MINI Just Celebrated Its 64th Birthday

The iconic MINI celebrates its 64th birthday last Saturday.

MINI is now 64 years old! First launched to an astonished public on the 26th of August 1959, the iconic once-British now-German nameplate celebrates its birthday last Saturday. 

Originally just a model under the Morris (and Austin) marque, the Mini was an engineering revolution. Largely stemming from its transverse front-engined front-wheel drive layout — the brainchild of Sir Alec Issigonis — this ingenious powertrain packaging solution allowed for masses of interior room within the tiny footprint, and has hence since been the template for nearly all small cars ever since. 

More than an engineering icon though, the Mini has also evolved into a cultural one. And not just as a symbol of the swinging sixties from which it first originated, but also as a bonafide symbol of its British birthplace too. In fact, the Mini could be said to still be one of the most recognisable cars in the world today. Thanks in no small part of course to a certain green example that was driven around by a certain teddy-cuddling British man. 

In the last 64 years, an estimated 5.4 million original Minis has found homes in nearly every corner of the globe. There has incidentally also been (nearly) as many variants of the original Mini as units sold, with the Mini range encompassing everything from panel vans to hot hatches and even pickups and beach-going recreational convertibles. 

2001 saw BMW relaunching the Mini as its own marque, which ushered in the era of the new MINI. An era that has since seen the brand capitalise on its iconic status and has hence enable the launch of a whole range of cars. Some of which aren’t exactly all that mini, in spite of the name. 

Three generations of MINI has since passed in the intervening 22 years since the BMW takeover, with a fourth iteration apparently soon to be arriving in 2024. Further details regarding this new version will only be known upon its launch at the coming Munich IAA (International Auto Show) on the 8th of September, but it is nevertheless quite easy to say for this imminent arrive to still retain its iconic looks, as well as its rather admirable ability to inject some fun into even the most mundane of commutes. 

PRESS RELEASE: Exactly 64 years ago, on August 26, 1959, the first classic Mini was presented. Plenty of interior space with the smallest possible external dimensions, room for four occupants, impeccable driving characteristics, low fuel consumption and an affordable price – these were the specifications followed by the creator of the Mini, designer Sir Alec Issigonis.

Since the brand’s relaunch with the market introduction of the New MINI in 2001, the principle that was valid 64 years ago has been confirmed: A superior concept convinces in many ways. This is still true today for the MINI 3-door, MINI 5-door and MINI Convertible small cars, for the MINI Clubman and the MINI Countryman in the premium compact segment. They all display individual strengths and each has its own unique character, but at their core they are above all one thing: a MINI.

In 2008, for the first time at MINI, the motto is: Full driving pleasure, zero emissions. With the MINI E, the BMW Group set a milestone on the road to mobility independent of fossil fuels. A total of more than 500 units of the all-electric MINI were handed over to selected customers in a pilot test.

Since 2017, the MINI Cooper SE Countryman ALL4 has been the first MINI model in which a plug-in hybrid drive system opens up the possibility of purely electric and thus locally emission-free mobility and delights with sporty agility and superior versatility. The plug-in hybrid system of the robust all-rounder consists of a three-cylinder gasoline engine with MINI TwinPower Turbo technology, which directs its power to the front wheels, and an electric drive acting on the rear wheels. Together they generate a system output of 162 kW/220 hp.

With the MINI Cooper SE, which will be launched in 2019, MINI is once again providing groundbreaking impetus for urban mobility. The spontaneous power delivery of the 135 kW/184 hp electric motor, the model-specific chassis tuning and the low center of gravity of the vehicle help the MINI Cooper SE achieve the agility typical of the brand. The lithium-ion high-voltage battery positioned low in the vehicle floor enables a range of 203 to 234 kilometers determined in the WLTP test cycle. The MINI Cooper SE Convertible (power consumption combined: 17.2 kWh/100 km according to WLTP; CO2 emissions combined: 0 g/km) is the world’s first locally emission-free premium convertible in the small car segment. The electric drive system accelerates the MINI Cooper SE Convertible smoothly from standstill to 100 km/h in 7.3 seconds. With a range of 201 kilometers determined in the WLTP test cycle, open-air excursions are possible well beyond city limits. It shortens the transition to the all-electric, digital and distinctive next-generation model family.

MINI is consistently pursuing the path to an all-electric model range. The first two members of the new MINI family will be unveiled at the IAA (International Motor Show) in Munich (September 5-10, 2023). And so, on its 64th anniversary, MINI is gifting itself with a bright future.

Joshua Chin

Automotive journalist. Professional work on and Personal writing found at Instagram: @driveeveryday

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