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Triple Play: 1989 Innocenti Mini DeTomaso Turbo

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This is an unusual one, sort of an Italian, British, Japanese triple-play. The original 1989 Innocenti DeTomaso Turbo seen here is on eBay with a current bid of just over $4,000 and four days left on the auction. It’s located in Henrico, Virginia; this could be a fly-out-drive-the-car-home type of deal. This car is much newer than what is usually shown here, but I couldn’t pass this one up.

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Innocenti developed rebodied versions of the Mini under British Leyland Motor Corporation’s ownership in the early-1970s. The company was sold to DeTomaso in 1976 and they continued to use BMC drivetrains. In 1982, DeTomaso’s agreement with British Leyland ended and they sourced a 1.0L three-cylinder engine from Daihatsu. As a huge fan of three-cylinder engines, I like the idea of that new addition.

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At the same time that the Daihatsu engines came on board, Mini’s somewhat antiquated rubber suspension system went out the window in favor of MacPherson struts and an independent leaf spring rear with lower wish bones, not to mention a 5-speed in place of a 4-speed. The Daihatsu engines were more expensive than the previous BMC A-Series four-cylinder engines were, but reliability went through the ceiling and warranty claims went way, way down; as in 70% down, in fact. The seller says that this car has no rust and no body work is needed on this original car and it does look to be in almost perfect condition.

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This car really looks like it’s in fantastic condition, I really don’t see anything wrong anywhere, inside or out, from the photos. Yes, this is a small car, it’s not made for hauling anything but, well you know.. It doesn’t haul itself that quickly, but relatively speaking, it hauls, and it’s always more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow.

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This is Daihatsu’s CB-61 triple-plunker with about 70 hp. That’s not a ton of power, but for a 1,500 pound car it’s decent power and it hits 60 mph in around 10 seconds. Again, it’s not a supercar, but I 100% guarantee that it’s super fun car to drive. I love these small, pocket rockets, and add in a turbo three-cylinder and I’m sold. Are any of you fans of these unusual little cars?


  1. EmmyJ

    It’s not a ton of power. It’s also not a ton of car! *rim shot*

    Like 0
  2. wagon master

    What just happened. I was posting to this and the site sent it to another mini posting??!!

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    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      What do you mean? Did you click on one of the related links at the bottom of the page?

      Like 0
  3. Blueprint

    They were sold here in Canada at the time.

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  4. Bill

    Antiquated rubber suspension??????? Drive one man, beats the heck out of most MacStrut cars for handling!

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  5. Jeff

    Has Fun written all over it!

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  6. Steven C

    I want this little guy bad!

    Like 0

    Never seen one, BF does it again! Looks like fun

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    • Red Riley

      I’d much rather have one of the earlier ones with the Mini suspension and a 1275cc BMC A-series engine. Innocenti had a long relationship with BMC and the Mini, and the soul of the car went missing after dropping the British bits.

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      • zero250 jeff s

        ‘ …soul of the car went missing……..’ ……great thought!…………

        Like 0
  8. jim s

    this has autocross fun/pocket rocket written all over it. need a second set of wheels with shaved tires. i wonder how long they would let me run it in H Stock? great find.

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  9. doc

    My wife would say,”pretty cute”
    And it is!

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  10. Kevin

    id perhaps upgrade the engine

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  11. Datsuntech

    We had an Innocenti/Lada dealer here in the late 80s. There were four or five of these just sitting on the lot for years, just rusting away. Apparently they just didn’t sell. The dealer closed its doors in the 90s at some point and the cars disappeared. Probably straight to the crusher. I always thought they were cool little cars.

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  12. truilhe

    bonjour je recherche des pneus 160/65r315 trx pour innocenti ? 0665129292 ou jmtruilhe@orange.fr

    Like 0
  13. rick

    late to the game here… they were neat cars. suzuki Forza and the GM rebadged suzuki cars sprint turbo’s used the same engine. i had an 87 forza and i loved it. i loved it bc at the time i got my first job – the car was already 5 yrs old when i got it…. but it lasted and lasted and lasted. the engines in the innocenti’s and suzukis… 3 cylinder cars are incredibly durable.

    Like 0

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