National Mini Owners Club

15 Birchwood Road, Lichfield,
Staffordshire, WS14 9UN
Telephone: 01543 257956


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© 2006 NMOC

"Original" Mini facts
  • Launched on 26th August 1959
  • Designed by Alec Issigonis in repsonse to the fuel shortage created by the Suez crisis
  • In 1959, the selling price was just short of £500
"New" MINI facts
  • Announced in 1997, available 2001
  • Slightly bigger than the "original"

1959-2000: Mini Classic

Introduced in 1959 the classic Mini was one of the most influential designs of the last century. It was voted Autocar "Car of The Century" - due to the multitude of changes it bought about.

  • It was envisaged as a small car to rival the "bubble-cars" popular at the time, but yet to still be a fully equipped vehicle
  • The lack of a chassis was revolutionary in 1959, as was...
  • The transverse mounted front engine driving the front wheels and with the engine and gearbox sharing the same oil.
  • The design precedent set by Issigonis was to be copied by virtually all small car manufacturers in the years to come.

From the basic saloon design, many variations were developed by the factory and by others - estate cars, pickups, convertibles, mokes and of course the legendary Cooper. The Mini Cooper was developed by John Cooper, a famous racing car constructor, after having driven the basic car and being highly impressed by its handling. The Mini Cooper was a major player in the race and rally scene of the 1960's.

Mini drivers (both past and present) will find themselves in good company. Here are just a few famous Mini owners:

  • John Lennon
  • Paul McCartney
  • Ringo Starr
  • George Harrison
  • Peter Sellers
  • Noel Gallagher
  • Lord Snowdon
  • Enzo Ferrari
  • Tom Hanks
  • Clint Eastwood
  • Mike Naismith
  • Jackie Stewart
  • Steve McQueen
  • Twiggy
  • David Niven
  • King Hussein of Jordan
  • Eddie Van Halen
  • Marc Bolan

2001 and beyond: MINI

From the Summer of 2000, marketing activity for the new MINI went into overdrive. After years of admitting that they were to produce a new 'Mini' BMW now had to convince its clientele that the wait had been worthwhile. It needed to be simple and effective. Right from the start BMW wanted the world to know that this was not just another new car but the rebirth of a legend; it was a 'proper' replacement for the 41 year old Mini. It was decided that the new Mini was to develop its own brand which BMW have achieved and very effectively as well.

MINI was not badged with the BMW emblem many Mini enthusiasts are pleased to say - the new Mini had to start afresh with its own stamp of individuality so as to create as much enthusiasm as possible for the new car. The car was to become a brand within a brand with separate service departments and managers looking after the entire project.

From the beginning the car was to be affordable to everyone (this is still a much disputed fact - is it affordable to everyone? many would say not) as was the first Mini in 1959, a small engined family car. A big investment was made in the 'brand'. Was the car to be marketed as a British car, a German one or as a European one? The answer was to sell it as a 'world car' for sale in every important car market

The big push towards the launch came in the early Autumn of 2000. The car came into public view for the first time as planned in 1997 despite many traumas both engineering and financially. At last all the rumours were laid to rest, some were confirmed and some written off completely. There was to be a basic vehicle called One and a Cooper with different levels of power output but no sign of the 1.4 litre engine which had been suggested for so long. The size of the car was announced as well.

We all knew for some time that the new car was going to be much larger than the classic Mini, but it was not known by how much. The new car was not only 12% longer and 265% more powerful but also 66% heavier and 45% more volume than before. Not so Mini as before!

The launch was much quieter than expected. The Mini had always been a symbol of fun, glamour and cheekiness but unveiling the new BMW Mini emphasised its branding, rebirth and technical virtues all subdued behind the seriousness of the occasion.. We had all been waiting so long for this occasion but not a lot came as much of a surprise as so much had been officially or unofficially in the press months before the car was real. The only real surprise was the announcement by BMW that they were already considering development of other types including the new convertible that we will soon to be seeing on our roads, but nothing much was to be seen or heard over the next couple of years. Despite the announcement of the car in 2000 we were unable to buy until July 2001 and the only model available was the One and months after that the Cooper. The exterior style was no surprise as so many spy photographs had been printed in the press over the previous few years while the car was being developed.

The body style at the front of the vehicle almost replicates that of the original Classic Mini which was intentional as BMW felt that customers need to be able to rely on the shape and feel of a brand. And while a new shape of a popular brand of anything must not be close to the older one, neither should it be too far away.
Many of us expected the size of the car to be pretty much the same but this was not to be the case, it is said that the new car occupies 45% more volume than the previous car.

Clearly Alex Issigonis and BMW had different packaging ideas - although the new car had much better driving position it had rather less space in the rear seats than the old. The modern car though, was much better equipped.

Who is a MINI customer?

One of the first things that the MINI marketing team discovered is that their clientele is different from people shopping for BMWs. The price appealed to a younger buyer more than the typical BMW customer, but there is more to the MINIs appeal than a low price.

MINI is about excitement, everything about the brand including the people who are drawn to it is very extroverted. They are people into having fun and love a very ' connected' driving experience. They want to be first with the latest and the greatest.

These characteristics are not confined to just one age group either. People on the waiting list have been young lads waiting for their 17th birthday and their new driving license up to 75 years old Grandmothers eager to get into a Cooper S. So there is not actually a typical customer! The type of person you are makes you a MINI person.

The Internet has played a major role in the MINI marketing scheme and fans around the world got their first look at the production version of the Cooper at the same time as the international motoring press via a web cast on September 28th 2000 from the Paris Motor Show. The MINIs web presence goes many layers deep. From the main site of individuals can click on the flag of their home country and be directed to a website tailored to provide specific information relating to the MINI in their homeland. For curiosity sake they can click on another countries flag to discover what is going on in relation to the MINI in other parts of the world. In 2002 the American website was beefed up with enhanced graphics and an enlarged database of information in anticipation of the March 22 kick off date for MINI
sales in the USA.

To appeal to the tech-savy nature of Mini enthusiasts, state of the art programs such as Macromedia Flash 4.0 and Virtual 3D viewers are intrinsic elements of the website that keep interest levels high by providing informative and entertaining diversions, including hidden messages and other surprised along with detours that lead to other parts of the website. A build your own MINI section provided comprehensive product and pricing information so that prospective MINI customers would be well prepared when it came the time to visit the showroom.

Prospective MINI owners can also check out available financing and lease plans to get a clearer idea of how much MINI they can afford per month before they hit the dealers. The website also helps customers locate their nearest MINI dealer and specific information such as address and opening hours can be obtained.

The website has a section where MINI fans can shop for MINI motoring gear ranging from clothing to cuckoo clocks all styled to appeal to the MINI enthusiast and available for purchase through the website as well as dealers. Anyone can register their interest in receiving the latest news and services from MINI by registering for email updates online.