Design Evolution

Let’s do things right. Let’s listen to our hearts, not focus groups. Let’s rely on pencils, paper and clay, not computers. Most of all, let’s make it hard for people not to smile when they see us coming down the road.

Learn about some of the decisions we made when challenged with the task of bringing the iconic design of the Classic Mini into the 21st century.

The doors on the 1959 Classic Mini were designed to make the best use of the available space, with large apertures and leather pull straps. For current designs, we wanted to follow the same principle, but bring it up to date. The oval apertures also offer excellent storage space, while the crossbars echo the roll-cage look of the center console.

The Classic Mini always had add-on spats (fenders). We looked at various interpretations for the new MINI, such as the body-color spats shown above, but in the end we stuck with contrast-color spats because they enhance the 'MINIness' of the current designs.

We tried different versions of the grille. The version below retains the chromed, slatted look of the Classic Mini grille, but is split by the bumper. While the mesh grille to the left is a more aggressive alternative that came to life in the 2007 MINI Cooper S.

Dominated by the large speedometer, which returns to its original center position, the dashboard on the right is fairly representative of that in the production car. The sketch shows an alternative instrument layout, with the speedometer and rev counter together. But besides being so very distinctive, the central speedo gives the dashboard a more balanced, symmetrical look.




The Classic Mini’s roof was planted onto the rest of the car’s body like a lid. It’s an effect we’ve retained on the current MINI Hardtop models by concealing the pillars behind the glass. The sketch above shows how this look is lost on a more conventional C-pillar.

The switches in the sketch are push button affairs grouped in a pod-like arrangement. However, once we’d abandoned the pod in favor of the center console shown to the right, we decided to use toggle switches, a typical feature in classic British cars.

A MINI’s air vents are spherical items that swivel in their sockets, rather like eyeballs. Although we tried other types, such as the slatted vents shown above, we stuck with eyeball vents, as they are a recognizable carry-over from the Classic Mini.

In many of our early sketches, we had a futuristic control pod in place of a traditional center console. The trouble was, it was just too space-age. Instead, we came up with a center console flanked by down tubes that bring to mind the roll cages on the old racing Minis.

On most modern cars, the rear light cluster is flush with the tailgates shut line, as on the above sketch here, as this simplifies production. However, the Classic Mini always had its tail lamps set away from the shut lines and we were keen to carry this over to new MINIs.