Six figures is a lot for a classic Mini – or is it?
The Mini: cultural icon, revolutionary packaging, car of the people, swinging 60s, The Italian Job, Enzo Ferrari, The Beatles, Mr Bean, Monte Carlo Rally, more than five million built over four decades. That’s all the usual Mini touchpoints dealt with.
What about the car’s place in the modern world? Obviously, it’s spawned a retro-styled recreation under BMW’s ownership, now in its third generation. The modern Mini has now been around for nearly 23 years – more than half of the original’s vast production run.
There’ll always be those for whom the new Mini, though, isn’t a ‘real’ Mini – cue the slightly tedious jokes about it actually being a ‘Maxi’. Plus, when a car is produced in such great numbers and becomes such an icon as the original was, a scene is bound to develop around it – see also Beetle, 911, Defender, et al.
The rise of the Mini restomod, then, was pretty inevitable. There are plenty of options out there, from subtle visual enhancements to full EV conversions, but at the more exclusive end of the spectrum is this: the Mini Remastered by David Brown Automotive.
Silverstone-based David Brown Automotive emerged a few years ago with the Speedback GT, a Jaguar-XK based coupé rebodied as a retro pastiche of the Aston Martin DB5 (the David Brown at the helm of this company, incidentally, is no relation to the David Brown who gave his initials to the Aston).
The Mini Remastered is the company’s second product. It’s powered by a reconditioned version of the BMC A-Series engine that powered the original Mini, making 71bhp in standard 1,275cc form or 83 with the optional 1,3330cc upgrade. Either is enough to make it adequately nippy with a 740kg kerb weight. A four-speed manual gearbox is standard, with the option of a five-speed manual or four-speed auto.
All the other restomod touchstones are present and correct – a subtly tweaked exterior, higher-end materials and a bit more tech, including a screen that will mirror your smartphone of choice.
Neither of these Mini Remastereds (Minis Remastered?), however, are the ‘standard’ product. In grey with red stripes is the Oselli Edition. Named after a classic car specialist that’s been tweaking A-Series engines for decades, it raises the performance stakes even further.
Displacement goes up again to 1,450cc, bumping the twin-carbed engine’s output to 125bhp. Highly regarded names like Bilstein and AP Racing supply the dampers and brakes, respectively, while a limited-slip diff helps get the power down. Top speed is only quoted as ‘over 100mph’, but this is probably plenty. Sabelt bucket seats and steering wheel and a rear cage make clear the Oselli Edition’s obvious track intent.
The other car here is arguably even more fascinating. The musically inclined will instantly recognise the black and gold colour scheme – this is the Marshall Edition, created in 2022 to celebrate 60 years of the eponymous amps.
It uses the 1,330cc engine and the five-speed gearbox, but none of this is what matters with the Marshall Edition. For once, it’s not all about the sound of the engine.
Inside, there’s an eight-speaker Marshall surround sound system, and it’s also supplied with a Bluetooth speaker and headphones. The pièce de resistance, though, comes when you drop down the Mini’s tailgate, revealing a fully integrated Marshall amp. Are any owners ever actually going to plug an electric guitar into and engage in some light shredding? Who knows. But is it a deeply cool thing to show off to your friends? Absolutely.
Other musical touches include the interior controls redesigned to resemble the knobs on an amp, and the play, pause and skip track symbols on the pedals – a cute easter egg, albeit one that the Renault Twingo Sport had over a decade earlier.
Neither of these cars come cheap. Their made-to-order nature and the effects of inflation mean that solid pricing information on any of the David Brown Minis is hard to come by, but think comfortably north of £100k for each of these models.
It sounds like a lot, but David Brown is aiming for very high net-worth buyers, for whom the Mini Remastered will be a toy, a luxury runabout that sits at the cheaper end of their garage. Looked at in that context, it makes perfect sense.