If ever there was an iconic British car, this is it …
I was surprised when I started writing this article that fuel shortages are nothing new. It was one in 1956 that was the push British Motor Corp. needed to develop the Mini. Introduced in 1959, it was the car’s space-saving transverse engine and front-wheel drive layout – allowing 80% of the car’s floor pan to be used for passengers and luggage, that influenced a generation of car makers.
So Sir Leonard Lord of the Morris Co. issued his top engineer, Alec Issigonis, a challenge: design and build a small, fuel-efficient car capable of carrying four adults, within the economic reach of just about everyone. As fate would have it, the challenge of fitting so much function into such a small package inspired a couple of historic innovations.
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The car and company have gone through a few owners. Originally made by BMC, thata firm becamse part of British Motor Holdings in 1966. It then merged with Leyland Motors in 1968 to form British Leyland. In the 1980s British Leyland broke up, and in 1988 Rover Group, including Mini, was acquired by British Aerospace, yup the same company that makes jets. Mini models included the Morris Mini-Minor, the Austin Seven, the Countryman, Moke, 1275GT, and Clubman. Through a partnership with British racing legend John Cooper, a number of performance models were introduced. The original Mini continued in production until 2000.
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More changes came in 1994 when the Rover Group was acquired by BMW with BMW retaining the Mini brand. Development of a modern successor to the Mini began in 1995 and an entirely new Mini was launched in 2001 by BMW.
It remains a cult classic today. I found this 1992 example for sale at a shop that specializes in classic cars. Not a lot of miles and with a price tag of $22 grand perhaps a bit on the high side since the most expensive ’92 I found on Bring a Trailer was $19,000. Still not a lot of money for a car that is a ton of fun and sure to get noticed at any Cars and Coffee event or summer car show.
Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check back next week for another one of my spots along with some of the history of the vehicle. Tell your friends and have a great weekend.