How the Mini Became a Giant
17:23 29 March 2011
How the Mini Became a Giant
Mini has a rich and interesting history ranging from success and some failures, but how did Mini become the company that it is today? Alec Issigonis may not have been born in Britain, but when he developed the original Mini, he knew exactly what the British public wanted.
The 1950s Mini was a revolutionary design, concept and vision. Without the Mini, thousands would have been put off by driving due to the costs involved, but with a Mini you could enjoy freedom and low running costs in a cute and tiny package.
After the success of the standard car, the anticipation and demand for a sportier version hit fever pitch. Mini decided to release the Cooper S a nippy, agile variant that encapsulated Britain in the 60s. With its funky details and ingenious space saving solutions, the Cooper S became a cult hit for every hippy from London to Alabama, and even enjoyed a starring role in the movies.
Any film in the 1960s with Michael Caine starring was guaranteed to be a surefire hit, but when the original The Italian Job hit the big screen, featuring a few sporty Mini Coopers, the publics desire to own one became incomparable to any other car. The film defined the car, in the same way that the car defined the film. Aside from Caine, the Mini was the star and thus became an icon of British culture. But one of the key moments in the longevity of Minis legacy was the acceptance from the rest of the world. When production to the United States of America began, they sold like hot cakes.
The British invasion of the 1960s was something that the Americans couldnt turn away, and it was the Mini along with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones that helped British brands become such a hit abroad.
From 1967 to 1973, the Mark II Mini was produced to continue the sales of the original. A redesigned grill, larger rear window and a few more aesthetic alterations helped the Mini stay relevant in a changing world. Without these changes the Mini could have over-saturated the market and ultimately ended up in the automotive history books. As the original design stayed pretty much the same throughout the years, the variants, on the other hand, didnt. The introduction of the Countryman and Mini Van helped the company reach consumers who needed more load space or a bigger interior. They may have looked a bit dodgy pig ugly to be honest but the practicality and cheap running costs helped them become cult hits.
After the introduction of the MINI Cooper S, the little car became a rally legend by winning the Monte-Carlo Rally three times in four years. This gave the already hip world of Mini racing some pedigree, and helped sell the sporty variants of the range to young drivers with a passion for speed and performance.
Production of the original Mini stopped in 2000 after 50 years of mass mainstream manufacturing of the car. Due to the lack of interest in such an old design, BMW decided to cease the production and cut its losses. An era truly had finished in British car production. However, not too long after the end of the original production line, BMW announced it would be designing a new Mini for the 21st Century and that it did.
he all new Mini became much larger than its predecessor. Now with the ability to compete with many of the modern cars on the market, BMW re-launched the Mini to huge praise and sales. It became an instant hit with consumers loving the familiar design, but this time with a fresh, modern approach.
As with the original model, several variants of the new Mini have started to reach production. Most recently, the not-so-Mini-at-all Countryman has become the companys newest export. Will it catch on and take Mini into another 50 years of success? Only time will tell, but whether its the small car, the 4x4 car, the big saloon, one thing is for sure, Mini will forever be a proud marque for British automotive design and history.
This article was produced on behalf of Netcars.com a used car search engine specializing in popular brands such as used Mini, Ford, Aston Martin, BMW and Volkswagen