The mini was a very iconic car during the 60's and early seventies as well as selling strong up to the early 21 century (2000) when production finally ceased. It was then replaced by the new Mini Cooper. The Mini had many names during its long history, and it was marketed under the Austin name and the Morris name until Mini became its own right 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 lots of room for passengers and luggage. To save the space the Mini was designed with a front wheel drive layout leaving up to 75-80% of the cars chassis to be used for passengers and luggage, even though being a very small car there was a lot of space due 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 general 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 new program called petrol rationing. During its lifetime the Mini 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 face of Mini. 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, that was very successful in rally events and won the Monte Carlo rally three times. This was mainly due to their great handling and low weight, as it weighed just 617kg to 686kg. They were also quite successful in racing winning GTC 65 championship races in the historic racing series. Many celebrities such as Niki Lauda and Steve McQueen famously owned Mini's.
The new Mini was then introduced in 2001 which then took over from the old model when production ceased. BMW had bought the rights to Mini and started production of the new model. Due to the new ownership the Mini 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 the original car set. They complained that the car was way 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 meant they had to increase the size of the car.
The two main versions sold in the UK of the new Mini 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.
Vehicle expert Catherine Harvey discovers from James Parker what has occured with Mini over the years.