The original in the premium segment of small cars has reached its 60th birthday – but it is even younger than ever. It was sixty years ago, to be precise on 26 August 1959, that British Motor Corporation (BMC) proudly revealed the result of their development activities in creating a new, revolutionary compact car.
1. More than an automobile. The MINI model family over years.
The original in the premium segment of small cars has reached its 60th birthday – but it is even younger than ever. It was sixty years ago, to be precise on 26 August 1959, that British Motor Corporation (BMC) proudly revealed the result of their development activities in creating a new, revolutionary compact car. And indeed, the public right from the start were able to admire no less than two new models: The Morris Mini-Minor and the Austin Seven. This double premiere of two almost identical four-seaters was of course attributable at the time to the broad range of brands offered by BMC in the market, but it was also of very symbolic nature.
Lots of space inside with minimum dimensions outside, seats for four passengers, impeccable driving characteristics, superior fuel economy, and a very affordable price – precisely this was the brief the creator of the Mini, automotive engineer and designer Alec Issigonis, received from BMC’s Top Management. And the brilliant ideas he implemented in developing this two-door for a family of four had an impact quite sufficient for more than one single car, an impact therefore carried over successfully to other model variants.
Precisely this is why the Mini Van and Mini Estate also appeared on the market in the very first year of production of the classic Mini. And ever since the re-birth of the brand with the market launch of the MINI in 2001, the principle already applied successfully sixty years ago has once again proven its full value: a superior concept is always convincing in many different variants and renditions. Today, this still applies for the small cars MINI 3-door, MINI 5-door and MINI Convertible, for the MINI Clubman and the MINI Countryman in the premium compact segment, and soon for the all-electric powered MINI Cooper SE. They all show their individual strength and unique character, while right inside they are one and the same car in particular: a MINI.
Right from the start the very first sales brochures proudly presenting the Morris Mini-Minor highlighted the car’s clear and steadfast orientation to the future. But to what extent these prophecies would really come true, hardly anybody would have believed back then.
Today, sixty years later, we know that only very few car concepts have survived such a long time, and none of them has ever been converted into such a wide range of variants as the Mini.
One of the reasons for this outstanding success is that from the start the Mini met all the requirements of its time, while offering further qualities in the same process. Measuring just 3.05 metres or 120" in length and selling at a retail price of £ 496, the Mini was simply perfect for small parking spaces and low budgets. Through its driving qualities and the charming character of its proportions alone, the Mini was however also of great interest to the ambitious motorist seeking not only compact dimensions and superior economy, but also sporting performance particularly in bends as well as individual style on the road.
This blend of different qualities remains as popular today as ever before, with a concept likewise younger than ever. Hence, the current MINI is also more up-to-date and, at the same time, more fascinating and respected than any of its competitors, combining unparalleled efficiency, lasting value of the highest calibre, and incredibly agile handling in the modern mega-city with unrivalled sportiness and design full of expression and quite unmistakable.
Longer, stronger, more sophisticated, more versatile: the first variants of the classic Mini.
Introducing the classic Mini, Alec Issigonis, the creator of this unique car, clearly fulfilled his mission. The Morris Mini-Minor and the Austin Seven, differing solely through their radiator grille, wheel caps and body colour, were both powered by a four-cylinder engine fitted crosswise at the front and delivering maximum output of 34 hp from 848 cubic centimetres.
The performance of both models was identical, as was their luggage capacity of 195 litres or 6.83 cubic feet at the rear. Everybody was thrilled by the generous space available, the efficient but powerful engines, the good roadholding and the comfortable suspension this new compact car had to offer. But Issigonis was already looking far into the future – and he was not the only one.
As early as in 1960, BMC added a Mini Van to the classic Mini. Then, proceeding from this van structure with its closed side panels, BMC introduced an Estate version with glass windows all round as well as two rear doors, like the Van.
Like the saloons, this body variant was also marketed as the Morris Mini-Traveller and the Austin Seven Countryman with exactly the same technical features. And at the latest in 1961 the potential of the classic Mini really became clear once and for all, the year starting with the introduction of the smallest of all transporters, the Mini Pick-Up. Just half a year later two other Minis, this time at the noble end of the scale, saw the light of day: the Wolseley Hornet and the Riley Elf.
Now, therefore, two further BMC brands were able to benefit from the concept of the classic Mini, both models proudly bearing their own distinguished look through their majestic radiator grilles, an extended luggage compartment and swallow-tail wings at the rear. A very special variant destined more than any other to create the legend of the classic Mini made its appearance in the second half of the year: the Mini Cooper. John Cooper, the famous engineer and manufacturer of sports cars already a close friend of Alec Issigonis, had recognised the sporting potential of this new small car right from the start, when the first prototypes appeared on the track. So he received the go-ahead from BMC’s top managers to develop a small series of 1,000 units of the Mini Cooper featuring a modified power unit enlarged in size to 1.0 litres and offering maximum output of 55 hp.
The response to this car entering the market in September 1961 was quite simply euphoric, with only one further request from enthusiasts everywhere: even more power! So Issigonis and Cooper enlarged engine capacity to 1,071 cc, raising engine output to 70 hp.
This made the Mini Cooper S a truly exceptional performer not only on the road, with Finnish driver’s Rauno Aaltonen’s class win in the 1963 Monte Carlo Rally marking the starting point for a truly unparalleled series of outstanding success in motorsport. The highlight, of course, was three overall wins in the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965, and 1967.
Versatility at its best: from the Mini Moke to the Mini Clubman.
In August 1964 BMC presented yet another version of the classic Mini originally conceived for military use: the Mini Moke, a four-seater open all round and destined to remain in the price list for four years.
The “bodyshell” of this unique car was made up, for all practical purposes, of the floorpan with wide, box-shaped side-sills, together with the engine compartment and windscreen. To the event of rainfall, a folding soft top appropriately referred to as a “ragtop” at least tried to provide certain protection. Using the drivetrain and technical features of the “regular” Mini, the Mini Moke became a genuine success particularly in sun-drenched parts of the USA and in Australia. By 1967 the time had come for a thorough update of the classic Mini, the car receiving a more powerful engine offering 38 hp from a larger capacity of 998 cc.
Two years later the Mini Clubman joined the range as a slightly larger model with a somewhat different front end compared to the classic Mini. Indeed, this sister car was some 11 cm or 4.33" longer than the original, the Estate version replacing the Morris Mini-Traveller and the Austin Seven Countryman measuring exactly 3.4 metres or 133.9" in length, while width, height, and wheelbase remained unchanged. At the same time the Mini Cooper was taken out of production, being replaced by the top model in the Clubman range, the Mini 1275 GT developing 59 hp from its 1.3-litre power unit. A number of other details also changed in 1969, the front sliding windows so typical of the classic Mini since the beginning being replaced on all models by wind-down windows, the door hinges at the outside being moved to the inside, and a special “Mini” badge now standing out proudly on the engine compartment lid.
Never-ending classic Mini and the comeback of the Mini Cooper.
Numerous special versions of the classic Mini with all kinds of highlights – from sporting to trendy, from distinguished to fresh – entered the market as of mid-1970. Between 1980 and 1983 the model range was streamlined appropriately, with the Clubman, Estate and Van leaving production. The “only” car left over, therefore, was the classic Mini with its 1.0-litre power unit now delivering 40 hp. And customers, simply loving the car, remained faithful to this little performer for years to come, the five-millionth classic Mini coming off the production line at Plant Longbridge in 1986.
In 1990 fans the world over were delighted to celebrate the comeback of the Mini Cooper once again entering the model range. Now this special model was powered in all cases by a 1.3-litre, production of the 1.0-litre in the Mini ending in 1992 on account of growing requirements in terms of emission management. So from now on all models came with the 1,275-cc power unit and fuel injection.
Yet another new variant of the classic Mini made its appearance in 1991 as the last new model in the range. And this was indeed the only Mini to originate not in Britain, but in Germany: Like some tuners before him, a dedicated Mini dealer in the German region of Baden had cut the roof off the classic Mini, turning the car into an extremely attractive Convertible. And contrary to earlier attempts, the result was so good this time in its quality that Rover Group, now responsible for the classic Mini, decided to buy the construction tools and production equipment for the Mini Convertible, which from 1993 to 1996 accounted for sales of approximately 1,000 units.
Production of the classic Mini finally ceased once and for all in the year 2000. In the course of time more than 5.3 million units of the world’s most successful compact car had left the production plants in numerous different versions, among them some 600,000 cars built at Plant Oxford between 1959 and 1968. But even after 41 years, there was still a long way to go. For after a break of not quite one year, a new chapter in the history of this world-famous British brand opened up in 2001.
A new start in 2001 – starring the MINI Cooper right from the beginning.
Taking over Rover Group in early 1994, BMW also opened up new perspectives for the Mini brand. The first step was to present a concept version of the MINI Cooper at the 1997 Frankfurt Motor Show offering an outlook at the new interpretation of this unique small car from Great Britain. As a modern rendition of the Mini’s concept so rich in tradition, the new version for the first time combined the classic values of its predecessor with the demands made of a modern car set to enter the 21st century. The series production version of the MINI Cooper made its first official appearance in November 2000 at the Berlin Motor Show, the future-oriented interpretation of the original entering showrooms just a year later in the guise of the 85 kW/115 hp MINI Cooper and the 66 kW/90 hp MINI One. Featuring front-wheel drive, four-cylinder power units fitted crosswise at the front, short body overhangs and ample space for four, the new models successfully took up elementary features of the classic Mini. And while the exterior dimensions of the car were now larger, meeting modern requirements in terms of interior space, the design of the new model clearly retained the proportions so typical of the brand, as well as the unmistakable design icons at the front, the rear and at the side, thus boasting a clearly recognisable link between the MINI and its classical predecessors.
At the same time the MINI built in Oxford stood out clearly as the first premium car in the compact segment, achieving a status strongly reflected by a level of safety uniquely high for a car of this class as well as the uncompromising standard of quality so typical of BMW. The new MINI also set new standards through its surprisingly agile handling, immediately moving right up to the top in terms of driving pleasure. This meant that the new model followed in the footsteps of the classic Mini, but now with a lot more power and performance thanks to the most advanced and sophisticated drivetrain and suspension technology.
Ongoing success the world over – from 2004 also in the MINI Convertible.
Almost overnight, the new interpretation of this classic small car developed into a worldwide story of success continuing to this very day. The introduction of new engine variants, to mention such one significant highlight, served to offer additional momentum, the MINI Cooper S with its 120 kW/163 hp compressor engine entering the market as an exclusive driving machine in June 2002, the MINI One D just a year later setting new standards in terms of all-round economy and efficiency as the first diesel in the history of the brand.
The desire to drive a MINI in the open air, finally, also came true much faster than in the classic model, with the MINI Convertible making its debut in spring 2004. In the four years to follow, various versions of the convertible with its electrohydraulically operated soft roof were produced at the MINI Plant Oxford in the guise of the MINI Cooper S Convertible, the MINI Cooper Convertible, and the MINI One Convertible.
From the original to the original: the new edition of the MINI follows in 2006.
Showing tremendous success in the market, the MINI outperformed even the wildest expectations. Indeed, it quickly motivated the consistent continuation of this concept, taking up and fulfilling additional potentials as a new edition that continued many successful features and even made improvements to some areas.
Further enhanced in an evolutionary design process and thoroughly renewed in technical terms, this new MINI entered the market in November 2006. Following the motto “From the Original to the Original”, the design of the MINI already receiving the greatest praise everywhere was further refined in numerous details highlighting even more imperiously the sporting virtues of this compact and agile performer. So that now the looks of the car really conveyed a clear signal confirmed from the start by the driving experience.
New, even more powerful and, at the same time, far more efficient engines, together with the further enhanced suspension technology, served in this new generation to offer even greater driving pleasure so typical of MINI. Both the MINI Cooper S with its 128 kW/175 hp power unit and the 88 kW/120 hp MINI Cooper introduced from the start thrilled aficionados everywhere through their enhanced driving performance combined with significantly greater fuel economy and emission values.
Modern versatility: the MINI Clubman and the new MINI Convertible.
Almost exactly one year to the day after the launch of the new model generation, the MINI model range was further enhanced by an innovative new concept in autumn 2007. The MINI Clubman offered a reinterpretation of the traditional shooting-brake concept with a body 24 centimetres longer, a streamlined, extended roof contour and a hatchback. The wheelbase extended by eight centimetres successfully expanded legroom in the front of the car. The driver’s and passenger’s doors in the MINI Clubman were supplemented by an additional entry on the right-hand side of the car and the two wings of the Splitdoor at the rear opening to the side. The two-part rear door takes up an authentic detail from the car’s classic predecessors – the Morris Mini-Traveller and the Austin Mini Countryman – back in the 1960s.
An even more sporty design, optimised active and passive safety, a wider range of functions and the latest generation of power units extended the model range by a new edition of the MINI Convertible in 2009. The opening and closing of the car’s fabric roof was now operated by an electrohydraulic mechanism – even while on the move at speeds up to 30 km/h – all within the space of just 15 seconds. The single-part rollbar also facilitated incorporation of a large through-loading space between the luggage compartment and the passenger compartment.
Advance into the premium compact segment.
On the brand’s 50th anniversary, preparations for the advance into another vehicle class were already well on the way. And in 2010, the MINI Countryman was launched with the aim of enthusing additional target groups with the brand’s driving fun and individual style – not simply on all the world’s roads but also beyond conventional carriageways. The new model for the premium compact segment was the first MINI ever to have a length of more than four metres, five seats, four doors plus a tailgate and optional all-wheel drive. The commanding front end and imposing new headlamp contours of the MINI Countryman defined individual accents. Thanks to the hexagonal radiator grille, the short overhangs, the high shoulder line and powerful stature, this vehicle was nevertheless immediately identifiable as absolute MINI.
The reinterpretation of classic features and virtues was continued in 2013 with the MINI Paceman. Dynamically extended coupé lines, two doors and a large tailgate provided the car with an extravagant appearance. The MINI Paceman was also supplied with optional ALL4 all-wheel drive.
The latest model generation: MINI reinvents itself anew.
The beginning of 2014 heralded the latest generation change in the MINI model range. The current offering in the small-car premium segment comprised the MINI 3 Door, the MINI 5 Door also presented in 2014 and the MINI Convertible, the latest edition of which lined up at the beginning of 2016. The new model generation continued its global success story with another evolutionary development of advanced design, optimised functionality, further enhanced driving fun and a variety of innovations in the areas of control, driver assistance systems and connectivity. New three and four-cylinder engines with MINI TwinPower Turbo technology and an output range between 55 kW/75 hp and 141 kW/192 hp deliver a further optimised relation between driving fun and fuel consumption.
