Japanese Limited Edition Mini's
It appears that the first Limited Edition Mini sold in Japan was the Mini Ritz in 1985. Next came the Mini Chelsea, which they seem to have got in Silver as well as red. From then on they got the same Mini Piccadilly as the UK until the Mini Park Lane in 1987, which they seem to have got in bright Red with cream/white decals as well as the UK style Black car, and they got an alloy sports steering wheel too! The Red Hot/Jet Black also got this sports steering wheel, but for some reason the Advantage didn't although they got a bright Yellow version as well as the usual UK style White.
Moving on to 1988 they then got a Mini Sprite, instead of the UK Mini Designer - this 'Sprite' was not the UK's 1983 car, but what appears to be just a Mini City with a City-like 'Sprite' decal on the rear side panels. Also in 1988 were the Mini Brighton and Mini Belfast, but I have no information on them. Everything then follows the UK again until 1990, when our Mini Racing/Flame/Checkmate's all become the Mini Clubman, but without the square nose we might have expected. For some reason they then miss out on the UK Mini Studio 2 and Mini Neon, but 1991 sees the Japanese get the Mini Canvastop. As the name suggests this the UK Mini British Open Classic, but a year earlier and painted in red with a white roof. Again, the Japanese miss out our Mini's (The) Italian Job, Rio and Tahiti. The 1994 Mini Cooper Monte Carlo is the same as ours, but the 1995 Mini Tartan is the Japanese version of the UK Mini Sidewalk, with enormous gaudy Tartan decals on the rear side panels and Red tartan trim instead of our blue. But at least the Japanese name explains why the Mini Sidewalk had tartan trim...!
Missing out on the Mini EquinoX seems to be a temporary blip which Rover Japan have tried to make up for - Nearer to the present the Japanese got the Mini Kensington, which seems to be a normal non-Cooper Mini, but in retro Surf Blue paint with a Powder Blue leather interior. The last model to hit Japan was the Paul Smith Mini, which they got in Old English White, Black as well as Paul Smith Blue which we in the UK would expect.
Last modified: Mar 05, 2003By: Andrew Murray