David Brown Automotive is giving a new meaning to the phrase “British Invasion.”
The restomod specialists appointed Bespoke Imports Group of Naples, Florida, headed by British expat Ryan Watson, the official importer for its cars in the United States and Canada. The move comes as the company is facing increasing demand for its Speedback GT and Mini Remastered models.
Opening new markets for the boutique British manufacturer
“We are thrilled to formally extend our uniquely British, ultra-high-end product offering to North American customers, in partnership with Bespoke Imports, building upon our previous sales success in both the United States and Canada,” said Michelle Gay, Sales & Marketing director at David Brown Automotive, in a statement.
“Working together will enable us to formally deliver David Brown Automotive’s unique offering to North American customers; providing exclusive, bespoke motorcars, with unrivalled attention to detail.”
The company’s importer is experience with bring small volume niche vehicles stateside, such as “remastered” MGs.
“We’re delighted to partner with David Brown Automotive. Our values are perfectly aligned; there is a shared commitment to offer an automotive outlet for a customer’s individuality, delivering a vehicle that encapsulates who they are,” said Ryan Watson, Bespoke Imports Group CEO.
“Bespoke Imports was founded out of a belief that the North American markets should have the ability to appreciate and experience quality bespoke, artisan vehicles from British and European small volume, niche and exotic automotive brands.”
David Brown Automotive was established in 2013 by Yorkshire businessman David Brown — no relation to the founder of Aston Martin, whose legacy lives on in Aston Martin’s “DB” model designation. The modern-day Brown’s company is based in an 18,000 square-foot facility in Silverstone, England, with a showroom in St John’s Wood, London.
The David Brown Automotive line-up
The company Brown started sought to build cars much like the one he built for himself: a restomod Aston Martin DB5. Out of that vision sprung the David Brown Speedback GT, based on the Jaguar XKR and costing nearly $700,000.
It was designed by former Jaguar Land Rover Chief Designer Alan Mobberley, a position he held for 19 years. What Mobberley created for Brown was a appropriation of ‘60s design cues.
“It doesn’t slavishly follow the design of any one car in particular,” Brown told ClassicDriver.com. “There are many influences: the Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins and Maseratis of that era all had similar styling — call it a contemporary amalgamation of these beautiful cars.”
Power comes courtesy of Jaguar’s supercharged V-8 engine. But as you might expect, there have been some modifications to make this special car all the more so. Underneath the trunk floor, you’ll find a bar cabinet, with a pair of crystal highball glasses, a bottle of Tanqueray, bottles of tonic, and a woolen blanket. While you’ll never mistake it for the original, it is a car that’s nearly as special.
The Speedback GT is sold alongside the Mini Remastered, an updated version of an original Mini with new sheet metal from British Motor Works, along with body and engine upgrades. The Mini’s 1275-cc powerplant gets a bump in displacement to 1330 cc, although a 1420-cc powerplant is offered. Inside, the cabin is swathed in leather and Alcantara, along with state-of-the-art tech: a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, not to mention Bluetooth. Each sell for $100,000 a pop.
One doesn’t know if James Bond would approve, but David Brown Automotive does give customers a chance to own a new, hand-built, bespoke British automobile.
Not a unique business model
While the models offered by David Brown Automotive are unique, its business plan is not.
If your idea of a new old car is something more American, consider Revology Cars of Orlando, Florida. It was founded by Tom Scarpello, who ran Ford’s Special Vehicle Team from 1998 to 2004, in 2014.
The company sells reproduction first-generation Mustang and Shelby GTs, which are licensed by Ford Motor Co. and Shelby American.
Prices start at $226,075 for a 1966 Mustang Convertible, and top out at $289,245 for 1967 Shelby GT500.
The convertible is powered by a third-generation Ford 5.0-liter “Coyote” DOHC V-8, rated at 460 horsepower, mated to a 6-speed manual or a 10-speed automatic. At the other extreme is the Revology Shelby GT500, with a supercharged Roush Performance 5.0-liter “Coyote” DOHC V-8, good for 710 horsepower.
All cars can be fitted with a 4-speed automatic transmission. Coupes and convertibles can be had with a 5-speed manual transmission, while the Shelby can be fitted with a 6-speed manual. But buyers are overwhelmingly choosing automatics.
Other companies doing similar work includes Superformance LLC, which produces rolling chassis replica and continuation race cars of the 1960’s. The U.S.-based company has been producing a range of vehicles since 1994.
Even automakers have gotten into the act, particularly Jaguar Land Rover, which has built a series of continuation cars — new builds of old models — including the Jaguar C-Type.
While the car and their interiors look original, the company goes to great pains to hide their up-to-date tech. So, like drivers of the David Brown Automotive Speedback GT or the Mini Remastered, owners get the look of an old car, with performance of a modern one.
In other words, a restomod.