In the premium compact segment, the latest model generation of MINI also has two strong vehicle characters. The new edition of the MINI Clubman has mastered the leap into the higher car class with a definitively refined and mature vehicle concept. A significantly more spacious interior, four doors and five seats give the new MINI Clubman enhanced variability and allow it to meet aspirations beyond the urban traffic environment. The vehicle can also be optionally fitted with the ALL4 all-wheel power unit.
The new edition of the MINI Countryman is even more generous, more modern, more versatile and yet more sporty. The exterior length has increased by 20 centimetres compared with the predecessor model and its powerful proportions give the new allrounder a particularly independent profile. The latest generation of the ALL4 all-wheel drive can also be optionally fitted in the new MINI Countryman to provide offroad driving fun away from conventional roads. Like the MINI Clubman, a choice of six modern engines is also available for the MINI Countryman.
In addition, it paves the way for driving fun typical of the MINI brand with electric drive. The MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 is the first model of the brand with a plug-in hybrid drive. A three-cylinder petrol engine drives the front wheels and an electric motor powers the rear wheels to yield intelligently managed interaction for highly efficient driving fun with optimised traction and drive stability.
For sustainable driving fun: electromobility in the style of MINI.
The future of the MINI feeling is virtually noiseless, local zero emission, but astonishingly powerful. Starting in 2020, the new MINI Cooper SE will give the segment of electric vehicles new momentum. The 135 kW/184 hp electric motor will combine sustainable mobility with characteristic driving fun, high-impact design and premium quality.
Once again, the British brand defines pioneering benchmarks for urban mobility with the new MINI Cooper SE. 60 years ago, the revolutionary design principle of the classic Mini created the foundation for maximum interior space on a minimal footprint. The modern reinterpretation for creative use of space and unsurpassed driving fun made the MINI the original in the premium segment of small cars when it was launched in 2001. The new MINI Cooper SE now paves the way to a sustainable and yet highly emotional driving experience in urban traffic as the first premium small car powered by an all-electric drive unit.
2. With traditional sporting spirit and british flair. The MINI 60 years edition.
An original that constantly reinvents itself – firmly rooted in tradition yet always open to change: this is MINI, 60 years after the launch of the small British car that brought worldwide popularity to unique properties such as go-kart feeling and the creative use of space. To mark this round anniversary, the premium automobile manufacturer presents a design model that highlights both its British origins and the agile MINI character. With design and equipment features that are both high-quality and exclusive, the MINI 60 Years Edition expresses the brand's sporting spirit – something that is a constant presence even in everyday urban traffic. The special edition is supplied as a MINI 3 Door and MINI 5 Door, each with three engine variants.
Athletic talent is part and parcel of the MINI genes. Even before the launch of the classic Mini in the summer of 1959, it was clear that the design features of the new small car would benefit not just interior space but also the car's agile driving properties. Sports car designer John Cooper was an especially strong believer in the compact four-seater’s race track potential. In collaboration with Alec Issigonis, the creator of the classic Mini, he developed ideas for variants of the small car with a more powerful engine, thereby laying the foundations for an exceptional career on racing circuits and rally tracks, culminating in three outright victories at the Monte Carlo Rally in the 1960s.
With a paint finish in the classic colour of British racing cars, the MINI 60 Years Edition in particular evokes the brand’s sporty career, which it started at a very early stage and has maintained up until the recent past. The exterior paint finish in British Racing Green offers a particularly clear expression of the premium small car’s character and origins. The body finishes Midnight Black metallic, Moonwalk Grey metallic, Melting Silver metallic and MINI Yours Lapisluxury Blue non-metallic are also available as alternatives. The chosen body colour is combined with a paint finish in Pepper White or Black for the roof and exterior mirror caps. Bonnet stripes with a specific anniversary design and exclusive 17-inch light alloy wheels in the version 60 Years Spoke 2-tone round off the distinct look of the edition vehicles.
The design model's striking 60 Years logo appears not just on the left-hand bonnet stripe but also on the side scuttles of the turn indicators and on the door sill finishers at the driver and front passenger doors. Inside the car it can also be seen on the front headrests and the steering wheel. In addition, the exclusive design model has model-specific interior trim finishers. The anniversary design can also be seen in the LED logo projection which is visible when the driver's door is opened. The standard equipment of the edition vehicles includes a sports leather steering wheel along with sports seats in the leather finish MINI Yours Leather Lounge 60 Years and the exclusive colour Dark Maroon.
In conjunction with the equipment package 60 Years Trim, the edition vehicles also feature such items as LED headlights, LED fog lamps, white turn indicators and LED rear lights in Union Jack design, the lighting package for the interior and also the MINI Driving Modes and the MINI Excitement Package complete with ambient lighting. There is also an on¬board computer, automatic air conditioning, a rain sensor and a storage package on board.
Three petrol engines and two diesel engines with an output ranging from 75 kW/102 hp to 141 kW/192 hp provide the drive portfolio for the MINI 60 Years Edition. The range of anniversary models includes the MINI One 60 Years Edition 3 Door (combined fuel consumption: 5.4 – 5.0 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 123 – 114 g/km) the MINI Cooper 60 Years Edition 3 Door (combined fuel consumption: 5.3 – 5.0 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 122 – 115 g/km), and the MINI Cooper S 60 Years Edition 3 Door (combined fuel consumption: 6.4 – 6.1 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 147 – 139 g/km), and the MINI One 60 Years Edition 5 Door (combined fuel consumption: 5.4 – 5.0 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 124 – 115 g/km), the MINI Cooper 60 Years Edition 5 Door (combined fuel consumption: 5.4 – 5.1 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 122 – 115 g/km) and the MINI Cooper S 60 Years Edition 5 Door (combined fuel consumption: 6.5 – 6.2 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 149 – 141 g/km)
3. Motor sport meets Lifestyle. MINI and the success story of motor sport.
It is in the car’s DNA and it was obviously there right from the start: the sporting talent of the classic Mini. When Alec Issigonis was requested by British Motor Corporation (BMC) in late 1956 to develop an economical but nevertheless fully-fledged small car with four seats, it quickly became clear that this new model would be truly innovative and, indeed, revolutionary in every respect. Front-wheel drive, extremely short body overhangs, a wide track, a low centre of gravity, optimum use of space and low weight were defined right from the start as elementary features of the new model.
Looking at the first drawings of the new car by his business partner and friend Alec Issigonis, sports car wizard John Cooper noticed yet another significant quality right from the beginning: He recognised that this ingenious concept for an economical compact car also provided the ideal starting point for a most promising sports model, setting out on the process of tuning the Mini even before the car had entered the market. This set the starting point for an unprecedented story of success in motorsport, closely connecting the name John Cooper with the sporting myth of the MINI to this very day. Outstanding victories in the Monte Carlo Rally are just as much part of this common history as the successful production cars proudly bearing the name Cooper.
Now integrated within the MINI organisation, John Cooper Works represents the epitome of supreme driving pleasure based on both well-founded know-how in motorsport and successful cooperation going back years and even decades. Apart from accessories for the drivetrain, suspension, streamlining, and design, the most athletic models in the product range each bear the brand logo symbolising extreme driving fun.
Racing pioneer John Cooper teaches Mini how to win.
Born in Surrey in 1923, John Cooper was one of the most outstanding celebrities in international motorsport – both as a driver and, even more so, as a constructor. Together with his father he established the Cooper Car Company in 1946, the two enthusiasts starting out with the construction of racing cars first for Formula 3, later also for Formula 1. Through their concept of a mid-engined sports car Charles and John Cooper set a truly revolutionary trend in the entire world of motorsport in 1955, Cooper racing cars winning both the Constructor’s and Driver’s titles in the World Formula 1 Championship in 1959 and 1960, for the first time in the history of motorsport with the engine mounted in the middle. And with this concept proving its success so convincingly, it is no surprise that soon all cars in Formula 1 came with a mid-mounted engine.
John Cooper and Alec Issigonis became close friends in the course of time after meeting and competing against one another at numerous races. There were also professional ties between the two enthusiasts, with the Cooper Car Company buying engines from BMC.
When it came to the Mini, however, the sporting ambitions of the two constructors were very different: Issigonis was looking above all at the right car for everyday motoring, Cooper was thrilled by the sporting potential of this small and nimble performer. So back in 1959, the very first year of the Mini, he sent his driver Roy Salvadori to Monza in the very first Mini Cooper, a special one-off model built specifically for this purpose. And indeed, this new sports car immediately proved its qualities on the way to Monza, Salvadori covering the distance more than an hour faster than his colleague Reg Parnell – who just happened to be driving an Aston Martin DB4.
Motivated by initial success in the 1960 Monte Carlo Rally, Cooper suggested building a GT model based on the Mini. And despite Issigonis’ rather sceptical opinion at least to begin with, George Harriman, the Chief Executive Officer of BMC, ultimately decided to build a small series of 1,000 Mini Coopers featuring a 55-hp power unit, that is 21 extra horsepower made possible by far-reaching modifications of the engine. The Mini Cooper’s top speed was approximately 130 km/h or 80 mph. The car’s transmission ratios were adjusted to the sporting potential of the engine and disc brakes on the front wheels ensured adequate stopping power.
Soon Issigonis was also thrilled by the results of these efforts. So joining forces with John Cooper, he quickly started working on the next engine upgrade, increasing engine bore to the ultimate limit on the Mini Cooper S: At 1,071 cc, engine capacity remained below the mark of 1,100 cc applicable in the particular class of motorsport seen as the target, with the engine revving up to impressive speeds. Maximum output was 70 hp at 6,200 rpm, maximum engine speed was 7,200 rpm. This version was again equipped with new brakes, braking power being boosted by a brake servo.
1964–1967: the golden years in the Monte Carlo Rally.
This set the basis for sensational success in motorsport, the Mini Cooper S hitting the headlines in Monte Carlo for the first time in 1962. With Finnish driver Rauno Aaltonen at the wheel, this small but highly nimble performer successfully left behind a whole pack of far more powerful Goliaths. But just three kilometres away from home, Aaltonen, leading the race at the time, misjudged a bend and finished the Rally with a rollover. Only a year later, however, Aaltonen made up for this misfortune, bringing home class victory in the Mini Cooper S and finishing third overall. But even more – and even better – was still to come: Entering the 1963/1964 rally winter, the Mini Cooper S was simply oozing power in comparison with its predecessor. So in a spectacular race, Paddy Hopkirk brought home first place overall in the Monte Carlo Rally, the small performer becoming a legend in motor sport virtually overnight. A year later Finnish racer Timo Mäkinen with his co-pilot Paul Easter repeated the same triumphant victory, reaching the finish line after thousands of kilometres as the only driver without one single penalty point – despite the worst weather imaginable. Indeed, only 35 out of 237 cars entered in the event were able to finish the Rally that year, among them no less than three Mini Cooper S.
The following year was the year of the hattrick, Timo Mäkinen, Rauno Aaltonen and Paddy Hopkirk scoring an absolutely incredible victory, finishing first, second, and third. But this was followed by bitter disappointment, the first three cars being disqualified because the rally commissioners came to the conclusion that the low beams on the Mini’s main headlights failed to comply in full with the homologation rules.
Even so, the public were completely thrilled by the three Mini drivers, despite this questionable decision, Hopkirk, Aaltonen and Mäkinen therefore entering the annals of the Monte Carlo Rally as the “Three Musketeers”. And indeed, just one year later Rauno Aaltonen received truly overwhelming applause and acknowledgement when bringing home the third overall victory of the Mini Cooper S in the Monte Carlo Rally. Especially because this time there were no complaints about his car.
Legendary racing careers started at the wheel of a Mini.
The Mini was however highly successful not only in rally racing, but also on road circuits, bringing home numerous wins in the 1960s. Indeed, through its long list of successes in motorsport, the Mini became the most outstanding racing car of the entire decade. A particularly interesting point is that many spectacular racing careers started at the wheel of a Mini, a certain racing driver from Austria called Nikolaus Andreas Lauda entering his first hill-climb race at the wheel of a classic Mini near the Austrian town of Linz in April 1968, and immediately finishing second. Only two weeks later Lauda again confirmed his talent when scoring his first racing victory in a career which would take him on to three Formula 1 World Championships. And just like Niki Lauda, Formula 1 Champions Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, John Surtees, Jochen Rindt, and James Hunt all gained their first racing experience in a classic Mini.
Just like the car’s sporting career, sales of the Mini Cooper with its special configuration developed by John Cooper Showed an exceptional story of success from 1961–1971, the name “Cooper” becoming a synonym worldwide for passionate driving pleasure in the Mini. The fact that this tiny car had inspired the two-time Formula 1 World Champion to build outstanding sports cars was sufficient proof of the Mini and its qualities. And indeed, the unique driving experience inducing John Cooper right from the start to continue the development of the Mini all the way to perfection was equally thrilling back then for every fan of sporting automobiles.
The world’s toughest rally: MINI with four back-to-back victories in the Dakar Rally.
MINI has now become firmly established in international rally sport. Spectacular performances by the MINI John Cooper Works WRC developed on the basis of the MINI Countryman in selected rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) enabled the brand to continue its success story in rally sport during 2011 and 2012. The MINI ALL4 Racing was designed specifically for marathon rallies and this took up a further particularly special sporting challenge. In 2012, MINI and motor-sport partner X-raid entered the Dakar Rally, the ultimate endurance test for drivers, vehicles and teams. The performance and reliability of the MINI ALL4 Racing resulted in back-to-back Dakar victories in the years 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. In 2016, MINI won the category of All-wheel Drive Vehicles in this rally.
MINI also demonstrated in the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup how one success leads to another. The first win in the World Cup 2012 was repeated in three successive years (2013 – 2015). In 2017, the new MINI John Cooper Works Rally participated for the first time in this competition and in the Dakar Rally. In 2018, it won a further title in the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup.
John Cooper Works – the epitome for extreme driving pleasure in the MINI.
John Cooper Works guarantee outstanding performance not only on the race track, but also on the road. Even back in the 1970s, John Cooper Works Tuning Kits for production versions of the Mini were very popular and even back then the classic Mini equipped with such special features and components was able to show its most outstanding virtues both visually and in technical terms. The same applies to the tuning kits for the MINI Cooper S and the MINI Cooper successfully introduced after the re-launch of the brand and available in the market under the label of John Cooper Works. The current range of John Cooper Works accessories comprises lightweight alloy wheels, ventilated brake disks, integrated tailpipes and other retrofit products for the exterior and the interior in the appropriate selection for each model.
