Britain's Greatest Car Manufacturer - Mini
The next in our series is the MINI who has become a staple of British culture.
The Mini had revolutionised engineering as being the first modern car to have FWD. The MINI had become an icon in the 60s for many reasons, the car was ahead of its time with the use of the aforementioned front-wheel drive, use of 10-inch wheels, a transverse engine (where it's put in sideways) and the ability to make space with the use of folding back seats.
The Mini set new benchmarks in small-car design and continues to lead the way. Outside of Engineering, the Mini has appeared in an array of films including the original Italian Job and its sequel, Mr Bean, Bourne, the 2012 Olympics, Austin Powers and more. The prominence of Mini on the big screen has no doubt left its mark on cinema.
The Napkin that Changed the World
It's difficult to believe the design of the original Mini by Alec Issigonis, tasked to design it by the BMC (British Motor Corporation), sketched it on a napkin in 1956. The car was produced in 1959 and came at a time where smaller cars were beginning to boom after the Suez oil crisis. The original Mini ran for 41 years with different modifications and innovations which started with the MK I right through to the MK VII.
Continuous Ownership Changes
There was uncertainty surrounding Mini after a series of ownership changes saw them join the British Leyland Motoring Corporation in 1968 before being nationalised in 1975.
When Leyland was broken up, Mini joined the Rover group along with the likes of Land Rover and MG. In 1988, they were sold to British Aerospace Plc but in 1994, the Rover Group was sold to BMW for £800m. In 2000, the Rover group was split up with Land Rover going to Ford, MG to the Phoenix group but Mini was retained by BMW who re-branded it as MINI.
More sophisticated than ever, without losing the sense of fun. - Top Gear review on the MINI Hatch
The new generation of MINI has marked a revival of the brand under the stewardship of BMW.
MINI in Motorsport
MINI found success in the Monte Carlo Rally during the 60s. Alex Issigonis collaborated with John Cooper to create the Mini Cooper to be used for racing. MINI's Motorsport journey has extended to the Goodwill Festival of Speed, Dakar Rally and more. MINI set up the All4 Racing Team who compete in events around the world.
The Future of MINI
MINI has become a staple of British culture and has become revered around the world for its charm. Is the MINI's contribution to British culture, engineering and cinema enough to be the greatest manufacturer of all time? Or is there another? Next in our series is Morgan.