Have you ever thought: “I wonder what a $150,000 Mini classic would look like?” If so, you’re in luck, because David Brown Automotive (DBA) has a car for you: the Mini eMastered. It’s a classic Mini, powered by electricity, and it’s a lot of money.
You’d be forgiven for not knowing who David Brown Automotive is. It is a small outfit that specializes in cars for the ultra rich, but it does so rather surprisingly. Founded in 2013 by a chap called, perhaps ironically, David Brown (no relation to Aston Martin David Brown, before you ask), his first car was a convertible-based Jaguar XK GT speed.
Launched in 2014, the Speedback GT comes with a 5.0 L supercharged V8, more than 500 hp (373 kW), and a look that is a classic Aston Martin. Brown, an avid classic car enthusiast, likes the look of his classics but hates having to fix them all the time, so he made something that looks old but shouldn’t break anywhere near as often. The company says no more than 100 will be built, and with a pretty steep entry fee you can imagine that the wider appeal could be limited a smidge.
The company’s next effort is Mini Remastered. More of a value proposition (although these things are related), the Mini is a more traditional restomod. A donor car was found, its engine and gearbox were given a complete overhaul and a new body was installed. The body is solid, rust-proof, and given a nice retro look before being painted, well, in any shade. the customer chooses. The interior is covered in the best cow leather, too, and the drivers get mod cons like air conditioning, central locking, and even Apple CarPlay. DBA even adds power steering.
There have been a few special versions of the Mini Remastered-Edition Marshall-centric track (that looks a bit like a Marshall speaker), and the Oselli Edition of the race.
They’re all powered by combustion engines, and DBA customers are getting very excited to get their Mini kicks in some green stuff. 2023 saw the launch of the Mini eMastered, a quieter, more environmentally friendly take on DBA’s signature hatch.
In this place (let’s face it… awful) A Series engine has a 98 hp (73 kW), 129 lb-ft (174 Nm) Zonic 70 motor and up to an 18.8 kWh battery. The car weighs just 1,367 lbs (620 kg), which in car terms is basically nothing and puts it right with the 50s classic. DBA says it will sprint from 0-62mph (0-100 km/h) in 8.5 seconds and go up to a rather brisk 92 mph (148 km/h).
Not that the 0-62 run is too fast Alec Issigonis‘ Classic, almost as fast as the BMW Mini Cooper. Range is 110 miles (177 km), while charging times sit at around three hours—no mega-fast charging here. Let’s face it; if you’re dropping $150,000 on a small electric retrofit, chances are you’ll have a spare car kicking around to use while charging the Mini.
When you’re not sealed in, you will have an obscene amount of money for it. The first thing you’ll notice is that it’s freaking small. DBA’s small bullet mirrors are fitted for rear view, but in reality you only need to look over your shoulder to get a full view of what’s going on behind you. As it is an old car, there is a lot of glass to look through, too. Power is delivered immediately; you will fly on the road, hitting the speed limit with ease. It is laugh-inducingly fast.
DBA’s power steering doesn’t turn the wheel into a loose disc, and you can tell there’s some help there, but it’s still a lot of advice in the process – the corners are a giggle, no matter the angle. There’s also the fun handling of old-school Minis, and you can really leg it around the bends if you’re in the mood (and you will be). As it is so light, the suspension is easily troubled by bumps and bumps, too. You can’t help but smile as you go about your business.
It’s not all smiles and lights, though. As the steering column and pedals are in their original places, if you have long legs, you will find that you need to be careful where you place your feet in case of accidentally pressing the pedal, and your knees may ended in indifference. corners round the steering wheel, but that’s always true of a Mini.
You will not be the only one who will be happy to be in his presence, because everyone who sees him will laugh at you. Or they will ask questions – especially about the lack of noise, but maybe you have written it yourself.
Despite its size, it feels pretty spacious-modern cars and their chunky crash structure can feel cramped, but the Mini seems logical. I wouldn’t mind being in the back for a long ride, though. The work done to the interior needs to be praised. The leather work is exquisite. The seats are in the perfect spot between comfy and slightly bouncy, too. Every interior panel is beautifully finished, as is the switch — all metal, all fun to play with. Its sound system is punchy, too, but doesn’t drown out its motor’s satisfyingly dry light output. The exterior treatment of the DBA is right as well as the classic combination, with hints of modernity thanks to the LED lights. You can see where the money is going.
The price will be a bright spot for many people. $150,000 is a lot of money for most people. Life-changing, in fact. For DBA buyers looking, no. Jam DBA has to make cars that suit your customers. They don’t need a new, shiny restomod to do big road trips; they want a car to drive around the city, to go to the shops in it, or to go to their spouse’s place.
It is here that the point of Mini eMastered rears its head. It’s a useful novelty, a jacket to throw on for a night. There is no need for something like this, just as there is no need for McLaren, Ferrari, or any of that ilk. Your job is to be brilliant in producing a delicious electronic renaissance. And it is very good indeed.