The iconic MINI has delivered its one-millionth car sold in the UK, just over 20 years since the start of modern MINI production began in Cowley, Oxford in 2001.
MINI has sold more than 5.1 million cars globally in the past two decades, and the UK is the brand’s largest market.
David George, Director of MINI UK, said: “To have sold over one million MINIs in just 20 years is a remarkable milestone; we are all extremely proud. This achievement is testament to the fantastic cars we’ve built and launched during that time, our customers’ continued love for MINI, and the strength and unwavering dedication of our retail network.
As we see the increasing demand for our MINI Electric and MINI Countryman Plug-In Hybrid models, which account for nearly a fifth of global electrified sales, we’re excited to see what the next twenty years hold, as we transition into our fully electric future.”
MINI will launch its last model with internal combustion engine in 2025 and, by 2027, the share of all-electric vehicles in global MINI sales will be at least 50 percent. In the early 2030s, MINI will be the first BMW Group brand to go fully electric.
The first MINI was born out of the 1957 fuel shortage caused by the Suez Crisis. The UK experienced a post-war rationing of fuel and sales of large cars slumped while small cars like the original Fiat 500 rose. Leonard Lord, the head of BMC wanted a smaller car to add to his range. Apparently he set out some basic design criteria, including that the car should fit in a box that measures 10×4×4 feet, passenger space should be made up using six of the 10 feet in length, and it should use an existing engine to save cost.
English-Greek designer Alec Issigonis took on the challenge. He took an existing BMC engine and placed the transmission in the sump and then mounted it transversely to make sure it took even less space at the front. Issigonis then had his friend Alex Moulton design a compact, effective, but inexpensive suspension system based on rubber cones rather than traditional steel springs.
The Mini entered popular culture in the 1960s as celebrities and pop stars bought and were seen with them. It was a small, inexpensive, but fun to drive and full of character.
It was famously used in the 1969 film starring Michael Caine and Noel Coward. It was noted for its classic driving scenes up and down steps, from rooftop to rooftop and through the sewers of Turin (which were actually filmed in new sewers being laid in Coventry).
Only a few cars survived the stunts, which included being pushed out of a coach and falling down the Italian Alps.