Over the years, MINI has changed. However, the foundation of this small car, its character traits, has remained unchanged, from its inception in the 1950’s until today. Be it old Mini or the present day MINI, peoples just can’t stop falling for it.
Starting as it meant to go on: an out-of-the-ordinary air surrounded the Mini even before it had hit the streets. The design, the original idea, the lead-up smacked of unconventionality and the automobile public smacked their lips in anticipation.
This called for a revolution in car design. So they put all their vast resources into this project to transform the blueprints of a typical family car. The aim was to turn it into something smaller outside – and bigger inside.
Alec Issigonis, the brilliant designer, faced the task of producing a car with a better ratio of interior space to overall dimensions than had ever been attempted before. He and his team aimed at nothing short of the incredible: parking four passengers roomily in a tough, pacey car.
Just seven months after his boss, Leonard Lord, had given the go ahead, Alec Issigonis had two Mini prototypes up and running. And by July 1958, he was ready to invite Lord for a ride.
After a terrifying and speedy test ride he was so impressed he got out of the car and said ‘Go and make it’.
By June 1959, around a hundred cars a week were rolling off the assembly lines in preparation for an August debut. And the rest, as they say, is history and the MINI is now a firm favourite and much loved classic.
Issigonis' friend John Cooper, owner of the Cooper Car Company and designer and builder of Formula One and rally cars, saw the potential of the Mini for competition. Issigonis was initially reluctant to see the Mini in the role of a performance car, but after John Cooper appealed to BMC management, the two men collaborated to create the Mini Cooper, a nimble, economical and inexpensive car. The Austin Mini Cooper and Morris Mini Cooper debuted in 1961.
The Cooper Car Company was founded in 1946 by Charles Cooper and his son John Cooper. Together with John's boyhood friend, Eric Brandon, they began by building racing cars in Charles' small garage in Surbiton, Surrey, England in 1946. Through the 1950s and early 1960s, they reached auto racing's highest levels as their rear-engined, single-seat cars altered the face of Formula One and the Indianapolis 500, and their Mini Cooper dominated Rally racing. Thanks in part to Cooper's legacy, Britain remains the home of a thriving racing industry, and the Cooper name lives on in the Cooper versions of the Mini production cars that are still built in England but are now owned and marketed by BMW.