The Mini is a small economy car produced by the English based British Motor Corporation (BMC) and its successors from 1959 until 2000. The original is considered a British icon of the 1960s.
Its space-saving transverse engine front-wheel drive layout – allowing 80 percent of the area of the car's floorpan to be used for passengers and luggage – influenced a generation of car makers.
In 1999 the Mini was voted the second most influential car of the 20th century, behind the Ford Model T, and ahead of the Citroën DS and Volkswagen Beetle.
This distinctive two-door car was designed for BMC by Sir Alec Issigonis. It was manufactured at the Longbridge andCowley plants in England, the Victoria Park/Zetland British Motor Corporation (Australia) factory in Sydney, Australia, and later also in Spain (Authi), Belgium, Chile, Italy (Innocenti), Malta, Portugal, South Africa, Uruguay, Venezuela and Yugoslavia. The 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 pick-up truck, a van and the Mini Moke – a jeep-like buggy.
The performance versions, the Mini Cooper and Cooper "S," were successful as rally cars, winning the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965 and 1967. In 1966, the first-placed Mini was disqualified after the finish, under a controversial decision that the car's headlights were against the rules.
On introduction in August 1959 the Mini was marketed under the Austin and Morris names, as the Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor. The Austin Seven was renamed Austin Mini in January 1962 and Mini became a marque in its own right in 1969. In 1980 it once again became the Austin Mini and in 1988 the Rover Mini.
BMW acquired the Rover Group (formerly British Leyland) in 1994, and sold the greater part of it in 2000, but retained the rights to build cars using the MINI name.
|Designer||Sir Alec Issigonis|
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the British market received numerous "special editions" of the Mini, which shifted the car from a mass-market item into a fashionable icon. It was this image that perhaps helped the Mini become such an asset forBMW, which later bought the remnants of BMC as the Rover Group. It was even more popular in Japan, which took the lion's share of the circa 40,000 Minis produced annually in the early 1990s. It was seen there as a retro-cool icon, and inspired many imitators. The ERA Mini Turbo was particularly popular with Japanese buyers.
In 1994, under Bernd Pischetsrieder, a first cousin once removed of Issigonis, BMW took control of the Rover Group, which included the Mini, fitting an airbag to comply with European legislation.
By March 2000, Rover was still suffering massive losses, and BMW decided to dispose of most of the companies. The sell-off was completed in May that year. MG and Rover went to Phoenix, a new British consortium; and Land Rover was sold to Ford Motor Company. BMW retained the Mini name and the planned new model, granting Rover temporary rights to the brand and allowing it to manufacture and sell the run-out model of the old Mini. By April 2000, the range consisted of four versions: the Mini Classic Seven, the Mini Classic Cooper, the Mini Classic Cooper Sport and—for overseas European markets—the Mini Knightsbridge. The last Mini (a red Cooper Sport) was built on 4 October 2000 and presented to the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust in December of that year. A total of 5,387,862 cars had been manufactured, nearly 1.6million of which were sold in Britain, although the majority of these were sold at least 20 years before the Mini's demise, meaning that the majority of those sold had been scrapped before the end of the original Mini's production life.
After the last of the Mini production had been sold, the 'Mini' name reverted to BMW ownership. The new model made by BMW is technically unrelated to the old car but retains the classic transverse four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive configuration and "bulldog" stance of the original.
The last Mini to leave the Longbridge plant did so in 2012, when a 1970s 1275GT which was used by staff to travel around the car plant was recovered from the disused tunnels under the plant. The car was damaged by a storage container falling on it and had been left without an engine or gearbox for around 30 years before being recovered during work to infill the tunnels. This car was sold at auction in July 2013 for £1400.
- August 1959: Introduction of the Austin Seven, Morris Mini-Minor and Morris Mini-Minor DL 2-door saloons, all with transversely mounted 848 cc engine and 4-speed manual gearbox.
