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Austin Mini

Austin Mini (United Kingdom, 1967-1989)

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60s Icon

The original Mini was debuted in 1959 and became an instant hit. Its popularity has granted him the several titles, as “Car of the Century”, “Number One Classic Car of All Time” and “European Car of the Century”, among others.

It all started with a fuel shortage in 1956, because of the crisis over the Suez Canal. With rationed petrol on the UK, the sales of larger cars plunged while the German miniature cars’ were growing.

Mini was the project 15 of Austin Drawing Office and was internally known as ADO15. The original version, two doors, was designed by Sir Alec Issigonis. The biggest innovation of the vehicle was the fact that despite its small size, 80% of the car’s floorpan could be used for passengers or luggage.

5,387,862 cars were produced all over the world: England, Australia, Spain, Belgium, Chile, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, Uruguay, Venezuela and Yugoslavia.

Mini wasn’t the first name of this model. When launched, it was marketed has Austin and Morris. Austin Seven (SE7EN) and Morris Mini-Minor in United Kingdom and Australia were the first names of this model, but there were local variations. It was known as Austin Partner and Morris Mascot in Denmark and Austin 850 and Morris 850 in United States of America and Canada.

The name Mini was used for the fist time in 1962, when a new version was launched to replace the Austin Seven. The model was then rebranded as Austin Mini and nowadays it’s only referred as Mini. 

This economic car has established itself has an icon not only because of its popularity as a small car, but also due its numerous limited editions that were aimed at the upper classes. Peter Sellers and The Beatles had customized versions.

After the turbulent times of merges between companies that owned Mini rights, they ended up in BMW hands that used its name to launch a new model in 2001.

Mini has established its name in car history and has several awards to prove it:

  • “Car of the Century”, attributed by Autocar magazine in 1995,
  • “Number One Classic Car of All Time” given by Classic & Sports Car magazine in 1996,
  • "European Car of the Century" an internet poll organized by Global Automotive Elections Foundation in 1999,
  • Number two spot on the list of most influential car of the 20th Century, behind the Ford Model T.

 

Being an english car, with a lot of followers in its country of origin, one might think that Mini was more popular in the UK than in any other place. But it were the Japanese the ones that have bought more classic Minis than anyone else

 


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Engine and Transmission

Created to face the petrol crisis, the Mini was extremely economical, 1 litre of petrol last 17 km, in the 850 cc version.

Engines:

  • 850 to 1275 cc I4


Transmissions:

  • 4-speed manual
  • 4-speed automatic
  • 5 speed manual (some models only)

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Body and Design

When Mini was though, or correctly, project 15, the intention wasn’t creating a style. The main focus was to make it functional and cheap. But little did Issigonis knew, Mini would set the trend on small cars. Even the acclaimed car designer Pininfarina as said that the Mini was impossible to improve.

The thing that set Mini apart from most small vehicles was its clever use of the inside space. Issigonis designed a clean shelf facing the driver and holes under the rear seats with little baskets. The maximization of the space was thought to the last detail, and even the seats had a more vertical position than normal to make them less roomy. Big doors make the access to the car easier. The car had 3 meters and 10 inch wheels.


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Motorsport

The Mini is a winner when it comes to motorsport. The first major rally win was in 1962 at the Tulip Rally in a 997cc Mini Cooper, driven by Pat Moss. The Mini Cooper S won three times the famous Rally of Montecarlo in 64, 65 and 67. Other versions also had two third places, two fourth places and a fifth place in 1968.


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Trivia

Icons eventually make their way into cinema and Mini wasn’t exception. From Italian Job in 1969 to The Bourne Identity in 2002, Mini has made an appearance in many different movies. In TV, Mini is almost a character in Mr. Bean‘s show.

The record for most people to fit into a classic Mini at one time is currently 21. The record was set by Malaysian students and two of them were in the boot.

If you parked all the Minis ever made end to end, the line would stretch from London to Sydney - over 10,000 miles.


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you might want to read about:
Austin


Herbert Austin was born in 1866 as son of a farmer and died in 1941 as Baron Austin of Longbridge. And he owed all to cars. At the age of 39, after managing the Wolseley Tool and Motor Car Company, Herbert Austin decided it was time to have its own carmaker and founded the Austin Motor Company at Longbridge. The first model Austin produced was a 5-litre four-cylinder with chain drive. On the first year, he sold 23 cars and on the following he raised the bar to 147. The I World War cha...  more
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