Is Your Car Really British? Part Three – Mini

Sun 18th Mar 2018

The British Isles used to be one of the bastions of motor supremacy, some of the biggest car brands, names that go down in history. But no more – we may believe that the famous name brand car we are driving is as British as roast beef and Yorkshire pudding – unfortunately we are probably wrong.

The Mini was launched by the British Motor Corporation in 1959 and went on to become one of the all-time classic cars, an icon of the Swinging Sixties in Britain and a template for small economy cars across the globe.

The Mini of the 1950s was actually a response to another city car classic – the Fiat 500. The head of BMC, Leonard Lord, detested the Fiats and promised to rid the streets of the Italian rivals and replace it with a ‘proper miniature car’.

Lord recruited Alec Issigonis to design the new car for BMC, he had previously worked with BMC on the Morris Minor and set to work on the new design and by 1959, BMC and Issigonis had won the Dewar Trophy for their design and production of the little car.

The Mark I Mini was revealed to the press in April 1959 and the various versions of it were sold to markets across the globe up until 1967. The Mark II mini featured a redesigned grille and a larger rear window, but only saw three years of production.

We saw the Mark III Mini given a modified body shell, hidden hinges and winding windows, but despite these modifications, the Mini, which was built in the UK at the Longbridge plant, went in decline as more robust vehicles became popular.

The version which many will still see predominantly on the roads today is likely to be the Mark IV, which was produced between 1976 and 2000, though sales decreased gradually over time and 1981 was the last year the original Mini featured in the top ten of Britain’s top selling cars.

Rover Group failed to revitalise the fortunes of the Mini, despite rebadging it the Austin Mini and subsequently the Rover Mini in 1988. Rover were suffering to such an extent that they were acquired by BMW, with many suggesting that it was the iconic Mini which the German manufacturer was after. By March 2000, Rover were suffering huge losses and BMW sold them off, but retained the Mini name. The last Mini, a red Cooper Sport, was built in October 2000, bringing an end to more than 5m of the vehicles being produced.

You can own a new-style Mini, delivered to your door. has more than 50 to choose from. Get yours today.