Furthermore, the performance-oriented character of the brand is embodied by four extremely sporty MINI models. The most important common feature of the elite athletes is the power-unit and chassis engineering derived from motor sport which is combined with the aerodynamically optimised body attributes. The extreme athletes in the small-car segment, the MINI John Cooper Works and the MINI John Cooper Works Convertible, are powered by a 170 kW/231 hp four-cylinder turbo engine. A 225 kW/306 hp four-cylinder turbo power unit delivers superb performance attributes in the latest versions of the MINI John Cooper Works Clubman and the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman.
In the anniversary year, another guarantee for extreme driving fun and unalloyed motor-sport passion is on the way to the starting line. In the summer of 2019, a prototype of the new MINI John Cooper Works GP completed intensive test drives on numerous race tracks throughout the world. This vehicle will also be powered by a four-cylinder engine packing in excess of 220 kW/300 hp. Its appearance with large air scoops, an independent design for the front and rear aprons and a striking roof spoiler gives an inkling of the outstanding high-performance characteristics. During test drives round the legendary North Loop of the Nürburgring, it actually completed the lap in less than eight minutes.
4. MINI all the way – always different. Customize to your personal taste.
Driving a MINI is not just a matter of getting from A to B, but rather an expression of your own personal style. And indeed, the many options to customise the MINI give the enthusiast a wide range of opportunities in bringing out his – or her – personal taste and preferences. Offering a wider range of features and highlights and going into greater detail than any other manufacturer of small and compact cars, MINI gives the customer the freedom to bring out his or her individual style and choice on the car, an exceptionally wide range of exterior and interior colours, seat upholstery and trim variants setting the foundation for a personal configuration tailored to the driver.
A further point is that all the current MINI models are available with numerous highly attractive and sophisticated options straight from the plant, again enhancing both driving pleasure and motoring comfort. The range of Original MINI Accessories offers further highlights, comprising classic motorsport technology in John Cooper Works components, comfort-oriented features such as an iPod interface, features highly practical in everyday use such as a roof rack made of ultra-strong, eloxy-plated aluminium bars, or exceptional components such as additional headlights and extravagant roof trim.
From something special to a one-off masterpiece: customisation straight from the factory.
The unusually wide range of equipment and accessory features offered on the MINI reflects the strong awareness and critical perspective of the customer in choosing such a small premium car. Opting for a MINI, the customer from the start expresses his or her sense of special values. He identifies with a car concept which, more than any other, offers pure harmony of emotional values and up-to-date qualities. The characteristic design and the unmistakable style of the brand, unparalleled driving pleasure, premium quality and modern, very efficient drive technology form a symbiosis quite unique in this segment of the market. This exceptional position of the MINI comes out even more clearly whenever each specific model stands out from the crowd through its sophisticated and stylish features. Hence, a typical MINI is not just an exceptional vehicle, but in nearly all cases a genuine one-off masterpiece.
The wide range of options in customising the car is reflected right from the start in the production process. Every MINI is built specifically to the customer’s order at the MINI Plant in Oxford or at the production partner VDL Nedcar in Born, Netherlands. Every customer is able to put together his or her MINI precisely to his or her personal wishes. All production and logistic processes are highly flexible, catering for this wide range of variants right from the start.
Considering the numerous options and items of equipment and, as a result, the almost infinite range of variants conceivable, it is extremely unlikely that two absolutely identical MINIs will leave the plant within one and the same year of production. Customisation of the classic Mini: special models for VIP customers, more power straight from the factory for all drivers.
In the days of the classic Mini, only particularly prominent or affluent customers had the option to choose similar customisation features of this calibre straight from the plant. Clearly, this small but revolutionary performer right from the start arose the fantasy of particularly trendy aficionados, actors, fashion designers, musicians and even members of the Royal Family regularly expressing their demand for customised versions of the Mini. Special paintwork and particularly sophisticated equipment features came right at the top of their list, British actor Peter Sellers, for example, placing several orders for particularly extravagant special versions of the Mini in the 1970s. And in 1988 a member of the Brunei Royal Family also asked for a Mini in Flower Power design tailored to his individual wishes and of course appropriately tuned.
In the first year of the classic Mini customers already had the choice of the Austin Seven and the Morris Mini-Minor, which however only differed in terms of their radiator grilles, their body colour and wheel caps. The Riley Elf and the Wolseley Hornet then made their appearance just two years later in 1961 as particularly stylish versions of this new compact car with minor modifications on the outside and upgraded, distinguished features inside. Plush carpets and a genuine wooden dashboard exuded a genuine feeling of luxury.
Further body versions joined the family a bit later, ranging from the Van to the Pick-Up.
The common wish for extra power was also fulfilled quickly, above all through the initiative of sports car constructor John Cooper who had already worked together closely with Alec Issigonis, the creator of the Mini, during the initial development process. The first Mini Cooper delivering 55 instead of 34 hp made its appearance in 1961, with the 70-hp Mini Cooper S entering the market another two years later. The Mini with automatic transmission likewise appeared at a relatively early point in 1965, taking on a leading role in terms of motoring comfort – especially as up to that time only cars higher up in the market, that is in completely different segments, had offered the option of an automatic transmission.
Very sporting, young and trendy, or unusually distinguished – in the mid-70s fans of the Mini had the opportunity for the first time to highlight particular characteristics of the classic Mini through carefully configured edition models. The first of these special models was the progressively designed Mini Limited Edition 1000 in 1976, with further variants taking up the trend to growing customisation time and again. In many cases these special cars were named after well-known parts of London or famous streets, such as Piccadilly, Chelsea, Knightsbridge or Park Lane.
In 1982 the Mini Mayfair conquered the streets for the first time as a particularly exclusive, top-end model. And following the re-launch of the brand in 2001, special versions of this small but dynamic performer attracted great attention time and again, the MINI Seven bringing back a traditional model designation well-known from the original Mini, the MINI Checkmate highlighting above all the sporting characteristics of this agile athlete.
Paintwork, roof trim, interior materials: typical MINI style with maximum diversity.
The sheer diversity of the current model range as well as a wide choice of options in combining standard and special features in the current MINI generation provide a degree of customisation setting the benchmark even today in the modern world of motoring. Apart from the different engine variants, the wide choice of body paintwork colours, roof trim and soft top options, wheels and seat upholstery, interior materials and trim elements offer even the most discerning customer everything he or she desires to turn the relevant car into his or her very personal one-off masterpiece. The specific equipment packages for each model permit personal individualisation. They incorporate selective facets inherent in the character of each model so that they are particularly clearly highlighted on the exterior of the vehicle and in the interior – for example sporting prowess, elegance or robustness. Additional features include stripes for the engine bonnet and mirror caps in different colours and patterns, the options of Chrome Line and Piano Black for the exterior and a lighting package, a roof liner coloured in anthracite and the Chrome Line for the interior.
The accessories range also includes a choice of additional exterior mirror caps, side direction indicator surrounds, wheel-valve caps and door handles in different designs, a tank cap in chrome, sport stripes, bonnet stripes and special MINI stickers for affixing to the doors. And last but not least, the line-up of individual light-alloy wheels rims available for specific models is once again expanded by a number of options included in the range of accessories.
The performance components from John Cooper Works are perfectly tailored to the characteristics and style of MINI. The parts are available as accessories and they proudly reveal the long track record of experience and glorious tradition of both brands in motor sport. The highlights include John Cooper Works light-alloy wheels, ventilated brake discs, bumper trims, spoiler attachments, integrated tailpipes, exterior mirror caps and side scuttles. Matching decor trims, hand-brake lever, sports gearshift lever, interior mirror caps and foot mats create an even more sporting ambience in the interior.
Individualisation at the highest level: MINI Yours.
The options from the MINI Yours range pave the way for the most exclusive route to selective individualisation. High-quality materials, stylish design and precise processing to the very highest standards characterise these factory-supplied items of special equipment for the exterior and interior of current MINI models. They are unique individual options and are available in equipment packages put together specifically for each model.
The items of special equipment from MINI Yours are especially ideal for defining clear accents expressing exclusivity and stylish image when creating an individual vehicle design. All the packages reflect the British origin and the premium character of the brand. The outstanding level of material selection and the quality of craftsmanship meld together to create design infused with a sense of heritage and creativity, forging highlights in the appearance of the vehicle. The MINI Yours emblem defines yet another additional inimitable accent. The production of MINI Yours options is carried out in special production processes inspired by classic artisan craftsmanship.
The current MINI Yours range for individualising the exterior comprises exceptionally sophisticated paintwork options and impactful, athletic, elegant light-alloy wheel rims in a model-specific selection. The MINI Convertible also features a MINI Yours roof with a woven Union Jack. Personal style and a connoisseur’s sense of superlative quality are achieved with the MINI Yours packages for the interior. The MINI Yours Leather Lounge sport seats are upholstered and handcrafted in luxury smooth leather. Perforation technology integrates the classic Union Jack motif in the headrests. The MINI Yours Interior Styles are tailored to match specific models and comprise backlit surfaces, with light spots varying the colour to suit the ambient light conditions. Visible and tangible exclusivity also characterise the MINI Yours sports leather steering wheel finished in luxury soft nappa leather, the anthracite seams and spokes in high-gloss Piano Black.
MINI Yours Customised: From original to personalised custom special.
The MINI Yours Customised range gives customers the opportunity to style selected retrofit products with a design they have selected themselves and transform their own vehicle into a personalised customer special. The innovative package has been supplied for numerous MINI models in Europe and other major markets since 2018. The product range of MINI Yours Customised comprises the familiar side scuttles for the side indicators, decor trims for the interior on the passenger side, LED entry sills and LED door projectors.
The retrofit parts supplied in the product range of MINI Yours Customised can be selected, styled and ordered by customers in an Online Shop dedicated to the new range. The individualised products are subsequently manufactured using innovative production procedures such as various 3D printing processes and laser inscription. The advanced production processes permit precise implementation of customers’ wishes. The individually styled products are supplied within a few weeks. They are designed so they can then be integrated in the vehicle by customers themselves or by participating MINI service partners.
5. Traditional values and modern diversity. Concept and technology.
The economical compact car has a great future! Precisely this was the fundamental idea and philosophy in developing the classic Mini. The objective was to combine compact exterior dimensions and generous spaciousness within the interior, comfortable and sporting driving behaviour as well as fuel-efficient power units likewise characterising the new extra-small model from British Motor Corporation (BMC). It was the Suez Crisis in 1956 leading to severe cut-backs in oil supply that prompted BMC to assign automotive engineer and constructor Alec Issigonis with this challenging task. Today, on the other hand, the quest for efficiency has become a general need in public life, this compact car from Great Britain again offering the most convincing answer to this challenge. 60 years ago, the revolutionary design principle of the classic Mini created the foundation for maximum interior space on a minimal footprint. The modern reinterpretation for creative use of space and unsurpassed driving fun made the MINI the original in the premium segment of small cars when it was launched in 2001. Today, the MINI brand is the epitome of scintillating driving in the urban traffic environment and beyond. In future, the brand will combine electromobility and a unique emotional experience with the new MINI Cooper SE. It is based on the MINI 3 Door and combines local zero-emission driving with premium quality and striking design.
The classic Mini: an ingenious concept for efficient use of space, outstanding safety on the road, and supreme economy.
Engineering qualities of the highest calibre already served on the classic Mini to provide truly outstanding and technically superior solutions. The first point is that Alec Issigonis opted for a front-wheel-drive concept with the engine fitted crosswise at the front. This principle, now well-established as the standard solution for compact cars, was admittedly not completely new at the time, but had never before been used so consistently to promote driving behaviour and the efficient use of space as it was in the classic Mini. The specific arrangement of the ten-inch wheels right at the corners of the car likewise served to promote both driving behaviour and the efficient use of space. Wheelbase measured 2.03 metres or 79.9", overall length was 3.05 metres or 120.0", width measured 1.41 metres or 55.5", and the height of the classic Mini was 1.35 metres or 53.1". And the most important point was that 80 per cent of the space occupied by the car – its “footprint” on the road, as it were – was just for the passengers and their luggage.
The body-in-white of the classic Mini weighed a mere 140 kg or 309 lb. But at the same time the bodyshell offered a standard of torsional stiffness quite exceptional back then – stiffness ensured by the two sills extending from front to rear, a lightweight tunnel in the middle of the car taking up the exhaust system, and the wheel arches.
Extending crosswise from left to right, the robust bulkhead between the engine compartment and the passenger cell, a strong crossbar beneath the front seats, and the rear bulkhead leading to the luggage compartment all contributed to this torsional stiffness. With this kind of stability and stiffness built in from the start, Alec Issigonis and his team of engineers were able to give the classic Mini slender roof pillars and large windows around the passenger cell, helping to enhance both all-round visibility and the feeling of space. The decision which engine to use in this new small car was no problem, with BMC opting for an updated version of the Series A power unit already featured in the legendary Morris Minor.
This four-cylinder came with a crankshaft running in three bearings, overhead valves operated via tappets and a camshaft at the bottom running on the same side as the intake and exhaust ducts. The fuel/air mixture was supplied by semi-downdraught carburettors, with an electric fuel supply pump being fitted right from the start. Issigonis and his team therefore reduced engine capacity to 848 cc and cut back engine output to 34 hp at 5,500 rpm. Indeed, this kind of engine speed alone was quite unusual at the time, with only thoroughbred sports cars achieving continuous engine speed of this standard back in the late ‘50s. Yet a further innovation was the arrangement of the four-speed manual gearbox beneath the engine and directly between the wheels, giving the engine and transmission a shared oil circuit. This left enough space beneath the bonnet for the radiator at the side as well as the steering and ancillary units.
The birth of that go-kart experience.
Issigonis and his team also took a new approach in the transmission of power, that is on the drivetrain. Since the propeller shafts used up to that time tended to deflect out of line under major steering lock, Issigonis decided to use homokinetic joints for the first time in an automobile. These joints were made up of a ball bearing surrounded by three cages, two of which were connected, respectively, with the incoming and outgoing drive shafts. This, in turn, allowed a sufficient steering angle without distortion or undue articulation, significantly reducing the effect of drive forces on the steering. And this, in turn, set the foundation for the go-kart feeling of the legendary Mini to this very day.
To reduce the forces acting on the light and compact monocoque steel bodyshell, the engineers mounted the entire drivetrain, steering and suspension on a subframe. The independent wheels at the rear were also mounted on a subframe, giving the classic Mini absolutely excellent directional stability. The other components on the suspension likewise came with a wide range of technical highlights, Issigonis replacing the usual coil, torsion or leaf springs by rubber suspension. To be specific, this was a structure made up of two cones with a layer of rubber in between. The upper cone was bolted firmly to a subframe, the lower rested on the wheel mount. With rubber becoming increasingly hard under increasing pressure, this gave the classic Mini a progressive suspension set-up. Indeed, the properties of this spring system were so good that small telescopic dampers proved to be quite sufficient. And to give the dampers a smooth and fine response, they were fastened outside on upper wishbones at the front and longitudinal control arms at the rear.
