The first ‘modern’ small car - designed by Alec Issigonis in 1959 and greeted with amazement by the public. Much smaller wheels than those previously seen and an overall utility look with sliding windows and a sash-pull for opening the doors did not deter the buyers who saw the mini as an accessible small car. The first ‘modern’ small car - designed by Alec Issigonis in 1959 and greeted with amazement by the public. Much smaller wheels than those previously seen and an overall utility look with sliding windows and a sash-pull for opening the doors did not deter the buyers who saw the mini as an accessible small car. Issigonis had already been instrumental in creating another long lasting design icon in the form of the Morris Minor – this design also became a cult and survived in production until 1971. It had been conceived in the late 1940s. This was the first British car design to sell one million units. By the end of production nearly 5.5 million minis had been sold making the design the most popular British model. Besides being a popular car with family and other motorists the design had also won the Monte Carlo rally three times. (Mini-Cooper) In an international poll to find the most influential car designs ever – the mini was second to the legendary Model-T Ford. At the end of its production run in 2000 a newer variant appeared – the New Mini and so the innovative design lives on in a redeveloped form. Long gone now though are the cord-pull door handles, the bare interior parcel shelf and the sliding windows – all features of the original design and which very soon disappeared as the car gained a significant market share of the 1960s. That austerity look that kept the price of the car so much lower than other models and which brought motoring to a wide market are no longer features that draw customers in the car market.
With the engine mounted transversely a reduction in length was achieved which in a car designed for city travel – and parking being a priority – was essential. It seems vaguely amusing that with the less congested roads of the 1960 period the design should have had ‘Ease of Parking’ as a highly rated part of the general specification. Certainly a far-sighted aspect of the design features ! The car sold for around £350 at the time of its first appearance
In 1967 Issigonis expanded the idea of the mini into a slightly larger design – the ‘Mini Metro’. This design finished its production run in 1998.
With such a popular car it is hardly surprising that some fans take their admiration to the extreme.