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RE: DBA Mini Remastered: Driven

RE: DBA Mini Remastered: Driven

Monday 19th June

DBA Mini Remastered: Driven

Distinctive? Certainly. Pricey? Of course. Worth it? Over to you...



Yes, it's a hundred grand Mini. Let's get the guffawing out of the way. Ninety-nine thousand of your British pounds, plus delivery. For a classic Mini, with original gearbox and engine. Oh, except the engine of the Monte Carlo edition, limited to 25 examples, which we drove, is bored out for an extra 16hp. So there is that, I guess.

Course it's still good at scooting around the city
Course it's still good at scooting around the city
But let's get serious, because quite a lot of rich people are going to buy this car, whether you and I approve or not. So what's it all about?

Well, firstly, it's about the growing trend for bespoke car commissions, allied to the increasing taste for continuation or replica models of iconic classics - see Jaguar XKSS, Aston DB4 GT or Lister Knobbly for examples.

David Brown Automotive has been building the Speedback GT for the past three years, a car based on a Jaguar XK and trying to look like an Aston DB5; it puts the price of the Mini in the shade at £600,000. But 11 people have bought one so far, the model is on its second iteration and the company has just moved to sparkly new premises at Silverstone where the second model, the Mini Remastered, will be built.

Using original donor Mini shells and original engine blocks, but new components in places, DBA has set about its coach-building operation. The bodies have been de-seamed, which doesn't sound like a huge design change but introduces a softer, more playful, more crafted silhouette. The workmen have done away with the massive panel gaps of old.

We'll call 95hp and 750kg 'peppy'
We'll call 95hp and 750kg 'peppy'
At the rear there are triple tail lights in a chrome surround, while at the front the large headlamps are LEDs. The Monte Carlo specification gets triple rally lights mounted on the bumper, as well as twin exhausts, carbon fibre wheel arches and disc brakes front and rear instead of the standard drums at the rear.

The racing wing mirrors have puddle lamps for swish night-time illumination and the Monte Carlo edition is painted in 'Rascasse Red' with a white roof, white painted door square and matching white fuel tank in the boot. There's also a Cafe Racer version, also limited to 25 examples from launch, and the 'standard' Mini, although seeing as the point of a coachbuilder is to offer customers pretty much whatever they want, 'standard' is anything but.

Inside, it is indeed a thing of joy. The comfy seats are encased in perforated black and red British-sourced leather front and rear, and there are footwell carpets with the logo embroidered. As with so many luxury models these days, the switchgear such as the electric window toggles and indicator stalk are covered in knurled aluminium.

Well this is a rather different Mini!
Well this is a rather different Mini!
Unlike any classic Mini I've come across though, there's an eight-inch Pioneer touchscreen in the dashboard with sat-nav, DAB radio and media functions, which looks a treat and gives this tiny, utilitarian interior a wow factor. As David Brown pointed out, there are plenty of restored Minis out there, but to fit a touchscreen and air-con behind that tiny dash takes a production effort. We drove a pre-production model and there are still a few teething issues, one of which is how fierce the ventilation is, while another is how far out of the thin door panels the leather-clad speaker surrounds protrude, but Brown says both will be sorted before first deliveries commence at the beginning of next year.

As will the engine mapping, I hope, and he says. On the move, this is one fizzing Mini, the engine creating a real racket until you hit 4,000rpm when it smoothes itself out. Until that point, the pedals and leather-clad Moto-Lita steering wheel (standard spec is wooden) are abuzz with harsh vibrations and it's hard to hear yourself think.

Er, can we just have some standard ones?
Er, can we just have some standard ones?
Still the uprated engine, with new crankshaft bearings, is good fun, and Brown has cleverly used the original four-speed plastic gearknobs to give the car the authentic nod to the past it needs. There is a bit of extraneous travel in the brake pedal, which may or may not be a pre-prod issue, but boy, is that short wheelbase still an absolute laugh. Brown looked at all 29 iterations of the bushes on the rear suspension that the Mini went through, and has stuck with one of Alex Moulton's compounds, developed in the late 50s. I didn't notice a great deal of difference, I have to say, but that was probably largely due to the amount of vibration from the engine blocking all other senses.

Is this car worth £99K? Define "worth". They're going to sell some, that's for sure, because their timing is perfect: the zeitgeist for continuation cars and our love of classics is still soaring. The joy of the original Mini has never waned, and there will always be a small, cobbled parking space, surrounded by flower pots, outside a Kensington mews house that's just yearning for a leather-clad Mini to fill it.


