Special Edition: 1990 Mini RSP

When the first Mini rolled off the production line in 1959, you can be pretty sure that its creators never envisaged that it would soldier on for as long as it did. The basic Mini underwent numerous upgrades over the decades, but the basic styling remained essentially unchanged until the last example rolled off the production line in October of 2000. The designation “RSP” stands for Rover Special Products and was a badge that was attached to a limited edition Mini that was produced in 1990. This is one of those cars, and I have to say a huge thank you to Barn Finder Ikey H for spotting it for us. It is located in Scottsdale, Arizona, and has been listed for sale here on Craigslist. You can give this British classic a new home by handing the owner $20,000.

During its four decades of production, the Mini underwent some subtle styling changes. However, its basic shape never changed, which makes it one of the most instantly recognizable classics ever built. This one is finished in Flame Red, while the top wears White. The presentation of the exterior is virtually flawless, with no signs of any apparent dings or dents. The paint shines beautifully, while the same is true of the exterior trim and chrome. A subtle set of fender flares add a touch of muscle to the exterior and nicely cover the original Minilite-style wheels. The car also features a factory-fitted sunroof, which was a standard feature on the RSP. There are no signs of any rust problems, and the fact that the Mini has spent a portion of its life in Arizona has probably helped in that respect.

The Mini RSP marked the first time that the Cooper name had been attached to the brand for 21-years. It was a limited-edition vehicle, with a mere 1,650 examples built for worldwide distribution. Of these, 1,050 were sold in the UK, with the remainder finding new homes in Japan. This one found its way to the US via Ireland and Germany, and it remains largely unchanged from the day that it was built. Under the hood, we find a 1,275cc 4-cylinder engine, which packs 78hp. In the Mini tradition, this power finds its way to the front wheels via a 4-speed manual transmission. Performance belies the low power output because the RSP is capable of covering the ¼ mile in 17.2 seconds. That is in large part because the vehicle tips the scales at a paltry 1,556lbs. The owner has recently had the cooling system upgraded, and when combined with the factory oil cooler, should help this engine live a long and healthy life. It has just been treated to a full service, and the Mini is said to run and drive exceptionally well.

Opening the doors and taking a look around inside the RSP reveals an interior that needs nothing. The seats are upholstered in Black leather, while the original Red leather-wrapped wheel is still in place. The upholstery all seems to be in good order, while I can’t spot any problems with the carpet. It looks like the original stereo has been replaced because the current item has a removable face-plate. The factory Philips unit didn’t have this feature. The Mini represented fairly basic motoring when it was new, which means that there is no air conditioning, and no power operation for the seats or windows. What the owner does say is that all of the accessories and gauges work as they should.

When the New Mini was introduced in 2001, it was an attempt to capture the style and charisma of the original car in a more modern and potent package. Opinions vary when it comes to the success of this aim, but it is when you place the two models side-by-side that the real difference becomes apparent. Compared to the diminutive original, its successor was a relative giant. That didn’t stop it from becoming a sales success, but it also hasn’t stopped the original version from becoming a coveted classic. This 1990 Mini RSP looks to be a good one, and the owner is right when he says that they don’t come onto the market that often. On those infrequent occasions, prices tend to be higher than the asking price for this car, which makes it an interesting proposition. Maybe that makes this Mini RSP the classic that you have been searching for.

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  1. Roger N Wall

    I thought cars of that age were not allowed into the USA, it must have come in on an 1960s log book.

    • CraigD

      The minimum age to import and title cars in the US is 25 years by federal laws. Every state has its own rules too, which in many cases are more restrictive.

    • Roland Schoenke

      25 year rule

      • Roland Schoenke

        This one is 30 years old

    • Joe

      You can legally import any car that is 25 years or older. I brought my 1991 Mini back with me in 2018. Each state also has their own rules, so California is out, but for most states, as long as it passes the local inspection, it can be registered.

      Like 1
  2. Brakeservo

    I am no expert but I thought that the final Minis also had a port fuel injected engine, at least driver side air bag and AC was optional (as was an automatic transmission but we don’t want that anyway.) And a Cooper would have had twin SUs, twin fuel tanks, wider wheels and a few more tuning parts. The chainsaw sunroof is a shame.

  3. malsal

    25 years or older are allowed into the US.

  4. Brad T.

    One of the early upgrades to Mini’s was for BMC to fit bigger wheels, owners kept complaining that dogs kept cocking their legs and pixxing in the windows!

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