is a good thing.