England-based David Brown Automotive introduced a one-off version of its restomodded Mini Remastered built as a tribute to the Lotus Esprit Turbo driven by James Bond. It’s a unique, unabashedly British creation that shares very few parts with the city car it started life as, and nothing but looks with the sports car that inspired it.
Think of David Brown Automotive as the Singer of the classic Mini world. Its cars aren’t cheap, especially when customers commission a one-of-a-kind build, but collectors get what they pay for. Its latest project resembles the Esprit Turbo that starred in the 1981 movie For Your Eyes Only thanks to a orange paint job with copper stripes above the rocker panels and gold-painted 13-inch alloy wheels shaped like the BBS units worn by the Lotus. The front end receives Cibié driving lights, while black paint on the wheel arches and the roof completes the look.
The retro-flavored Hollywood inspiration is only skin-deep. Inside, the Mini gained white leather upholstery, walnut inserts on the dashboard, plus a 7.0-inch touchscreen compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Thicker carpet, more sound-proofing material and a push-button ignition integrated into a redesigned center console also appear on the build sheet. The extra equipment inevitably adds a little bit of weight. The average Mini Remastered tips the scale at approximately 1,630 pounds, which represents a 200-pound increase over a stock 1275 GT model, but it’s nonetheless about 700 pounds lighter than a fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata.
Don’t pay much attention to the turbo stickers on both sides; they were added to create an additional visual link between the Mini and the Esprit that inspired it. Lifting the tiny hood reveals a 1,330cc evolution of the Mini’s naturally-aspirated four-cylinder tuned to 83 horsepower. It spins the front wheels via a five-speed manual transmission. It’s bigger than the engine that powered the standard Mini, whose displacement never exceeded 1,275cc, and it receives a generous 20-horsepower bump that accentuates the go kart-like feeling.
David Brown Automotive published a photo of television personality Simon Cowell behind the wheel of the Lotus-inspired Mini, which seemingly confirms he’s the lucky enthusiast who commissioned it. Its cost hasn’t been made public, but pricing for a standard Remastered build starts at about £75,000, a sum which represents nearly $100,000 and far exceeds the value of a stock Mini that has been fully restored. This one likely cost even more.
There’s another figure to keep in mind: 1,000. That’s the number of hours the average Mini Remastered takes to build. “The painting process is the longest as each shell is painted by hand,” the company told Autoblog.