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Mini’s 60th Anniversary: A Little Piece of Classic History

mini cooper piece of history

It’s one of the world’s most recognisable classic cars, and this year marks the Mini’s 60th anniversary. And to celebrate the brand’s milestone, Mini released a brand new special edition model of the popular Cooper S Hatch. 

We wanted to take a brief look at the early history and evolution of this iconic little classic car…

The Morris Mini

Back in the 1950s, Britain was crying out for a more fuel-efficient car, and so in 1957 Sir Leonard Lord of the Morris Company got together a team of designers, headed up by top engineer, Alec Issigonis.

They experimented with a transverse engine and gearbox, similar to the 1931 German DKW F1, and looked at maximising interior space, along with perfecting nimble handling and strong balance. In 1959 the British Motor Company built the first Mini, which at the time was known as the Morris Mini-Minor or the Austin Seven. 

The car’s costs were kept as low as possible, and this was visible in the design; with the welded seams on the outside of the car, along with the external door and boot hinges.

The Original Mini Cooper

A number of different production models followed until legendary race car engineer, John Cooper, saw the racing potential of the small car. As a result, 1961 saw the debut of both the Austin Mini Cooper and Morris Mini Cooper. 

A thousand units were produced in total, and the car was able to compete using a souped-up 997cc engine, originally from the Morris Minor. Along with some SU carburettors, which cranked things up to 55 horsepower. 

By 1963, a more powerful version was produced; the first of the Mini Cooper S’s. The S models were successful in competition, notably at the Monte Carlo Rally, which saw victories in 1964, 1965 and 1967. 

The Mini Evolutions 

Over the next few decades, the iconic little classic car underwent numerous changes of name and engine. Details evolved, such as the creation of different body styles and exterior design upgrades. However, the car retained its fundamental layout and character. The original classic was produced at various factories by the British Motor Company, and eventually by the Rover Group. In 1994, BMW purchased the Rover Group and decided to develop a model of their own. 

A few years later and the Mini Spiritual and Spiritual Too were displayed at the Geneva Motor Show Mini, in 1997. The concept cars showcased a possible new design direction for the brand, with the former being a three-door model and the latter a five-door. 

Also, the ACV30 concept further showcased Rover’s ideas for a more modernised Mini. The futuristic-looking car was created to celebrate the brand’s 30th anniversary win at the 1967 Monte Carlo Rally. With it’s white roof and round headlights, the concept was certainly indicative of things to come. 

By the time the final Mini model rolled off the production line in 2000, the Rover Cooper Mini Sport, the timeless design still remained fairly unchanged and didn’t look that much different from the original 1959 car.

The 60th Anniversary Mini

Skipping ahead a little, and we find the Mini still going strong as the brand celebrates its 60th Anniversary. BMW ended up selling the Rover Group in 2000 but has retained the ownership of the Mini name ever since. 

This year, they have released a brand new special edition model, to mark the celebrations; one that’s Based on the Cooper S three-door hatchback. Only 500 units will be built, but all of them will be finished with the new metallic British Racing Green IV paintwork. The car has a distinct look with black bonnet stripes, and mirror caps, along with limited edition two-tone 17-inch alloy wheels and LED headlamps. The 60th anniversary badging also appears throughout the car, on the inside and out. 

It contains the same 189bhp turbocharged, 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine, which can be found in the Cooper S; and the car will be able to go from 0 to 62mph in around 6.7 seconds. The special edition car will become available from March this year. 

Classic Car News, Inside Classics

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