For those who ever owned one – or for those who wish they did – the Mini remains one of the most iconic cars in British motor production. With its peppy engine and bubble-car styling, the Mini offered affordable motoring in a fun style to millions around the World.
The Mini was originally designed by English-Greek engineer Alec Issignis, who was a designer working for the British Motor Corporation at the time of the Suez Crises. The invasion of Eygpt had resulted in restricted oil supplies into Europe, leaving the British government leaning on BMC to produce a vehicle that was cheap to run.
The Mini would go from his first sketch to live production in just 27 months.
The car was by no means powerful. In fact, the first production models released in 1959 produced just 34bhp. Yet the small, reasonably light-weight body provided a kart-like appeal making the vehicle easy to control and park, and fun to drive.
The Mini would quickly go on to earn a reputation on the race track. Famous drivers including Niki Lauda and Sir Jackie Stewart, with modifications coming quickly from John Cooper.
By 1961, John Cooper’s improvements to the car began to become more mainstream, and the engine was upgraded to a more powerful 55hp engine. In addition, reliability was generally very good and the Mini became a car that many amateur mechanics would cut their teeth on. Later models would see a 96bhp engine providing the car with an excellent power-to-weight ratio.
The Mini would go on to win 30 motorsport events over the next 12 years, including the Rally Sweden and the International Madagascar Rally.
However, as time went on, increasing competition from overseas meant that customers starting looking for something different. Volkswagen was beginning to produce the Golf, and manufacturers including Ford were offering a larger, more appealing range of vehicles.
Alas, production of the Mini would eventually cease, and despite Rover relaunching a special edition Mini in 1990, production of the Mini ended in the late 1990s.