"Back in the 1980s, car manufacturers were busy thinking of the next big thing in the sports car world, and some clever German folk had an idea. Why don’t we connect all of the wheels to the engine? Why "
ERA Mini Turbo
The fastest of the originals
There’s something so special about the original cast of Minis. I can’t imagine a single person not looking, smiling or feeling something when they see one bobbing along the road. In whatever town or city, in whatever country, at any point over the past few decades.
There were so many models and variations of that initial shape but perhaps one of the greatest was the rare (and now even rarer) ERA Mini Turbo.
Produced between 1989 and 1991 in Dunstable only 436 of these little scamps were ever made.
We were lucky enough to meet with one proud owner who had his heart set on owning an ERA Mini Turbo ever since he first clapped eyes on one at the Earl’s Court motor show in the late eighties.
With its flared wheel arches, Innocenti Mini Cooper grille and beefy turbo-charged MG Metro engine the ERA had all the attributes needed to be a huge success.
At the time of production it was one of the first cars in the UK to undergo extensive computer simulation to work out the perfect wheel camber alignment and balance needed for optimum performance.
However, they never actually managed to make the 500 originally intended. In fact many of the 436 cars were sold into the Japanese market leaving even fewer on the roads of Britain.
This made it one of the rarest original Minis ever produced. And yet the fastest standard Mini ever produced.
To squeeze the meaty turbo powered engine in the entire dashboard needed to be pushed further into the cabin which made the ERA pretty unique on the inside, too.
It was the first ERA badged car for 35 years whilst they didn’t exactly fly off the shelves at the dealership, they certainly flew on the roads. With 94bhp for a car of such small proportions there was literally nothing else like it in 1989. It was tipped by many as the spiritual successor to the Mini Cooper for its sheer character and performance.
There are tales of the ERA Mini Turbo working up such a sweat under that little bonnet that the engine would reach temperatures over 100’C which is perhaps not the best character trait to have, but still, has added to its legend. The owner of this particular ERA also described that during restoration they discovered that the huge air scoop on the bonnet had been secretly collecting rainwater over the years and quietly rusting away with detection.
But, does any of that matter?
At the end of the day our love for the Mini is often so blind that anything and everything goes. The particular car featured in our film was spectacular in its condition, charm and performance. The fact it was the elusive – and in this case immaculate – ERA Mini Turbo just made it even more special.
At the end of the day, Mini love is big love.
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