Is it possible that Sir Paul Smith is the best collaborator in the automotive space right now? It certainly isn’t Sean Wotherspoon, but the late great Virgil Abloh might give him a run for his money. We’d argue that he is, and in his latest venture, Paul Smith has helped transform one of his original 1988 MINI Paul Smith Edition – limited to 1,800 vehicles – with a full EV conversion thanks to the MINI Recharged project. It’s the latest in a partnership we hope to see continue with unique, functional models being the highlight in a generation of renders and ‘hope and dreams’.
Outside of the EV conversion, what makes this model so special is its history with Paul Smith. The limited-edition 1988 vehicle found its original inspiration from his personal collection, a swatch from one of his favourite shirts was pulled to decide on paint colour, resulting in a gorgeous bright blue. The new model retains the instantly recognisable shade, while the contrasting lime green battery box recalls a 1990s colour palette. And despite the redesign, the original ethos of the car remains.
When Sir Alec Issigonis developed the classic MINI in response to the oil crisis of 1959, he did so to offset rising fuel prices and a general lack of space. It was this idea that convinced millions of people over many decades to invest in a MINI and is still partly responsible for the success of MINI today with cars like the MINI Cooper SE going underappreciated.
“The car also respects the past… When you move into your old aunt’s flat, out of respect you don’t change everything, but you do some modernising,” said Smith. “We have made a 1990s car totally relevant for today.”
It makes sense then that Paul Smith would keep the vehicle’s overall shape and ethos intact. Changes have been made to the interior with a reduced and sustainable being implemented; deliberately leaving out trim parts, a bare bodyshell, an unclad floor pan, and rustic floor mats made of recycled rubber. A magnet next to the steering wheel holds a mobile phone, replacing all the old buttons on the dashboard which would likely be defunct thanks to the EV conversion regardless.
The new MINI partner converted the classic MINI into an emission-free vehicle by installing a 72-kilowatt electric motor. Battery capacity, range, speed and performance figures are undisclosed at the time of writing, although we can’t imagine they’d be great considering the size of the battery. The Paul Smith Classic MINI will celebrate its world premiere at the Salone del Mobile 2022 in Milan.
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