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The Mini is a small fuel-efficient car, which started to be produced by the British Motor Corporation in 1959. Its sports versions gained victory in remarkable international rallies and races many times. At the moment, the Mini is acquired by BMW.
Hard times of recovering from the war along with the Suez Fuel Crisis of 1956 prompted automakers to design a compact, cheap, and fuel-efficient car. Alec Issigonis, a talented engineer and designer who worked for the British Motor Corporation (BMC), constructed a two-door auto with a four-cylinder engine and a monocoque shell in 1959. It was the first Mini or Mark I. In international markets, the car was produced under different BMC’s brands, including the Morris 850 and the Austin 850; in the UK, they were called the Morris Mini-Minor and the Austin Seven. Only ten years later, in 1969, the Mini became an independent marque.
Appearances are often deceptive. Despite its compactness from the outside, the Mini was surprisingly spacious inside – there was enough space for luggage and passengers due to a special design of an engine and front wheel drive.
Second and Third Generations of the Minis
The Mini was constantly modernized. In particular, automatic transmission and improved suspension were added. The second generation of the Mini saw the world in 1967. New cars had a larger rear window and different front grill. The second-generation Mini was featured in the British film The Italian Job (1969).
When people hear about the Mini cars, only one image occurs to them in most cases. However, there were the models very much different from the original one such as the Riley Elf Mark III (1968) and the Clubman (1969). Besides, the Mini had different bodies – vans, pick-ups, beach cars, and off-roaders.
In 1961, John Cooper, a founder and owner of the Cooper Car Company, made the Mini’s sports version, the Mini Cooper. It was followed by the Mini Cooper S, launched in 1963. The latter won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965, and 1967 (the car would have won in 1966, too, if it hadn’t been disqualified).
The third-generation Minis, the Mark III, came in 1970-2000. The cars had concealed door hinges, larger bodies, and winding windows (instead of sliding ones).
Over the years of its existence, the Mini belonged to a few companies. In the 90s, the Rover Group along with Mini that was its part at that time was acquired by BMW. However, when BMW sold Rover at the end of the decade, they reserved the Mini for themselves with the intent to launch an updated model range in the 2000s to take place of obsolete versions. To develop a new version of the legend wasn’t an easy task. However, BMW engineers beat the odds – the new Mini, launched in 2001, turned out to be cult. As a comparison, Volkswagen’s Beetle II wasn’t even a little as successful as its precursor.
Currently, the Mini’s line-up includes a hardtop two-door, hardtop four-door, the Countryman, the Paceman, coupe, roadsters, and convertibles, powered by Toyota diesel engines. Besides, there’s a special edition of the Mini Classic Cooper and the Cooper Sports along with concept and kit cars.
1. The Queen knighted Alec Issigonis for the Mini designing.
2. The Mini was acknowledged to be the second most influential car in the world in the 20th century after the Ford Model T, leaving the Citroën DS and the Volkswagen Beetle behind.
3. All the members of the legendary Beatles owned the Mini Coopers.
4. Many Mini fanciers don’t approve the cars’ modern versions. They claim the autos are completely different from the original ones except for a body design.
5. In 1991, the Autocar and Motor Magazine called the Mini Cooper “The greatest car of all time”.
6. An American actor Kevin Spacey, famous for starring in Se7en, American Beauty, The House of Cards, etc., paid $130,000 for a classic Mini Cooper to be built.
7. Mr. Bean from the TV series of the same name, played by Rowan Atkinson, drives the Mini.
8. How many people can get in the Mini Cooper? 28, actually. In 2012, a new record was set. 28 female gymnasts got inside the car. All doors and windows were closed for at least five seconds.
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