- 1960: Introduction of the Austin Seven Countryman and Morris Mini-Minor Traveller 3-door estates, both with 848 cc engine from the saloon models. 116,667 cars built in the first full year of production.
- 1961: Introduction of the Austin Seven Super and Morris Mini-Minor Super 2-door saloons.
- 1961: Introduction of the Austin Mini Cooper and Morris Mini Cooper 2-door saloon, both with larger 997 cc 55 bhp (41 kW) engine.
- October 1961: Introduction of Riley Elf and Wolseley Hornet variants
- January 1962: All former Austin Seven models now officially called Austin Mini.
- March 1962: pvc seat covers replaced cloth upholstery on entry level model ("basic Mini").
- 1962: "De Luxe" and "Super" designations discontinued. "Super de Luxe" designation introduced. Modified instrument panel now included oil pressure and water temperature gauges.
- March 1963: Introduction of the Austin Mini Cooper 1071 S and Morris Mini Cooper 1071 S 2-door saloons, both with larger 1071 cc 70 bhp (52 kW) engine.
- 1964: Introduction of the Mini Moke.
- April 1964: Introduction of the Austin and Morris Mini-Cooper 998, Mini-Cooper 970 S and Mini-Cooper 1275 S. 1275 S models have 1275 cc 76 bhp (57 kW) engine. Automatic transmission available as an option for the 998 cc Austin Mini-Cooper 998 and 1275 S. Previous Mini-Cooper 997 and 1071 S models dropped.
- 1965: Mini Cooper 970 S discontinued.
- October 1965: Automatic transmission now available as an option on standard Austin/Morris Mini and Morris Mini SDL.
- October 1967: Mark 2 range launched with facelift and upgraded equipment. Austin Mini range as follows: 850, 1000, Cooper 998 and Cooper 1275 S 2-door saloons and 1000 Countryman 3-door estate. Morris Mini range as follows: 850, 850 SDL, 1000 SDL, Cooper 998 and Cooper 1275 S 2-door saloons and 1000 Traveller 3-door estate. Optionalautomatic transmission available on all Austin models (except 850) and Morris Mini 1000 SDL saloon.
- September 1968: Manual four speed gear box with synchromesh on all four forward ratios introduced.
- March 1969: Launch of the Morris Mini K an Australian-only model manufactured in the Australian British Motor Corporation factory at Zetland NSW using 80% local content
- August 1969: Riley Elf and Wolseley Hornet variants discontinued
- October 1969: Separate Austin and Morris badging now merged into Mini 850/Mini 1000 badging. Range reduced to: 850, 1000, Clubman, Cooper S and 1275 GT 2-door saloon and Clubman 3-door estate. Optional automatic transmission available on all except 1275 GT.
- 1980: The Mini becomes the Austin Mini.
- 1988: The Austin Mini becomes the Rover Mini.
- October 2000: Mini production ends
From the Mark IV onward, many special limited-production editions of the Mini were offered. These included models that were created to commemorate racing victories or to celebrate an anniversary of the Mini marque. Limited editions generally came equipped with a unique combination of interior and exterior trim and special decals. Examples include Mini 1100 Special, Mini 1000 Special HL (only available in silver colour with black vinyl roof, black cloth upholstery seats with head restraints and walnut interior trim, for Portugal market only), Mini Rio, Mini Mayfair, Mini Park Lane, Mini Cooper RSP, Mini Flame, Mini Red Hot, Mini Jet Black, Mini Racing and the Mini Monza. There was also a version inspired by The Italian Job, a 1969 film famous for having a trio of Minis in its epic closing car chase.
Concepts and unproduced prototypes
From 1967 to 1979, Issigonis had been designing a replacement for the Mini in the form of an experimental model called the 9X. It was longer and more powerful than the Mini, but due to politicking inside British Leyland (which had now been formed by the merger of BMC's parent company British Motor Holdings and the Leyland Motor Corporation), the car did not reach production.
