Celebrating the Mini: The emergence of an automotive icon
The Mini, a mainstay of the automotive world and a car that is universally loved. From the small screen to the big screen, from the road to the rally stages, the Mini has certainly been there and done that. This versatility has allowed itself to become not only an automotive icon but a machine that plays a major part in car culture.
Set the scene. It’s the swinging 60’s, Beatle mania has taken hold across the nation, as Britain is recovering in its post-war years, and just a few years earlier Britain’s first motorway had opened. Brits were starting to become more mobile and car ownership was starting to become a real possibility for the masses. Couple this increasing demand for car ownership, and the recent fuel shortage caused by the 1956 Suez Crisis, and you had car manufacturers at this time scratching their heads as to how to take advantage of this environment.
The answer was the Mini. Produced by British Motor Corporation (BMC), the Mini was the brainchild, of now renowned, designer Sir Alec Issigonis. With sales of fuel rationed, sales of larger cars slumped and with its frugal engines and small size, it was only natural that the Mini quickly became a popular machine when it first rolled off the production line in the early 60’s. Whilst buyers shirked larger cars, the Mini still offered buyers a versatile vehicle.
Whilst at first glance space may have been at a premium, in the Mini it actually wasn’t the case thanks in part to Issigonis’ intelligent design. It featured a groundbreaking concept in which the engine was mounted transversely with its front wheel layout which allowed for 80 per cent of the car’s floor pan to be used for passengers and luggage.
Couple it’s frugal yet, capable engine to its ability to carry passengers and luggage in equal comfort, it’s eye-catching styling and it’s not hard to see why the Mini quickly developed an army of dedicated fans.
This image was further enhanced as it was the car of choice in the 1960’s crime caper The Italian Job. The film, starring the legendary Michael Caine, saw a trio of Mini’s play getaway cars in an audacious gold heist which saw a car chase sequence play out in the heart of Italy’s capital, Turin.
Subsequently, the Mini gained further appeal as it was driven to Monte Carlo rally success by racing driver Paddy Hopkirk. Finished in the iconic red livery with a white roof, the legendary 57 machine was expertly piloted to a popular victory and still to this day is still considered a rallying great. It’s agile and nimble chassis allowing it to take on and beat the larger heavyweights of the day.
Whilst the Mini recipe remained virtually unchanged for decades, the early 2000’s saw the Mini name sold off to Germany’s BMW. Shortly after, the German marque brought the Mini back up to date to much critical acclaim. Still produced out of Oxford’s Cowley plant where the original Mini was first produced, the reborn Mini stays true to its roots with its styling and mechanical philosophy.
At Big Motoring World we are now delighted to be able to stock a range of fantastic BMW Mini’s at our recently refurbished and reopened West Malling centre. You can browse our extensive selection on our website here, or alternatively why not pays us a visit, we’d be pleased to meet you.