Other innovations incorporated into the mini
include rubber cone independent suspension, rack and pinion
steering and a monocoque body that eliminated the need for a
costly separate chassis.
When the Austin 7 and Morris
Mini was released in August 1959 the Mini became very popular as
they were cheap, easy to drive around the town and very cute. In
1961 racing legend John Cooper got his hands on the Mini and
transformed it into a rally winning sports sedan. BMC stuck the
Cooper name on the mini with his modifications and had a rally and
sales winner too. the Mini showed great success during the 60s and
had very few changes but with a dip in sales in the late 60s BMC
now known as British Leyland decided to give the Mini a face lift
for 1970 and introduced the Clubman. Gone were the cute lights and
grill for a flat bonnet and square grill which made the mini look
like any of the new Japanese imports that were on the market
during this time. The Clubman did not catch the hearts of the
buying public and was dropped in 1979.
The late 70s were a bad time
for Leyland and after much company restructuring in 1980, the
classic Mini is now known as an Austin Mini. Several improvements
were made during the 80s and sales improved, the Cooper was back
after a nine year retirement and the Mini's cult status increases.
In 1988 a once again
restructured company also changes its name again, to Rover Group.
It showed improved sales during the 90s and even had exports to
Japan. The Rover Group was in serious financial trouble by this
stage and was sold to German carmaker BMW in 1994. The once large
British auto maker had only Mini and Land Rover to call its own
with the Rover brand being little more than a Honda rebadge.
BMW saw the potential in Land
Rover and the name Mini, it also planned to redevelop the Rover
brand as an entry level to the BMW series. Although BMW did put
the Rover line of cars back on track, their investment was not
getting a good return and with a totally new retro Mini in the
design studio, BMW decides to sell Rover to a British consortium,
Land Rover to Ford and keep Mini for themselves, this marked the
end of the original Mini. The last Mini rolled off the production
line on the 14th of September 2000 at 40 years of age it featured
improvements like air conditioning, drivers airbag and electric
windows. In contrast the first Mini did not have face airvents and
the side windows were split and had to be slid by hand.
Quick Mini Facts
The Mini was one of the first
cars to use the universal joint in the drive train, it was
previously used in submarine control gear.
During the painting of the
shell, a rod would be inserted straight through the car. This
allowed the shell to be spun round so both the top and bottom
could be easily painted. The speedometer was originally put is in
the middle of the dashboard, covering the hole where the pole
The Mini van (which was
longer than the sedan) featured split rear doors, only so it could
fit in the same production line as the sedan.