There are few marques in the automotive world whose names can be recognized by everyone. Likewise, there are few unique looking vehicles, whose distinctive body style is praised not only by car enthusiasts but also by almost everyone who has the slightest interest in automobiles. The famous British automobile brand MINI belongs to that second category. This distinctive brand is considered an icon of 1960s British popular culture. In our traditional review, as usual, we present you twenty most interesting facts from the history of the famous British marque.
1. In the middle of the 1950s, when gasoline price was at its peak, and the rule “bigger means better” was no longer applicable to automobiles, vehicle manufacturers started to think of compact, cheap and economical alternatives to traditional car models. The British Motor Corporation (BMC) tasked an engineer and designer Alec Issigonis to construct a small and reliable economy car. Issigonis was a talented engineer and brilliantly coped with the task. In 1959, he created the Austin MINI, a modest-looking vehicle, which later became an automobile classic. Ten years later, in 1969, Alec Issigonis received an ultimate reward for his work; Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II made him into a knight.
2. MINI was warmly received by the public since the car was nice-looking, reliable and economical. In addition, 1961 the British company released a sports version of this vehicle. It was named MINI Cooper since it was created by John Cooper, the famous designer of Formula 1 cars. During the following years, the British marque achieved something that could seem impossible: the car, which was originally designed for the lower classes, become popular among the elite of English society.
3. At that time, MINI already got many modifications. The most famous of them are Clubman (1969) and Mark III Riley Elf (1968). There were different variations of the classical body like pickups, vans, beach cars and even SUVs. As a result, in the early 1970s, MINI became the best-selling marque in Europe.
4. Very soon, MINI became a classical car. The members of the British royal family, the members of the English rock band the Beatles, Peter Ustinov, Charles Aznavour, Jean-Paul Belmondo, owned MINI. Enzo Ferrari himself had three of those vehicles.
5. MINI achieved impressive success in different motorsports competitions. When it comes to motorsports, MINI can give a good run for its money to any other brand. The number of the victories achieved by MINI in various racing competitions is not much less than that of more established marques. This includes victories in the famous rally Monte Carlo and equally famous rally raid Paris-Dakar.
6. The first generation of MINI remained almost unchanged for forty-one years. The last of them left the factory on October 4, 2000. Altogether, around 5,500,000 of those vehicles were ever produced.
7. Unlike many other brands, MINI had to change its name quite often. This is due to the fact that in different periods the British automobile brand was owned by different companies. Accordingly, we can talk of Austin MINI, Morris MINI and Rover MINI.
8. The doors on the first MINI models had sliding windows; therefore, they had enough free storage pockets in the hollow doors. Curiously, Alec Issigonis designed storage pockets of the MINI to fit a bottle of Gordon’s Gin.
9. According to the MINI’s official American site, the famous fashion designer Mary Quant was inspired by MINI when she came up with a MINI skirt.
10. Interestingly, the first generation of MINI had no traditional car radio; instead, it had an impressively sized ashtray. This is due to the fact that its creator Alec Issigonis was an avid smoker, who considered car radio to be an unnecessary extravagance.
11. Have you ever had an argument with your friends about how many people can fit into a tiny car? Do not worry we got you covered! According to the Guinness World Records, Most People Crammed into MINI Car is 28. This particular record was set by a highly trained team of girls-gymnasts.
12. The Car of the Century (COTC) was an international award given to the world’s most influential car of the 20th century. 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.
13. Remote controlled MINI Coopers became the real stars at the London 2012 Olympics. These little RC cars zipped back and forth carrying javelins, hammers, discuses and shot from the field to the firing line. It is no wonder that the audience was distracted by a 1/4 MINI Cooper RC car, designed by BMW more than in one occasion.
14. India was always one of the top priorities for British companies. Interestingly, this south Asian country became the one-hundredth market for MINI.
15. The MINI Cooper Clubman by Agent Provocateur was produced in one single model in 2008. Its design is specially tailored for Life Ball 2008, the largest European charity event in the fight against AIDS, which was supported by MINI. The car was sold off the auction, and the money went to the charity.
16. MINI was praised for its low maintenance and great style. The Autosport magazine from 1963 reported, that MINI could be of a great use to people from all backgrounds. For the owners of Ferrari, Aston Martin, or any other similar automobile, MINI Cooper will become a worthy second car. On the other hand, it could be an ideal personal vehicle for a young person, who can only afford one car.
17. In 1959, MINI in standard configuration had a price tag of just 497 pounds.
18. In 1994, the BMW Group acquired the Rover Group and its subsidiary MINI. Since 2000, MINI has been a division of the leading German company; now it’s a separate legal entity located in the UK. Although the classical MINI Copper was discontinued, the new generation of MINI cars retained the traditional style and became popular with people from various backgrounds and professions.
19. The MINI Roadster combines comfort and simplicity and lacks unnecessary gimmicks. It features a lightweight fabric hood that is manually operated and can be effortlessly raised and lowered with one hand.
20. Today, MINI is an independent division of BMW and has its own unique model range. The modern lineup consists of models like MINI Countryman, MINI Clubman and MINI Pacemen.