The Designer Mini David Bowie.
Reflect Yourself. That was the idea David Bowie had when he wrapped a classic Mini Cooper in chrome for our 40th birthday.
There isn’t much we could say about David Bowie that hasn’t already been said. We probably couldn’t even do him justice if we tried. He was an artist who continually defined and redefined himself and challenged social and cultural expectations. He was a man who meant a lot of things to a lot of people through his music and his personalities. He created some unforgettable works of art across multiple disciplines. He was also known as a very kind and nice man, with an understated sense of humour and quick wit. So we are extremely proud that the he also created one of the most striking one-of-a-kind Minis of all time.
Whether he was Ziggy Stardust, Major Tom, or Aladdin Sane, Bowie was always an enigmatic and vibrant figure. It’s no surprise then that there are multiple urban myths surrounding his life and achievements. One of these stories that you might have heard at a dinner party if you arrived in your MINI is that a young David Bowie actually worked for BMC, the makers of the Mini when the car’s original production began. They might have even said that there is photographic evidence to support such claims. Sadly – or rather fortunately – this is simply a myth, as Bowie would have been about 12 years old during the production of the Mini MK 1, so he most definitely didn’t work on any Mini production lines.
However, what is undisputed is that in 1999 the musician was asked to design a very special Mini for the brand’s 40th anniversary. Other artists and designers were tasked with the same, such as Paul Smith, Kate Moss, Mark Ward and Natasha Caine. Although those cars have some truly creative and eye-catching designs, it’s probably Bowie’s car that is the most radical in its looks.
Bowie basically created a chrome car, wrapping the Mini Cooper in reflective mirror plating. The only parts of the extraordinary car that remained untouched from the chrome wrapping were the rear lights and the tyres. This was because, at least theoretically, the car had to remain drivable. “I wanted to make something that could not be distinguished from its surroundings,” claimed Bowie when asked about his design. “It’s the Emperor’s new clothes,” he stated, and it does certainly play with the Mini’s identity, seeing as the small car was well known for having iconic and vibrant colour schemes. But it is also true that with this look the David Bowie Mini stands out more than any other Mini you could probably think of.
I wanted to make something that could not be distinguished from its surroundings.
As is always the case with David Bowie, it’s more than just a fun design. Asked about the reflective surfaces, he said, “It becomes very hard to see, as the viewer’s own image becomes the immediate interface.” It’s true that if anybody looked at the Designer Mini David Bowie, they would actually be looking back at themselves. But, it could be argued that this little reflection could lead to some self-reflection on the part of the viewer and help them consider their relationship with Mini – the cars and the brand – and why they like them so much.
During the anniversary celebrations he was also asked what other British design icons could claim to have the same stature as Mini, to which he thoughtfully replied – quite unsurprisingly in hindsight – “Every Briton.” When asked what the Mini meant to him and why its design had lasted so long, he simply said “parking.” Now we don’t know – but we’d like to believe – that he said it with a wry smile across his face, but on the other hand, it might be completely true that for a person always on the move, this very useful aspect of the Mini is what made him appreciate the car the most. When asked about other iconic examples of British design, he simply said, “The sandwich”, which again seems like precisely the kind of answer one would expect from David Bowie.
The MINI One-Off Series.
During the 2022 European Championships a number of unique MINI cars can be seen at the Königsplatz in Munich. Whether they were created for movies, noble causes, or designed by celebrities to show the world the many faces of MINI’s personality, we love them all equally.