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Mark I Mini: 1959Ė1967

The production version of the Mini was demonstrated to the press in April 1959, and by August several thousand cars had been produced ready for the first sales.

The name Mini did not appear by itself immediatelyóthe first models being marketed under two of BMC's brand names, Austin and Morris. The name Austin Seven (sometimes written as SE7EN in early publicity material) recalled the popular small Austin 7 of the 1920s and 1930s. The other name used until 1967 in the United Kingdom (and in Commonwealth countries such as Australia), Morris Mini-Minor, seems to have been a play on words. The Morris Minor was a well known and successful car, with the word minor being Latin for "smaller"; so an abbreviation of the Latin word for "smallest"óminimusówas used for the new even smaller car. It was originally going to be called the Austin Newmarket.

 

1963 Austin Mini 850 Mark I

Until 1962, the cars appeared as the Austin 850 and Morris 850 in North America and France, and in Denmark as the Austin Partner (until 1964) and Morris Mascot (until 1981). The name Mini was first used domestically by BMC for Austin's version in 1961, when the Austin Seven was rebranded as the Austin Mini, somewhat to the surprise of the Sharps Commercials car company (later known as Bond Cars Ltd) who had been using the name Minicar for their three-wheeled vehicles since 1949. However, legal action was somehow averted, and BMC used the name Mini thereafter.

In 1964, the suspension of the cars was replaced by another Moulton design, the hydrolastic system. The new suspension gave a softer ride but it also increased weight and production cost and, in the minds of many enthusiasts, spoiled the handling characteristics for which the Mini was so famous. In 1971, the original rubber suspension reappeared and was retained for the remaining life of the Mini.

 

Austin Mini Van, The Automobile Association livery

From October 1965 the option of an Automotive Products (AP) designed four-speed automatic transmission became available. Cars fitted with this became the Mini-Matic

Slow at the outset, Mark I sales strengthened across most of the model lines in the 1960s, and production totalled 1,190,000. Sold at almost below cost, the basic Mini made very little money for its owners. However, it still did make a small profit. Ford once took a Mini away and completely dismantled it, possibly to see if they could offer an alternative. It was their opinion though, that they could not sell it at BMC's price. Ford determined that the BMC must have been losing around 30 pounds per car. BMC insisted that the way company overheads were shared out, the Mini always made money. Larger profits came from the popular De Luxe models and from optional extras such as seat belts, door mirrors, a heater and a radio, which would be considered necessities on modern cars, as well as the various "Cooper" and "Cooper S" models, to be discussed later.

The Mini etched its place into popular culture in the 1960s with well-publicised purchases by film and music stars.

 

Mark II Mini: 1967Ė1973

The Mark II Mini featured a redesigned grille which remained with the car from that point on. Also, a larger rear window and numerous cosmetic changes were introduced. 429,000 Mark II Minis were made.

A bewildering variety of Mini types were made in Pamplona, Spain, by the Authi company from 1968 onwards, mostly under the Morris name.

The Mini was arguably the star of the 1969 film The Italian Job, which features a car chase in which a gang of thieves drive three Minis down staircases, through storm drains, over buildings and finally into the back of a moving bus. This film was remade in 2003 using the new MINI.

 

Mini Cooper and Cooper S: 1961Ė2000

Issigonis' friend John Cooper, owner of the Cooper Car Company and designer and builder of Formula One and rally cars, saw the potential of the Mini for competition. Issigonis was initially reluctant to see the Mini in the role of a performance car, but after John Cooper appealed to BMC management, the two men collaborated to create the Mini Cooper, a nimble, economical and inexpensive car. The Austin Mini Cooper and Morris Mini Cooper debuted in 1961.

The original 848 cc engine from the Morris Mini-Minor was given a longer stroke to increase capacity to 997 cc, boosting power from 34 bhp to 55 bhp (25 to 41 kW). The car featured a racing-tuned engine, twin SU carburettors, a closer-ratio gearbox and front disc brakes, uncommon at the time in a small car. One thousand units of this version were commissioned by management, intended for and designed to meet the homologation rules of Group 2 rally racing. The 997 cc engine was replaced by a shorter stroke 998 cc unit in 1964.

 

 

1963 Austin Mini Cooper S

A more powerful Mini Cooper, dubbed the "S", was developed in tandem and released in 1963. Featuring a 1071 cc engine with a 70.61 mm bore and nitrided steel crankshaft and strengthened bottom end to allow further tuning; and larger servo-assisted disc brakes, 4,030 Cooper S cars were produced and sold until the model was updated in August 1964. Cooper also produced two S models specifically for circuit racing in the under 1000cc and under 1300cc classes respectively, rated at 970 cc and a 1275 cc, both with the 70.61mm bore and both of which were also offered to the public. The smaller-engine model was not well received, and only 963 had been built when the model was discontinued in 1965. The 1275 cc Cooper S models continued in production until 1971.