Extra comfort: Hydrolastic suspension and automatic transmission.
In 1964 Issigonis placed the emphasis on greater comfort and motoring refinement, introducing an early type of self-levelling on the Mini. To be specific, this was the new Hydrolastic suspension carried over from BMC’s larger saloons and modified for the small car segment. This unique suspension came with cylinders roughly the size of a one-litre oil can on each wheel comprising the springs and dampers and using a frost-resistant water emulsion as the damper fluid. On the Hydrolastic system the hydraulic chambers on the front and rear wheel dampers were connected to one another by pressure hoses on each side of the car. So whenever the front wheel ran over a bump on the road, some of the hydraulic fluid was pressed into the “partner” chamber on the rear axle, lifting up the body slightly also at the rear (and, of course, also in the opposite direction).
While this innovative system provided the basic configuration for consistent self-levelling of the car’s body, it never became a lasting success and was taken out of production after seven years. Issigonis and his team followed the example of larger cars in upmarket segments also in other areas, seeking quite often to achieve an even higher standard in the Mini. A good example is the automatic transmission introduced as an option in 1965 and making the classic Mini one of only very few small cars available at the time with such a “luxury”. An even more significant factor was that the automatic transmission taking up hardly any more space than a conventional manual gearbox came with four forward gears, while most luxury cars at the time had only three gears.
Sales of the classic Mini exceeded the figure of one million units just six years after the car had made its debut. By this time the range comprised not only the two original models, the Morris Mini-Minor and the Austin Seven, but also a Mini Van, a Mini Pick-Up as well as the Morris Mini-Traveller and Austin Seven Countryman estate models serving consistently to offer even more space inside the car: While the Traveller and Countryman were only 25 centimetres or not quite 10" longer than their respective counterparts, they were unusually versatile transporters thanks to their wheelbase extended by 10 centimetres or 3.9" and their twin doors at the rear.
Small engine, significant potential for further development.
John Cooper, the sports car constructor who recognised the great potential of this revolutionary small car very early on, is the man we must thank for giving the engine of the Mini originally cut back intentionally to 34 hp a lot more power just two years after the car made its debut. Engine capacity of the GT model built in a small series at Cooper’s initiative was increased to 997 cc, with stroke up from 68.3 to 81.3 millimetres (2.69–3.20") and bore down from 62.9 to 62.4 millimetres (2.48–2.46"). The compression ratio was raised from 8.3 to 9.0, further features being the larger intake valves and dual carburettors.
The exhaust opening was likewise enlarged and the crankcase reinforced to take up the extra power of the engine.
Cooper also changed the transmission ratio of the individual gears in order to give the car a higher speed in each gear, the first Mini Cooper with its 55 hp power unit now reaching a top speed of 136 km/h or 84 mph as opposed to the “regular” 120 km/h or 75 mph. And being a conscientious man, Cooper also upgraded the car’s brakes, fitting seven-inch Lockheed disc brakes on the front wheels.
The Mini Cooper S introduced in 1963 soon proved that even with these modifications the four-cylinder had not yet reached its limit. This time engine capacity was increased to 1,071 cc, providing maximum output of 70 hp. Naturally, this extra power also meant higher speed, in this case with an increase to 160 km/h or 99 mph, which is why Cooper once again upgraded the brakes, increasing disc diameter to 7.5" and boosting the brake power of the Mini Cooper S by means of a brake servo.
The series version of the classic Mini was also upgraded for more power in 1967, an increase in capacity to 998 cc giving the engine an appropriate boost in maximum torque from 44 to 52 newton-metres (32–38 lb-ft) and an increase in maximum output by 4 hp to 38 horsepower. This version of the four-cylinder was introduced from the start on the sister model of the classic Mini launched in 1969, the new Clubman, as the car was called, being 11 cm or 4.3" longer and the Estate version measuring exactly 3.40 metres or 133.9" in length. Width, height and wheelbase, on the other hand, were exactly the same as on the classic Mini.
A further new model introduced at the time as the successor to the Mini Cooper was the Mini 1275 GT, the top model in the Clubman series powered by a 59-hp 1.3-litre four-cylinder. This engine was later also featured in the classic Mini and was soon upgraded to an even more significant 63 hp. The 1.0-litre nevertheless remained in the range until 1992, after which all models were equipped with the 1.3-litre fuel injection engine already featured since October 1991 in the Mini Cooper and as of August 1994 also in the Mini, above all due to growing requirements in emission management.
Making a new start with traditional values.
Considered simply on paper, the MINI Cooper and the MINI One bringing back the famous brand in 2001 had hardly any substantial features in common with the classic Mini. Much stricter safety standards, significantly greater demands in terms of motoring comfort, and brand-new technical potentials allowed and required solutions Alec Issigonis and his team would not even have dreamt of in their days.
The MINI and its forefather nevertheless share some fundamental highlights and features clearly borne out from the start in the new model and expressed by the car’s characteristic design. A further point is that the MINI was developed from the start as a revolutionary new small car. And like the classic Mini, the new model once again featured innovations in technology giving the MINI its unique qualities.
Re-interpretation of traditional values likewise gave the MINI its unmistakable character right from the start, building its status as a youthful car transcending all social classes and highly desirable the world over. The classic Mini in its day made a significant contribution in introducing the principle of front-wheel drive and the power unit fitted crosswise at the front, making this the standard solution for particularly compact cars. The MINI, in turn, likewise came with short body overhangs, a long wheelbase, the one-wheel-at-each-corner stance and a low centre of gravity as ideal ingredients for extremely agile handling. Once again, therefore, the MINI re-defined the standard of optimum efficiency in the use of space and maximum driving pleasure in such a small car.
The quantum leap into a new era of technology.
Implementing this concept, it was obviously essential to use the most advanced and sophisticated technology. And clearly, four-cylinder power units displacing 1.6 litres, with 16 valves and an aluminium cylinder head were exactly the right successors to the Series A engines originally featured in the classic Mini.
Where 34 hp was still sufficient in 1959, the right kind of power was now 66 kW/90 hp in the MINI One and 85 kW/115 hp in the MINI Cooper. And while the classic Mini with its homokinetic joints for conveying power to the wheels and rubber springs set new standards in suspension technology at its time, the MINI with its McPherson front axle featuring axle shafts equal in length and the multi-arm rear axle likewise absolutely unique in this segment also introduced a new benchmark.
Disc brakes on all four wheels, the anti-lock brake system including CBC Cornering Brake Control and EBD Electronic Brake Force Distribution featured as standard also marked this quantum leap into a new era. As an option the MINI was also available from the start with ASC+T Traction Control and DSC Dynamic Stability Control.
The MINI also took on the top position in its segment right from the beginning in terms of passive safety. Indeed, with its extremely stable passenger cell, frontal and side airbags as well as optional head airbags at the side, the level of safety provided was absolutely outstanding. And last but not least, the Tyre Defect Indicator likewise featured as standard was an innovation never seen before in
a small and compact car. As an alternative to its five-speed manual gearbox, the MINI was available with infinite CVT automatic transmission incorporating a Steptronic function. Using a steel drive belt running on dual-conical pulleys, this transmission fed engine power through continuously variable transmission ratios to the front wheels, while retaining six firm transmission ratios in the Steptronic mode.
A joint control unit for the engine and transmissions served both in the automatic and the Steptronic mode to give the driver the ideal transmission ratio under all conditions. As an option there were also Steptronic switches on the steering wheel enabling the driver to shift gears manually without taking his hands off the steering wheel.
It did not take MINI long – to be precise only until January 2002 – to move up to an even higher level of driving pleasure, the most powerful model in the range ensuring fascinating performance even faster than with the classic Mini and far superior to its 70-hp forerunner.
This new high-performance model was the MINI Cooper S powered by a 120 kW/163 hp four-cylinder compressor engine and featuring both a sports suspension and a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. The first-ever MINI powered by a diesel engine saw the light of day just one year later, the MINI One D providing the most advanced rendition of the highly efficient four-seater philosophy which originally led to the development of the classic Mini: Displacing 1.4 litres out of four cylinders, this all-aluminium power unit featuring common rail fuel injection and an exhaust gas turbocharger offered an ample
55 kW/75 hp.
The new edition of the MINI: From the original to the original.
The modern qualities of the world’s first premium small car were emphasised even more emphatically when the new edition of the MINI was launched in November 2006. Under the motto “From the original to the original”, numerous details shaping the visual appearance of the MINI were refined. The sporting virtues of the compact king of curves were a particular focus with even more intense highlighting. At the same time, protection for the occupants was further optimised.
New, even more powerful and, at the same time, far more efficient engines together with the further enhanced suspension technology, served to redefine driving fun so typical of MINI. The MINI Cooper S with its 124 kW/175 hp power unit and the 88 kW/120 hp MINI Cooper models available at market launch from the start thrilled aficionados everywhere through their enhanced driving performance combined with significantly greater fuel economy and emission values. Both engines had a capacity of 1.6 litres, and a twin-scroll turbocharger and direct petrol injection were responsible for delivering the high output of the MINI Cooper S. The power unit of the MINI Cooper was fitted with fully variable valve control. Later on, this was also installed in the 1.4 litre engine generating 70 kW/95 hp mounted in the MINI One. Turbocharging and common rail direct injection generated outstanding efficiency in the diesel engines. The MINI Cooper D powered by 82 kW/112 hp was followed in rapid succession by the MINI One D generating 66 kW/90 hp and the MINI Cooper SD with 105 kW/143 hp. Finally, the MINI One powered by a 55 kW/75 hp engine was added to the range as an entry-level model. The mantle of elite athlete was taken on for the first time by the MINI John Cooper Works with a turbo engine packing 155 kW/211 hp and specific suspension technology.
In an appropriate combination on each model, the technologies offered as standard included Brake Energy Recovery, Auto Start/Stop, a gearshift point indicator, Electric Power Steering, a volume-flow-controlled oil pump, as well as on-demand coolant pump. All variants of the MINI now come as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox, with optional six-speed automatic transmission enabling the driver to shift gears manually via paddles on the steering wheel.
The large choice in the engine portfolio was soon augmented by exceptional diversity in the MINI model range. Almost exactly one year to the day after the launch of the new model generation, the range was expanded by the MINI Clubman with a wheelbase extended by eight centimetres and a two-part rear door. In 2009, a new generation of the MINI Convertible came along. And as if this wasn’t enough, both the two-seaters MINI Coupé and MINI Roadster enabled the athletic prowess typical of the brand and open-top pleasure to be experienced in a particularly purist way from 2011 onwards. In parallel, the MINI Countryman presented in 2010 and the MINI Paceman available from 2013 conquered the premium compact segment. The ALL4 all-wheel drive developed specially for MINI was installed in these two models for the first time. The system is based on an electromagnetic centre differential and this enabled the power to be variably distributed between the front and rear axles.
The latest generation: Even more driving fun, efficiency and premium quality.
In 2014, the current generation of the MINI lined up at the start with a renewed evolutionary and advanced design, new drive technology and a large number of innovative equipment features. Engines with MINI TwinPower turbo technology and also a newly developed gearbox have since then increased the sprint capability of the MINI while at the same time resulting in reduced fuel consumption. Depending on the engine, the standard 6-speed gearbox can be replaced by a 7-speed Steptronic gearbox with twin clutch or an 8-speed Steptronic gearbox. An additional enhancement to efficiency is provided by the optimised weight and the improved aerodynamic characteristics. The option of an adaptive suspension is available for the first time. MINI Driving Modes is a choice available for the first time in the new MINI. Adaptive suspension influences the characteristic curves for the accelerator pedal and steering characteristics as well as the shifting characteristics of the automatic transmission and the damper tuning. The new operating concept comprises an instrument cluster on the steering column and optionally a MINI head-up display. The collision and pedestrian warning with city braking function, the driving assistant and parking assistant, and the reversing camera significantly expand the choice of driver assistance systems. Once again, the MINI also takes a leading role among competitors in the area of networking technology and digital services.
Already in the subsequent year, the model range was again expanded by a completely new body version for the MINI. For the first time, the British brand has a five-door version in the segment of small cars. With its wheelbase extended by 72 millimetres, the MINI 5 Door offers passengers in the front significantly more legroom alongside comfortable entry and exit. Since 2016, the range in the small-car segment has been completed by the new MINI Convertible.
The open-top four-seater is now equipped with an all-electric opening and closing mechanism for the fabric roof. An extremely athletic model version was also developed for the classic bodywork variant of the MINI 3 Door and for the MINI Convertible. The MINI John Cooper Works and the MINI John Cooper Works Convertible are each powered by a new, 170 kW/231 hp turbo engine.
The new MINI generation is represented by two models in the premium compact segment. A choice of three petrol and three diesel engines is supplied for the new MINI Countryman. The advanced ALL4 all-wheel drive system is also available as an option. Series equipment includes power transmission to all four wheels in the elite athletes MINI John Cooper Works Clubman and MINI John Cooper Works Countryman, which are powered by a 225 kW/306 hp turbo engine in the latest version. Furthermore, the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 (combined fuel consumption: 2.1 – 1.9 l/100 km; combined electricity consumption: 13.9 – 13.5 kWh/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 47 – 43 g/km) paves the way for zero-emission driving fun. The first plug-in hybrid model from MINI is powered by a three-cylinder petrol engine and an electric engine which together generate a combined system output of 165 kW/224 hp.
Electromobility in the MINI style: The new MINI Cooper SE.
The MINI brand has now been the epitome of scintillating mobility in the urban traffic environment for the past 60 years. In future, the brand will incorporate local zero-emission driving in urban traffic with a unique emotional experience. The new MINI Cooper SE (combined power consumption: 0.0 l/100 km; combined electricity consumption: 16.8 – 14.8 kWh/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 0 g/km) will be manufactured in series production at the British plant in Oxford from November 2019. This is the brand’s first all-electric powered model and it is a genuine MINI through and through. The vehicle concept is based on the MINI 3 Door. The dimensions, design, available space and interior ambience of the new MINI Cooper SE are clearly derived from the conventionally powered vehicle. The expansion of the model range by an all-electric version was already reflected in the development of this vehicle.
