It’s 60 years ago today that Alec Issigonis’ Mini was first revealed, changing the car world for ever with its innovative design and compact dimensions. Happy Birthday Mini.
It’s easy to forget, exactly 60 years on from the day the Mini was first revealed, just how innovative it was.
Not only did Alec Issigonis’ Mini look like nothing else, with its tiny two-box shape and Tardis-like interior, it was truly innovative under the skin.
It had something we now take for granted in compact cars – a transversely-mounted engine and front-wheel drive – although that did cause a few problems.
The radiator was mounted at the side of the engine instead of at the front, so its cooling air was rather warm when it arrived, and the whole ignition system was pretty much open to the elements at the front. Which wasn’t great when it was wet. It also had a gearbox which shared the engine’s oil, which wasn’t an ideal solution.
But the Mini was a huge success, spawning model after model along the way, from the original Mini to the Cooper and Copper S, a Mini Van, a Mini Traveller, a Mini Moke, a Mini Pick-up and more, travelling through seven iterations in its lifetime and spawning the Wolseley Hornet and Riley Elf too.
The Mini, in its original form, lasted until 2000, in the process becoming a symbol of the swinging 60s and the first properly ‘classless’ car, cementing itself in the public’s consciousnesses for ever in the Italian Job.
The new BMW MINI was revealed soon after the original Mini ceased production in 2000, since when it’s gone through two further iterations and added almost as many variants as the original Mini (and far more ‘special’ editions), including the Hatch, Cooper models, Convertibles, Clubman and the very un-MINI Countryman.
Happy Birthday Mini. Here’s to the next 60 years.