The $130,000 Classic Mini Reviewed

How is it possible that a classic Mini could cost 99,000 GBP? David Brown Automotive has a case to make with a new/old Mini. How does it stack up? Autocar had some time behind the wheel and found out.

This, believe it or not, is a £99,000 Mini. That’s a staggering sum of money for any car, let alone one so small. The David Brown Automotive Mini Remastered ‘Inspired by Monte Carlo’ – just as long in name as in asking price, then – is a reimagining of the iconic Mini, but with neater styling and a modern twist.

It takes 1400 hours to turn a donor car into a Mini Remastered. The only components that are carried over from the donor are the engine and gearbox, both of which are rebuilt, and the VIN. Everything else, including the bodyshell, is brand new. The shell itself is stiffened with additional structural bracing and the Mini’s various gutters and seams are reprofiled or removed entirely to clean up the styling.

Ok so this is an ultra rare expensive retro-mod Mini? What’s it like to own?

The quality of the fit and finish, as well as the paintwork, is very good indeed. Whether or not that justifies the asking price is another matter. The cabin, meanwhile, gets high quality leather and a bespoke dashboard with lots of attractive details, such as knurled aluminium knobs for the ventilation controls.

The rebuilt four-cylinder engine now displaces 1330cc and develops 94bhp at 6100rpm and 87lb ft at 4000rpm. It drives the front wheels via the four-speed manual gearbox, which snicks around its tightly defined gate in beautiful fashion. The engine itself is gritty, rorty and full of character, although it starts to feel strained above 5000rpm.

Great… but how does it handle?

It has very alert, slack-free, unassisted steering that feels incredibly direct even around the straight-ahead. It takes just a small twitch of the wheel rim to get the front end darting this way and that. It also rolls dramatically in cornering, making you think it could tip clean over if you attack a bend with too much conviction. It won’t, of course, and once you’ve assured yourself of that the Mini Remastered becomes enormous fun to punt along a country road.

Ok I’ll be honest, it sounds awesome but it’s not quite what we want. What could be more interesting to us is a retro-mod R53 with all the amenities that we have in the F56 and beyond.