Instead of a petrol or diesel engine, an electric motor is mounted under the bonnet of the new MINI Cooper SE. The spontaneous power development of the 135 kW/184 hp electric motor, the front-wheel drive typical of the brand and innovative Dynamic Stability Control with actuator-related wheel-slip limitation assist the new MINI Cooper SE in achieving the unmistakeable agility known as the go-kart feeling that is perceived here as a particularly intense experience. The motor’s model-specific lithium-ion battery permits a range of 235 to 270 kilometres. The high-voltage battery is configured low in the vehicle floor so that there are no restrictions on the volume of the baggage compartment compared with a conventionally powered MINI 3 Door.
6. From the Original to the Original. The MINI Design.
Innovativ, Innovative, unmistakable, stylish – and inspiring time and again. Just like the classic Mini, the MINI stands for unique design providing brand-new answers to the challenges of its time. Creating the classic Mini, constructor Alec Issigonis and his team had succeeded in re-defining the entire philosophy of the small and compact car in 1959. Developing the MINI, his successors, as it were, re-interpreted the concept of maximum interior space on minimum road surface in modern, up-to-date style.
The result, created almost four decades apart, was two cars of supreme character proudly presenting their unique qualities in a truly unmistakable manner. Both back then and today, thrilling driving characteristics and irresistible design create one complete unit as the sign of distinction of an entire brand. The starting point for the design of the classic Mini was a vision following clear targets: smaller than all models produced so far by British Motor Corporation, the new car was still to provide sufficient space for four occupants and their luggage. Clearly, therefore, Issigonis focused on economy of space as the fundamental consideration in the development process.
At the same time, he wished to offer an innovative answer to the small and compact cars already available on the market in Europe, following his principle that a good designer should never ever copy the competition.
A clear vision and the right concept: the foundation for the classic Mini.
To provide as much space as possible for the occupants on the car’s very small footprint, even the technical features and components of the classic Mini had to be moved together. The ideal concept making this possible from the start was of course the engine fitted at the front in conjunction with front-wheel drive. But that alone was not enough for Issigonis. For while there was enough space for a four-cylinder power unit beneath the short bonnet, this was only because Issigonis fitted the engine crosswise and placed the gearbox beneath the drive unit. Certainly, an innovative interpretation of the “form follows function” principle is still one of the decisive factors in the design of the MINI to this very day.
Issigonis set forth all these plans and configurations not in long documents and studies, but rather in a host of drawings and personal sketches. Indeed, he had already succeeded in compensating for his rather limited ambition for mathematics at school and university through his excellent drawings. And now these drawings became the characteristic trademark of this ingenious engineer and constructor.
With just a few strokes of his pencil he was able to create visions, illustrate solutions for complicated technical problems, and therefore develop greater power of conviction than even the most moving speaker in a detailed technical lecture. Issigonis’ almost contagious euphoria was also expressed by the fact that he often did his drawing on paper table-cloths or menu cards, because his notepad was already full.
One of the legends circulating around the classic Mini is the story of a design sketch done by Issigonis on the paper napkin of a hotel restaurant later used for the first “official” draft on the drawing board in Issigonis’ construction office. In the course of 1958 both the exterior and the interior of the Mini took on their final shape. Striking features later to become characteristic of the classic Mini were the body panel seams between the wings and the bodyshell facing to the outside.
The reason for this particular feature was quite simply money: welding seams facing to the outside were a lot cheaper in production. The second feature typical of cost-oriented production also clearly visible from outside was the door hinges on the outside of the doors themselves. And the driver who was not able to make do with the luggage compartment offering capacity of 195 litres or 6.8 cubic feet, was able to quite simply leave the boot lid open – since the lid was hinged at the bottom, it served conveniently as a “tray” even taking up bulky objects fastened more or less safely in position. Indeed, this was not even a secret tip, since high-gloss brochures presented this enlarged loading capacity in colourful pictures.
The interior naturally also followed the car’s minimalist philosophy: A simple cable served to open the doors and the usual dashboard in front of the driver and passenger was replaced in the classic Mini by a small shelf. Right in the middle was the centre instrument, the speedometer and mileage counter as well as the fuel gauge, with two toggle switches for the screen wipers and the lights right below.
Despite numerous detailed changes and modifications, the basic shape of the classic Mini remained unchanged for no less than 41 years. In the course of time this revolutionary small car became a classic in the history of the automobile, a timeless masterpiece chosen in 1995 by the readers of Autocar, the British car magazine, as the “Car of the Century”. Like its driving behaviour, the typical look of the classic Mini remained a perfect image of the car’s character over years and decades, ultimately providing the starting point for the design of the modern MINI.
Creating the MINI: brand-new, but with unmistakable roots.
Back in the mid-1990s, shortly after BMW had taken over Rover Group, the first plans were considered for a new version of this unique compact car. A study of the MINI Cooper was the presented at the 1997 Frankfurt Motor Show, making it quite clear from now on that this was not going to be merely a copy of the classic model, but rather a modern interpretation of the Mini concept so rich in tradition. Indeed, this concept car combined the classic values of the classic Mini with the demands made of a modern automobile on the threshold to the 21st century.
A spectacular sports car concept had already been presented at the beginning of the year on the occasion of the Monte Carlo Rally. Thirty years after the classic Mini had won the Monte Carlo Rally the last time, this two-seater, right-hand-drive mid-engined ACV 30 (Anniversary Concept Vehicle) study definitely hit the headlines not just on account of its truly powerful and muscular proportions. Rather, the study also made it quite clear how the design features so characteristic of the classic Mini – such as the hexagon radiator grille and the large round headlights – could be carried over into a modern vehicle concept.
So the question is obvious: What would the ideal small car look like when carrying forward the ideas and principles of Sir Alec Issigonis, that ingenious constructor, from the 1950s into the 21st century, with all the technical options and customer preferences of these modern times? Looking for an answer to this question was certainly a promising undertaking right from the start, particularly as neither the drive concept of the classic Mini nor its virtually unchanged look had lost any of their charm over a period of approximately four decades.
Precisely this is why the MINI Project Team run originally by Frank Stephenson and later by MINI Chief Design Gert Volker Hildebrand attached great significance to conveying not only design details, but also the fundamental idea from the early years of the classic Mini to these modern days of motoring. The MINI was also to be a unique car offering ample space for four with their luggage, featuring an economical drive concept, and boasting driving and handling qualities no other model in this segment was able to offer.
At the same time the development engineers naturally also considered the high standard of comfort now taken for granted as well as the most demanding safety requirements. The result, obviously, was once again a revolutionary new small car oriented in every respect to the needs of its times and at the same time developed and manufactured according to the quality standards of a leading premium brand.
Design features and design icons.
This harmony of the targets set by the development engineers and the fundamental values of the concept is reflected in a unique design authentically visualising the common character shared by the classic Mini and the MINI and borne out by a beautiful play on lines and joints, circles and ellipsoids.
With the car measuring 3.63 metres or 142.9" in length, the overall layout and proportions, including short overhangs front and rear expressing the agile handling of the MINI through its exterior, were all retained as a faithful rendition of the classic Mini. The classic subdivision of the car into three sections – the actual body, the window graphics surrounding the entire vehicle as a kind of band, and the roof seeming to hover in space – was taken up again in a modern rendition. The shoulder line extends from the headlights across the muscular shoulders all the way to the C-pillars, where the roof is closer to the body than upfront on the A-pillars. This creates side window graphics opening up to the front and clearly emphasising the forward-pushing motion and the sportiness of the car.
Features typical of the brand and already unmistakable on the classic Mini were also re-interpreted on the new model. As an example, a modern rendition of the hexagon radiator grille and the round headlights now no longer surrounded by the wings, but rather integrated in the engine compartment lid, help to give the MINI its typical face so characteristic of the brand.
The side direction indicator surrounds serving on the MINI to distinguish the individual model variants, are also acknowledged as genuine icons in design. In particular, the side indicators guide the eyes of the beholder to the joint on the engine compartment lid of the MINI sweeping back at an angle like the joint on the side panels of the classic Mini. The rear light clusters standing upright also serve once again as a powerful sign of distinction now featuring a sophisticated chrome frame on the MINI. Indeed, this is once again a clear reminiscence to the classic Mini which always boasted its chrome look, consistently rejecting the inundation of plastic in automobile design of the ’70 and ’80s.
Last but not least, the very concave, three-dimensional and powerful design of the rims again takes up and reflects the style of the classic Mini, even if the wheels are now larger, wider, and come on runflat tyres.
The interior of the MINI is likewise unmistakable in its design, the Centre Speedo in the middle of the dashboard bringing back a characteristic feature of the classic Mini and enhancing this look to create a truly unique design element. Up to 1968 the speedometer on the classic Mini was also a central instrument which, through its looks alone, provided decisive inspiration for designing the surrounds on the MINI’s control units and switches.
Further, unique highlights come from the round air vents and the elliptic main elements on the door linings reflecting the design language of “circular elements” so typical of the MINI and also to be admired on the exterior. More than ever before, the current fortes of the MINI come out on the design of the latest model generation introduced in the autumn of 2013. Again following the philosophy of “From the Original to the Original”, both the basic design and the unique details of the car were revised and upgraded in the second generation in a painstaking, evolutionary process.
The powerful stance of the car on its big and muscular wheels now emphasises the sporting character of the MINI even more convincingly. The Centre Speedo is even larger than before even, now framed by a lighting band, and offers space for the display of a navigation system, again providing those unmistakable highlights so typical of the brand. Like the classic Mini, the MINI, thanks to its harmonious and perfectly balanced overall concept, arouses a feeling of affection and almost love at very first sight. To a large extent this is attributable to the cleverly integrated codes of “human body archetype” design language: Through its proportions and friendly mimicry, the MINI arouses the protector’s instincts. The powerful shoulders of the car, in turn, exude a sense of safety and security, and the body itself is characterised through its softly flowing shapes.
New opportunities: the MINI Concept.
Through its design philosophy alone, the MINI allows up-to-date, ongoing development of all features so typical of the brand while retaining its own, unique character. This starting point also provides a wonderful opportunity to carry over the design language so typical of MINI to innovative vehicle concepts extending the range and wealth of the MINI model family. The idea to present MINI in a new context was demonstrated for the first time in a fascinating study in 2005, when the MINI Concept made its world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
Presenting this unique study, MINI paved the way to a brand-new category of cars re-interpreting the classic shooting brake concept in modern style. The MINI Concept therefore took up traditional design philosophies already borne out in the 1960s in the guise of the Morris Mini-Traveller and the Austin Mini Countryman, applying these philosophies to modern-day requirements and therefore presenting new options in the body design and functionality of the MINI. Following the motto “Travel the World”, the MINI Concept was presented in a total of four renditions, each highlighting specific facets of the MINI brand and focusing on the place where the cars were being presented: In Frankfurt the emphasis was on elegance, at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show the concept model highlighted the British origins of MINI. At the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit the emphasis was on wintersport, and at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show the MINI Concept paid tribute to the legendary success of the brand in motorsport.
In all cases the concept car boasted a truly innovative door arrangement revolutionising the use of and access to the car’s interior: At the rear the designers introduced a Splitdoor configuration based on the classic door arrangement of the Morris Mini-Traveller and the Austin Mini Countryman. This two-piece rear door with each door element hinged far to the outside and opening outwards offered particularly generous access to the luggage compartment of the MINI Concept – a principle shortly thereafter presented for the first time in a production version of the MINI.
The MINI family grows: introduction of the MINI Clubman.
The 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show marked the world debut of the MINI Clubman which has been enriching the model family ever since. Compared directly with the MINI, the MINI Clubman offers 24 centimetres or 9.45" more body length and 8 centimetres or 3.15" longer wheelbase serving entirely to enhance legroom at the rear.
On the MINI Clubman the driver’s and front passenger’s doors are supplemented not just by the Splitdoor at the rear, but also by an additional opening on the right side of the car. This additional door on the right, the Clubdoor opening against the direction of travel like a coach door, offers passengers sitting on the rear seats of the MINI Clubman comfortable and convenient access to the rear passenger area. In its side view the MINI Clubman is characterised by a dynamic wedge shape created through the interplay of the shoulder line rising up slightly to the rear and the horizontal roofline.
Up the A-pillars, the MINI Clubman is identical to the “regular” MINI. It then gains its unique look through its longer wheelbase and longer roofline extending straight back to the steep rear end.
Yet a further special feature is the slight increase in the roof flanks extending on both sides from the A- all the way to the C-pillars along the entire length of the roof and referred to as the Dune Line. This gives the roofline a truly exciting, eye-catching “sweep” and raises the height of the car’s flank by approximately two centimetres. As a result, the proportions of the MINI Clubman are particularly smooth and well-balanced also from the side.
Like the classic Mini, the MINI is also available with contrasting colours on the roof – and indeed, this particular sign of distinction is of great significance on the MINI Clubman, where, apart from the roof, the C-pillars also come in the contrasting colour ordered by the customer to give the Splitdoor at the rear an additional optical effect. Ultimately this gives the car a very compact look at the rear and adds to its individual, unique appearance on the road.
MINI Convertible: consistently open, MINI all the way.
The open-air model of the brand is a genuine MINI but at the same time a truly unique character. The first new MINI Convertible was presented at the 2004 Geneva Motor Show three years after the closed MINI, but naturally with the same unmistakable design features. Apart from the soft roof combining the proportions typical of MINI when closed with a unique silhouette, the four-seater boasted a number of other features typical of a genuine Convertible. The waistline rising towards the end of the car, for example, was accentuated from the start by a chrome bar all round the vehicle, the steep windscreen was just as characteristic as the chrome-plated rollbar. And at the rear the boot lid opening downwards as well as the hinges at the outside offered further features reminiscent in their design of the classic Mini. The latest edition of the MINI Convertible experienced its first summer in 2016. 18 seconds suffice to combine the further enhanced driving fun in a MINI with the intense open-air feeling. This is facilitated in the new MINI by a fully-automated mechanism for opening the roof that is all-electric for the first time making it particularly low noise. There is now also a fully integrated rollbar.
Typically MINI – also in the premium compact segment.
Just as classical design features were transferred to a modern vehicle concept tailored to the requirements of the 21st century, the design so typical of the brand was also mapped onto the models of the premium compact segment. In 2010, the first MINI was presented with an exterior length of more than four metres, five doors and five seats. The MINI Countryman conquered new target groups across the world – with its unambiguous augmentation of versatility and the inimitable style of its design, making it a typical representative of the heritage British brand at first glance.
In the latest model generation, the MINI Clubman and the new edition of the MINI Countryman bring style typical of the brand into the premium compact segment. Reinterpreted and carefully enhanced, they also include typical MINI proportions, the characteristic three-way split between bodywork, window graphics and roof, the powerful stature underpinned by the wheels, and the unique details including the side scuttles, a large number of chrome elements, the hexagonal radiator grille and the large headlamps.
