Usually I like to do a good bit of research on a car before I write about it. It often seems so simple that there is something in a car’s history that accounts for it being interesting or eye-catching. This Mini Mark goes against its history, deceptive of its age, deceptive of its underpinnings. People stop and stare because they think it is a vintage classic car, many decades older than it really is. They don’t imagine that it has a Volkswagen hidden under its fiberglass bodywork. Historicity and background information never tell the whole story of a car, so take a fresh look at this kit car for what it is and the details that cultivate its image.
Knowing this kit car’s history does not make it appear to be deceitful in any way, but I don’t share exactly in the smiles and waves the owner must get driving around Manhattan. I know it’s not what it looks like, and I know that it’s tacky, but it is a car that people point out to their kids and it is a car that makes people happy. It’s not dishonest in any way – it’s a kit car and I adore it.
Kit cars aren’t just about impersonation, but finding an automotive flamboyance that major manufacturers won’t go near. In the 1970s, when I presume this Mini Mark was built, carmakers had multimillion dollar development budgets they had to recoup, all in the face of tightening safety and emissions regulations. They went for the conservative, and the market for custom vans and kit cars bloomed.
The desire for individuality that turned its eye back to the classic epoch of car design could be seen all through the car industry back then, particularly with the upright Ford Thunderbirds and Lincoln Continentals of the time, and this aesthetic has since faded into the history books itself. This Mini Mark wears historical plates, which is certainly a turn of fate that would have been hard to imagine forty years ago. Those plates must be the greatest compliment this kit car has ever been paid.
The message of not settling for the conservatism of large-scale automotive design and building your own small-scale individual car is still relevant today. Where is my thick, velvety interior Toyota? Ford? BMW? Why do I have to pay luxury car prices to have whatever I want in an options catalog?
Well, if you’ll excuse the ramblings of someone who isn’t really even in the market for a new car in the first place, don’t think this isn’t a spectacular car. By that I meant has it causes no inconsiderable spectacle wherever it parks. Only top-dollar exotica get as warm a reception on the street as did this Mini Mark. More than its popularity, this kit car excels in toying with history and information, and it seems the better a car plays that game, the more I love it.