What Is a Mini?
The Mini is a small car made by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) and its successors from 1959 until 2000. The original is considered a British icon of the 1960s, and its space-saving front-wheel-drive layout (that allowed 80% of the area of the car’s floor pan to be used for passengers and luggage) influenced a generation of car-makers.
This distinctive two-door car was designed for BMC by Sir Alec Issigonis. It was manufactured at the Long bridge and Cowley plants in England, the Victoria Park / Zetland British Motor Corporation (Australia) factory in Sydney and later also in Spain, Belgium, Chile, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, Uruguay, Venezuela and Yugoslavia.
The Mini Mark I had three major UK updates: the Mark II, the Clubman and the Mark III. Within these was a series of variations including an estate car, a pickup truck, a van and the Mini Moke—a jeep-like buggy.
The Mini Cooper and Cooper “S” were sportier versions that were successful as rally cars, winning the Monte Carlo Rally four times from 1964 through to 1967, although in 1966 the Mini was disqualified after the finish, along with six other British entrants, which included the first four cars to finish, under a questionable ruling that the cars had used an illegal combination of headlamps and spotlights.
Initially Minis were marketed under the Austin and Morris names, as the Austin Seven and Morris Mini Minor. The Mini was again marketed under the Austin name in the 1980s. The Austin Seven was renamed Austin Mini in January 1962 and Mini became a marque in its own right in 1969. In 1980 it once again became the Austin Mini and in 1988 the Rover Mini.
BMW acquired the Rover Group (formerly British Leyland) in 1994, and sold the greater part of it in 2000, but retained the rights to build cars using the MINI name.