Dawn of a new era: The MINI Cooper SE.
As the first premium small car with all-electric drive, the new MINI Cooper SE also defines benchmarks for driving fun geared to the future in its design. It is based on the MINI 3 Door and differs from this with selective modifications and subtle differentiations from the conventionally powered models of the brand.
Powerful proportions, the horizontal vehicle structure, short overhangs and wheels positioned at the corners of the car characterise the appearance of the MINI Cooper SE. Precisely defined accents point to its future-proof drive system. The charging connection is positioned above the right-hand rear wheel and this is precisely where the tank nozzle is situated in the conventionally powered MINI 3 Door. An embossed MINI Electric Logo points to the difference in energy supply. Yellow versions of this logo also embellish the familiar side scuttles for the side indicators, the tailgate and the radiator grille. The central element of the vehicle’s front profile highlights the brand-typical hexagonal contour in the MINI Cooper SE, although it is shrouded owing to the low requirement of the electric motor for cooling air. A yellow trim bar on the grille and the wing-mirror caps finished in the same colour complete the model-specific design.
In the same way as the model-specific front grille, the essentially closed floorpan and the independent design of the rear apron contribute to the reduction of air resistance. The fact that the electrically powered MINI does not require an exhaust system, favours airflow in the floorpan and at the rear. An aerodynamically optimised surface is also highlighted by the optional 17-inch alloy wheels with an asymmetric design in the version MINI Electric Corona Spoke 2 Tone.
7. The Revolutionary with the Drawing Pad. Sir Alec Issigonis, the father of the classic Mini.
He had already been successful with his own sports cars and he had been commissioned on a number of occasions to develop large saloons. But his favourite project, as Alec Issigonis made it quite clear, was the construction of a simple, extremely functional and very affordable small car. So when Issigonis, the Deputy Technical Director of the Austin Plant in Longbridge, was requested in late 1965 by Leonard Lord, the Chairman of British Motor Corporation (BMC), to develop a brand-new and truly innovative car, he was absolutely thrilled and knew exactly what he wanted.
The new car was to be smaller than all models built by BMC so far, but nevertheless offer sufficient space for four occupants and their luggage. A four-cylinder already built by the company was to provide the necessary power, while the driving characteristics and the all-round economy of the new small car were to set new standards. Considering this brief and the demanding requirements to be fulfilled, what Issigonis needed was no more and no less than an absolutely revolutionary new design – exactly the right job for him and his team.
Back then Alec Issigonis was 51 years old, a seasoned constructor and automotive engineer with an unconventional career and an exceptional approach to his work. At the time his contemporaries described him as an almost pedantic tinkerer and a passionate technician simply bursting with enthusiasm. Issigonis did not always do his designs on the drawing board in the construction office, but rather opted for paper napkins or the little drawing pad he always kept handy to present his ideas to his colleagues and staff members during lunch. Mathematics he regarded as the “enemy of every creative human being”, and with his wealth of ideas, his enthusiasm and his distaste for compromises he pushed his team forward to top performance time and again.
After just seven months: test drive in the prototype Mini.
Opting for front-wheel drive and the engine fitted crosswise at the front with the gearbox directly below, Issigonis right from the start created ideal conditions for excellent efficiency in the use of space. No less than 80 per cent of the space taken up by the Mini, what one might call the car’s “footprint” on the road, was exclusively for the passengers and their luggage. Overall length of the new car was 3.05 metres or 120.0", and the Mini might indeed have been even shorter. But Issigonis had exact ideas and intentions, which he presented to his team in a rather unusual manner: He had them cut through a model of the Mini right down the middle, then moving the two halves apart centimetre by centimetre. And when he finally cried out “stop!”, the Mini had reached its ideal length.
Just seven months after the official go-ahead, two prototypes of the new small car were ready to go. So Issigonis invited his boss Leonard Lord to a test drive he still recalled full of amusement years later: “We drove round the Plant, and I was really going like hell. I’m certain he was scared, but he was very impressed by the car’s roadholding. So when we stopped outside his office, he got out and simply said: ‘All right, build this car.’ ”
From this moment on the ongoing development of the Mini in becoming a genuine legend was unstoppable. And Issigonis had secured his position on the podium as one of the world’s most ingenious and influential automobile constructors. The master himself was a bit more reserved, making it quite clear that “I didn’t invent the Mini, I built it.”
Alec Issigonis: straight from a family thrilled by technology.
Alexander Arnold Constantine Issigonis was born in the Turkish town of Smyrna, today’s Izmir, as the son of a Briton of Greek origin and a mother from Bavaria, on 18 November 1906. He inherited his great interest in technology and machines from his father who, shortly after the turn of the century, ran a company for marine engine technology.
In 1922 the family was forced to flee to Malta when the Turkish state was established in very hectic turmoil. His father died on the island and his mother took him to England where, two years later, young Alec was finally able to drive his first car: a Weymann-bodied Singer in which he chauffeured his mother through Europe in 1925 in a “never-ending series of breakdowns”, as Issigonis recalled later. But it was precisely this unforgettable experience which, immediately upon returning back home, encouraged him to start a three-year course in mechanical engineering at Battersea Polytechnic in London.
Issigonis’ great talent for craftsmanship and his passion for designing and drawing new technical concepts proved barely sufficient at the time to set off his strong distaste of mathematical theory. So he just about managed his final exam, but did not qualify for ongoing studies at the college in Battersea. His obvious conclusion was to enter professional life as a technical draughtsman and salesman in a design office for automotive technology in London. Buying an Austin Seven from his first salary, he prepared the car for racing and entered his first event in March 1929. In the years to follow Issigonis developed his own monoposto in his spare time with design and construction features destined to later make him famous: the Lightweight Special was absolutely tiny, extremely light, but technically progressive – and successful. In 1934 Issigonis joined the design and construction team of Humber Ltd., the Coventry-based car maker, where he worked on the introduction of independent suspension. He proved so good at the job that Morris Motors recruited him themselves just two years later on account
of his skill in suspension development.
During the war Issigonis had no choice but to work on various military vehicles, which he nevertheless used as “guinea pigs” for technical innovations.
In 1941 Morris launched the Mosquito Project, a compact four-seater for the post-war era. And indeed, despite the most challenging conditions, Issigonis, reputed to be an all-out workaholic, and his the team had the first road-going prototype ready within three years. Precisely this model introduced as the Morris Minor in 1948 became the most successful car built by the brand in the post-war years.
When Morris and Austin Motor Company merged four years later to form British Motor Corporation, Issigonis no longer saw any perspectives for his creativity in future. So he started working for Alvis, with the intention to develop a luxury saloon. But with the project ultimately failing for financial reasons, BMC took Issigonis on again in 1955 as their Deputy Technical Director at the Austin Plant in Longbridge. Here Issigonis was to develop a number of new model series for the small, medium-sized and upmarket segments to secure the future of what was then Europe’s largest car maker. Since particularly the small car project was acknowledged as very urgent due to the Suez Crisis, the new model made its debut in 1959 as the Morris Mini-Minor and the Austin Seven. Large models only came later, with the four-door Morris 1100 midrange model entering the market three years later and the very spacious Austin 1800 in 1964.
Career and knighthood: honoured for his lifetime achievement.
The success of the classic Mini also gave worldwide fame to the car’s “father”. In 1961 Alec Issgonis, in his position as Technical Director, became a Board Member of Austin Motor Company, and two years later he was appointed to the Board of BMC. In 1967 he became a member of the Royal Society, the most renowned research society in Britain, and two years later the Queen knighted the father of the Mini. Sir Alec Issigonis retired in 1971, but remained an advisor to the company until 1987. One year later he died on 2 October, shortly before his 82nd birthday.
To this day this outstanding automotive engineer and constructor lives on in countless memories. And the market launch of the second generation of the Mini was indeed held exactly on 18 November 2006, the 100th birthday of the father of the classic Mini, in the honour of this great man.
8. Made in England – then and now. MINI Production between past and future.
The first Mini was an Austin Seven coming off the production line in Austin’s Longbridge Plant in Birmingham on 4 April 1959. The team of twins was subsequently completed five weeks later, the first Morris Mini-Minor leaving the Morris Plant in Oxford on 8 May. The two models were presented to the public together for the first time on 26 August 1959. Despite their different origin, the Austin Seven and the Morris Mini-Minor were virtually identical, the only distinctions on the outside being their radiator grilles, the wheel caps and body colours: The Austin Seven was available in Tartan Red, Speedwell Blue, and Farina Grey, the Morris Mini-Minor came in Cherry Red, Clipper Blue, and Old English White.
Production at the two plants continued for ten years with the model built in Longbridge bearing the name Austin Mini as of 1962. Plant Oxford, which had been building cars since 1913, built exactly 602, 817 units during this period, all of them the basic version of the four-seater. All other model variants ranging from the Mini Van through the Mini Pick-Up all the way to the Morris Mini-Traveller and Austin Seven Countryman were built in Longbridge. In 1969 all production activities were concentrated at the Longbridge Plant, with the model range being streamlined and Mini becoming the brand name for this revolutionary compact car. So the days of the twin brothers (or sisters?) were over once and for all.
A million cars in six years: the MINI repeats the rapid start of the classic Mini.
With the brand being re-positioned in 2001 under the guidance of the
BMW Group and production of the modern MINI starting as planned, it was only obvious that MINI had to move back to Oxford, the plant so rich in tradition thus once again becoming the starting point for a genuine revolution in the small car market. And like the classic Mini, the MINI made a remarkable start into the market exceeding all expectations: within just six years, Plant Oxford built no less than a million units of the MINI. This was indeed just as long as the classic Mini had taken to exceed the one-million mark, but back then production was still at two plants.
After 41 years and a production volume of more than 5.3 million units, the last classic Mini left Plant Longbridge on 4 October 2000. Since the decision to build the modern MINI in Oxford had already been taken half a year before, only nine months remained from then on to the start of MINI pre-production and just 13 months to the start of actual series production. Clearly, therefore, the roughly 2,500 employees in Oxford at the time and their colleagues from BMW Plant Regensburg supporting the modernisation process faced a great challenge and a truly tight timetable in making this new start into the market.
MINI production in Oxford according to the strict quality standards of the BMW Group.
The BMW Group had already invested some £ 280 million in the Rover Plant in Oxford back in 1996/1997, thoroughly modernising the Bodyshop and Final Assembly. Another project also completed back then was a state-of-the-art Paintshop, at the time the second-largest construction project in Great Britain following the Millennium Dome. And now this was followed by further investments amounting to some £ 230 million serving to modernise and re-structure the plant.
All this made Oxford one of the most modern car production plants in the world, boasting cutting-edge technology specifically for the production of the MINI. No less than 229 production robots were installed at the time to build the body-in-white, with a laser measuring system serving to check the body of the MINI down to a precision of no less than 0.05 millimetres. The Paintshop was likewise custom-built for the requirements of MINI production, not only allowing very precise and environmentally friendly application of the paint, but also providing the contrasting paint finish on the roof so typical of the MINI Cooper.
Oxford also became the first European car production plant to make exclusive use of electrical tools in final assembly, while the KISS (Core Production Integrating Management System) serves to fully automate communication in the production process by using the most advanced information technology. In this process the complete production of each individual model is electronically documented from the body-in-white all the way to final assembly, again ensuring that every MINI complies with the supreme quality standards of the BMW Group.
Team work for premium quality: The MINI Production Triangle.
When production of the new edition of the MINI was launched in autumn of 2006, the production facilities in Oxford (Bodyshop, Paintshop and Assembly), Swindon (Pressings) and Hams Hall (Engine Production) were integrated in the MINI Production Triangle for the first time. Body panels have been produced in Swindon, some 70 kilometres west of Oxford, since 1954. Today, pre-assembled body components such as lids and doors for the MINI Bodyshop are manufactured at Plant Oxford. Since 2001, the plant at Hams Hall near Birmingham has been the BMW Group’s Competence Centre for the production of four-cylinder petrol engines with a capacity of up to 2.0 litres. The plant delivers petrol engines directly to Oxford – just in time and just in sequence, that is at exactly the right time and in the right sequence for final assembly.
After 60 years: Ten million MINIs produced.
Capacity that started in 2001 as 300 vehicles manufactured each day has now increased to production output of around 1 000 units per day. Every 67 seconds, a workforce of 4 500 employees manufactures a MINI – each one of them is an ambassador for its idea, its country and its zest for life. In 2019, 60 years of the brand’s existence was celebrated in Oxford alongside a landmark production anniversary. The ten millionth vehicle of the brand rolled off the assembly line at the traditional site with an illustrious heritage: a MINI 3 Door from the 60 Years Edition.
Since 2000, the BMW Group has invested more than two billion pounds sterling in its production facilities in the United Kingdom. Recently, final assembly was expanded at the MINI Plant Oxford and a new paintshop was built. The latest investments have been channelled into the MINI Cooper SE. From November 2019, the first all-electric powered model manufactured by the brand will be produced at the MINI Plant Oxford.
Global growth strategy: Expansion of production capacities.
The models MINI 3 Door, MINI 5 Door and MINI Clubman are currently being produced at the MINI Plant Oxford. In order to take account of the continuous increase in demand, the BMW Group reached a decision in 2014 on contracted-out production of MINI models at the contract producer VDL Nedcar based in Born, Netherlands. MINI is therefore the only automaker to have series vehicles produced under contract manufacture in the Netherlands. The BMW Group benefits from the logistically advantageous location of the VDL Nedcar plant in the Born and its proximity to the British production triangle with locations in Oxford, Swindon and Hams Hall. The MINI Convertible and MINI Countryman models currently roll off the assembly line in Born.
In addition, the BMW Group and Chinese automobile manufacturer Great Wall concluded a joint-venture agreement in 2018. This covers a number of areas including the production of all-electric powered MINI vehicles for the Chinese market. A joint manufacturing facility is also scheduled for construction in the Chinese province of Jiangsu.
9. Individualists united! MINI fans are networked worldwide.
An active and truly versatile fan community all around the classic Mini was already established in the United Kingdom Great Britain, the home country of the classic Mini, way back in the 1960s. Right from the start, fans expressed their common interest in the car and the brand by exchanging knowledge and experience all about the Mini and its technical features. Due to the charming character of this small compact car, owners of a classic Mini strongly identified right from the start with both their car and the brand, sharing this enthusiasm in joint drive-aways and regular Mini meetings, with clubs originally organised on a local basis spreading wider and wider to bring together large regions.
