All of these smart technical novelties produced a car with minimum overall dimensions and maximized space for passengers and luggage.
Other enhancements included the mounting of the carburetor at the back of the engine. This allowed for an extra reduction gear to be mounted between the engine and the transmission to reduce loads on the gearbox and prevent rapid wear. The engine had 51.7 cui and offered an excellent a top speed for this type of a car of 72 mph.
Although the Mini’s design had utilitarian origins the shape of the classic model had become so iconic that by the Rover Group, the heirs to BMC, have registered it as a trademark in the early 90s.
The First Mini in production version shown to the press in April 1959, and by August several thousand vehicles had been produced ready for sales.
The name “Mini” was not used form the beginning of production. In early advertising material was used the name “SE7EN”. An already famous Morris model at that time was the Minor, which is Latin for “smaller”. So, for the even smaller car the decided to use the abbreviation for the Latin word “minimus”, which means “the smallest”.
In 1964 the MK I got a new suspension design using the “hydrolastic” system. This created a softer ride but was criticized by many for being too expensive and altering the handling of the car. Starting with 1971 the original rubber suspension was back again, and used until production end.
The sales were not very promising after the launch, but the Mini became a hit through the 60s, with a total of 1,190,000 Mk I’s produced. It is being rumored that the MK I wasn’t profitable for BMC, because it was sold at a lower price than the production costs, in order to be competitive on the market. Some even say that was due to an accounting error. A thing is for sure though, that the MK I got its own place into the culture of the 1960s.
In the late 60s Issigonis had been working for a replacement for the original Mini. That was supposed to be shorter and more powerful than the MK I, but due to management decisions at BMC it was not built. Instead of that the Mk II was released, featuring a redesigned front grille (which remained like that from that point) and also a larger rear window among other cosmetic changes. The Mk II Minis was produced in 429,000 pieces.
The MK II got famous by being the star of the 1969 film “The Italian Job”, that featured a car chase in three Minis are driven by a team of thieves. The movie got a remake in 2003 that used the new (BMW produced) MINI.
The Mk III Mini had a series of body modifications, the most serious of which were the larger doors with concealed hinges. Also the suspension was reverted from Hydrolastic to rubber system for cost-saving purposes. Also the boot lid lost the original hinged number plate got instead a large rear colour coded lamp. It also featured larger rear side windows.
MK4 & 5 Mini
The later MKs, IV to VII featured mainly technical modifications that included a front rubber mounted sub-frame with single tower bolts, twin stalk indicators with larger foot pedals, 8.4 inch brake discs and plastic wheel arches. Beginning with 1990 engine mounting points were moved forward to accommodate 78 cui power units with the HIF carb version.
Through the 1980s and the 1990s there were released several "special editions" of the Mini, that shifted the car from a mass-market item into a fashionable icon. Maybe for this reason the Mini become such an asset for BMW, which in 1994 bought the brand as part of the Rover Group.
Under BMW supervision the Mini received an airbag to comply with European safety legislation. Because by the year 2000 Rover Group was still suffering massive losses, BMW BMW decided to sell MG, Rover and Land Rover and only kept the Mini brand in order to produce a new model with that name
The final Mini MK VII was produced in October 2000, being the last from a total of 5.3 million cars manufactured and sold all over the world.