Every year since 1929, the finest examples of classic and vintage cars have graced the shores of the beautiful Lake Como in Italy at the world famous Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. This world renowned showpiece is the ultimate expression of fine art on four wheels and not only pays homage to the past but also serves as a launchpad for future motoring masterpieces. One company in particular has an enduring link with this historical event, the tradition-steeped Milan design and coach building house Touring Superleggera. Over the years, many of the most memorable Villa d’Este exhibits, from the first ever production Lamborghini, the 350GT, and the iconic Aston Martin DB5 to modern marvels such as the 2010 Bentley Continental Flying Star, the 2011 Gumpert Tornante and last year’s Design Award winner the stunning Alfa Romeo Disco Volante, all started life in the Superleggera stable.
With this in mind, why would a design house renowned for its collaboration with some of the chicest sports cars in history be launching a partnership at Villa d’Este 2014 with Mini?
As unlikely as it may sound, this chalk and cheese combination has born some spectacular fruit, in the gorgeous form of the Mini Superleggera Vision concept. Part classic British roadster, part modern EV, the Superleggera is a compact and agile two-seater sports car unlike anything ever to carry the famous winged logo.
The marriage of time-honoured British symbolism and contemporary Italian flair is truly a sight to behold. The traditional Mini design cues are instantly recognisable; two circular headlights and a hexagonal grille define the distinctive front facia and as with every Mini, the wheels are set widely on the body for optimum agility. However, there is no doubt over the true calling of the Superleggera Vision; it is a classic roaster in every sense of the word. The low-slung stance, stretched bonnet and long wheelbase channel the kind of emotions evoked by the nippy two-seater sports roadsters of old. Mini’s characteristic racing stripes are embossed in to the evocative inlaid bonnet whilst the flowing wheel arches and circular air inlets below the grill help to accentuate the car’s beautifully curvaceous exterior.
Undoubtedly, the standout feature of the rear section is the striking fin which intersects the boot and is strangely reminiscent of those sported by the enormous American Cadillacs of the 1950’s and 60’s. Beneath that, the wide and flattened rear is highlighted by the remarkable Union Jack-themed LED taillights, divided in to two and bookending the oval rear facia. The design is rounded off in sporty style with a carbon fibre rear diffuser.
Much like the exterior, finished in cool Como blue paint, inside the cockpit the Superleggera’s trademark style and panache is equally as evident. As with the exterior body panels, the dashboard has been hand forged from a single aluminium sheet and has been left bare, as the body would look like without its paint finish. The instrument panel itself is equipped with a touch-sensitive control and two circular dials with metal surrounds. The sporty 3-spoke steering wheel is also exclusive and the interior is upholstered in rich brown leather, the only exception being the black leather sports bucket seats. Finally, for yet another imaginative design touch, the car carries an on-board camera integrated between the driver and front passenger seats. However, this is no parking sensor. It is quite simply on hand to capture those particularly pleasurable driving moments. The Mini Superleggera Vision; artistic down to the last detail.
The Superleggera Vision is perhaps the most unusual concept from Mini since the new generation car was born in 2001. Of course, for the time being it remains just that; a concept. However, based on this evidence, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the unlikely mix of Anglo-German-Italian cooperation flourishes in the future and that Superleggera continues to craft more Mini masterpieces in the mould of the mouth-watering Superleggera Vision.