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Over 50 Years of Motoring

THE (SHORT) STORY OF MINI.

Over 50 years of fun and motoring have added up to hundreds of automotive innovations, thousands of checkered flags, millions of MINIs on the road, legions of devoted fans and one International Car of the Century award. Here’s how it all happened.

A MINI HISTORY

A FAMILIAR DILEMMA.

The year was 1957, and in post-World War II England the Suez Crisis had sent fuel prices soaring, leading many to start wondering if the large, gas-guzzling vehicles of the day made much sense.

A CAR BUILT FOR EVERYONE.

So Sir Leonard Lord of the Morris Company issued his top engineer, Alec Issigonis, a challenge: design and build a small, fuel-efficient car capable of carrying four adults, within economic reach of just about everyone. As fate would have it, the challenge of fitting so much function into such a small package inspired a couple of historic innovations.

REINVENTING THE WHEELS.

The two most important innovations Issigonis came up with were to create more room in the cockpit: pushing the wheels all the way out to the corners and turning the engine sideways giving the car more stability in tight turn and more passenger space on the inside. The world had never seen a car quite like it. And when the first Mini launched in 1959, the public was a bit baffled.

THE SPIRIT OF THE STREETS.

Soon enough, people began to recognize that the Mini was not merely a car. The unique combination of classic British style in a low-cost, small size, fun and nimble package came to symbolize independence and spontaneity. The very essence of the youthful 1960s culture.

A CULTURAL PHENOMENON.

One of the most remarkable elements of the Classic Mini’s popularity was how its infectious spirit transcended traditional class barriers. From hipsters and mods to milkmen, rock stars and royalty to rally racers. Everyone could have efficiency, fun and freedom, motoring in a Mini.

A THRILL RIDE.

It soon became apparent that, while intended to create more passenger room, Issigonis’s numerous layout innovations also helped make the Mini a standout performance car. Wheels at the corners meant a wide, go-kart stance and nimble handling. And the transverse engine kept weight over the front tires, helping provide great balance and grip.

BIRTH OF A RACER.

It was 1961 when the humble little people-mover fell into the hands of British racing legend John Cooper. A more powerful engine, bigger brakes and a few tuning tweaks later, the Classic Mini Cooper 997 was introduced. And a rally demon was born.

A GIANT KILLER.

Before long, the nimble little Classic Mini was outracing and outlasting the larger, more powerful, but clumsier sedans of the day. Visits to the winner’s circle became a regular event as Mini chalked up numerous international race wins – including 3 at the prestigious Monte Carlo rally from 1964 to 1967.

YOU-NIQUE.

In addition to being exhilarating to drive, owners loved how easily their Mini became an extension of themselves. A dynamic expression of their individuality and a personality-packed sidekick that was always up for a bit of spontaneous fun.

A WORKHORSE.

By 1969, over 2 million Mini’s had been sold around the world. Pickup and station wagon versions were introduced and all were incredibly durable – whether rallying or doing the daily errands. Owners knew they could depend on their Mini to get the job done. And inspire smiles the entire time.

AMERICA WOULD HAVE TO WAIT.

By 1977,Mini’s popularity had truly taken off around the world with over 4 million cars sold in each corner of the globe. Sadly, Americans never quite got the chance to catch the fever since new emissions regulations in the late 1960s forced Mini to give up its U.S. green card.

EUROPEAN CAR OF THE CENTURY.

Fast forward to 1999. Over 5 million Classic Minis had found happy homes around the world leading a panel of 130 international automotive journalists to vote Mini “European Car of the Century.” In fact, only Ford’s Model T received more votes for the global title.

THE NEXT EVOLUTION.

In October of 1999, just a few days before the final Classic Mini rolled off the production line, the concept for a new MINI is unveiled at the Paris Auto Show. The distinctive design and personality is immediately recognizable. But it’s clear that the new model has also taken a healthy dose of automotive steroids.

 

For insight into some of the choices we made while designing the Classic Mini for 21st century, click the link below. 

 

 OUR DESIGN EVOLUTION

MORE THAN JUST A CAR.

Taking the 2003 North American Car of the Year Award, the general public and auto enthusiasts alike find the new MINI hard to resist. Invoking smiles and curiosity everywhere they go, new owners quickly discover just how much fun a MINI can be. Owners personalize their MINIs to their hearts’ content and form motoring clubs all across the country.

 BEST OWNERS EVER

FEISTIER THAN EVER.

Like their notorious predecessors, all new MINI models share the same great performance DNA. Updated with modern performance features and a committed passion for racing, the MINI Motorsport teams are once again taking tracks (or, in the case of the World Rally Championship and Dakar Challenge, dirt roads and deserts) by storm.

 LEARN MORE

A MINI FOR EVERYONE.

Since the Hardtop burst onto US roadways in 2002, the public’s appetite for MINI has grown along with the MINI lineup. The expanding family includes a 4 door 5-seater, available all-wheel drive, spirited two-seaters, topless motoring and a lovable oddball that defies classification. 

THE NEXT 50 YEARS?

Around the world, the MINI phenomenon has been reborn. Proof that great fuel efficiency, an almost limitless range of customization, incredibly tight handling and an undeniably cheeky personality are truly timeless qualities. With beta programs like the 100% electric, zero-emissions MINI E, and new partnerships with other spirited brands, we can’t wait to find out what adventures are in store for the next 50 years. Want to come along for the ride?

 DESIGN YOUR OWN MODERN CLASSIC