Bringing Vintage MINIs Back To Life
If Sir Alec Issigonis, engineer of the original Mini, could design it again today, the iconic small car would definitely have an electric motor. After all, the original, launched in 1959, was conceived during an oil crisis, and was all about fuel and space efficiency, its mission to transport four occupants and their luggage in the smallest possible footprint. While the current Mini, available with electric power, remains one of the smallest cars you can buy today – and is still remarkably space-efficient – the “boffins” in Britain wondered whether there might be an opportunity to revitalize some of the originals.
Hence the Mini Recharged project – an opportunity for owners to bring their classic Minis into the 21st century, in a sustainable way.
The conversion of classic Minis to electric drive combines traditional ideas with technology from the future. The idea was born even before the brand had a fully electric car on offer with the Mini Cooper S Electric; indeed, as a one-off, a classic Mini Electric was built in 2018 and presented at the New York Auto Show. Reactions were so positive that a dedicated team from Oxford set to work and developed a plan to make a conversion available to customers who own a classic Mini.
Enough Range for the City
For fans of the original’s go-kart handling, modern electric drive simply elevates the responsiveness and eagerness – and in some areas of the world where zero emissions is becoming a requirement, the kit gives the classic a new lease on life, allowing it to accompany its owner into the future. A modern electric motor that generates about 120 horsepower and accelerates the electrified classic from 0-60 mph in about nine seconds. The energy is supplied by a high-voltage battery, which can be charged with an output up to 6.6 kW, enabling a predicted range of around 100 miles – perfect for around-town use and fun weekend drives. In addition, every Mini Recharged receives an updated central instrument cluster, which now displays the drive temperature, the selected gear, range and speed.
This “upcycling” of classic Minis is carried out exclusively by the brand in the United Kingdom. Each converted vehicle is given an individual number, making it unique. Future collaborations are planned as part of the program, allowing well-known artists to express their creativity with specially designed classic Mini models.
As classic car values continue to rise, Mini was conscious to ensure that the process of electrifying a mini is completely reversible; careful handling of the vehicle’s heritage is an important part of the concept. During the conversion, the original engine of each vehicle is marked and stored so it can be reused in the event of a future retrofit of the classic Mini – making it possible to restore the classic to its original condition at a later date.
The best part is that drivers gain a whole new driving experience; a silent drivetrain with instant acceleration and the ability to enter the electric or low-emission driving zones of many large cities, which are increasingly inaccessible with a combustion engine. For example, the electric classic Mini can drive in Oxford Street or Piccadilly Circus in London, without the driver needing to pay an environmental tax.
No new vehicles are being produced for the Mini Recharged project; instead, they are being created from much-loved, existing cars, allowing a classic Mini to begin a second, more sustainable life. Today, one in five new Mini models has an electrified drivetrain – so the Recharged project will allow the love of the brand's classic vehicles to become an experience combining past and future.