Mini mastered the art of launching special edition models in the 1980s. Most of them consisted exclusively of aesthetic modifications but they sold fairly well and are becoming increasingly sought after today.
The Mini Red Hot and Jet Black were launched simultaneously in 1988. Both based on the entry-level Mini City, which had recently replaced the City E, they were finished in red and black, respectively, and wore model-specific logos on the quarter panels, on the grille and on the trunk lid. They were instantly distinguishable from the City that they were based off thanks to a chromed gas cap, chromed bumpers and chromed door handles.
All Red Hot and Jet Black models came standard with silver plastic wheel covers that hid red 12-inch steelies, lightly tinted windows and a rear fog light, making them noticeably better equipped than the bare bones City.
While the Red Hot and the Jet Black each wore a specific design on the outside, they were essentially identical on the inside. The seats were upholstered in black velour with red accents and the seatbelts were red, creating a track-inspired atmosphere. Passengers relegated to the rear seats could pop the windows open (a feature that was very appreciated in the summer!) and all of the occupants were treated to tunes thanks to a standard radio.
Unsurprisingly, Mini made no changes under the hood and both cars were powered by the time-tested 998cc 42-horsepower four-banger that was found in the City. It was linked to a four-speed manual transmission which, of course, sent power to the front wheels.
Only 3,000 examples of each model were built for Europe and Japan in 1988. In France the Red Hot carried a base price of 40,700 francs, a premium of 1,400 francs over the City that it was based on. In the United Kingdom it retailed for £4,382.