A number of prototypes produced for vehicles based on the Mini but which never saw production are held and sometimes displayed at the British Heritage Motor Centre museum at Gaydon, Warwickshire. These included the Twini, a re-engineered four-wheel-drive Moke with two engines—one at the front and another at the back; the Austin Ant, a second attempt to produce a four-wheel-drive vehicle, this time using a transfer case; and a two-seater convertible MG edition of the Mini, cancelled due to it being perceived as competition for the MG Midget.
In 1992, a project considering possible improvements to the Mini was started. Codenamed Minki ("Mini" plus K-Series engine), it included a redesigned dashboard, a two-piece rear door or tailgate instead of a boot, fold down rear seats, Hydragas suspension and a 3-cylinder version of the K-Series engine with a 5-speed gearbox.However, the project was cancelled by management within Rover, who decided that the cost of engineering the changes, and achieving compliance with modern crash testing standards, was too great for the production volumes that could be expected of an updated Mini.
In 1995 the idea to update the Mini again surfaced but this time with BMW management. As part of the process of deciding how to replace the Mini, a vehicle representing what the current Mini could have become, if it had been developed further over its production history, was commissioned. This resulted in the Minki-II, designed to house the 1.4L MPI K-Series engine with an extensive redesign inside, but without the original Minki's tailgate. The car had to be widened by 50mm and lengthened by 50mm to accommodate the new engine and gearbox, with Hydragas suspension and dashboard from a Rover 100. The Minki-II was used for Hydragas development work, this suspension being considered at the time for the R59 project, later to become the Mini Hatch.
Kit cars and customisation
The cheapness and availability of used Minis make it a candidate for body replacement. There are over 120 Mini-based kit cars from various small companies and individual enthusiasts.
BMC operated a Competition Department at Abingdon, Oxfordshire, under the control of Stuart Turner, which built specially prepared Minis (mostly based on Cooper and Cooper S versions) to compete in international rallies and other motorsport. This department played a key role in ensuring the Mini's huge success in motorsport throughout the 1960s, in particular, winning the Monte Carlo Rallyin 1964, 1965 and 1967, the 1000 Lakes Rally in 1965, 1966 and 1967, and dominating all of the first 9 positions in the 1966 Gallaher 500 at Bathurst.
The car also won the 1961, 1962, 1969, 1978 and 1979 British Saloon Car Championship season, as well as the British Rally Championship in 1962, 1963 and 1970, theEuropean Rally Championship in 1965 and 1966, and won the 1965 Lowood 4 Hour endurance race, and the final Finnish Grand Prix in 1963. The Cooper S also had some success in the European Touring Car Championship, winning in 1964 and 1968, the Guia Race of Macau (a 1-2-3 finish in 1965, a 1-2 finish in 1970 and a win in 1972), and the Australian Touring Car Championship, winning its class in 1962, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1967 and 1968. A further title was the 1971 Sun-7 Chesterfield Series. The Mini also enjoyed class wins at the 1963 Armstrong 500, repeating this feat every year until 1969, and having class wins at the 1964, 1965 and 1971 Sandown 250, and Six Hour Le Mans in 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1972, as well as the 1971 Phillip Island 500K. The car also won the Welsh Sports and Saloon Car Championship in 1998. Mini Leyland came 4th place in the under-2-litre category in the 1966, 1967 and 1969 Trans-Am seasons, improving to 3rd in 1970.
