About the Rover Mini
The first Mini hit British streets in 1959, an answer to soaring fuel prices due to the oil crisis in the Suez Canal. Sir Leonard Lord of the British Motor Corporation challenged his top engineer, Alec Issigonis, to design a fuel-efficient and affordable car that could carry four adults. And, the car also had to fit in an imaginary 10x4x4 box; Sir Leo wanted it mini.
To achieve these aims, Issigonis pushed the wheels as far to the corners as possible and created one of the first mass-produced, front-wheel drive cars. The low-cost, nimble, stylish Mini became a cultural phenomenon around the world. Though a favorite of 1960s trend-setters like George Harrison, Mick Jagger, Peter Sellers and Twiggy, the Mini was priced low enough to remain an everyman's car. Having the wheels pushed to the corners meant go-kart handling, and the Mini proved to be a sensation on the race track as well, made famous by the innovative racer John Cooper.
Decades saw British Motor Corporation become British Leyland and then Rover. During Japan’s economic heyday in the 1980’s, Rover began shipping Minis to Japan only after first noticing the car was being imported by local dealers. With cash to burn amidst a retro auto fad, Mini found enough demand in Japan to keep the British factory churning out cars, when it otherwise would have shut down. Classic Minis were produced all the way until 2000 when Rover sold the brand to BMW.
In pop culture, the Mini has aided and abetted thieves in both versions of The Italian Job, was the faithful sidekick of Mr. Bean for years. Top Gear launched a rocket propelled Mini off a ski jump during their Winter Olympics. It’s a car with hijinx on it’s CV.
In short, the Mini is a beloved, one-of-a-kind car predicated on the joy of driving. Everyone should experience it at least once.