Smaller can be better.
This car was voted as the second most influential car of the twentieth century, right behind the Ford Model T but one spot ahead of the Volkswagen Beetle. It’s considered to be iconic in British popular culture, and that culture has extended around the world.
The Mini is a little economy car that was originally produced by the British Motor Company, or BMC. In 2000, the Mini brand was sold to BMW, who has manufactured it since that time.
The Mini was first produced in 1959, and from the very start, it was a huge hit.
What made the car different was its unique design. The car had a space-saving layout with a transverse engine, which allowed it to be considerably smaller than other vehicles. Eighty percent of the space in the car was able to be used for carrying passengers and luggage, far more than was the case for other vehicles.
This innovative layout would go on to influence the car designs of other brands that followed. Its two-door, unique design came from the mind of Sir Alec Issigonis.
Sir Alec Issigonis as a Greek/British car designer who was born in 1906 in the Ottoman Empire. His parents were British subjects that were a part of the Greek community in what is today modern Turkey. Issigonis went to university in England at the University of London, where he studied engineering.
The development of racing cars was where Issigonis found himself following his studies. He would go on to design a whole range of cars for Morris Motors before landing at BMC. It’s there that he developed his designs for the Mini. The driving force behind this car was the need for a smaller but functional vehicle that could bear the weight of the fuel crisis of the late 1950s.
The success of the Mini led Issigonis to higher positions within BMC, though eventually he was pushed out. He worked in some capacity with the company until his death.
His visionary status within the car design world and his Greek origin led him to have the nickname “the Greek god” within his niche.
Making the Mini
The Mini’s popularity has led it to be a car across continents. At times, it has been manufactured in England, Australia, South Africa, Malta, Chile, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Venezuela, Yugoslavia, India, and Uruguay.
There were more than five million of the original two-door models sold around the world, but today the United States is the largest market for the BMW Mini brand.
Though the Mini is most famous in its car form, there have been many variations on its design over the years. These include the two-door saloon, the two-door estate, the two-door van, and the two-door coupe utility. All of them share the distinct design, functionality, and fuel efficiency of the original Mini.
The car isn’t just available off the assembly line, a factor that has made it even more customizable. The Mini has more than one hundred and twenty kits, which allow consumers to choose their own features and build these little cars themselves. Mini kits have been a big part of the company’s success.
Today, the Mini is manufactured and sold by BMW, who has updated and refined both the style of the car and its branding. The car is available in a convertible format as well as hardtop editions. Distinct painted stripes are a new hallmark of the BMW Mini. As times have changed, the Mini has fundamentally stayed true to its style and its substance, even through changes in ownership. The magic of the Mini is still capturing the imagination of consumers have for more than fifty years.