Good Oil: Design and print your Mini parts
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Ever since its Beemer-led rebirth in the early noughties, Mini has encouraged owners to make their own examples as resale-proof as possible, with a variety of customisable options.
Odd colour schemes? Checkerboard pattern inserts? An oak dashboard?
Okay, maybe not so much that last one, but Mini has long traded on the idea that its devoted fans are quirky types hell bent on standing out from the crowd. Especially the crowd of other Mini owners.
Now, thanks to the more recent advent of high-grade plastic 3D printing, Mini has been able to ratchet up the customisable thing another notch.
Starting this year, Mini owners can order specially designed individual trim pieces direct from the factory.
The programme is called Mini Yours Customised and — starting in the European market at least — gives real estate agents and DINKies the opportunity to design dash panels and exterior indicator surrounds specifically for their vehicle.
What’s more, individual LED door projector lamps (that beam out an image or word on to the surrounding footpath at night) and LED door sills are also available.
There is obviously a slight caveat on all this, in that the insert panels are rendered in a limited colour palette and BMW AG isn’t anticipating creating absolutely any scribble out of plastic; there will be a range of pre-designed choices available.
So, no; banish any subversive thoughts of inscribing your 2018 Mini Cooper S with the legend “Mini Minor” in a suitably 60s-era BMC-ish font.
This does, however, give those insufferable people who insist on naming their car the ability to personalise it with its chosen moniker. Or Monica, depending on how you insist your Mini be referred to.
How many Alfa SUVs is too many?
Barely have the first orders of Stelvio SUV been delivered to European customers and Alfa Romeo is already talking about another SUV to sit above it in the range.
Alfa’s clearly bitten by the load-lugger bug and the rumour is that a new flagship will be SUV-shaped, but more of an Audi Q7-sized competitor.
It will also be available as a hybrid electric (natch), but will feature traditional ICE engine options, too.
Thanks to clever-clogs modular chassis architecture, it can be built on the same platform as used for the Stelvio.
So, half the work is already done. Well, theoretically. Of course, you can’t blame Alfa Romeo for desperately wanting a real income earner.
With SUVs now firmly enthroned as the kingmakers of the car industry, the Stelvio looks like it could be the real deal. Add more space, more luxury and (possibly) seven seats, and you again have a whole other audience to appeal to.
Turns out Porsche was two decades ahead of its time when it unveiled the Cayenne to a heavily critical world.
But hang on. Should Alfa be heading in this direction? It’s one of the last bastions of the true sportscar enthusiast.
The highs and lows of ownership are well-known to all, but (traditionally at least) only the brave sought membership more than once.
The Giulia has put paid to that wobbly heritage to some degree, and the Stelvio will push the brand into new corners, too.
But another SUV on top of that? Please, Alfa, save the euros from Stelvio sales and put that cash into sports coupe development.
TVR video reveals noise ... and a working car
Keen to show off that the all-new TVR Griffith concept coupe unveiled a few months back exists as more than just a CAD computer render or plinth-straddling clay model, the British car company has released a short video showing it in full flight.
Filmed at a gloomy looking Dunsfold Aerodrome (aka the Top Gear TV show test track), the video doesn’t reveal a whole lot.
The car screams past at a reasonable distance in the clip that — in the version that landed in The Good Oil’s inbox — lasts all of 10 seconds.
Still, it confirms two crucial things: one is that the car moves under its own motive power (its maker states the finished Griffith will have a 320-plus km/h top speed).
The other — perhaps even more important — is that it sounds as brutal as TVRs that have gone before it.
And the ability to shake china from cabinetry 3km away has always been part of the appeal of a TVR — and part of the reason they’re extremely problematic to import to places like New Zealand.
The Griffith will be powered by a Ford-supplied, Cosworth-refettled V8, purportedly capable of a 372kW (500hp) push.
It will also be built using Gordon Murray’s iStream chassis architecture and does seem to herald the best chance the struggling marque has of making a fiscal comeback.
A claimed 0-100km/h sprint time of less than four seconds doesn’t hurt, either. Just as long as firing up that V8 in the first place isn’t a four-step process involving a button underneath a wing mirror.