DAVID BROWN AUTOMOTIVE MINI REMASTERED
Engine
: original 1,330cc petrol
Transmission: 4-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 95@6,100rpm
Torque (lb ft): 87@4,000rpm
0-60mph: 10.6sec
Top speed: 88mph
Weight: 750kg
MPG: 41
CO2: 184g/km
Price: £99,000 plus delivery

 

 

   
Author
Discussion

Fire99

Original Poster:

9,132 posts

147 months

Sunday 18th June
quotequote all
It looks good because the early Mini looked good, particularly in Cooper (S) trim, though the tail lights remind me of the very last Lotus Esprit's with their 'individual' lamps.. It doesn't really work.

The difficult part is that the original car and engine etc were designed to be a cheap and functional car so the technology was low-tech but cleverly packaged. It's hard to make a Mini become worth 100 grand, by smoothing some seams, closing some gaps, and adding a bit of modern technology (which is probably cheaper than retro parts.. I.C.E, in particular).


Dafuq

290 posts

88 months

Sunday 18th June
quotequote all
Ha ha ha ha, how much?

Fk off!

Apologies for the involuntary Tourette's syndrome but that price expectation is enough to bring out the worst vocabulary in any one.

Don't get me wrong, I grew up with this generation of the Mini and I adore them, but we had a few when I was a youngun and there were all massive fun, but pretty agricultural and basic. Plus, good look in a collision with anything built post 2000.

For a hundred grand you could have an insane Caterham (a proper period styled yet up to date car), a trailer to take it to track days, a modern quality tow vehicle to take it and a big wedge of cash still in the bank.

Insane.

ducnick

762 posts

161 months

Sunday 18th June
quotequote all
For half as much you could secure a mint original cooper S with history that will continue to increase in value. This thing will depreciate faster than you can blink.
Hence potential customers need to be rich, stupid, and desperate to become poor quickly. It's a limited market but David brown appears to know how to exploit it well enough.

Dusty964

6,680 posts

108 months

Sunday 18th June
quotequote all
Dafuq said:
For a hundred grand you could have an insane Caterham (a proper period styled yet up to date car), a trailer to take it to track days, a modern quality tow vehicle to take it and a big wedge of cash still in the bank.

Insane.
For a hundred grand you could have loads of alternative cars, a 'plane, a helicopter, a watch, a handbag, a holiday home.....the list is immense...but if you are looking for a limited, bespoke Mini you are as unlikely to compare it to a helicopter as you are a Caterham, trailer and track days.


Mercury00

3,170 posts

74 months

Sunday 18th June
quotequote all
I'd rather have something like this:


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SDB660

482 posts

113 months

Sunday 18th June
quotequote all
As original car a monocoque, would de-seaming it cause an 8 point rule issue with DVLA?

https://www.gov.uk/vehicle-registration/radically-...

https://www.gov.uk/vehicle-registration/rebuilt-ve...

Venturist

2,343 posts

113 months

Sunday 18th June
quotequote all
This car makes me laugh. The amount of people who don't understand it at all!
If you're even thinking about it in terms of value for money... you're not the target customer. If you're thinking you could buy other things with that cash, or get a Mini built to the same spec for 10% the price... you're not the target customer.

The target customer is extremely wealthy and doesn't think twice about spending 100k on a little car. That's far less hassle to them than organising a Mini resto, and as a car is far more desirable than a Fiat 500 special edition or a new Mini, which is all it's competing with really. The customer wants a chic, pretty, but high-spec little runaround and what it costs is essentially irrelevant - it's just nobody has made a car like that which can successfully command a price like this yet. I think DBA have managed it with this luxury retro kick society is on at the moment: right product, right time.

This is a banker's 23 year old girlfriend's car. Or a CEO's daughter. They'll sell as many as they can make.

Dafuq

290 posts

88 months

Sunday 18th June
quotequote all
Dusty964 said:
Dafuq said:
For a hundred grand you could have an insane Caterham (a proper period styled yet up to date car), a trailer to take it to track days, a modern quality tow vehicle to take it and a big wedge of cash still in the bank.

Insane.
For a hundred grand you could have loads of alternative cars, a 'plane, a helicopter, a watch, a handbag, a holiday home.....the list is immense...but if you are looking for a limited, bespoke Mini you are as unlikely to compare it to a helicopter as you are a Caterham, trailer and track days.
Good point, well made. However, I suppose the point I was looking to make was that this is a bonkers price to pay for a 'retro' English classic when you can get a brand new 'retro' car for way less in the shape of the Caterham (or even an Elise).

