MINI – A British Design Classic

There are few vehicles that manage to stand the test of time quite as well as a MINI. For more than half a century, this beautiful motor has been the epitome of British motoring – despite numerous changes in brand ownership and overall design philosophy.

If you’re looking at buying a new MINI then you may be interested in learning the story behind this British design classic. Let’s take a look.

Mini (1)You may be familiar with who a MINI looks today and although the style hasn’t changed that drastically compared to some vehicle ranges, the origin of this little car is still fascinating.

Sir Alex Issigonis was the mastermind behind its creation and was a respected man with plenty of experience in the automotive industry. Starting off by working for manufactures Humber, Austin and Morris Motors Ltd, he was responsible for working on a number of famous cars including the classic Morris Minor.

However, it was in 1955 that he was recruited by the British Motor Corporation – the original developer of the MINI –and was charged with designing a new range of car models. The MINI was born from this assignment but before it was a brand in its own right, it took the name of other popular car ranges by being labelled the Morris Mini Minor and the Austin Seven.

Renamed as the Austin Mini in 1961, the brand ditched its Austin precursor before the dawn of the 70s.

Mini (2)In the years that followed, MINIs were produced at various factories by a range of different firms – from BMC to Leyland and then the Rover Group who were bought out by BMW in 1994. This gave them ownership of the MINI brand and although they sold the Rover Group in 2000, BMW decided to keep the MINI brand.

From here, a new breed of the car was born with a variety of upgrades made. The ACV30 concept model of the 90s introduced rounded headlights and a distinctive white roof – two features that MINI owners were to see more of in the future.

Mini (3)The MINI family expanded to offer three- and five-door options as well as the classic two-door set up from its origins. Sportier and convertible models also joined the party, with 2006 a big year for new MINI releases. It was here that the MINI Cooper models were launched with their sportier profiles and was also the year that brought us the quirkier MINI Clubman.

Move forward another few years and the crossover model – the MINI Countryman – was launched in 2010. Although it was manufactured outside of England, the car still retained the British charm of the originals.

Mini (4)With such strong histories and credentials, it’s hardly surprising that the MINI is responsible for completely revolutionising the small car market by becoming one of the best-selling British cars in history.