Saturday, February 22, 2014

Classics at Beaulieu: 1963 Austin Mini Downton

1963 Austin Mini Downton
Photo by Kate Tompkins
Not surprising for a British museum, the National MotorMuseum at Beaulieu has a lot of Austins. Today I’m featuring a 1963 Austin Mini Downton. No, no connection with popular TV series Downton Abbey, a fictional estate in Yorkshire. The Downton Minis hale from Downton, a village in Wiltshire.

Tuners are nothing new. The Mini hadn’t been out very long when people discovered what an amazing rally car it was. It was even better with a few tweaks, and one of the best tweakers was Daniel Richmond. He was so good at modifying Mini Coopers with competition engines and other performance parts that the British Motor Corporation, then owner of the Austin marque, gave him a consulting contract. Soon the rich and famous were buying the Downton Mini Coopers. People like Steve McQueen, Dan Gurney, and Enzo Ferrari.

You can find Downton Engineering Works online. While they are a ‘90s relaunch of Richmond’s company, they did start business with some of the original employees. It doesn’t look like they’re doing much at the moment—the page says they currently have no cars for sale and are not taking on new clients. They do have some merchandise available, including Downton badges, shirts, and several books on Minis. Their webpage also has an interesting history of the original company, complete with photos, one of which shows Enzo Ferrari with his Mini.

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