The mini was a very iconic car during the 60's and early selling strongly up to the early 21st century (2000) when production was finally ceased. It was then replaced by the new Cooper. The Mini had many names during its long history, and it was marketed under Austin and Morris until it became its own company in 1969. The first car was produced in 1959 by the British Motor Company (BMC) its engines ranged from 850cc to 1275cc during its later years.
The original car was designed by Sir Alec Issigonis who wanted to give the mini a great deal of room for passengers and luggage. To save space the mini was designed with a front wheel drive layout leaving up to 75-80 percent of the cars chassis to be used for passengers and luggage; even though the chassis was very small car there was a lot of space thanks to this layout. The car was assembled in factories in Longbridge and Cowley as well as being built worldwide in many other countries such as Belgium, Australia and Spain due to its popularity with the global public.
The Mini was put into production because of the fuel shortage that took place in 1956. This meant that the UK had to introduce a program of petrol rationing. During its lifetime the car received three main updates from its original car (the Mark 1). They were the mark 2, the clubman and the mark 3. It also received modifications that changed the exterior of the car. They included variants such as pickups and vans.
There was also the Mini Cooper S that was hailed as a sportier or "racier" version of the original; these were extremely successful in rally events and won the Monte Carlo rally three times. This was mainly due to great handling and low weight, the Cooper S weighing just 617kg to 686kg. They were also quite successful in other forms of racing winning GTC 65 championship races. Many celebrities such as Niki Lauda and Steve McQueen famously owned Mini's.
The new version was introduced in 2001 taking the mantle from the old model when production ceased. BMW had bought the rights to the company and started production of the new model. Due to the new ownership the Mini corporation changed its name to BMW Mini. Currently there is only one model in the range, with some variants such as the clubman and convertible. Also in 2008 the next generation of minis came out with new stylish and sleek looks that people wanted this was called the Mark 2.
The mini has been at the centre of some criticism with hardcore enthusiasts saying that the car does not follow the trend or principles the original car set. They complained that the car was too big and there was less room inside. BMW hit back saying that they had increased the safety and crash protection making the passengers inside less susceptible to injury in the result of a crash. They also stated that they incorporated new features such as air conditioning and emissions control that had to increase the size of the car.
The two main versions sold in the UK of the new version are the standard Cooper and Cooper S. The standard Cooper features a 1.6L engine that produces 120hp and has a 0-62 mph time of 9.1 seconds. The faster version the cooper S has a supercharged (and now turbocharged, mark 2) 1.6L engine that produces 175hp with a 0-60 mph time of 7.1 seconds and has an impressive top speed of 140 mph. From its humble beginnings the mini has become a modern, stylish and above all popular car.
Motoring expert Thomas Pretty looks into the history of the Mini from sixties icon to modern day styling.