An Italian Job: Which Innocenti Mini should you buy?
While BMC were churning out Minis in the UK, Innocenti was tasked with doing the same in Italy. These two Italian Minis are closely matched, but which should you buy?
The classic Mini is a much loved British icon that is as symbolic of the nation as a red postbox or a cup of tea, but not all Minis were built in Blighty. Various incarnations of the little car were built under license by various brands including Italian firm Innocenti and later Detomaso. We’ve found a pair on eBay being sold by the same seller, so which should you buy?
More classic Minis...
- The special Avengers Edition Mini you never knew existed
- One-off battery-powered classic Mini unveiled
- View Minis for sale on AutoClassics
In the black corner is a 1972 Mini Innocenti Cooper of which the Italian company built from shells and locally sourced components when new. This example is fitted with a 998cc engine and retains all of those characterful Mini design details. However, it's said that these Italian cars were actually built to a better standard than those in the UK.
In the white corner is a 1980 Mini Innocenti De Tomaso, a car base on the Bertone-styled Innocenti 90L, which itself was based on the underpinnings of the classic Mini. As BMC became British Leyland it absorbed Innocenti and developed the 90L and 120L cars — a model that was actually rumoured to replace the original Mini at one point.
In 1976 Innocenti came under the ownership of De Tomaso, which introduced a top of the range sporting model incorporating its own name. As the distancing from British Leyland continued, the 1.3-litre engine was dropped in favour of a turbocharged three-cylinder 1.0-litre unit from Daihatsu.
With the local politics of each car deciphered, let’s look at the cars themselves. As mentioned, both of these models are available from the same seller based in America, both cars also have similar mileage, similar bids, and both in good running order. From a starting price of just $0.99, at this moment in time it’s the 1972 car that has pulled ahead with a leading bid of $5,500 vs $4,550 for the De Tomaso. Surprising?
Not really, considering the original Mini’s international cult following, the rarity of the Innocenti vs the BMC car, and their reputation of being better built. That said, the De Tomaso offers significantly stronger performance and features styling from one of Italy’s most famed design houses.
Both cars make interesting cases as collector propositions, but ultimately the Mini Innocenti Cooper is an icon and will likely command higher values, whereas its De Tomaso cousin is more of a curiosity that will pass the majority of people by.
Classic Cars for Sale
Genuine Austin mini cooper, that I have owned and enjoyed for the past 7 years. Extremely good condition both inside and out, with good bodywork, panel gaps, paintwork and chrome. Car starts and stops well and drives as a mini cooper should, with a nice responsive engine that shows good oil pressure. Car is stored in a heated and de-humidified garage and presents fantastically. It took m
A wonderful 1963 Cooper s replica rust free body shell has been restored for over 21 years the car has a tuned 1380 mg engien runs around 120 bhp the car has a lot of extras done to it it has also been serviced mechanical recently runs like a beauty not to be missed
Hello, Here is 'real' Cooper 'S' that has been raced for years, well engineered and well kept by a racing friend! All the 'goodies'! HUGE amount of pictures and huge amount of information, too much to list here, suffice it to say this is a fast Mini, with good spares and loved at the track! CAN ALSO BE SEEN ON RACECARLOCATORS.COM
Mini Cooper 1.3i MPI 1997R Reg in a very rare Volcano colour, with Full Leather interior. It has a full length Webasto Electric Sunroof and is great fun to drive. This Mini drives beautifully with a very responsive 1300 mpi engine and very smooth 4 speed gearbox and great handling. The car has been restored only 2 years ago and the bodywork is in excellent order. This car has been very well main