Mini 60th Anniversary – The Journey of a British Icon
Mini is celebrating its 60th Anniversary. Not only an icon in the British motor industry, but worldwide the Mini is loved, cherished and enjoyed. It is a timeless classic that has withstood the test of time, whose popularity continues to rise.
The original Mini design was revolutionary. It made car designers re-think what they thought was possible with small cars. With its simple yet surprisingly stylish design, it gave great space and handling but remained affordable to the masses and one of the most exciting and fun cars to drive.
The Story Begins
The Mini began its life as an idea from Leonard Lord, who was the Chairman of the British Motor Corporation (BMC). A company formed in 1952, with the merger of rival companies Morris and Austin. Mr Lord recognised that the British public needed a safe, affordable, compact but spacious car, which was also economical given the oil crisis at that time.
His request was to design a compact car, which could seat four people and be economical. It also had to meet the following dimensions; Length 10 feet, height 4 feet, width 4 feet.
Alec Issigonis, an expert designer who had previously helped design the very popular and successful Morris Minor. Mr Issigonis was allowed the freedom to select his team of dedicated and skilful craftsman and engineers, who helped put an idea and vision into reality.
The Mini design was innovative and custom fit to maximise the space, while also saving on overall weight. A space-saving transverse engine was fitted, allowing more space in the cabin. The new design featured front-wheel drive which gave better handling. Equipped with a four-cylinder engine and paired with a unique four-speed transmission, the engine was only 848cc but could achieve nearly 36mpg. It had excellent handling and was fun to drive like a go-kart. By making all of these space-saving innovations, the Mini gave 80% of its room to its passengers and luggage, a quite astonishing feat of design and engineering.
In 1959, the first Mini rolled off the production line giving the British public a compact four-seat car with a price tag of just £500. This made it affordable to almost everyone. The Mini quickly became a huge hit and in its first year overtook the Morris Minor as BMC’s best-selling car.
Due to its overwhelming success and cult status, the Mini became a car everyone wanted to own. Celebrities like The Beatles, Steve McQueen and even royalty such as Prince Charles, also had his very own Mini.
John Cooper – the birth of the Sports Mini
World-renowned race car designer John Cooper, the owner of Cooper Car Company, took a keen interest in the Mini. He quickly saw the potential to turn it from a family car to a race-winning car. This was due to its superb handling traits and agile manoeuvrability.
Mr Cooper soon got to work collaborating with Alec Issigonis, to design and engineer, a new sporty version which resulted in the birth of the Mini Cooper.
The Mini had an upgraded 997cc engine tuned to provide extra power, along with bigger brakes and double carburettors. This enabled it to meet the criteria to race in Group 2 Rally.
In 1963 the first Mini Cooper S was produced, having had its power increased, with a new 1071cc tuned engine. It maintained the original styling characteristics and perfect handling. The Mini Cooper S became an instant racing success. It was winning various rally races, across the globe many times, beating more powerful cars due to its superior handling. The Mini was not only a Rally winning machine, but also won its fair share of road races. The Mini went on to become the most successful racing car of the ’60s.
British Leyland took over BMC in 1968 and soon began giving the Mini a facelift. It created the Mini Clubman, along with a GT Model which replaced the Mini Cooper. The Mini Cooper S was then discontinued in 1971 and did not come back into production until BMW took over the Mini brand.
BMW – The Saviour of Mini
BMW took over the Mini brand in 1994, and after years of planning and re-design, they launched a modernised larger Mini built to give all the qualities of the original. Using the latest technological advances, the Mini offered great styling, handling and build quality joining the premium BMW brand effortlessly. Three Mini Hatchbacks were made available, paying homage to tradition and history. BMW brought back the well-loved names; Cooper and Cooper S, along with their base model the One. The Mini is also available in John Cooper Works trim, offering superior performance upgrades to give you the pure race car sensation when driving.
BMW Mini Celebrate 60 years
Celebrating 60 years production of Mini, a Limited Edition, of just 500 units of the Mini Cooper S will be released. These will be based on the current Mini Cooper S hatch. They will also feature the same technology, with some small extras and customisations, along with bespoke fittings to make this car, a car for the genuine Mini enthusiast and collector.
The engine is a 2-litre four-cylinder turbo, generating 192hp mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission for seamless gear changes while also giving 42mpg. The Mini comes in a visually stunning British Motor Racing Green. It has black bonnet stripes, integrated with the special edition 60th logo. It also has the side scuttle surround with the 60th logo featured on it. Other unique features are the leather interior with green stitching, leather steering wheel and the 60-year logo moulded into it.
The Mini also comes with one-off 17-inch alloy wheels, darkened rear glass to enhance the sporty look and LED spotlights to acknowledge its rally heritage. It's fitted with the latest and most substantial, Mini infotainment screen at 8.8 inches featuring sat-nav, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth and wireless charging as well as LED front and rear lights.
Just how vital the Mini is, should not be underestimated. A car that revolutionised the automotive industry and will always have its place in history due to its unprecedented success both in sales terms and race performance terms. There is no reason why the Mini brand will not continue to have further success for the next 60 years and beyond.