Celebrating the Mini: An Automotive Icon
The Mini, a mainstay of the automotive world and a car that is universally loved. From the small screen to the big screen, from the road to the rally stages, the Mini has certainly been there and done that and has allowed itself to become not only an automotive icon but a machine that plays a major part in car culture.
Born in 1959, the Mini is a car that is universally loved. Whether you learnt to drive in one or your dad had one or it was your first car, most people seem to have a Mini story. Not many cars can touch peoples lives in this way and the story of the Mini is a remarkable one.
Let’s wind the clock back to the 1950s. It’s post-war Britain and whilst the economy was starting to recover, there were still elements that placed this economic revival in jeopardy. Namely was the ongoing crisis in the Middle East that was having major implications on the Suez Canal. This vital shipping lane brought through a majority of Europe’s oil and the constriction of this channel was having dire consequences on the movement of oil.
The result was fuel rationing in the United Kingdom, a move that was to severely hit UK car production. Fuel rationing no longer meant the public wanted large and inefficient cars. There was a burning desire for something small and economical. Enter British Motor Corporation and Alec Issigonis.
With sales of fuel rationed sales of larger cars slumped and with its frugal engines and small size it was only natural that the Mini quickly became a popular machine when it first rolled off the production line in the early ’60s.
Whilst at first glance space may have been at a premium in the Mini it actually wasn’t the case thanks in part to Issigonis’ intelligent design. It featured a groundbreaking design in which the engine was mounted transversely with its front wheel layout which allowed for 80 per cent of the car's floor pan to be used for passengers and luggage.
Couple it’s frugal yet, capable, engine to its ability to carry passengers and luggage in equal comfort and it’s eye-catching styling and it’s not hard to see why the Mini quickly developed an army of dedicated fans.
This image was further enhanced as it was the car of choice in the 1960’s crime caper The Italian Job. The film, starring the legendary Michael Caine, saw a trio of Mini’s play getaway cars in an audacious gold heist which saw a car chase sequence play out in the heart of Italy’s capital, Turin.
Subsequently, the Mini gained further appeal as it was driven to Monte Carlo rally success by racing driver Paddy Hopkirk. Finished in the iconic red livery with a white roof, the legendary number 57 machine was expertly piloted to a popular victory and still to this day is still considered a rallying great.
It’s agile and nimble chassis also made for a formidable contender in the British Touring Car Championship as the Mini helped drivers to no less than 5 championship titles. Famed for its go-kart-like feel, the Mini was a giant killer, frequently triumphing over the likes of America’s V8 engined Mustang.
Back in road car guise, the Mini continued relatively unchanged until production was ultimately ceased by Rover in 2000. Whilst this would be the end of the original Mini as we know it, the name would continue thanks to BMW who purchased the rights to the brand from Rover. The Mini would be out of production for just a matter of months before it returned under BMW ownership in 2001.
Shortly after the German marque brought the Mini back up to date to much critical acclaim. Still produced out of Oxford’s Cowley plant, where the original Mini was first produced, the reborn Mini stays true to its roots with its styling and mechanical philosophy.
At SW Car Supermarket we are proud of the selection of vehicles that we hold across our two dealership sites, SW Car Supermarket and SW Car Superstore which are both located in Peterborough. Whilst the Mini features in our extensive selection of stock, we are also proud to stock a range of other brands with used cars available from the likes of Toyota through to Jaguar and Range Rover. To view all of our current vehicles, please click here.