MINI will be celebrating a century of car production in Oxford on 28th March 2013, 100 years since the first Bullnose Morris Oxford was produced.
If you think of Oxford you think of Oxford University (or maybe Inspector Morse and his Mk II Jag if you only think ‘Petrol’) as defining the City. But actually, car production has probably done more for the wider community – in terms of jobs and security – than the university has.
It’s 100 years since the first Bullnose Morris Oxford rolled out on 28th March 1903, since when 11,655,000 cars have been built – with as many as 28,000 people employed in its heyday – and even Tiger Moth planes and Iron Lungs built alongside 80,000 repairs to Spitfires and Hurricanes during WWII.
What is now MINI’s Plant Oxford was founded by William Morris – and Morris Motors kept control until 1952 – and has been owned and run by BMC, then British Motor Holdings (when Jaguar arrived), British Leyland (when Leyland Trucks, Triumph and Rover joined), nationalisation in the 1970s saw a variety of names, Rover Group arrived in 1986 and was subsequently privatised and sold in 1994 to BMW.
BMW kept MINI but ultimately sold off Rover and Land Rover (which they probably regret now – well, Land Rover at least), since when MINI has produced an astonishing 2,250,000 new MINIs.
During the 100 years of Plant Oxford there have been a huge variety of cars produced, and not just obvious ones. They include:
- Bullnose’ Morris Oxford 1913-26
- Morris Minor 1928-32
- Morris Eight 1935-48
- Morris Minor 1948-71
- Morris Oxford III 1956-58
- BMC Mini 1959-68
- BMC 1100/1300 1962-74
- Austin Healey Sprite/MG Midget 1966
- Morris Marina 1971-80
- Rover 800 1986-9/Honda Legend 1986-8
- Rover 75 1999-2000
- MINI 2001 to date
Now, with MINI investing a big chunk of a £750 million budget on the next generation MINI in Oxford, Plant Oxford moves in to its second century probably in the best shape of its long life.
Which makes the celebration of 100 years of car building in Oxford even more pleasing.