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History of the MINI

One of the most iconic cars to ever hit the road, the history of MINI is wide and ranging, moving from car company to car company as different brands tried their hand at making the famous model a success. Here’s a quick look at the history of the iconic British car.

Design

The distinctive style and shape of the Mini was the brainchild of Leonard Lord at the BMC car company during the 1950s. With a fuel shortage caused by the Suez crisis, rationing of petrol meant that smaller cars became popular, especially German ‘bubble’ cars. Lord was not a fan of their rather ugly aesthetics, so set out to create the perfect miniature car.

To design it, Morris hired Alec Issigonis to come to Morris and work on the project. Assembling his own team of engineers and students, they soon came up with the iconic vehicle design that is still used today.

Mark I

The first Mini went to market in August 1959, sold under the Austin and Morris brand names – the Morris Mini-Minor and the Austin Seven (or Se7en in some markets). While sales started at a slow pace, they soon grew to a rapid pace until over 1 million were produced across the 60s. The success of the car was such that Ford purchased one to see if they could reverse engineer its success.

Mark II

The success of the Mark I would be hard to replicate. The Mark II was launched in 1967 and featured a few cosmetic changes. Despite only being produced for four years, the car sold almost half a million units.

Mini Cooper

As well as the models produced by Morris and Austin, friend of Issigonis John Cooper wanted to produce a racing version of the Mini, and so the Mini Cooper and Mini Cooper S were produced. These faster models would have their biggest impact on the cinema screen as the cars of choice in The Italian Job.

Mark IV

The Mark III continued the model’s success, but the Mark IV would see the end of this first wave of Minis. Seen as out of date and facing competition from the Ford Fiesta and Renault 5, the Mini lost market share and eventually, production was stopped.

BMW takes over

The Mini was relaunched under the new MINI marque in the early noughties. Using a fun and quirky approach to marketing the car, the new MINI retained the classic shape but gave it a more modern twist. Slightly bigger than the original, the new MINI was an immediate success and meant that the most iconic British car ever designed would be back on the roads once again.


published: 11/07/2017 09:47:54

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