MINIs are not only quirky and fun to look at, but they’re also a blast to drive. It’s rare that a car can avoid looking aggressive and still portray a sporty personality, but that’s just part of MINI’s charm.
Christopher Weil, the head of MINI design, explains that it’s not just a playful nature that makes a MINI a MINI — the ability to customize and personalize the cars also plays a big role. We had the opportunity to speak with Weil during the BMW Group’s 100 Year Anniversary celebrations in L.A., where the MINI Vision Next 100 Concept was being displayed.
Weil is immersed in the world of BMW and MINI. He helped lead the design of such important and gorgeous cars like the BMW 2 Series and 2 Series Cabriolet, as well as the well-received MINI Superleggera Vision concept. While he currently drives a gray Countryman, the designer has a unique list of favorite cars. With such an eclectic list of cars, no wonder he’s a perfect fit for the quirky MINI brand.
Here’s what Weil says are some of his favorite cars.
The go-to choice for designers and car lovers is the Lamborghini Miura. The beautiful coupe is held as the benchmark for design and performance and is often referenced as the first true supercar. This mid-engined Italian beauty is on everyone’s list.
Here’s an interesting choice. The Toyota 2000GT was one of the first Japanese supercars and a beautiful, Asian interpretation on the Jaguar E-Type. It featured a long hood and short deck, and under the hood was an awesome 2.0-liter six-cylinder engine. Nowadays, it’s seen as the first truly desirable and collectible Japanese vehicle, with examples selling at auction for over $1-million. Only 351 of these cars were ever made and some Boomers may remember the Toyota as Bond’s ride in You Only Live Twice, even though that model had to have its roof lopped off to accommodate Sean Connery’s 6″2 frame. It’s rare to hear the Japanese car mentioned by designers, but its inclusion here shows Weil’s appreciation of cars from all over the world, not just Europe.
Weil admitted to owning and sadly getting rid of a Porsche 930. We get it, life can get in the way of your favorite things, but the fact that this designer even lived with a 1970’s 911 Turbo shows his true automotive enthusiasm. Many consider the 930 to be a bit hairy to drive fast due to its laggy turbo, short wheelbase and rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. This car is truly an automotive icon.
Another oddball choice here is the Porsche 914. Rarely considered as a high-performance vehicle, the 914 was developed in collaboration with a then-rival: Volkswagen. The car would sit at the bottom end of the Porsche model lineup below the 911T, and sit at the high end of VWs sports car lineup, replacing the Karmann Ghia. It became one of the best-selling vehicles at the time for Porsche, despite its less than stellar performance numbers. It sold more than 118,000 units worldwide during its run.