A dynamic club scene also developed quite early on in Germany, gaining additional momentum through the re-launch of the brand and the introduction of the MINI. In the meantime, thousands of members are organised throughout Germany in more than 100 classic Mini communities and more than 50 MINI Clubs. Through their wide range of activities, these enthusiasts act as authentic ambassadors of the brand and competent partners for new fans of both the classic Mini and the MINI. Furthermore, MINI enthusiasts joined together to share activities in lots of other countries. The international MINI Community is a phenomenon without parallel in the world of the automobile. MINI owners are individualists and this is reflected in the styling and equipment of their vehicles geared to personal style. At the same time, they have much in common and this is expressed in exceptionally communicative engagement with each other and in enthusiasm for technology, motor sport, lifestyle and design.
MINI enthusiasts come together – online and in the street.
The Community became increasingly international with the general spread of modern means of communication. Upon the introduction of the MINI into the market in 2001, the brand was positioned with the same standard philosophy and spirit for the first time worldwide in all relevant markets. Above all, use of the internet had enhanced the options to interact across national borders and continents. Members of national MINI online communities foster contact with similar clubs throughout the world on the World Wide Web.
As in the past, real-life meetings which, thanks to the use of many communication channels and the support of MINI have taken on impressive dimensions, are naturally still among the highlights of all activities. In 2005, for example, MINI Germany, together with the national classic Mini and MINI Clubs, organised the first national meeting in Germany for fans of the brand. Back then more than 2,500 participants travelled to the National Meeting, heading for the Loreley Plateau on the River Rhine, where they enjoyed a highly entertaining programme with MINI Driver Training, a Design Workshop, meetings with Mike Cooper and rally legend Rauno Aaltonen, as well as the presentation of new versions of the MINI. A second meeting at the Hildesheim Aerodrome in 2008 proved even more successful, at least in terms of participation, with twice as many MINI enthusiasts from all over Germany attending the event.
The national and international activities in the British club scene are even more spectacular. In 1999, for example, more than 50,000 visitors attended the International Meeting in Goodwood celebrating the 40th birthday of the brand. In 2007 269 cars driving through Blackpool formed the longest MINI convoy the world has ever seen. Indeed, this unique parade was promptly entered in the Guinness Book of Records, breaking the former record set up by the MINI Club in Vancouver, Canada, when 195 cars had formed a similar convoy. The brand’s 50th birthday was celebrated at the MINI United Festival on the Formula 1 race track at Silverstone in Britain in 2009. Tens of thousands of fans enjoyed a varied mix somewhere between a lifestyle party and music festival, show programme and motor-sport action.
International Mini Meeting: Meeting point for fans of the British original for more than 40 years.
As a supplement to the market-specific activities in a large number of countries, the International Mini Meeting (IMM) has been held for the past 41 years. The IMM was launched on an initiative by German fans of the classic Mini. It was held for the first time in 1978 and since then it has developed into the world’s biggest annual event for the owners and friends of the classic Mini. Meanwhile, Mini Clubs in various European countries have taken on the role of host. At intervals of five years, the British homeland of the classic Mini and the MINI is the showplace for the IMM.
The focus of attention is always enthusiasm for the classic Mini and its exceptional history since 1959. The event is one of the highlights in the calendar of the international Mini Club scene. The participants undertake journeys over hundreds or even thousands of kilometres in order to present their lovingly maintained classic Mini or individually styled MINI to other enthusiasts, and to enjoy the togetherness experience of an exceptionally active community.
Happy invasion: MINI Takes The States.
Since 2006, MINI has been conquering the USA every two years. The rally MINI Takes The States is a happy invasion by thousands of MINI fans with their vehicles. They take part in a fun-loving and exciting tour over some 4 000 kilometres across the United States with lots of stops at famous sights and in major cities where MINI drivers present their vehicles, meet up at informal get-togethers and the massive convoy of varied classic Minis and MINIs continues to grow. The journey takes drivers along carefully selected routes and through some beautiful scenic countryside.
Apart from pure driving fun and the community event, the rally is also all about social engagement. A substantial portion of the starting fee is transferred to the aid organisation Feeding America, which provides meals free of charge for needy Americans. At the MINI Takes The States rally, which travelled from Portland in the far North West and Orlando in the South East to the meeting point at
Keystone / Colorado in the Rocky Mountains during the summer of 2018, donations for around 1.1 million meals were collected. The next MINI Takes The States Event will be held in 2020.
10. The car for all classes with the qualities of a star. MINI as a member of society.
Alec Issigonis saw the Mini from the start as a car for everybody – for all kinds of drivers and all social classes. He therefore sought, through the car he had created, to solve the everyday problems of individual mobility. With this in mind, the compact and economical Mini was exactly the right answer for increasingly dense traffic in the inner city and for the concerns at the time about the reduction of oil supplies following the Suez Crisis.
But soon it became clear that the Mini was much, much more. Its concept alone was so convincing that the car was seen and acknowledged as a trendsetter. Its sporting qualities made the Mini a genuine winner, its charming design made it incredibly popular throughout the population. So suddenly the Mini had become
a genuine cult, its innovative and non-conformist character perfectly reflecting the spirit of the 1960s, at a time when progressive concepts, the thrill of adventure, and even a certain lack of respect versus conventional values dominated the world. This was a car quite different from others but nevertheless offering more and providing even more fun – exactly the right car at the right time. Very quickly, therefore, fashion creators, musicians and other artists were captivated by the unique style of the Mini, stars discovering the qualities of the car and the world recognising the qualities of the Mini as a star itself.
Launched in 2001, the new MINI, a truly unique car just as popular and charming right from the beginning, quickly established a large, and, in particular, widespread fan community. All over the world, numerous celebrities now enjoy the agile driving pleasure offered by this modern and nimble performer. No surprise, therefore, that the MINI has already starred as the “leading car” in many Hollywood films. And it is also no surprise that the MINI is to be found in the private fleets of many famous actors, musicians, fashion designers and other stars in show business, society and sport.
Supported by the Queen herself.
The classic Mini quickly gained the reputation of a car for everybody on all levels of society. While Issigonis still regarded practical and economically-minded families seeking sensible mobility at low cost as his target group, he was also aiming at all levels of society as potential drivers of the Mini. Lord Snowdon, a good friend of Alec Issigonis, deserves the honour to have introduced the classic Mini into the society in London. One of the first owners of this small classic and completely thrilled by the car’s compact dimensions and excellent handling, Lord Snowdon soon became a common sight driving speedily through the British capital. As the husband of Princess Margaret, he obviously used his muscle, making sure that in 1960 Issigonis had the opportunity to present his small car to nobody else but his sister-in-law, Queen Elizabeth herself. So when the Queen took her seat next to Issigonis in the Mini, enjoying a lap through the big park of Windsor Castle, the classic Mini had really made a Royal breakthrough.
In the years to come the classic Mini became a genuine scene car particularly in Great Britain, gaining growing popularity throughout all levels of society, in all age groups, and with all nationalities. Time and again, prominent artists gave further momentum to the great reputation of this small performer. Fashion designers Paul Smith and Mary Quant discovered their love for the Mini, stars in the pop and rock scene such as The Beatles, Eric Clapton and David Bowie expressed a clear pledge to this small athlete from Britain.
Trends destined to soon influence not only the fashion, art or music scene worldwide, but also the world of politics and society, came out in full power from Swinging London in the 1960s. Paul Smith, who, among other achievements, became Britain’s most famous designer of men’s fashion by combining classic designs with modern, in many cases very bright and almost screaming colours, even created a limited Special Edition of the Mini in the 1990s. A unique, one-off Mini boasting paintwork created by Smith in his typical multi-colour stripe livery became at least as popular as this special series, even though it was built only once.
Mary Quant, the style icon of British women’s fashion and the inventor of the mini-skirt, was also inspired by the classic Mini. Shortly after she received her driver’s licence, she ordered a black Mini and later created her own Special Edition characterised by features such as the seat upholstery in black-and-white stripes. And she was just as thrilled by the new MINI: “A really fashionable, happy and smiling car”.
“Keep on Running!” – the Mini and rock’n’roll.
The British music scene in the 1960s had the same broad impact as the British world of fashion, musicians from Britain presenting that unique and unmistakable British style in truly revolutionary songs. And with the Mini offering very similar style and character, the stars were obviously thrilled by the new car. So bands like The Beatles, The Who or The Spencer Davis Group as ambassadors of a new British culture gaining growing popularity the world over also helped to promote the Mini and its unique image.
The legends and stories all about the Mini and its role as a means of transport for the stars remain fascinating to this very day. In 1964, for example, John Lennon ordered a Mini although at the time he did not even have a driver’s licence. His colleague George Harrison lent his Mini to Eric Clapton in 1967 and only got it back three years later. And the story about Spencer Davis is that he wrote the biggest hit his band ever had while driving through the night in the rainy Scottish Highlands on an almost empty tank. That was when, looking at the fuel gauge, only one thought went through his mind: “Keep on Running!”
In 1966, the Beach Boys from California in the US took their surfer sound on an international tour and posed in front of a Mini Moke in the United Kingdom. The picture of the Californian musicians and the beach buggy emblazoned with the name of the band went all over the world. At around the same time, American band The Monkees reached the peak of its popularity. A photo from this era shows guitarist and singer Michael Nesmith together with his wife Phyllis looking out through the folding roof of a Mini into the camera directed towards the couple from above.
Roll the film: the classic Mini takes care of the “Italian Job” and is later followed by the MINI.
Nobody knows how often the classic Mini served in films and television as a means of transport or as the star in the background. It is to be admired, at any rate, in the 1966 cult classic “Blow Up” and of course in countless TV and cinema appearances by comedian Rowan Atkinson better known as Mr Bean. A Mini Moke even starred in the James Bond thriller “Live and Let Die”. In 1973, Roger Moore embarked on a wild car chase in the beach buggy during his first appearance as agent 007. The classic Mini is also one of the very few British small cars ever to play a leading role in the cinema, for example in the 1969 classic “The Italian Job” starring Michael Caine. The whole film virtually revolves around only one subject, a wild pursuit through Torino with three Mini Coopers. No surprise, therefore, that immediately after the film had premiered Rover launched a special series of classic Minis finished like the film stars themselves and proudly bearing the title of the film. “The Italian Job” came back to the silver screen no less than 34 years later, this time starring Charlize Theron and Mark Wahlberg in the new version from Hollywood, presenting the story of a spectacular gold robbery in even more powerful and dramatic style. When “casting” the four-wheeled stars in the film the producer’s and director’s choice – obviously! – was to go for the new MINI Cooper S now able to present its agility and sporting performance not only on the streets of Los Angeles, but even below the streets of the city.
A year earlier the MINI Cooper had already shown its qualities as the ideal car for wild pursuits in the agents’ comedy “Goldmember”. In choosing the stars for his production, script writer and leading actor Mike Myers had picked not only an unusual line-up of Hollywood stars – ranging from Steven Spielberg to Tom Cruise, Michael Caine, Robert Wagner, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Spacey, John Travolta and all the way to Beyoncé Knowles and Ozzy Osborne – but also six MINI Coopers in Union Jack livery. In the meantime, the MINI Convertible has also made its way to Hollywood, winning over the hearts of movie-goers once and for all in the year 2007. This was in the comedy “The Heartbreak Kid”, in which Malin Akerman and Ben Stiller went on their honeymoon journey in a MINI Convertible. Obviously, on the way this open four-seater became the scene for all kinds of wonderful debates and amusing stories involving the newly-wed on their trip together. A Hollywood career is also being pursued by the latest MINI generation. Four MINI Cooper S 3 Door models appeared in the science fiction comedy “PIXELS” driven by the main protagonists Adam Sandler, Peter Dinklage, Denis Akiyama and Josh Gad, with the aim of protecting the world against invaders from outer space in the form of video-game characters.
11. Small car, great show. MINI Marketing.
The MINI always hits the headlines wherever it appears – even before a new model is introduced into the market. Innovative marketing campaigns always good for a surprise and generating great appeal present both the MINI brand and the individual models with their full impact.
MINI marketing uses an exceptionally wide range of communication channels to establish close contacts with potential target groups. Supplementing classic activities in print media, on the radio and television, MINI’s marketing experts developed innovative online activities right from the start tailored precisely to the modern, trend-minded and technology-oriented user of the world wide web and taking the options of interactive communication with the public into account. This approach empowers MINI to continuously generate new momentum in automobile construction and in the world of marketing.
The classic Mini – the “Most Exciting Car in the World”.
Innovative, self-confident, charming: right from the start the classic Mini clearly presented its exceptional character not only on the road, but also in a close dialogue with the public. From the early years classic marketing concepts were used consistently to present the special features of this revolutionary small car in truly convincing style. With a twinkle in the eye, even the very first sales brochures emphasised that the whole world had been waiting for the “Incredible Austin Seven”, the letter “v” in “Seven” being replaced by the number “7”. And the Austin’s sister model, the Morris Mini-Minor, was presented just as proudly as the “Most Exciting Car in the World”.
The Mini marketing experts also kept a close eye on the worldwide success of television, carefully using this new media also for the Mini. Special TV commercials were therefore produced for various purposes in the market, in all cases emphasising selected facets of the Mini’s character and naturally considering the cultural context of the local public. Whether as the perfect solution for congested traffic in downtown Paris or as the ideal means of transport to the beach in Australia – the Mini was always presented as the right car at the right place. Even in a cartoon it proudly presented its superiority, full of humour and again with that famous tongue-in-cheek style.
Making a new start with innovative ideas.
The re-launch of the brand in 2001 also marked a new beginning in marketing carefully prepared in parallel to the development of the car as such. The main challenge was to establish MINI as the first premium brand in the small car segment, with MINI to be positioned worldwide as a unique and fully independent brand in its own right – a brand revolving around the concept of enthusiasm and thrilling lifestyle.
These principles of brand management remain unchanged to this day, with the MINI characterised by its outstanding product substance and progressive technology, emotional design and agile driving behaviour as well as almost unlimited options in customising the car. A further significant point is finding the right balance of continuity of a brand now going back 60 years and its innovative capacities. Introducing the MINI, customers the world over for the first time had the opportunity to experience premium qualities in a small car. These outstanding qualities and features are indeed to be found in every model made by the brand, at the same time distinguishing MINI clearly from the competition. The same applies to the brand’s appearance in public, where all marketing tools follow a unique, consistently recognisable style. Graphic elements, colours, the language of pictures and the MINI concept conveyed in words and pictures are clearly defined. MINI is refreshingly different. Through its openness and self-confidence, the brand gains great acceptance, through its appearance it arouses curiosity
To arouse the attention of the target group in mind right from the start prior to the market launch of the MINI, the responsible marketing experts have been taking a new approach in communication from the beginning. The magazine “MINI international”, for example, regularly portrays selected cities around the globe, focusing on their particularly creative inhabitants. Apart from classic communication, other innovative forms of communication such as “guerrilla marketing” have always been implemented right from the start. In 2000, MINI
was the first car brand to use the internet not only as an information source, but also as a positioning medium.
