Mini is a British icon and we wanted to learn more about how that came to be with a look at its history!  


The Cooper Car Company

Mini began with the Cooper Car Company, a company that was designed to build Formula Three racing cars. They initially built single-seat models with a rear engine that dominated the 500cc class and with this were hugely successful with young drivers.

It was with one of their racing cars that John Cooper won both the Formula One World Championship and Constructors Championships and it was this connection with the Cooper company that would later get John involved with the Mini.

The First Mini

The first Mini was born in a time when cars were large and expensive making them out of reach for a lot of the British population who were trying to recover from the impact of WW2.

Sir Leonard Lord, the owner of the Morris company tasked his best engineer Alec Issigonis with designing a small car that was capable of carrying four adults and was cheap both at the point of purchase and running costs making it affordable for the general population.

Working with a small team of engineers Alec Issigonis created an affordable and fuel-efficient car that was packed with innovative design. Two of the revolutionary features they did were pushing the wheels out to the corners and turning the engine sideways to give the car more stability on tight city centre corners and more passenger space.

In 1959 the Mini was released to the public and became an instant best-seller for the company! This model would remain on sale for over forty years, with a few tweaks, until it was finally discontinued and replaced with the current Mini model.

The Mini was so successful that just a year later the company added a small pick-up and van version of the model into their range for drivers who wanted more cargo space over carrying additional passengers.

Mini was originally produced as a model name under the British Motor Corporation which was a company created through the joining of Austin and Morris. At first the Mini car was produced under both of these brands before it became an established brand in its own right.

John Cooper Joins Mini

John Cooper saw the Mini’s rise in popularity and in the new hatchback he could see massive potential in the vehicle for racing. In 1961 as a joint venture between John Cooper and Mini the Mini Cooper was born! It had a more powerful engine, larger brakes and altered interior to create a rally legend.


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Mini Racing

It wasn’t just John Cooper who saw racing success with a mini though – it was in fact a woman by the name of Pat Moss that the Mini achieved their first motorsports victory.

Pat was one of the first and most successful female rally drivers and in 1962 she drove her Mini in the 2,500 km Tulip Rally in Monte Carlo. Driving with her co-pilot Ann Wisdom, Pat won the Tulip Rally and went on to win many more races in a time when racing was still a heavily male dominated sport.

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Evolution of Mini Cars

The Mini is an icon because of its compact and uniquely designed body shape and although it has undergone several updates for a fresh styling and to upgrade the technology the Mini has largely remained the same car and additional model in their range, including the Countryman, Clubman, and Convertible.

Mini Vans

Five months after the launch of the Mini car the company were working on the bodywork of the Mini-Van. It had an extended floor space with a 25cm longer floor, that was maximised by putting the battery, spare wheel and tank beneath the cargo space.

It was designed to be a simplistic work vehicle that was affordable and reliable and was released by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) under two brands, Austin and Morris, which were only distinguishable due to their individual badges.


Mini Pick-Ups

After the launch of the Mini Van the company then worked on the Mini Pick-up. The model had nearly identical bodywork up to the B column and a longer base to provide more space in the cargo area.

This was again produced by the BMC with both Morris and Austin versions that were nearly identical for UK drivers.

Mini E

In 2008 Mini modified 612 cars to turn them into electric versions of their popular Mini hatchback. A lot of the work was done by hand and these cars were then road tested by Mini customers to see how the average driver coped with an EV in everyday life, what the challenges would be and how they could help mitigate these through innovative designs.

Between 2009 and 2013 when the testing was conducted the cars covered more than 16 million kilometres across six countries on three continents providing data across the company’s key markets.


Mini Countryman

In the past decade we’ve seen a shift with more drivers looking for an SUV due to the perceived benefits including a higher driver position with better visibility, higher ground clearance, larger body which gives more space for passengers and cargo as well as a greater road presence. With the changing market Mini saw an opportunity to create a unique vehicle – the Mini Countryman.

It was the company’s first SUV and is unique in design as it retains the character and look of the original Mini but with all the features drivers look for in an SUV. The Countryman remains on sale for drivers today.


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