the Brussels Auto Show was a record edition in 2000 with just over 750,000 visitors. At the time, all the manufacturers were still present and the event was particularly colorful. I particularly remember the stand BMW which exposed a great novelty which had moreover had the favors of the king during his visit: the X5. At his side sat a magnificent coupe Z3M with such wide hips and mustard paint that couldn’t be more showy.
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Next to these cars representing the firepower of the group BMWa vehicle from another age was almost hidden behind a column, as if it had been exhibited without really wanting to: it was the ultimate version of the Mini who was living his last months before the arrival of the new Mini, largely designed by the German industrialist since the takeover of Rover from which she would separate the same year.
Still manufactured using an archaic industrial process that has not changed since 1959, the year of its launch, the Mini had all the same been somewhat modernized with the appearance of injection in the early 90s and the airbag in 1998.
As a swan song, its ultimate version was intended to be rather luxurious and was aimed above all at fans of this model who were ready to put more than €15,000 for this anachronistic car which was already a collector’s item when it was marketed. Besides, BMW played to the full on the emotional side of the little English girl by offering several limited series, each as attractive as the other.
It is precisely one of these, the Knightsbridge (from the name of the London district where you can find the famous store Harrod’s) with whom Dominique fell in love. After much searching, he found in 2007 a copy produced in 2000, in good condition. The number one problem of Mini is the rust and Dominique unfortunately could not escape it a few years later because the bay of windshield had to be restored. For the rest, the English remains strictly original, except for its silencer which has been replaced by another, more generous sound level.
The designer’s geniusAlec Issigonis“daddy” of the Mini, is to have succeeded in creating a 3.05 m long car capable of accommodating four adults and some luggage! Ridiculously small compared to any city car today, the English car is impressive all the same, especially in this offshore version. wheels 13 inches (it also changes current sizes!) and to fender extensions which reinforce his look of small kart close to the ground.
cute as anything, Mini is a set of fun details such as its small trunk that opens from top to bottom or its microscopic bonnet.
It’s hard to find a more British interior than this Mini Knightsbridge who tends to take themselves for a Jaguar! The seats are upholstered in elegant beige leather, while the dashboard and the upper part of the doors are trimmed with wood trim that gives it a mad elegance.
For the rest, the fairly basic finish betrays the archaic design of the machine with many visible screws. Similarly, the heating box placed under the dashboard is identical to that of the Mini from the mid-1970s with which yours truly learned to drive!
The most amazing thing about this car is the driving position so special that it has not changed either. Your knees are placed higher than your bottom, while your legs are shifted to the right because of the wheel arch. The steering wheel is placed obliquely, almost horizontally. This particular ergonomics makes the charm of the Mini which, in any case, is not made for traveling long distances.
To move its 740 kg, the Mini trusts its “good old” 1.3-liter block equipped with injection, developing 63 hp and 95 Nm of torque. He is attached to a gearbox which still only has 4 gears! After a few kilometers traveled behind the wheel, one conclusion is obvious: driving Mini is a pleasure every moment. Even if you drive at legal speeds, the sensations are omnipresent as the car is low and its steering is ultra direct.
Stuck to the road, the car seems to leap from corner to corner with incredible ease, despite its low power. The other side of the coin, the suspension is very firm and rolling over a simple cigarette butt dragging on the asphalt results in a sharp blow that puts your vertebrae to the test! Thanks to the special exhaust, the characteristic and aggressive sound of the engine of the Mini (enhanced by the addition of a K&N air filter) makes you want to “harry” and play the box.
Compared to an old model which had four drum brakes which only slowed down the assembly, the car of Dominique benefits from discs at the front which greatly improve braking. Don’t look for a ABSthere is none!
“Vintage” to the end, the Mini succeeds in giving you a smile from the first meters behind the wheel. Queen of the city, she is also a delight on country roads. Practical to use, versatile and pleasant, it was widely available (estate, pick-up, beach car) throughout its career, proving its universal character for nearly 41 years.