Always good for a surprise: Creative campaigns with powerful impact.
In 2013, the brand continued the tradition of unconventional and humorous promotions in a broad range of communication channels with the campaign to promote the market launch of the new MINI. The launch campaign kicks off centred around elaborately produced TV commercials. Tongue-in-cheek stories showcase the unique driving fun offered by the brand as well as the powerful emotional bond established between drivers and their MINI. A familiar co-star with the fans of the brand will appear alongside the brand new MINI: the English Bulldog Spike. Individual lifestyle, enthusiasm for driving fun, innovative technology and a sense of quirkiness are highlighted in the TV commercial, which is shot with various endings. On his first trip in the new MINI, bulldog Spike gets to know and appreciate all the main strengths of the newest member of the British small car family.
The MINI Design Team also created a sensation with some exceptional happenings at Milan’s Salone del Mobile in 2013. Das MINI Design Team staged the MINI Paceman as a dynamic sculpture. The MINI KAPOOOW! installation was conceived in two parts in which the MINI Paceman broke through spatial boundaries and experienced a transformation of materials and forms. Athletic agility empowered the MINI Paceman to make the leap into a universe where colours and materials undergo transformation and open up unimaginable experiential spaces. The first phase showed the rear end of the MINI Paceman as a highly dynamic sculpture. It was presented as a chrome-plated authentic vehicle and then began to undergo metamorphosis. The individual parts of the vehicle appeared to fly apart. In the second phase, the MINI Paceman broke through a boundary in the middle of the space. In this new dimension, the vehicle changed its original form and the front end became an idea made of paper. The material of paper was presented as a metaphor for “prototyping” in the creative process.
Powered by a sustainable drivetrain through North, Central and South America: With the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 on the Panamericana.
The Panamericana is one of the last big automobile adventures. In 2018, three models of the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4$ with plug-in hybrid drives took on an intercontinental road trip along the world’s longest north-south road route in order to prove just how tough sustainability can be. The journey along the historic dream route – 17 000 kilometres from Dallas in the US State of Texas to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina – took them through different climate zones, across dense jungle and over challenging high-altitude mountain passes. Along with well-built highways, the three plug-in-hybrid models also had to contend with parts of the route network comprising dirt tracks and narrow mountain passes.
In 2018, the spectacular feat showcased MINI and the qualities of the electric power unit in those countries where awareness of sustainable mobility is only coming slowly to the fore. At the same time, these countries are being particularly affected by the consequences of climate change.
12. Inspiring Character. MINI lifestyle and special editions.
Creating something very special on the basis of a car already very special – this is the hallmark of the special editions, limited editions and one-off showpieces built time and again in the last sixty years first on the basis of the classic Mini and then on the basis of the new MINI. This is not surprising, considering that this unique small car has fascinated and inspired artists in all disciplines time and again, fashion designers and painters as well as actors and musicians showing their creativity in designing and creating very special versions of the brand.
No other car has become the object of art and fashion as often and in the same diversity as the classic Mini and the MINI. Indeed, specialists discovered the potential of the classic Mini very early on, adorning the car both outside and inside with exclusive special features tailored to individual customer requests.
On behalf of affluent and prominent customers, they therefore created spectacular special models enhancing the cult status of the Mini to an even higher level.
Mini in noble style: the Wickerwork Look.
British actor Peter Sellers was one of the first celebrities thrilled by the Mini and seeking to live out their sense for exclusive style. So giving the originally rather spartan small car particular sophisticated features within the interior and finishing the body in wickerwork design, Sellers promptly started a new trend. Indeed, this design later thrilled Rainier of Monaco to such an extent that he also had a classic Mini built in wickerwork trim as his own very special toy.
Other special versions of the classic Mini likewise remained unique, one-off models being built for many years to the individual taste of their future owners. In fact, it was only in the 1970s that Mini had the idea to offer Special Editions straight from the factory in response to frequent requests for a truly exclusive model. The first car of this kind, the Mini Limited Edition 1000, immediately proved a success in 1976. On its 25th birthday in 1984, the Mini for the first time appeared as an Anniversary Model, with further Anniversary Models then following every five years until production of the classic Mini finally ceased in
the year 2000.
Silver and gold on the car’s 40th birthday.
In the last few years of its production life, the classic Mini again attracted great attention on the part of creative artists. In 1997, for example, British fashion designer Paul Smith created a one-off model boasting unmistakable stripe livery.
A year later Smith designed a Special Edition Mini standing out both through its brilliant blue paintwork and straightforward elegance within the interior.
Celebrating its 40th birthday, the Mini became the subject of passion among an illustrious group of artists, each giving this forever-young small performer their very own, truly unique design look. Super-model Kate Moss, for example, who had already been driving a classic Mini in London for a long time, opted for a cobweb motif, while pop icon Davie Bowie had a Mini manufactured all in chrome and
with reflecting glass surfaces. On the road, however, Bowie decided to stick to his regular production model he had bought only recently: “When it comes to parking the Mini is like a sandwich when you feel hungry – it is a perfectly designed classic”. Actor Michael Caine, to quote another example, gave his black Mini a
gold bar look alluding to the successful film “The Italian Job” in which Caine was involved in three Mini Coopers used to transport gold in one of the most spectacular pursuits in the history of the cinema.
A hit right from the start: the new MINI inspires pop musicians.
After the re-launch of the brand, the MINI again attracted the attention of fashion designers and many other artists almost over night. Celebrating the market launch of the MINI, the musicians of Jamiroquai created a one-off showpiece of the new MINI, Jay Kay, the group’s singer and a thrilled fan of stylish cars, adorning the MINI, among other features, with the group’s logo on its doors and bonnet as well as the name “Jamiromini”.
In one of her music videos, Madonna had a MINI Cooper converted for offroad use, the car giving up its doors but instead receiving offroad tyres and camouflage paintwork. Highlighting the start of sales of the first-generation MINI Convertible in 2004, designers at Bisazza, the Italian lifestyle label, had the idea to present this open four-seater in a dress made of tiny mosaic stones. Indeed, no less than three MINI Cooper S Convertibles as well as two fixed-roof models received this magnificent look in individual style and colours, with more than 30,000 glass stones used on each car.
MINI, fashion, and charity: showing social commitment at the Life Ball.
Joining forces with renowned artists, MINI has been committed for twelve years to the largest charity event in Europe, the Life Ball held annually in Vienna and generating revenues for national and international aids care projects. The event thus serves to support projects committed to enlightenment, medical research, and the treatment of HIV patients. Contributing to these projects, every year MINI has presented a special one-off model from the current portfolio finished in unique style by fashion designers.
The succession of Life Ball cars started just a few months after the official market launch of the new MINI with a car covered entirely by red fabric. A year later a MINI One proudly bearing the autographs of numerous celebrities made its appearance at the Life Ball. Since 2003, major fashion designers have given the MINI their special touch. The first of these designers was Angelo Missoni adorning a MINI Cooper with countless flower motifs. In 2004 Gianfranco Ferré gave a red MINI Convertible a truly impressive crocodile look, with a MINI Cooper Convertible in Donatella Versace’s exclusive blossom look following in 2005, its interior also highlighting that typical Versace style, with gold-coloured seams on the black leather seats and Swarovski crystals on the gearshift lever.
In 2006 another MINI Cooper Convertible made its appearance on stage at the Life Ball Gala in Vienna, this time in the trendy jeans look of the Diesel fashion label. And the 2008 Life Ball MINI, finally, proudly came in the provocative pin-up look of lingerie label Agent Provocateur. In 2013, Roberto and Eva Cavalli unveiled the Life Ball MINI 2013 refined by fashion designer Cavalli. Since 2002 the cars provided by MINI have been auctioned after the Life Ball Gala, with proceeds going to aids projects.
Architectural solutions for urban worlds of living: MINI defines life in the city.
“Creative Use of Space” lies at the core of the MINI brand. As early as 1959, the classic Mini offered an ingenious solution for one of the most pressing problems of that era – urban mobility at an affordable price. The solution was a vehicle that made the most of its potential and provided maximum driving fun on a minimal traffic footprint. The classic Mini demonstrated that even a small car can be exceptionally exciting and it went on to influence urban mobility for generations to come. Today, one of the biggest challenges in major cities is finding attractive and affordable living space. Once again, the solution here is: “Creative Use of Space”. Since 2016, the brand has used its initiative MINI LIVING to demonstrate how this principle can be transferred to urban living space. MINI LIVING adopts
a creative approach to the challenge in large cities – and presents architectural solutions for urban living worlds of the future.
MINI has joined forces with Chinese property developer NOVA Property Investment Co. to create the world’s first MINI LIVING building in Shanghai. The project is based on an innovative co-living concept. MINI is creating a vibrant urban neighbourhood out of a group of six buildings right at the centre of the city. This was previously a disused industrial complex in an upcoming part of the city’s famous Jing’An district. An urban hotspot is rising out of a former paint factory with lots of space for working, networking and living. The project is developing apartments of different sizes for singles, flat shares or families to rent on a short, medium or long-term basis. Anything that does not fit into the apartments themselves, whether this relates to activities or facilities, can take place or be accommodated in the community spaces. Generous lobbies, exhibition areas and a food court are an invitation to linger and spend time relaxing. The package is completed by gardens, play areas, shops and restaurants that will also be accessible to the general public. The idea of MINI LIVING is that sharers will get more out of life – to the advantage of the residents and the entire city. Digital booking of services complements the package. For example, the residents can make restaurant reservations, order food, or call up room cleaning and service, and book vehicles for shared use. MINI LIVING is demonstrating an intelligent approach to space and is also developing new opportunities for individual and at the same time communal life in the city.
13. A Question of Style. THE MINI Lifestyle collection.
Driving fun in the MINI is fascinating. But the unique feeling so typical of the MINI goes much, much further. And to express his or her passion for unmistakable style also off the road, the genuine enthusiast will find lots of options in the MINI Lifestyle Collection. This unique Collection comprises fashion, jewellery, accessories and lots of lifestyle products which make it easier not only for the MINI driver to clearly express his or her individual style. Technology, innovation, fun and quality are the primary features offered by the MINI Lifestyle Collection. And like the MINI model range, the MINI Lifestyle Collection is constantly growing and becoming increasingly versatile. New models and new lifestyle products, therefore, enable the connoisseur to enjoy the typical feeling of MINI in a growing number of situations.
On its route in becoming an international best seller in all classes and on all levels of society, the classic Mini in its day already inspired the world of fashion time and again. Renowned designers created individual, one-off models with exceptional body paintwork and interior features. In the 1970s the Mini finally proceeded from the garage to the houses of its fans everywhere – as a miniature model for the children’s room or as a collector’s item for the display cabinet.
Introducing the MINI, the Company also decided to start the unique MINI Lifestyle Collection. And from the beginning, this exclusive line-up of outstanding products was characterised by stylish, cosmopolitan and highly appealing as well as truly surprising details. The MINI Lifestyle Collection takes up the latest exciting trends time and again, continuing and enhancing these trends in the typical style of the brand.
MINI all the way: imaginative, versatile, unmistakable.
In their drafts for the MINI Lifestyle Collection, the most outstanding designers focus not only on the latest fashion trends, but also on the design language and lines of the various MINI models. Indeed, the cars also set the foundation for the various products through their colours and materials, helping to create a product portfolio typical of the brand and truly versatile in every respect, and constantly introducing new ideas to remain absolutely unique. Yet a further highlight in
the current range is the John Cooper Works Collection comprising both fashion products and accessories as an expression of the brand’s sporting spirit also beyond the race track.
The MINI Lifestyle Collection: starring at fashion events and on the cinema screen.
The MINI Lifestyle Collection has already become a highlight in the fashion scene and is to be admired regularly at the most outstanding fashion events. One of these events is the renowned BREAD & BUTTER fashion show in Barcelona, where the MINI Lifestyle Collection has already been presented on various occasions. Other, comparable events likewise provide the ideal setting time and again for the MINI brand. Like the MINI itself, the products in the MINI Lifestyle Collection have also made it to the cinema screen, with numerous performances in many productions. The MINI Cuckoo Clock and the MINI Baby Racer, for example, played important roles in the Disney production Lily the Witch – the Dragon and the Magical Book. Together with the leading female star Alina Freund, the animated dragon Hector showed his great interest in the MINI Lifestyle Collection in this cinema production of the famous children’s book. In particular he loved the MINI Baby Racer that enabled him to get around in fast and furious style.
MINI Feeling everywhere – the current MINI Lifestyle Collection.
A clearly defined language of form, inimitable design and high-quality materials are the hallmark of the current MINI Lifestyle Collection 2018–2020. It offers a diverse selection of products that make the complex everyday routine simpler, more enriched or enhanced, and they embody the essence of the MINI brand – even beyond the vehicles themselves. The collection includes more than 100 items and encompasses clothing through accessories, bags and luggage to articles for children and mobility products.
The visual profile of the MINI Lifestyle Collection 2018-2020 features two new impressive accent colours “Island” and “Coral”. The contemporary shade of blue “Island” melds with the exterior colour of “Island Blue” from the current MINI Countryman. The bright shade of red “Coral” provides the ideal hue to complement this livery and defines a fresh accent. The two accent colours are a perfect foil in interplay with the basic colours of Black, White and Grey.
The product selection of the current MINI Lifestyle Collection ranges from the popular logo T-shirts, polo shirts and sweatshirts, through the MINI Logo Patch Sweatshirt Kids with practical kangaroo pocket and caps, to bags and suitcases of different sizes. Then there are also stylish accessories such as umbrellas, Bluetooth Speakers, watches, sunglasses and travel mugs, the MINI Cloth-Bound Notebook, the MINI Fountain Pen and the MINI Tea Maker. The range for younger MINI fans includes the MINI Bulldog and the MINI Puzzle Set. Juniors can experience different versions of driving fun with the MINI Pull Toy Car, the remote-controlled MINI Countryman RC and the MINI Tricycle. In addition, the MINI 60 Years Lifestyle Collection was created in celebration of the landmark anniversary, including special designer items in the style of the British brand.
All products in the MINI Lifestyle Collection are marketed worldwide through the MINI dealer network.
Come and celebrate 60 Years of iconic creativity and trailblazing driving fun with MINI. #LiveMINI, and join the celebrations on 31 August 2019 at the Cradle Pavilion, Cradle Boutique Hotel. Gates open at 12:00, and tickets are on sale now.