Mini Cooper 1499 GT
- Fri, 13 Oct 2017 10:57
It’s a funny thing what a special edition car can do to polish an automaker’s shine. Nobody knows this better than Mini, which has created its fair share of special edition models, including one that it had just announced for the French market: the Mini Blackfriars Edition. Now, it’s doubling down on the SE goodness with yet another offering called the Mini 1499 GT.
In essence, the 1499 GT is not a special edition model that was concocted out of someone’s imagination, but rather, a tribute piece to one of the most iconic Minis to have hit the pavement: the 1971 1275 GT. Most of the functioning 1275 GTs have probably been lost in the sands of time and rust, but the 1499 GT is now here to breathe some life back to the legacy of the legendary hatchback. Between exterior features that pay homage to the classic Mini to suspension tweaks that ensure that it can perform as well as advertised, the new Mini 1499 GT is a stunning example of the best of what Mini can come up. The only downside is that only 1,499 units of the car will be made, and worse, all units will be sold exclusively in the UK market. It’s a bummer, sure, but don’t let dampen your spirits. It’s rare enough to see a special edition tribute car that properly pays homage to the car it’s supposed to be tipping its hats to. It’s even rarer to see one that takes the inspiration to a level that makes people actually reminisce about the classic. The 1499 GT does that, and then some.
Continue after the jump to read more about the Mini Cooper 1499 GT.
What makes the Mini Cooper 1499 GT special?
There’s a lot to like about the Mini Cooper 1499 GT, especially if you count yourselves as fans of the original 1275 GT. I may not be old enough to remember the latter’s rise to fame, but I do remember riding in one when I was a little tot. It wasn’t the most luxurious car to begin with, and the interior space was literally unbearable even for a petulant child. But boy, oh boy, the old 1275 GT had character, something that a lot of today’s cars continue to lack. Not only that, but the 1275 GT also attracted plenty of attention, something I’m confident the 1499 GT will also have in droves.
The biggest and most important styling cues of the 1499 GT can be found in the exterior where customers are given a choice of getting the special edition hatchback with either a Pepper White finish or a Midnight Black paint. Here’s the catch though: depending on the color, the color of the distinctive graphics on the body will also change. Should customers opt for the Pepper White version of the 1499 GT, the graphics will be featured in pure black. On the other hand, a Midnight Black body will be treated to gold side stripes, the same exact stylistic feature that elevated the 1275 GT into one of the most famous cars Mini has ever produced. Don’t take my word for it; look at the photo. You’ll see what I’m talking about.
Outside of the choice in body color, the 1499 GT also received a slew of aesthetic and aerodynamic upgrades, most notably the inclusion of John Cooper Works front and rear bumpers, spoiler, side skirts, and even bespoke door entry plates. The special edition Cooper also benefits from getting tinted windows, clear indicator lenses, and a set of 17-inch black allow wheels.
Step inside the car and the upgrades to the interior are just as dramatic, maybe even more so than the exterior. Greeting you once you open the door are sports seats dressed up in leather and Dynamic. Just in front of the driver’s sports seat is another JCW transplant: a sports steering wheel with its own Chili Red stitching. There are also scattered Piano Black trimmings throughout the cabin, to go with carbon black details, an Anthracite headlining, and enough JCW badges to emphasize the contributions made by the German automaker’s performance division.
Suffice to say, the Mini Cooper 1499 GT hit all the right spots as far as paying homage to the 1275 GT is concerned. It even has the whole “affordable” spiel down pat, thanks in large part to the car carrying nothing more than a small-capacity Twin Power turbo three cylinder engine that produces a total of 102 horsepower. Powerful it is not, and the 1499 GT shows as much with an acceleration time from 0 to 60 mph of 10.1 seconds and a top speed that’s likely locked in at around 120 mph.
Designed to pay homage to the classic 1275 GT, the car will be limited to just 1,499 units in the UK market. The automaker says just like the car that inspired it, the new 1499 GT is affordable, offers unique styling features and an “entertaining drive.”
In other words, the Mini 1499 GT is an affordable Mini hatchback with a unique personality of its own. Don’t confuse it for a road-wrecker because it’s far from one. It does offer a good and hearty slice of Mini nostalgia, something that very few of its kind have been able to do. By that merit alone, the 1499 GT already stands out from other special edition Minis around, including the Blackfriars Edition.
What’s the deal with the Mini 1275 GT?
The Mini 1275 GT’s history dates all the way back to 1970 when then Mini owner British Leyland decided to bring Ford designer Roy Haynes into the fold. Haynes, as some of you may know, is the designer of the Ford Cortina Mk II, and his initial responsibility was to revamp the Mini lineup. Tapping into his experience with Ford, Haynes went and restyled the Cooper, giving it larger headlights, a revised bumper, a boxy snout with a fender-to-fender grille section, and was fitted with a set of 10-inch Rostyle alloy wheels. That design eventually came to be the Mini 1275 GT as we know it today.
The 1275 GT ended up being a unique car of its own, owing to the fact that it was offered with a 1.275-liter four-cylinder engine that used a four-synchro close-ratio four-speed manual transmission. More to that, the 1275 GT was also the first Mini in history to receive a tachometer, a pretty useful trivia for the next time you find yourselves talking to someone who claims he knows more about the automaker than he actually does. Soon enough, the 1275 GT laid the foundation for what would come to be known as the “People’s Car” in Britain, a status that not a lot of other cars have been able to replicate in the years since. The 1275 GT even proved successful enough that its production ran for nine years before it was replaced by the Austin Metro in 1980. In that time, a total of 110,673 1275 GTs were made.
Incidentally, one of those 1275 GTs actually went up for sale earlier this year in Los Angeles, California. According to Petrolicious, the model in question came with a Bronze Yellow exterior and a Black Vinyl interior. It also underwent significant restoration, owing to the fact that its owner actually found it “unloved on his brother’s work premises at Somerford Mini” back in 2004. The unidentified owner eventually bought the car and spent good money restoring it, even going so far as to get specialists from Somerford Mini to carry out the car’s complete restoration.
In the end, the car itself sold for $ 25,000, as good of a deal as you can find for a restored 1971 Mini 1275 GT that, at that time, only had 10,000 miles in it since it was rebuilt.
Read our full review on the 2017 Mini Cooper.
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