MINI is a British car company presently owned by the BMW Group. Its small, lightweight cars offer retro-looking designs, great fuel economy and world-class handling.
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Oil shortages in many countries, including the U.K., pushed the British Motor Corporation (BMC) to come to market with a thrifty little automobile in 1959 – the original Mini, penned by Sir Alec Issigonis.
At first, it was sold under different names, including Austin 850, Morris 850, Austin Partner, Morris Mascot and Austin Seven. The Mini designation appeared in 1961 when BMC launched the Austin Mini.
During the sixties, the car became very popular, with high-profile celebrities such as Queen Elizabeth II acquiring a copy from a number of available body styles. Production of the first-generation Mini reached 1,190,000 units at the end of the decade. However, BMC sold it nearly below cost, so profits were minimal.
Meanwhile, race car driver John Cooper, famous for developing F1 and rally cars, partnered with the company to design the Mini Cooper – a nimble, fuel-efficient and affordable model unveiled in 1961. The more powerful Cooper S followed two years later.
BMC, Standard-Triumph and Rover all merge to form British Leyland in 1968, just as the U.S. government announced that the Mini failed to meet safety and emission standards. The third generation and the ensuing evolutions never made it across the Atlantic, but they found a home elsewhere around the globe up until 2000.
The Mini Clubman and 1275GT made their debut in 1969. The former became the first-ever automobile to use a printed circuit board behind the instrument panel, while the latter featured reinforced-sidewall tires. They combined to produce 583,862 units until they were replaced by the Austin Metro in 1980.
Throughout the '80s and '90s, several special editions were introduced in the U.K. and turned the Mini into a highly-coveted, ultra-trendy product. BMW eventually purchased the brand.
On October 4, 2000, the last original Mini as we know it, a red Cooper Sport, came out of the factory. The German automaker later decided to modernize the car. A real resurrection then took place.
The new MINI was inaugurated in 2001 before landing in Canada and the United States the following year. A convertible variant hit the market in 2005. Both models were redesigned for 2007-2008, and new performance models labelled 'John Cooper Works' were introduced.
The MINI family has kept growing ever since and now includes the Cooper hatchback and convertible, the Cooper Clubman wagon (2008), the Cooper Countryman crossover (2010) and the all-new Cooper Coupé, which debuted in 2011 as a 2012 model.
The year was 1966: The international performance rally scene, long dominated by powerful European sports cars, experienced a shocking upset when a tiny little 4-cylinder with scarcely more power than a scooter took the top three spots in the legendary Monte Carlo Rally. Desperate for a loophole, French officials finally disqualified all three on account of their headlights -- but Mini fans know who the real winners were.
The MINI Cooper S Roadster is the latest addition to a family whose members all look like each other. Oh, sorry; since the Roadster was added to the lineup this summer, MINI has also introduced the Clubvan, the John Cooper Works Countryman and the Paceman.
Wouldn't you know it? After a month of unseasonably warm weather, Mother Nature had the last laugh - subjecting us to a surprise lashing of stinging snow the very day we were to spend top-down cruising in the new 2012 MINI Cooper Roadster.
Listen up, fellas: Are you at that point in your life where you want a hot new sports car while the significant other wants more -- er -- wholesome things like a family, a bigger house or some furry pets? Maybe all of the above?
The Allgäu-Orient Rally, which is not only regarded as an exceptional adventure for fans of vintage cars and modern classics, but also as a particularly creative charity campaign, caused a stir in Istanbul, Turkey, when 274 out of 350 participants formed the world's longest ever convoy of children's cars.
With an eye for sporty driving, the two-seater MINI Cooper Coupe is the lightest and most agile model in the MINI lineup. Iconic MINI design elements are applied to this striking new model, which features a steeply raked rear windshield, tapered roofline and self-deploying rear spoiler. Projector lights, large alloy wheels and any combination of stripes, colours and chrome the owner likes are all part of the package.