Filipino collector designs Paul Smith-inspired Mini Cooper

By Anna Valmero

PASAY CITY, METRO MANILA—For vintage car collector Ronald Mojica, owning what he claims to be the one-and-only Paul Smith striped limited edition Mini Cooper in the Philippines is more meaningful because he designed it himself.

Mojica, owner of Speedwell Auto Restoration, has been a car collector since he was 18-years-old and now at 45, he has restored numerous vintage cars including four Minis, a red Mustang, limited edition Austin Healey, BMW and Ford vehicles over the years.

“It was a unique challenge to design this car, which most call as an eye-candy with its splash of colors. Almost all car restoration experts say the 86-stripes are difficult to render so they haven't attempted to do a replica,” said Mojica in an interview during the  20th Trans Sport Show.

“I am proud that we finished designing this Paul Smith replica car in one year, making it the only one of its kind in the Philippines.”

There are only three limited edition cars made with the Paul Smith designer stripes, said Mojica. Two are in Japan and the first one at the manufacturing plant of British Motor Corp. in England.

The unofficial “fourth” Paul Smith Mini owned by Mojica debuted during the car show and won the Best Mini car.

The first Mini was designed after Lord Niffield asked his chief designer Sir Alec Issigonis to make a high-performance car to compete with other fuel-efficient cars, which became in demand after the 1956 fuel crisis. It became the first car to have a transverse engine, ushering the era of front-wheel drive cars.

After the car's debut on August 1959, Queen Elizabeth II was seen riding a Classic Mini, elevating the car into a status symbol. It became the most popular British car ever made and was voted as the European Car of the Century in 1999, next to Ford Model T., which won the Global Car of the Century award.

Owing to the Paul Smith-inspired Mini's unique aesthetics and being a limited edition car, Mojica undertook his project to create a replica based on designs he found on the Internet, which he printed in large format to see the correct scale for each stripe.

A car collector and avid fan of unique cars, Mojica said it took him the whole of 2010 to finish the painting job of over 80 strips on a 1992 carburetor-powered Mini, including the interior design. He said Paul Smith is one of the fashion icons he looks up to and having a car inspired with the legendary British designer's stripes was “one of his dreams come true.”

“It takes three to four days to finish one stripe alone so designing this replica really calls on patience and attention to details. You need to be careful so that the mix of stripes is fluid and you will not see the bumps in between the colors,” said Mojica, adding that the stripes can also be found on the car's undercarriage.

Mojica said his team used special spray paint and stickers to capture the solid colors of Paul Smith's iconic stripe design, which features the patented Rocker Green color as well as orange, red, blue, shades of grey and black stripes among others.

Regarding the original 24-carat gold plated Paul Smith emblem on the car, Mojica said that he won it at an online auction. Overall, he spent P1 million to redesign his Paul Smith car.

“Car restoration is really a very expensive hobby but after finishing your project, you would really feel proud about the product of your labor. Your love for doing this and achieving your dream to build a car that you like is priceless,” said Mojica.

“This just goes to show how Filipinos are great in car restoration, which is both a science and art that requires patience, time and love for the craft.”

Over time, Mojica said he has sold a handful of his collection to other car enthusiasts but more than the price, Mojica said he makes sure that the new owner will take good care of the car that he restored.

Over the next couple of months, Mojica, a mechanical engineering graduate, aims to bring it to the Paul Smith fashion outlet in Greenbelt 5 Makati.

***

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