Today’s depressing BBC Brexit bafflegab-farce forces me to seek something positive. The Geneva Motor Show is, as ever, vast and glitzy. Aston-Martin rubs shoulders with Honda ; Bugatti with Skoda. There are custom cars, concept cars, electronic cars, driverless cars and even flying cars. Each alluringly lit stand is wo/manned by smiling – smart and knowledgable representatives. I cruise around seeking that single jewel; that stuff so beautiful that I have to talk about it. And there it is; the Mini Remastered. Albion’s little giant reborn, roaring and rearing to go. If this motorshow is some foreign field then the corner that is forever England is David Brown Automotive.
A surprising and rare wave of patriotic sentiment ignites an Austin Powered recall of the first car I ever drove together with images of Mr Bean and the voice of Michael Caine in The Italian Job “You Were Only Supposed To Blow The Bloody Doors Off!” I smile. Here at last is something uplifting from the land of hope and glory. This Brit’s day has just got frabjous.
These little chariots of fire are beautifully conceived and flawlessly finished. They are even more charming than Sir Alec Issigonis’ classic original. I love the fusion of the 1960s iconic image with contemporary design and build. However, they are not simply constructed in the spirit of the Mini. Each has a “donor” Mini – included in the final price – out of which are taken the engine and gear box; these are remastered so keeping the all-important chassis number. The rest of the vehicle is lovingly constructed around them.
The company emphasises the sculpted body-coloured wheel arch extensions; a flawlessly finished four-week hand- applied paint process; centrally-mounted exhaust outlets; handcrafted badges using traditional die-sinking enamel techniques; jewel-like LED rear light clusters and indicators framed by bespoke aluminium surrounds; chrome bullet-style door-mounted wing mirrors with integrated LED puddle lamps; a premium infotainment system, operated via a 7″ touchscreen interface as the centre piece of in-car connectivity; full-grain, British-sourced leather upholstery; elegant knurled aluminium gear stick and classic Mota-Lita® steering wheel. Cripes, Bunter! An arrow of desire might end up costing the pierced enthusiast 70,000 guineas! A Mini, a Mini! My kingdom for a Mini!
Keep calm and carry on! The Mini, as Jeeves observed of Shakespeare, gives universal satisfaction. I wander around the show. Nothing else spikes my interest in quite the same way. The Remastered Minis are victorious, happy and glorious. Cool Britannia! Twist and shout!
The Geneva sun slopes down to rest now day is done. The Minis are tucked in for a well-earned snooze. Their bed-time story is Peter Rabbit read by Mary Poppins. (Chuffin’ Nora! Get a grip, man!)
Lest we forget, the name’s Brown… David Brown.
“And the EU negotiators, Ma’am?” A pause. Pursed lips. “Make it look like an accident, Double-O Seven!”
Photos by Bertrand Godfried and Isaac Griberg.