After posting ‘Mini Victories’, a few people dropped us a line wondering what exactly is the car we’ve been working on the shed. So here’s the answer – it’s a Downton GT 2+2 De Luxe. The resemblance to the Broadspeed GT of the Sixties is uncanny, because that’s basically exactly what it is.
The car was the brainchild of Downton – the Nineties version under the stewardship of the Mickleburgh brothers, Stewart and Paul. As owners of the Symbol Mini Company, the brothers had sourced and exported quite a few very desirable British cars for the Japanese market during the boom. Legend has it that one of these was one of the original Broadspeed GTs. Spending time with the car was all that was needed for the brothers to decide that it was a concept well worth updating for a new generation of Mini enthusiasts.
The new GT was offered as a body conversion or as a freshly-built turn key car. The options list was impressive – many of which were already available in the company’s ClubSport Minis. The engines were built by Slark Racing which gave the cars the power to go with the looks. There’s a lot of pub talk about ‘quick’ Minis, but these were genuinely fast and beautifully set up.
The only problem was that this level of work doesn’t come cheap. The base model of the GT was expected to sell for around £15k in 1996 – but a few ticks on the options list could easily see this rocket. The body conversion alone on a customer supplied shell was around £5000. Compare this with the then recently launched twin point injection Minis at £8995 (a price tag which many struggled to justify) and you understand why there weren’t many takers. In fact, we believe only one was completed – this one.
The car is owned by a good friend of ours – who, coindentally, bought it direct from Downton – and has been subject to a total rebuild. We’re hoping that it’ll be complete and ready for the road by the spring, but in the meantime, we’ll bring you regular updates of how it’s coming along.