Of the thousands of car models that have come and gone throughout history, only a select few have become popular enough to be known by just their nameplates. The Beetle, the Mustang, the Cobra, and the Corvette, among a few others, have transcended their brands to become legends in their own right. But only one car has actually become its own automaker, outliving the brands that spawned it, and has become so iconic, that it’s not only a national treasure in its home country, but a design that’s a legally-protected trademark. That car is the Mini.
It was slow, cheap and cheerful, and a feared rally racer. It was practical, affordable, and spartan, yet favored by musicians and celebrities all over the world. It was outdated and left for dead for most of its lifespan, but had became a cherished icon by the time its 41-year production run ended in 2000. But while the original Mini’s story ended in the 21st century, it was born out of geopolitical crisis, and the aftereffects of World War II.