The Mini was launched in 1959, as the British Motor Corporation's answer to bubble cars, which were beginning to infest the country's roads. They appeared because of the Suez crisis of 1956, which had brought on petrol rationing. BMC boss Leonard Lord, who hated bubble cars, instructed his brilliant designer Alec Issigonis, who had previously designed the Morris Minor, to produce something that would drive the bubble car off the road. His brief was for a car that would seat four, use an existing engine and be smaller than anything else the corporation currently made.


But the Mini kept selling, especially when the fuel crisis struck in 1973. It would be years before sales dwindled to the tiny level they are at today, demand largely sustained by enthusiasts - especially in Japan - aided by the re-introduction of the Cooper in 1990. When BMW owned Rover there were more improvements, the 1997 changes - which will be the last of any significance - upgrading the engine, shifting the radiator to the front to quieten the car, and adding a driver's airbag, seat-belt pretensioners and side impact beams to the standard equipment list. Features like this seem almost too modern for the Mini.

But that's the point of this car - it is 41 years old, has been bought by 5,387,862 people and loved (and hated) by millions more. It is the most brilliant car Britain has ever produced, and a car whose design has influenced that of every small car you see on the road today. And no matter how good it is, it will not be possible to say that of the new Mini.


Mini 1000 1974 Auto.

MINI 1000 AUTO 1974