Chinese copycat cars are nowhere near as common as they were a decade ago, as local automakers from the People’s Republic are building better and more original cars, thanks in part to the many designers and engineers they are now able to poach from competitive, established automakers. But clones are not dead in China, as these images clearly showing an old Mini Cooper would suggest.

Car News China says a Chinese company called Beijing Estech Technology just applied for a patent on a design that is very clearly an old Mini. Sure, there are some changes, mainly centred around the front end which has a slightly smoother, more streamlined design, but other than that, the design and proportions appear to be identical to those of the original.

But you really have to compare photos of the icon and this copycat effort to really spot the difference - they did not even try to hide the source of their design for this vehicle, like previous copycat car designers have tried to do by melding design features from other vehicles to try to deny what they copied in the first place...

No word on specs yet, but according to the source, the vehicle will most likely stick to the front-wheel drive layout of the original, with a motor under the bonnet, driving only the front wheels. Keep in mind that the company behind this may choose to make it slightly bigger than the original in order to give more interior room; the dimensions were not mentioned in the patent application, so we can’t yet state it will be the same size.

We also don’t know when and if this vehicle will debut, or what the current owners of the Mini name will have to say about it, but we’ll definitely be keeping an eye out to see how this project progresses on its way to production.