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The Iconic Mini Reaches it’s 50th Year

Mini LogoThe legendary Mini went on to be voted “The greatest car of all time” by Autocar and Motor Magazine in The Austin Mini, an icon of the 1960’s has reached 50 years old after its launch in August 1959.  There was no intensive market research supporting its release and no guaranteed place in the market making it a brave management move to back a car and present it to a disbelieving world.March 1991.

1959 Morris Mini-Minor

1959 Morris Mini-Minor

Originally going to be named the Austin Newmarket and sold until 1961 as the Morris Mini-Minor, then becoming the Austin Mini 850 Mark 1.  Minis were sold under the Austin and Morris names until Mini became a brand in its own right in 1969. The Mini was again marketed using the Austin name plate in the 1980s.  The purchase price of the 1959 Mini was £496.95 when it was launched to the public.

Cross-section of a Mini showing passenger spaceThe Mini was designed as a reaction to mass imports of small German bubble cars with low fuel consumption, a necessity following the 1956 Suez Crisis and subsequent fuel shortage.  The design, laid down by head of the British Motor Corporation Leonard Lord, should fit within a 10′ x 4′ x 4′ box (3m x 1.2m x 1.2m) with the passenger space taking up 1.8m of the length and for economy, using an engine design already available.  Many space saving innovations were used on the Mini, including transversely mounting the engine, rubber cone suspension instead of springs and using a monocoque shell with welded seems on the outside of the bodywork.

2000 Mini Cooper SThe Mini Mark I had three major UK updates: the Mark II, the Clubman and the Mark III. Within these was a series of variations including an estate car, a pickup truck, a van and the Mini Moke – a jeep-like buggy. The Mini Cooper and Cooper S were sportier versions that were successful as rally cars, winning the Monte Carlo Rally four times from 1964 through to 1967.

The last Mini comes off the line in October 2000 - a red Cooper SportSadly the traditional Mini shape ended production in 2000 as the BMW owned Rover group was suffering massive financial losses on most of it’s vehicle models at the time. The last Mini (a red Cooper Sport) was built on October 4, 2000 and presented to the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust in December of that year after a total production run of 5,387,862 cars.

The BMW designed and built Mini launched the successor to the original Mini in April 2001 in hatchback, convertible and Clubman body styles.  The new Mini is larger and heavier than the classic Mini at approximately 55 centimetres (22 in) longer, 30 centimetres (12 in) wider, weighing 1,050 kg (2,315 lb) rather than 650 kg (1,433 lb). The departure from the minimalism of the original is a departure too far from the original for some enthusiasts.  However, this didn’t impact on sales of the BMW version, as the one millionth Mini rolled out of the Oxford Plant after six years of production on 3rd April 2007, just one month longer than it took the classic Mini to reach the same total in March 1965.

The British Mini Club

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