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British-inspired roadsters to make a comeback

16 June, 2014


It’s looking like Mini and MG are both exploring options in bringing the classic British roadster market back into the land of the living.

The classic British sports car  is looking to make a reappearance in the form of Mini’s Superleggera — a two-seat roadster concept with obvious Italian style.

The Superleggera was shown in late May and is simple and sleek. It has no door handles, a simple dashboard is formed from untreated aluminium steel, and the seats are leather bucket seats.

Although at 4167mm it is longer than the British sports car Austin Healey ‘Frogeye’ Sprite, it matches the Mazda MX-5 — with this particular vehicle taking the roadster market previously. 

Mini has said that it is just a concept car and plans for productions are non-existent but it is known that the company is looking for another body style to replace the slow-selling roadster and coupe.

It is likely, that if it ever did make production, the engine would be the BMW-shared 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo seen int the newest Mini.

MG could be another company to keep an eye on when it comes to entering a roadster into the market. The brand left the market when it discontinued the MG TF back in 2011.

With the market for light-weight, rear-wheel drive sports cars near abandoned with basically only Mazda at the helm, it could be a new game if British-inspired models make a reappearance.

Taipan – surpassing interest

“It’s merely a passing interest,” insists Selby — despite owning three variants of the classic VW Beetle, including an unusual VW van that was sold as a body kit for a Subaru. In his defence he points to a 1961 Ford Thunderbird, a car that he converted to right-hand drive. However, on the VW side of the ledger, since he opened Allison Autos in Whanganui 27 years ago, Selby has built 15 VW-powered Formula First cars, followed by a beach buggy, restored a derelict Karmann Ghia, and hot-rodded a common or garden Beetle into something that has to be seen to be believed. As speed is not something generally associated with classic VWs, though, Selby is still waiting for this particular modification to catch on amongst the hot rod faithful.

Travelling companion

It’s easy to see why the Morris Minor Traveller was one of the best-loved variants of the Morris Minor. Introduced in 1953, it was equipped with the same independent torsion bar front suspension, drum brakes, and rack and pinion steering as its saloon sibling but, with their foldable rear seat increasing versatility, many Travellers were used as trade vehicles, says Derek Goddard. Derek and Gail Goddard, the owners of this superbly restored example, have run Morris Minors since before they were married in 1974.
“Our honeymoon vehicle was a blue Morris Minor van — it was a rust bucket,” says Derek.