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Recharging a classic

 Published 8th February 2022
Driver Guides  General Guides 

The Mini. An icon of British history and culture, and the perfect reaction to the problem of creating an economical car during an oil crisis. If Alec Issigonis sat down to design the Mini today he'd probably come up with the same brilliant design. In fact, the only change would be under the bonnet, because it would inevitably be electric.

And just think how much better that would have made the car: the handling of a go-kart, extra storage and cabin space usually taken up by the engine, clean and efficient motoring, and instant electric acceleration in a tiny little car.

And it's now a reality.

Back in 2018, even before the first electric Mini had been introduced, BMW produced a one-off version of a classic Mini for the New York Motor Show. At the time it was most likely a teaser to test the public's reaction to an electric Mini, but it proved such a hit that a team of engineers - hopefully locked away in a dingy basement beneath the MINI Plant Oxford, just because it's a cool image – developed a plan.

So, if you happen to own a classic Mini, and if you can find them, maybe you could hire the Mini Recharged team.

Converting a classic

The conversion of your classic Mini to an electric drive makes only reversible changes to the car. The history of the car is a vital part of the concept so BMW's engineers ensure it can easily be restored to its original condition in future. They even number and store the engine so if it's ever refitted the engineers can make sure the same one goes back from whence it originally came.

"What the project team is developing preserves the character of the classic Mini and enables its fans to enjoy all-electric performance. With Mini Recharged, we are connecting the past with the future of the brand," says Bernd Körber, Head of the MINI Brand.

The drive is a modern electric motor that generates the equivalent of 120bhp and accelerates you from zero to 60mph in around nine seconds. The energy is supplied by a high-voltage battery which enables a predicted range of approximately 100 miles on a full charge.

MINI recharged gauge

In addition, every electrified classic Mini receives a new instrument cluster, styled to match the original but now displaying the drive temperature, the selected gear, range, and speed. And all completely emission-free. You could actually drive a classic Mini down Oxford Street and around Piccadilly Circus, and just like in the 1960s, the congestion charge would be a total irrelevance.

Tempted? All you need is a classic Mini and a trip to Oxford.

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