The Mini – a History

October 10, 2020 , In: Auto , With: No Comments

Mini was first launched in 1959 and then reborn in 2000. Today we’re looking back at this old charmer which is partly a classic 61 year-old and partly a virile 20 year-old. 

The reason why Mini was made is actually a funny story. Today, Mini is conceived as a charming car bringing smiles to peoples faces but smiles had nothing to do with its birth in 1959. 

1956: You Know What Really Grinds My Gear?

Leonard Lord, the head of the British car industry, was pissed. The Suez crisis in 1956 led to a shortage of oil, igniting a huge demand for small and fuel-efficient cars. The Brits had nothing. Germany had the Volkswagen Beetle and Italy was building the Fiat 500. This made Leonard Lord extremely irritated.

He demanded the British car industry to present an alternative and he had strict requirements for the car. It should be a maximum of 10 feet long, 4 feet high and wide, and the passenger area should measure 6 feet. He actually used the term ‘mini car’ back in 1947. 

1959: The Birth of Mini

British Motor Corporation (BCM), later Rover Group, took the job. They presented a vision for a two-door, four-seat automobile that was cheap, fuel-efficient, and with mediocre driving characteristics. It was a miniature version of the type of car the Brits usually produced. 

The vision was promising, BMC chose to sell it through two of their brands; Morris and Austin. The Morris version was called the Mini, while Austin called it the 7 after the Austin 7 Model from the 1920s. 

The Mini was an immediate success. After only six years on the market, Mini number one million was produced. The 2nd generation of the original Mini came in 1967, the 3rd in 1969, merging Morris and Austin, and the 4th and final version of the original model came in 1976. In total, 5.3 million original models were produced. 

1994: BMW Buys Mini

In the 1990s, BMW was looking for new market segments, discovering there was room for a slightly more luxurious city car. They decided to buy a brand that was already established in the segment and turned their eyes to Rover Group. In 1994, BMW acquired the Rover Group, including brands such as Rover, MG, and Land Rover, in addition to the Mini

The German car producer had big plans for all brands, pouring millions of German marks into development, production, and marketing – and it was a total failure. 

In 2000 they sold all the brands, except the Mini which they instead relaunched. The world premier of the new Mini happened in Paris in September 2000, and production of the old Mini stopped for ever. Thousands of customers worldwide pre-ordered the new Mini and the rest is, as they say, history. 

2020: Mini of the Future

If you’re in the market to buy a Mini, don’t forget to get your car finances in order. The Mini is very well suited for personifying and making your own special version because you’ve got so many options when it comes to look, design, and driving abilities.  

In 2004, the convertible version of Mini was launched, and in 2006 BMW added additional versions like the station wagon Mini Clubman, the Mini Coupé, and the Mini Roadster. Today, the Mini Electric and the rechargeable hybrid version Mini Countryman Plug-In Hybrid, are driving around everywhere. 

Leonard Lord would probably be content with today’s modern and more luxurious Mini, because it’s still in his spirit – even though the car has grown and become a little more expensive, it still creates smiles and joy.