Land of song keeps a welcome for Aston Martin DBX…and David Brown Automotive puts the best of British back in the Mini, maybe…

“The name’s Martin…Aston Martin.” I know, I know, it’s one of the oldest jokes in the industry. But when you’re an avid fan of both Bond and Martin then it’s very difficult letting go and moving into the 21st century. Fortunately, AM is not so hide bound and is gearing up for some modern day James Bond antics by declaring war of the likes of Maserati and Porche.

How? With the four-wheel drive DBX, of course. And what better place to build the ‘war machine’ than in a converted military base deep in the heart of wild Wales. Previewed at the Geneva Motor Show in 2015, the DBX will throw Aston Martin into battle with the high-riding Maserati Levante and Porsche Cayenne when it rolls out of the Welsh valleys in 2019.

Rather than building it alongside the DB11 in Gaydon, a former air force base, the company is converting three ‘super hangars’ into a modern manufacturing plant, a project that is expected to create around 750 new jobs for the region.

OK…So what will the ‘iechyd da’ DBX look like? Difficult to know as AM has been playing its cards close to the chest since Geneva. According to New Atlas’ C.C Weiss, the concept might look compact in pictures, but it’s actually a seriously big car. “It looks too chunky and heavy to be a convincing performance car and the sloping roofline doesn’t exactly come off as a comfy crossover with plenty of room for the weekend’s gear.”

Based on the silhouette released with information about the upcoming factory, the production vehicle looks to have a more conventional shape than the coupe-crossover concept that promised an all-electric powertrain. Aston Martin has been playing around with the idea of a battery-powered Rapide for a while now, but I think you can safely say that there’s no way we’re going to see a battery DBX. After all when it finally hits the tarmac the car will be up against some pretty strong opposition in the Porsche Cayenne, Maserati Levante and, maybe even the Lamborghini Urus, so it will need to be pretty darn good.

Source: Aston Martin

David Brown Automotive puts the best of British back in the Mini

“What have the Romans ever done for us?…”All right… all right… but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order… what have the Romans done for us?”

Somehow these lines from Monty Python’s Life of Brian spring to mind whenever I think of the Mini and what BMW has done to this Issigonis classic. Well, for a start it’s a lot more reliable and costs a hell of a lot more money, the interior is much better and it drives like a real motorcar. But a Mini it is not. Which is why, hot on the heals of some Brexit nostalgia, niche manufacturer David Brown Automotive has taken up the challenge to put the best of British back into Mr Bean’s favourite form of transport. It might be small, but behind that classic silhouette is a reworked version of the original drivetrain and a properly luxurious interior.

Resto-modding, or taking a much-loved classic and bringing it into the 21st century, is growing in popularity at the moment. Range Rover will sell you a pristine, 1978 Classic and Jaguar has dusted off the E-Type for another run. It’s not just major manufacturers, either. The team at David Brown Automotive has lovingly taken the spirit of the Aston Martin DB5 and injected it into the Speedback GT, and the work done by Singer Vehicle Design is enough to make any 911 diehard fan weak at the knees. Given its status as a legend of the ’60s, the Mini makes a logical candidate for modernisation.

It might look like a classic Mini, but the team at David Brown Automotive has done plenty of work to refine the original Alex Issignois design. The cars are hand-built with new body panels, which are tweaked in-house to create a smoother, prettier shape than is found on the original car. Seams, or lines on the body, have gone and custom-built grilles and lights certainly give the Remastered Mini a look of its own.

Things have changed under the skin, too, with bespoke structural bracing and support struts contributing to greater overall rigidity. Not only will that help make the car safer, it should improve on the original’s impressive handling and its not so impressive in-cabin refinement. The engine is based on the four-cylinder from the original, but some choice modifications are said to have freed up around 50% more power than 1960s drivers had on tap. That means it makes around 78hp (58kW) put to the road through a reconditioned four-speed manual gearbox. David Brown Automotive has also fitted a fresh suspension system and up-to-date disc brakes, for up-to-date handling and stopping.

“Powered by a fully reconditioned 1275cc engine and re-engineered gearbox, the car will have all of the style and feel of a classic with modern dynamics,” says company founder David Brown.

Customisation is at the core of the BMW-designed Mini, but the Remastered by David Brown takes things to the next level. Each car takes around 1000 hours to build, with four weeks dedicated to perfecting the paint finish alone. Owners will be able to pair their exterior color with a contrasting roof and interior trim and choice of wheel designs.

The interior itself is perhaps the biggest departure from the original Mini. Seats trimmed in British leather and a range of paint, leather and fabric trims for the dashboard elevate the car beyond its economy-car origins, although the Smiths dials and Moto-Lita steering wheel both provide a direct link to the past. What you didn’t get in past was an infotainment system with CarPlay and Android Auto, keyless go and remote central locking, all of which make life with the David Brown Automotive Mini a bit easier.

According to Uncle David he’s built this car to sit alongside any classic or modern collector’s garage. “I can see this being a fantastic city car, too. We’ve had an amazing response to the car from Speedback GT customers and David Brown Automotive fans and we believe this is a car that will appeal to men, women, the young and old.”

Pricing is expected to be upward of $A83,000, but that’s unlikely to deter potential buyers. What’s that about the BMW version being pricey? The car was launched in Shoreditch, London, but will be on show at the Grimaldi Forum in Monte Carlo later this month. Those who can’t make it to Monte Carlo can check the car out in the video below.

Source: David Brown Automotive