Sales of the Mini Cooper were as follows: 64,000 Mark I Coopers with 997 cc or 998 cc engines; 19,000 Mark I Cooper S with 970 cc, 1071 cc or 1275 cc engines; 16,000 Mark II Coopers with 998 cc engines; 6,300 Mark II Cooper S with 1275 cc engines. There were no Mark III Coopers and just 1,570 Mark III Cooper S's.

The Mini Cooper S earned acclaim with Monte Carlo Rally victories in 1964, 1965 and 1967.[29] Minis were initially placed first, second and third in the 1966 rally as well, but were disqualified after a controversial decision by the French judges. The disqualification related to the use of a variable resistance headlamp dimming circuit in place of a dual-filament lamp. It should be noted that the CitroŽn DS that was eventually awarded first place had illegal white headlamps but escaped disqualification. The driver of the CitroŽn, Pauli Toivonen, was reluctant to accept the trophy and vowed that he would never race for CitroŽn again. BMC probably received more publicity from the disqualification than they would have gained from a victory.

 

Timeline

  • August 1959: Introduction of the Austin Seven, Morris Mini-Minor and Morris Mini-Minor DL 2-door saloons, all with transversely mounted 848 cc engine and 4-speed manual gearbox.
     

  • 1960: Introduction of the Austin Seven Countryman and Morris Mini-Minor Traveller 3-door estates, both with 848 cc engine from the saloon models.

    1961: Introduction of the Austin Seven Super and Morris Mini-Minor Super 2-door saloons.

    1961: Introduction of the Austin Mini Cooper and Morris Mini Cooper 2-door saloon, both with larger 997 cc 55 bhp (41 kW) engine.

    January 1962: All former Austin Seven models now officially called Austin Mini.

    March 1962: pvc seat covers replaced cloth upholstery on entry level model ("basic Mini").

    1962: "De Luxe" and "Super" designations discontinued. "Super de Luxe" designation introduced. Modified instrument panel now included oil pressure and water temperature gauges.

    March 1963: Introduction of the Austin Mini Cooper 1071 S and Morris Mini Cooper 1071 S 2-door saloons, both with larger 1071 cc 70 bhp (52 kW) engine.

    1964: Introduction of the Mini Moke.

    April 1964: Introduction of the Austin and Morris Mini-Cooper 998, Mini-Cooper 970 S and Mini-Cooper 1275 S. 1275 S models have 1275 cc 76 bhp (57 kW) engine. Automatic transmission available as an option for the 998 cc Austin Mini-Cooper 998 and 1275 S. Previous Mini-Cooper 997 and 1071 S models dropped.

    1965: Mini Cooper 970 S discontinued.

    October 1965: Automatic transmission now available as an option on standard Austin/Morris Mini and Morris Mini SDL.

    October 1967: Mark 2 range launched with facelift and upgraded equipment. Austin Mini range as follows: 850, 1000, Cooper 998 and Cooper 1275 S 2-door saloons and 1000 Countryman 3-door estate. Morris Mini range as follows: 850, 850 SDL, 1000 SDL, Cooper 998 and Cooper 1275 S 2-door saloons and 1000 Traveller 3-door estate. Optional automatic transmission available on all Austin models (except 850) and Morris Mini 1000 SDL saloon.

    September 1968: Manual four speed gear box with synchromesh on all four forward ratios introduced.

    March 1969: Launch of the Morris Mini K an Australian-only model manufactured in the Australian British Motor Corporation factory at Zetland NSW using 80% local content

    October 1969: Separate Austin and Morris badging now merged into Mini 850/Mini 1000 badging. Range reduced to: 850, 1000, Clubman, Cooper S and 1275 GT 2-door coupes and Clubman 3-door estate. Optional automatic transmission available on all except 1275 GT.
     

  • April 1974: A heater became standard equipment on the entry level Mini 850 (having now already been included in the standard specification of the other models for some time).

  

New MINI

When production of the classic Mini ceased in 2000, BMW (the new owner of the brand) announced the successor to the Miniówhich is variously called the "BMW MINI" or the "New MINI". The brand name for the new car is MINI (written in capital letters).

The new MINI is larger than the classic Mini. It is around 55 centimetres (22 in) longer, 30 centimetres (12 in) wider, weighing 1,050 kg (2,315 lb) rather than 650 kg (1,433 lb). It is now classified as compact car rather than supermini car.

On 3 April 2007, the one millionth MINI rolled out of the Oxford Plant after six years of production, just one month longer than it took the classic Mini to reach the same total in March 1965.

 

[Source: Wikipedia]
 

 
 
         
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