He may be famous for not saying much, but the vehicle he drives manages to speak volumes about the man.
Yes, the applejack green 1976 Mini 1000 MkII, with its black painted hood (or bonnet as we Brits call it), was undoubtedly the perfect choice for the character Rowan Atkinson portrays. After all, from its launch way back in 1959, the Mini was always looked upon as something of an oddball.
Its inventor, Sir Alexander Issigonis, wasn’t exactly shy about pushing the boundaries of design. While traditional thinking lined up a car’s powerplant front-to-rear, he went and slapped them sideways into the vehicle to gain more interior room. Perhaps not the first time someone had thought outside the box (think hugely successful rear-engined Volkswagen Bug/Beetle), but Sir Alex perfected the idea of what is now an industry standard.
Back in its day, the Mini had a lot going for it. It was quite roomy for its overall size, was frugal on fuel, easy to park, and available in a number of configurations, including the sporty Cooper and Cooper S models. It was the darling of the swinging ‘60s and the car to be seen in, and yet Mr. Bean has managed to overshadow this on any number of occasions with his harebrained antics.
Who will ever forget the episode in which he placed his newly purchased armchair on the roof of his Mini and proceeded to drive home piloting the vehicle sitting in the chair? It surely has to be one of the funniest moments in television history!
Over the years I’ve owned several Minis, including Cooper and Cooper S models, and as much as I’ve loved them all, I’ve never quite gone to the extremes of Mr. Bean to protect them. His Mini boasts padlocks for door locks and a hidden key system which included positioning a sequence of keys in and around the vehicle to finally gain access to the ignition key, but that wasn’t even enough for him. Oh no, his somewhat patented anti-theft system, on occasion, also involved the complete removal of the vehicle’s steering wheel.
Now that’s funny, but what makes this even more hilarious to me is that I’ve actually done exactly the same thing myself! Back when I used to drive my rally car on the road, I would often remove the quick-release steering wheel as an added safeguard, and I’ve endured more than one or two peculiar stares from bystanders as I wandered around town, steering wheel in hand. Maybe it’s just one of those eccentric British things we do, or perhaps I was simply inspired by the genius of Mr. Bean, because for sure that is precisely what he is!
Assimilation is often inevitable. Move to a new community, city, country and you're going to start to act like the locals to integrate yourself into their way of life -- to fit in. Despite our best efforts to keep our heritage, to keep our past, sometimes it's just not possible.