By Edward Cook
Black and Gold
There is one thing that we can all agree on when it comes to MINIs; they need to be fun, characteristic, and eye-catching. So, when MINI announced the (re)arrival of its 1499 GT hatchback, they made sure it ticked all the boxes.
With its distinctive colour scheme and decals, the 1499 GT triggered memories of an automotive icon from yesteryear. The car in question is the 1969 MINI 1275 GT, a model that was initially met with controversy, but went on to become loved by many.
MINI are no stranger to special editions of cars like the Hatch and Clubman, but every so often there is one that stands out from the crowd. We are going to take a detailed look at the MINI 1499 GT and highlight why it has written its name in the history books.
There is no better place to start than with the car the MINI 1499 GT gets its name from.
Introduced in 1969, the MINI 1275 GT is widely believed to have been a direct replacement for the also-iconic MINI Cooper. Despite initially causing displeasure amongst many due to its boxy clubman front end and single carburettor setup, the MINI 1275 GT went on to be a highly successful model, with over 100,000 being sold during its 11-year production life.
Whilst it could not quite match the performance of preceding Cooper models, it was cheaper to buy, run, and modify, making it particularly popular amongst young, thrill-seeking motorists.
On paper, the 54bhp and 0 to 62mph time of approximately 13 seconds were not exactly enthralling, but when paired with the 1275 GT's small dimensions and front-wheel drive setup, they made for a car that was seriously fun to drive.
Limited Edition Run
Unlike the 1275 GT, the 1499 GT was released in limited numbers, with only 1,499 being produced. With its gold coloured stripes and sporty aesthetics, it is clear to see where it had been influenced by its ancestor.
Prices started at £16,990 when new, which was not bad considering you were getting a car that was not produced en masse. Available in just two colours – Pepper White with black stripes or Midnight Black with gold stripes – the 1499 GT stood out against its standard counterparts thanks to a unique, primarily aesthetic, package of extras.
Whilst not quite as exclusive as 1 of the 53 MINI JCW Challenge models, the 1499 GT is sure to become sought after in years to come. We occasionally offer them within our approved used MINI inventory, so it is possible to get your hands on them.
Based on the same underpinnings as the entry-level MINI One, the 1499 GT does without the performance upgrades of Cooper S and JCW models. However, this makes it more affordable, which is a key trait when you think of the MINI GT label.
The 1499 GT is equipped with a 1.5-litre turbo, 3-cylinder petrol engine that produces 101bhp and 140lb ft of torque, allowing the car to go from 0 to 62mph in 10.1 seconds. Again, not groundbreaking on paper, but the usual front-wheel drive setup and stiffened suspension allow you to attack and carry speed through corners with confidence.
This is a car that could do up to 60mpg with ease, and with a lower insurance group than some of its higher-powered siblings, it yet again made for a good option for younger drivers looking for something a little different.
For the most part, the interior of the 1499 GT was the same as standard MINI models, which means it was blessed with the quirky design that MINI are known for. It was not stripped back to give it maximum performance, nor was it fully loaded with new, expensive technology. Instead, a nice blend of both was provided to ensure the 1499 GT is affordable, fun, and comfortable on a day-to-day basis.
The John Cooper Works team also provided a range of features, including the likes of a leather JCW steering wheel and JCW badges placed around the cabin.
JCW part-leather sports seats provided a top level of support for times when the driver fancied testing the car's capabilities, while technology such as cruise control, air conditioning, and smartphone compatibility ensure it was a pleasant place to spend time.
The cabin was finished off with the likes of a piano black interior trim complete with carbon black interior details, chilli red stitching, and JCW door entry plates.
What is the difference?
The big question. When researching a limited edition model, the main thing most will want to know is what makes that particular car special? Besides its notable name and limited production numbers, there were a range of features that were unique to the 1499 GT. Yes, the majority of them were purely aesthetic, but this was still enough to set it apart from a standard MINI model.
As mentioned previously, the instantly recognisable 1499 GT decals embellished each and every 1499 GT. The JCW Sport Pack was another feature that came as standard, complete with the likes of tinted windows and 17-inch track spoke alloy wheels, as well as unique front and rear bumpers, side skirts, and a rear wing to complete the look.
It was also fitted with sports suspension as standard, which does not feature on the base model MINI One. Yes, the 1499 GT may not be the fastest or the most powerful limited edition MINI model out there, but does it still give you the fabled sense of 'go-kart handling'? Most definitely.
Discover your MINI with Stratstone
With its engaging road dynamics, sporty style, and iconic paint scheme, the 1499 GT lives up to its ancestor's reputation. With only 1,499 ever being produced, there is a high likelihood it will go on to become a sought-after collector's piece in the near future.
If you are looking to buy your own brand-new or approved used MINI, we have a wide range on offer, which can include other special editions such as the JCW GP or Challenge 210 edition. Your nearest Stratstone MINI retailer will be able to assist with any enquiries.