“Bespoke” is popular phraseology in the automotive world. Rooted in the King’s English, it’s a modifier to describe a product that’s made specifically to the needs of one individual buyer, namely you. This used to be the exclusive province of brands such as Rolls-Royce, which historically kept shafts of wood in stock keyed to specific cars, so their owners could exactly duplicate their interior veneers if the need ever arose due to some sort of calamity. Owners and sellers of vehicles as disparate as Jeep, Harley-Davidson and the Ford F-Series understand that there’s real value, and real profit, involved in offering serious personalization options for their customers. It’s guaranteed money. Not everyone realizes it, but MINI, as owned by BMW, has long boasted of some serious chops when it comes to bespoke automobiles, having released a plethora of special editions by taking the basic car, optioning it, then adding stripes and wheels from the MINI “toolbox” and other custom extras ranging from illuminated door sills to specific side scuttles. If you’re different from me and actually enjoyed studying the science of statistics in schools, you’ll appreciate knowing that this practice can lead to 13,544 possible combinations using just the MINI hardtop body. So when it comes to creating highly individualized products, MINI is one of the auto industry’s most accomplished brands. The latest two special editions were revealed this week.
Thematically, the MINI Cooper 1499 GT is inspired by a late edition of the groundbreaking Issigonis-created subcompact when it was still under BMC ownership, the Mini 1275 GT of 1969, which was recognizable by its modernized front sheetmetal and was then considered one of the world’s great performance bargains. The 1499 GT takes elements from MINI’s John Cooper Works styling package and adds in a Piano Black grille frame, door handles and headlight rings, the latter surrounding LED headlamps backed up by foglamps, as well as Piano Black taillight rings surrounding MINI’s model-specific Union Jack LED taillamps. The overall finish is Midnight Black Metallic paint with offsetting gold 1499 GT side stripes. The standard engine is MINI’s 1.5-liter inline-three.
The other new MINI offering, on the larger Countryman body, is the Countryman Oxford Edition. It begins with the Classic Trim accoutrements including leatherette upholstery and an 8.8-inch display with Bluetooth, and adds in LED headlamps, foglamps, the Union Jack taillamps, heated front seats and automatic climate control. The Oxford Edition is offered as either a Cooper or Cooper ALL4 variant, and also includes a rear camera with park assist, panoramic sunroof, and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Base MSRPs for both bespoke editions get underway in the upper 20s. When you shop for a MINI, individual choice is a big part of the purchase experience.