- the mini strip, based on a cooper se, is the result of a partnership with fashion designer paul smith. it was unveiled yesterday in london.
- smith left the steel bodywork exposed and redesigned the front and rear bumpers with more plain graphics constructed from 3d-printed recycled plastics.
- leather and chrome are absent inside, with the dashboard made from recycled cork, the door panels replaced with mesh, and the floor mats fashioned from recycled rubber.
if you feel overwhelmed by the dazzling display of exotica revealed at monterey car week—from the open-top aston martin valkyrie spider to the 600-hp acura nsx type s—then check out the latest mini concept, unveiled yesterday in london. the mini strip is a collaboration with fashion designer paul smith, who took an electric mini cooper se and pared things back, guided, according to mini, by a mantra of "simplicity, transparency, sustainability."
smith removed anything from the mini he deemed unnecessary while using sustainable materials for the parts he replaced. the bodywork was left unpainted (save for a transparent coat to protect against corrosion) and marks on the steel panels from the manufacturing process weren't fixed, with smith aiming to show "the perfect imperfection." much of the simplified front and rear bumpers were 3d-printed from recycled plastics, and smith left the screws exposed on the wheel arches to emphasize the back-to-basics look. the aerodynamic wheel covers as well as the grille trim and panoramic roof were all made from recycled perspex, a transparent plastic.
while the exterior is very monotone, there's a splash of color inside, where the theme of simplification continues. the doors feature smith's iconic stripe motif, and most of the interior trim was removed to expose the blue-painted bodyshell. a semi-transparent, smoked-glass piece makes up the dashboard, and the central console was removed, with a space for your smartphone to take over the infotainment duties. the only remaining physical controls are the window switches and start/stop button.
sustainable materials abound in the cabin, replacing the traditional chrome and leather elements. the top of the dashboard and doors are made from recycled cork, the seats are wrapped in a knitted fabric, and the floor mats are recycled rubber. the steering wheel ditches buttons and switches for plain aluminum spokes and, since smith is an avid cyclist, a rim wrapped in handlebar tape. a mesh covering in the center of the wheel allows the driver to see the airbag, and the door panels were replaced with the same mesh material. while the aluminum door handles remain, there are also pull handles fashioned from wound climbing rope.
with the strip more of a styling exercise than anything, mini didn’t quote any performance figures, but we would have to imagine that the weight shed by smith’s simplification will have made the cooper even more sprightly. this is not the first time smith has gotten his hands on a mini, painting an old cooper with 86 stripes in 24 colors in 1997 for the tokyo auto show.