The Mini Cooper S won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965 and 1967. Minis initially placed first, second and third in the 1966 rally as well, but were disqualified after a controversial decision by the judges. The disqualification related to the use of a variable resistance headlamp dimming circuit in place of a dual-filament lamp. Fourth placed Roger Clark's Ford Cortina was disqualified for the same reason, along with six other cars. The fifth car past the finishing line, a Citroën DS, a model that had won the race previously, was awarded first place - the DS had similar headlamps, but these were standard production equipment on the car - in line with the letter of the rules. The driver of the Citroën, Pauli Toivonen, felt that he hadn't really "won" the rally. BMC probably received more publicity from the disqualification than they would have gained from a victory.
|1962||Pat Moss||Ann Wisdom||Ladies' Award|
|1963||Rauno Aaltonen||Tony Ambrose||3rd|
|1964||Paddy Hopkirk||Henry Liddon||Winner|
|Timo Mäkinen||Patrick Vanson||4th|
|1965||Timo Mäkinen||Paul Easter||Winner|
|1966||Timo Mäkinen||Paul Easter||(disqualified)|
|Rauno Aaltonen||Tony Ambrose||(disqualified)|
|Paddy Hopkirk||Henry Liddon||(disqualified)|
|1967||Rauno Aaltonen||Henry Liddon||Winner|
|1968||Rauno Aaltonen||Henry Liddon||3rd|
|Tony Fall||Mike Wood||4th|
|Paddy Hopkirk||Ron Crellin||5th|
In rallycross, the Mini finished on the podium in the first ever race, at Lydden Hill Race Circuit in February 1967, winning races in the FIA European Rallycross Championshipin 1974 and 1975. The car competed as late as the 1979 Australian Rallycross Championship.
The Se7ens is the UK's longest running one make motor racing championship, having been introduced in 1966.As of 2014, classic Minis are still raced, with other one make races in the UK, Europe and Asia, and in classic events such as the Goodwood Members Meeting. In 2012 a Mini broke the land speed record. A Mini was used to set a record at the Chateau Impney Hill Climb.
International Rally victories
|1960||Cork 20 Rally||Sheila O'Clery|
|1962||Circuit of Ireland Rally||Paddy Hopkirk|
|1962||Tulip Rally||Pat Moss|
|1962||Rally Sweden||Bengt Söderström|
|1962||Rallye de Baden-Baden||Pat Moss|
|1964||Monte Carlo Rally||Paddy Hopkirk|
|1964||Rally Isle of Man||Dave Friswell|
|1964||Tulip Rally||Timo Mäkinen|
|1964||Cork 20 Rally||Paul O'Flynn|
|1965||Monte Carlo Rally||Timo Mäkinen|
|1965||1000 Lakes Rally||Timo Mäkinen|
|1965||Belgium Ypres Westhoek Rally||Jean Pierre Vandermeersch|
|1965||Circuit of Ireland Rally||Paddy Hopkirk|
|1965||Rally Poland||Rauno Aaltonen|
|1965||RAC Rally||Rauno Aaltonen|
|1965||Rally Isle of Man||Tony Fall|
|1965||Rallye International de Madagascar||Duclos|
|1966||1000 Lakes Rally||Timo Mäkinen|
|1966||Circuit of Ireland Rally||Tony Fall|
|1966||Rally Poland||Tony Fall|
|1966||Scottish Rally||Tony Fall|
|1966||Tulip Rally||Rauno Aaltonen|
|1966||Rallye International de Madagascar||Ramaroson|
|1967||Monte Carlo Rally||Rauno Aaltonen|
|1967||1000 Lakes Rally||Timo Mäkinen|
|1967||Acropolis Rally||Paddy Hopkirk|
|1967||Circuit of Ireland Rally||Paddy Hopkirk|
|1967||Rally Isle of Man||Norman Harvey|
|1967||Alpine Rally||Paddy Hopkirk|
|1967||Geneva Rally||Tony Fall|
|1972||Rally New Zealand||Andrew Cowan|
British Saloon Car Championship titles
European Touring Car Championship titles
Australian endurance racing class wins
|Event||Driver||Class position||Overall position|
|1963 Armstrong 500||Doug Chivas Ken Wilkinson||1 (B)||6|
|1963 Six Hour Le Mans||David Thomas, Ian Durrant||1 (1000)||5|
|1964 Sandown 6 Hour International||Peter Manton, Brian Foley||1 (F)||2|
|1964 Armstrong 500||Bruce Maher, Charlie Smith|