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.
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.
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.
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
Top speed: 88mph
Price: £99,000 plus delivery