Plus, if I was to look for a rebuilt built bespoke Mini I certainly wouldn't want it have have a ste I-pad sized sat nav screen or chavvy rear light clusters. That just ruins the whole idea of the recreation thing. That is where Singer got the 911 bang on, they might have some trick stuff going on for audio etc, but it's nicely tucked away and the piece looks on point classic.

Sorry for any confusion wink


Edited by Dafuq on Sunday 18th June 10:08

edo

16,096 posts

183 months

Dafuq

290 posts

88 months

Sunday 18th June
quotequote all
edo said:
Oooooooooo, that just caused a bit of sex wee!

Kind of adds fuel the fire of my point made above.

That's lovely...., and a bit of a bargain all things considered.

edo

16,096 posts

183 months

Sunday 18th June
quotequote all
Dafuq said:
edo said:
Oooooooooo, that just caused a bit of sex wee!

Kind of adds fuel the fire of my point made above.

That's lovely...., and a bit of a bargain all things considered.
Agreed. Worth that all day long.

I assume the person who spends 100k on a mini has a car collection and a very high net worth. Even if I had 100k to chuck about on another car it wouldnt be on this, but each to their own.

mainline

50 posts

133 months

Sunday 18th June
quotequote all
Paying 100k to completely miss the point of why the mini existed or why it was so brilliant as a concept is just baffling.
And those rear lights are terrible, just awful, the whole thing is a mess.

jason61c

2,593 posts

92 months

Sunday 18th June
quotequote all
I'd be worried that the one they let you drive was 'pre-production', how many times has that phrase been used?

Ignoring the actual price, I just do not see the 'value' in it? As above, I'm sure they're should be some IVA issues with it?


Esceptico

1,071 posts

27 months

Sunday 18th June
quotequote all
Although I agree with all the comments above about this being pointless and far too expensive it seems that they have lots of orders and will need to move to bigger premises to keep up. Bizarre but unless you do have more money than sense you probably can't understand or empathise with potential buyers.

Presumably, despite having a new shell it will still be prone to rust like the original?

Krikkit

10,097 posts

99 months

Sunday 18th June
quotequote all
Considering a minty 60s Cooper S is now 30k+ this doesn't seem too bad. I'd have to have the original lights though, those are absolutely bloody hideous!

charltjr

2,851 posts

113 months

Sunday 18th June
quotequote all
Even taking the price completely out of the equation, all I see is a dolled up Mini which has had most of the original "warts and all" charm removed.

The best modern "recreations" understand the ethos of the car and use modern technology and techniques to enhance the car, it just seems like this misses that mark by a long way by chucking a touchscreen, aircon and plush interior at what was very basic motoring.

miniman

18,718 posts

180 months

Sunday 18th June
quotequote all
Are those Fiat 500 door handles inside? I like the interior, rear lights are awful.

But One Hundred Grand? That's a good 5 weekend cars right there.

Blayney

2,191 posts

104 months

Sunday 18th June
quotequote all
Rear lights are awful. Price is ridiculous. I'll stick with my '89 Racing Green thanks.

ILoveMondeo

9,592 posts

144 months

Sunday 18th June
quotequote all
I really don't see the problem with this, sure it's expensive, 5x the cost of a minty original classic mini.

But then a singer is many times the cost of a minty air cooled porker, an eagle e-type, ditto.

There is the Abingdon MG too, bloody pricey.

But you're paying for what amounts to a spanky new classic car, I get it, I really hope the trend continues and wealthy types continue to buy these things.

If I had a few million I'd probably get one to pop to the shops in or as a station car!

Discombobulate

3,275 posts

104 months

Sunday 18th June
quotequote all
Venturist said:
This car makes me laugh. The amount of people who don't understand it at all!
If you're even thinking about it in terms of value for money... you're not the target customer. If you're thinking you could buy other things with that cash, or get a Mini built to the same spec for 10% the price... you're not the target customer.

The target customer is extremely wealthy and doesn't think twice about spending 100k on a little car. That's far less hassle to them than organising a Mini resto, and as a car is far more desirable than a Fiat 500 special edition or a new Mini, which is all it's competing with really. The customer wants a chic, pretty, but high-spec little runaround and what it costs is essentially irrelevant - it's just nobody has made a car like that which can successfully command a price like this yet. I think DBA have managed it with this luxury retro kick society is on at the moment: right product, right time.

This is a banker's 23 year old girlfriend's car. Or a CEO's daughter. They'll sell as many as they can make.
Aye, but that doesn't excuse second rate engineering - and the vibrations suggest they spent too much time on bling and not enough on basics. No matter how rich I may be, I like things to be done properly.