Legends and Legacies: Classic Mini

When we’re talking about iconic shapes and sizes in the Motoring terms, one of the cars that comes to mind is the Mini.

This is one car model that has not changed throughout the years, or more accurately has changed but still maintains its iconic shape, the Mini. Although the Mini doesn’t share the same amount of years as the VW Type 1, the shape and its capabilities are still equally well known. To be clear, what you see on the road now that is produced by BMW is not entirely related to the classic Mini that you see here, but it still retains the classic transverse four-cylinder, front-wheel drive configuration that the Mini had been renown for.
The Mini had started life first as an Austin Mini and a Morris Mini-Minor in 1959, but Mini became a marque of its own right in 1969 but was later reverted back as the Austin Mini in 1980. The Mini then went through another name change when Rover Group bought over the rights and was marketed as the Rover Mini. Throughout the years and the number of name changes, it’s good to know that the shape and style of the Mini had not changed.
But the whole reason the Mini even existed was thanks to the Suez Crises in 1956. Petrol had been rationed in the UK and larger cars were abandoned in favour of the German bubble cars that are small and fuel efficient but unfortunately lacking in style. So the head of BMC had detested these bubble cars so much that he vowed to rid the streets of them by commissioning his own team in Morris to create a proper “miniature car”.
Code named ADO15, the first Mini was introduced with a unique transversely mounted BMC A-Series four-cylinder, water-cooled engine and exceptionally small tyres. The Mini Mark I ran from 1959 to 1967, before the Mini Mark II took over all the way until 1970. It was early 1960s when John Cooper, owner of Cooper Car Company and designer and builder of Formula One, approached the company to create the Mini Cooper.
cars_15933_imagehtmlcontent_2The Mini Cooper was the version that survived through the decades, John Cooper’s initial idea to create a racing version of the car had kicked off a new variant that had won the hearts of many and continued on when Mini was switched to sell under the Rover Group’s name. The Cooper version was actually the start of shifting the Mini from mass-market item to a fashionable icon with the introduction of special editions like the ERA Mini Turbo in the 80s.

But with the Rover Group earning more losses than profits, parent company BMW had decided to axe the Group entirely and sold off the rest of the companies under British Leyland but retaining the Mini brand.

Of course, being one of the icons that signify all things British, the Mini was specifically chosen to be the vehicle of everybody’s all-time favourite comedians from the UK: Mr Bean. Mr. Bean / Rowan Atkinson recently celebrated 25 years of Mr. Bean by driving that classic Mini around Buckingham Palace!

By the way, did we mention that in XLR8, we will be displaying Mr Bean’s Mini at the Movie Icon’s Tent? Here’s your chance to catch the Mini in person!


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