The Mini Cooper
As Britain’s favourite car, the Mini Cooper is a historical and cultural icon. Even if you haven’t fallen in love with these stylish cars just yet, you’re bound to know a Mini when you see one. But, whether you’re a Mini Cooper convert or not, there’s still so much to learn about these classic cars. Below, we’ve listed 6 facts you might not have known about the Mini Cooper, so you can find out just how much of a big impact these little cars have had.
1. The Car of Many Names
It seems strange to call these little cars anything other than Minis now, but when they first hit the market the Mini was known as the Austin Steven and the Morris Minor. Over time the Morris Mini Minor became a nickname, and the Austin Steven became the Austin Mini in 1962.
Many different brands and manufacturers have put their mark on the Mini, resulting in its variety of names and nicknames. The Cooper Car Company was one of these partners, who turned the little cars into rallying champions, hence Mini Cooper. Throughout the decades, Minis have also been known as Austin 850s, Innocenti Minis, Leyland Minis, and the Riley Elf to name just a few. In 1994, thankfully the names were simplified, and now the car is known simply as the Mini.
2. A Style Icon
Nowadays, Mini Coopers are some of the trendiest cars on the road. But this legacy of style has been around for quite a while. The pioneer of the mini skirt, Mary Quant was inspired by the Mini Cooper to bring the iconic 60s fashion trend to the masses.
Mary loved the car so much that the mini skirt got its name from the motor. However, she wasn’t the only one who loved the Mini, and the mini skirt quickly became a trend thanks to this association. When asked about her genius idea she said she loved both the cars and the skirts because “neither is any longer than necessary”.
3. Kings of Comfort
The front-wheel drive of the Mini Cooper, thanks to its transverse engine, meant that 80% of the interior was freed up. This is how these teeny cars could fit 4 passengers. However, the designer of the original Mini, Alec Issigonis, wasn’t just thinking about passenger comfort.
As a lover of liquor and cigars, Issigonis designed the Mini’s door to be able to hold a bottle of Gordon’s gin, with a sliding window specifically installed to create ample space for the bottle. As for the cigars, the original Mini didn’t come with a radio, but it did come with an ashtray.
4. Built For Speed
The original Mini boasted a 1000cc engine, but this was reduced to 850cc to accommodate the drivers of the late 1950s. However, John Cooper spotted this potential for power and speed, and this inspired his collaboration with Issigonis.
The 997cc Mini Cooper hit the track in 1961, winning a variety of rallies including the Monte Carlo Rally for 4 years running. The Cooper was considered so unbeatable that worried about British supremacy at European rallies, the French organisers disqualified the Cooper from later races.
5. The Car of the Stars
The Mini Cooper has always been a favourite of the rich and famous. All four of the Beatles owned Mini Coopers, with Paul Mccartney’s Radford de Ville Cooper S selling for £182,000 at auction. The 60s ‘It Girls’ Twiggy and Lulu also owned their own Coopers, with Lulu’s Solar Red Cooper Sport 500, purchased in October 2000, being the last classic Mini ever made. And of course, who can forget Mr Bean’s lime green number with black racing stripes, perfect for quick parking manoeuvres and showing those Reliant Robins who’s boss.
6. If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix it
The exterior design of the Mini has remained largely unchanged since it first hit the market in 1959, and this was definitely deliberate. Issigonis loved the car’s design just as much as the public did, and thanks to the Mini Cooper dominating in races across the globe, very few changes were made to the interior, exterior, and under the hood for 41 years!
In 1990, the beloved bonnet stripes were added, and the Mini range was modernised in 2000 for the new millennium and a whole new customer base. As part of this rebrand, the Cooper received a new 1.6-litre engine as standard, with the Cooper S boasting a supercharged engine. Although side by side, the classic Cooper and 2022 Coopers still bare a striking resemblance, carrying on their timeless legacy, and some companies even allow consumers to win a Mini Cooper due to their sheer value and widespread appeal.