Good Oil: Mini’s 1275GT tribute model only available in France
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It’s only a cosmetic dress-up, but Mini’s new Cooper S GT Edition has left us with a serious case of FOMO.
Not only is it strictly limited to just 150 units; all of those units are available only in that bastion of Mini fandom ... France.
Mechanically, the Cooper S GT Edition is identical to the normal Cooper S, with its two-litre turbo engine under its snub bonnet.
But what it lacks in extra firepower it makes up for with stripes.
Lots of lovely stripes.
Now, remembering BMW is somewhat addicted to giving its popular offshoot limited edition designations, it’s easy to get a bit blase about the next-big-thing in low production collectables from the German manufacturer. But the GT part of the nameplate means this particular special edition Mini is about as close to the original Mini GT as we’re likely to get.
There’s no special stick-on bluff front end (the original 1275GT arrived during the Clubman era of British Leyland’s giant-slayer), but the black and red paint job is specific to the GT and the company has fossicked around in the JCW parts bin for other suitably retro mods, including spot lights out front, 18-inch JCW alloy wheels and an aero kit.
While we’re unlikely to drive one of the French market 1275GT tribute models, the more widely available 1499GT that Mini UK revealed a couple of years ago is perhaps slightly more attainable.
That one was also based on the back-to-basics three-cylinder Mini One model (which featured as little in terms of spec as BMW cared to pack into a Mini), so perhaps it was more in the spirit of the original 1275GT, anyway.
With prices of the 1970s-era car having skyrocketed in the intervening decades, importinga Mini 1499GT might be the most cost-effective way of enjoying some micro-themed retro fun, too.
Corvette-flavoured MX-5 dress-up
Oft-amusing Japanese oddballs Mitsuoka have come up with an alarming take on retro-themed soft-top motoring, with Mazda’s trustworthy MX-5 roadster as a base. If you’ve always desired a Corvette Stingray (or a car that looks like a Corvette Stingray if you squint), but you’re not wanting to take a risk on a non-operative turkey, Mitsuoka has the answer. And it’s an answer with a suitably brash model name: the Rock Star.
If you’re not familiar with Mitsuoka, googling the firm’s output will leave you scratching your head.
Infamous for producing decidedly fishy cars (as far as their looks go, let alone the unfailing air of “what do I do if it breaks down?”), Mitsuoka is a motoring writer fave: dependable for cluttering up the distant halls of international motor shows with strange kit car-like takes on overtly sporty models that — rightly or wrongly — are rarely seen outside the borders of Japan.
The C2 Stingray / MX-5 mash-up is particularly strange. An American news outlet got it pitch-perfect correct when it suggested the Rock Star looks like a bogus Hot Wheels knock-off produced by a bootleg factory in 1980s Macau.
There is definitely something ’Vette-ish about it. It’s just hard to explain what that is exactly.
In ensuring the reliability factor remains at the heart of things, the Rock Star is just a re-skinned MX-5, with Mazda’s 1.5-litre four cylinder remaining under the bonnet. You can specify a manual gearbox if you want, but the self-shifter and those five-spoke retro alloy wheels are about as old school as this thing gets.
Which, again, could be its strongest selling point.
Well, it needs at least one, right?
VW follows Rangey Evoque convertible’s lead with drop-top T-Roc
Surely one convertible SUV in the world is enough?
Apparently not. It is only about to be launched in our part of the world, but back in Europe, Volkswagen’s compact T-Roc SUV is already about to spawn a soft-topped sibling.
Pre-production versions of a convertible T-Roc have already been spied, and Volkswagen looks to be readying the summer-flavoured SUV for sale by 2020.
The only other convertible SUV on the global market is the Range Rover Evoque Convertible.
This three-door drop-top option didn’t sell in big numbers in NZ (we’d be surprised if registrations made it into double digits), and although the recipe doesn’t look tasty on paper, we found the soft-topped Rangey a lot of fun.
Others overseas clearly agree, as in Europe the Evoque Convertible does respectably well enough. And VW must feel it’s missing a trick, as the similarly-sized T-Roc is all set to get its roof chopped, too.
The German automaker won’t stop there though.
It has already shown off an even more microscopic Polo-based SUV, called the T-Cross.
And yes, you’ve saved us the keystrokes, but we’ll confirm it anyway: that’ll be augmented with a soft-top version.
Must be a Euro thing ...