Such was the impact of the tiny Mini that in the 1990s it was registered a as a trademark in its own right. An unbelievable journey from what was a response from designer Sir Alec Issigonis to the fuel crisis caused by the 1956 Suez Crisis. The original remains a design icon that makes for perfect wall art for home or office.
Then coded ADO15, the Mini was made by the BMC and its successors from 1959 until 2000. One of the biggest innovations was its transverse engine with front-wheel drive layout – allowing much more of the area of the car’s floorpan to be used for passengers and luggage. This incredibly functional layout paired with such friendly styling meant that the world took it to their hearts and it went on to stay in film and popular culture folklore.
Never one to miss a trick, the manufacturers also produced many variations on the theme – an estate, pick-up truck and van. The performance versions, the Cooper and Cooper S, were successful as rally cars, with the amazing Paddy Hopkirk leading the charge and winning the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964. The Mini also won it in 1965 and 1967 using its “one wheel on each corner” and rigid suspension to drive just like a go-kart – great fun!
Utilitarian sliding windows allowed pockets in the doors; Issigonis sized them to fit a bottle of Gordon’s Gin – always thinking of the detail! The boot was hinged at the bottom, so that the car could be driven with it open to increase luggage space and the welded seams were everted, (turned out) to scrape more space for the interior.
A total of 5,387,862 cars were manufactured. The last Mini was built on 4 October 2000 – a sad day; but you can have one on your wall for ever and ever!