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Mini Remastered: A bespoke, resto-modded classic

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David Brown Automotive’s Mini Remastered at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. Photos by Ronan Glon.

Fancy a classic, round-nose BMC Mini, but you want something a bit more luxurious and a bit more personal? Well, David Brown Automotive can’t help you there. Instead they can build you a car that’s much more luxurious than a standard Mini ever was and pretty much bespoke in almost any way imaginable.

The name David Brown Automotive might sound familiar, just as their premier product, the Speedback GT might look somewhat familiar. But despite sharing a name with the tractor maker who made good and rescued Aston Martin after World War II, as well instilling quite a bit of an homage to the Aston DB5 in the Jaguar XKR-based Speedback GT, today’s David Brown is not related to the one whose initials graced so many British GT cars over the years.

The David Brown reinterpretation of the classic Mini, or “Remastered,” as the company calls it, involves some robust reengineering and restoration of an original Mini. Outside, the car looks largely original, with the body redone to a standard seemingly far higher than the Longbridge factory ever bothered to produce. Then again, with prices starting at £75,000 (about $104,168 as of this writing), buyers should expect the bespoke experience offered by the Mini Remastered.

And from the looks of the way they describe the build, they truly do offer the coachbuilt experience in this reimagining of Sixties British motoring. They start with a body shell from the late Seventies or early Eighties, making them, yes, compatible with the 25-year-rule for U.S. import. They strip those shells bare and then use “brand new body panels” with “each car…built by hand from the ground up.” The company also shares that they soften and cleanup the lines by “deseaming the silhouette and welding in bespoke structural beams.” The result is, indeed, a cleaner-looking, but unmistakable, classic Mini. David Brown Automotive also advertises a “laborious sound-proofing process,” something neither BMC, British Leyland, Rover or BMW ever bothered with during their stewardship of the long-lived classic. The body also features flared fenders, like the final models of the Cooper S produced in the late Nineties into 2000.

David Brown Automotive Mini Remastered

While the word is often overused in modern automobile production because it literally means something not built on an assembly line, bespoke describes well the work that David Brown brings to modernizing the interior, including posh, “British-sourced” leathers, custom-made switchgear, modern, LED-illuminated Smiths gauges with classic looks (in black or ivory), and the sort of infotainment system with a big touchscreen and Apple and Android connectivity you’d expect to find in a $100,000 car today. Fortunately, the good people at David Brown resisted the urge just to tack a tablet-like screen on top of the dash as so many modern European sports sedans are fitted with today. Keyless entry with pushbutton ignition, naturally, go along with the rest of the slate of modern electronics.

The modern sport seats also belie the Mini’s origins, but they surely look good and are embossed with the company’s logo as well. Just as the exterior is available in one of four finishes—said to take four weeks to complete—the interior is available in a variety of colors. Add in wheel choice and an option for top color (black, white or body color) and you start to get an idea of the combinations available to David Brown’s surely well-heeled customers.

David Brown Automotive Mini Remastered

The driveline, too, gets the “remastered” treatment with engine rebuilds that include power output some 50-percent or more higher than the original Mini’s engines (but not much more, if at all, compared to the Cooper S versions). The base 1,275-cc offering in the David Brown edition is rated at 71 horsepower, though a higher spec 1,330-cc engine, rated at 83 hp, is available as an option, as are both five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic transmissions.

Though the options list may not be all that extensive, the company will spend some 1,000 hours or so building each Mini Remastered at their new Silverstone-based headquarters. And, given the car’s not-at-all-shy price tag, specific customization is surely available to any buyer who wants a color not on the palette, or perhaps some other unique treatment. Still, the brochure lists such cool options as Cibié driving lights—grille or bumper mounted, LED headlamps, twin exhaust outlets, painted brake calipers, color-matched or contrasting seatbelts, etc. They even offer a color-matched helmet or a five-liter fuel can. Can you say “rally?”

David Brown Automotive Mini Remastered

Well, David Brown Automotive can also say “rally.” Though no specific production goals have been released, the company has also announced two exclusive models, the Café Racers and Monte Carlo editions, each limited to 25 units total. Starting at £80,000, the Café Racers model features a host of included options, such as the twin-exhaust outlets, the LED lighting and a surprisingly eye-catching Latte finish with an Arabica roof, along with the dark color for the stripes across the hood. The Monte Carlo edition, starting at £82,500, features the uprated 1,330-cc engine along with a rally-inspired Ice White roof over Rascasse Red body—clearly conjuring up visions of Mini’s rousing success at the Monte Carlo Rally in the 1960s.

The Mini Remastered will not be a high-speed GT car like the Speedback GT; rather, the company sees it as city car for its wealthy owner, who likely owns other sporting or classic cars. Still small and nearly as light as the featherweight original (David Brown Automotive lists the curb weight as 750 kg, or 1,653 pounds!), the fuel-efficient Mini Remastered might just be an ideal runabout when you really can’t unleash 500 or 600 hp on the streets. Surely, it will also be the nicest Mini you’ve ever seen, even if far from original. But you may have to wait a bit, because they currently report being sold out through the end of this year.

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