Something Small in Denmark

Alas this little gem is a bit too far away to take a look. All interesting cars are a long way from where I live (Aarhus). 

1977 Innocenti Mini De Tomaso: source

You can inspect the advertisement here.

This one is the special De Tomaso sports model with 72 hp from the ex-BMC 1275 A-series engine. It has some special additions such as a different bumper, a bonnet scoop and some purposeful black detailing.

1977 Innocenti Mini De Tomaso: source

Note the little upkick on the trailing edge of the roof. It’s quite a sporty little number. Bertone handled the styling and added a useful hatchback which is something BMC and its successors never got around to (unless it was a Clubman estate). The seating to steering arrangement was also better.

Honest John shows the car with its Austin bodywork. “The best known of Innocenti’s models, produced in a varitey of specifications including the original Mini Minor’, the ‘Mini t’ (Traveller) and ‘Mini Cooper’, as pictured here. The Mini Cooper remained in production after manufacture of the equivalent UK models ceased. The Innocenti versions were often both better built and more luxuriously appointed than their UK counterparts, and a few have found their way to these shores over the years,” it writes.

This is their take on the De Tomaso version: ” The new-style Mini (1974-1982) was originally launched in two versions, the 90L and 120L – the former having the 998cc A-series engine putting out 43bhp, and the latter the 1275cc unit, with an extra 20bhp on tap. These outputs were later uprated to 49bhp and 65bhp respectively. Following the sale of Innocenti to de Tomaso in 1975, an uprated version of the 120L was launched in 1976, producing a useful 71bhp (74bhp from 1978 onwards); known simply as the Innocenti de Tomaso.” What would a modern version of this be?  I suggest a Mini with an entirely different body made by Pagani, something like the Aston Martin Cygnet only with its own coachwork and uprated performance.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

9 thoughts on “Something Small in Denmark”

  1. Find the looks appealing, from the bodykit alone this Innocenti Mini De Tomaso deserved to be fitted with the more powerful 94 hp 1275cc engine found in the later MG Metro Turbo and ERA Mini Turbo.

    1. How do you imagine the VdP 1100
      would to be? How about basing it on a Ford Focus saloon. Give it a new grille and rear bumper and perhaps have a tie-in with Roche Bobois for the upholstery. Ford, are you listening?

    2. hmmm… maybe I’d base the VdP on a Daihatsu Sirion with a front end redesigned to receive a Bentley-style mesh grille. throw in a CVT, the usual wood-and-leather trim, lots of sound isolation foam, picnic tables and dark taillights.

      exterior details could be specced in chrome or gold. some odd choices for the wheels (wire wheels? BBS LMs?) and colours (BRG, Bugatti blue, a pastel brown, Lancia Musa’s “cipria”).

      a Roche Bobois (thanks for introducing me to it) edition would be nice. what about pearl white paint with purple upholstery?

  2. Amazing how they kept the basic body shape while completely changing the suspension and stuffing the Daihatsu turbo 3 in it a few years later, and it was a rev freak then. That thing was an absolute hoot to test drive and had three grown men (all engineers on a lunch break – the salesman declined the trip) in stitches laughing their heads off parked by the side of the road, it was such an unexpected blast of joyous life.

    The construction “quality” and design of the body, however, could be likened to a specially reinforced corrugated cardboard box, so it was light and eager, but anyone with a tick of sense could see the thing would fall apart under even moderate usage on our roads. It seemed to bend just with the weight of three guys getting in and out for goodness sake. The sill cross-section looked way undersized, for example.

    Fiats had just left our Canadian market leaving an iron oxide trail of doom, and here was an “unknown” Italian brand just arriving in 1984 or so. But not for long. I see the Canadian version is mentioned in Wikipedia and sales were dreadful. The current 500 Abarth sold here gives off a somewhat similar joie-de-vivre while not being very rev-happy at all but weighs 2500 lbs rather than 1700 like the Innocenti and feels solid, but is way overpriced. For those who’ve never driven one, the 1988 Honda CRX Si with 105 bhp had similar zest to the Innocenti – it’s the only Honda that has struck me as being not dull at heart – performance Hondas generally being souped-up boring cars. Not the CRX Mk2.

  3. Eduardo: shouldn’t it be a small saloon? How about a Baleno or even a Fiat Tipo? Perhaps the Tipo would best capture the credibility deficit of the VdP 1100? Imagine the regal grille and hide trimmings contrasting starkly with the carryover plastics.

  4. The one in the advert looks like it could do with some TLC, but what a terrific little car. One wonders what BMC/British Leyland/Austin-Rover were pissing about at for all that time?

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