The Mini is a car that everyone knows. In America, the only car that’s recognized more easily might be the iconic Volkswagen Beetle, but the Mini can give even the Bug a run for its money. It’s not only automotive enthusiasts who love the it, but also people with a taste for British flair, and those who love compact, fuel-efficient vehicles.
Since the British Motor Corporation launched the Mini in 1959, the car has developed a storied history, involving the Royal family, racing lore, and even a famous silver screen getaway in the 1967 film “The Italian Job.” At the same time, buyers across the globe continue to buy the vehicle in huge numbers, choosing it for its style, speed, and expert handling. Below are seven things to know if you’re considering investing in a Mini of your own.
1. It’s so great, The Queen knighted its designer: In the 1950s, England was facing a problem that is all too familiar today: high gas prices. The British Motor company tasked Alec Issigonis, an engineer, with designing an affordable car that could hold four adults and wouldn’t guzzle fuel. The result was the Mini, which became so popular that it earned Issigonis a knighthood in 1969, just a decade after the car’s launch.
2. It is incredibly popular: The Mini was hugely popular all over Europe throughout the 1960s. In fact, even members of the British royal family were driving them. In just ten years, 2 million of these vehicles had been sold around the world. It was so wildly popular that car enthusiasts almost named it the Car of the Century for the 1900s — only the Ford Model T beat the Mini (which was still named European Car of the Century).
3. It has a timeless design: The original design was used for more than 40 years, from its launch in 1959 until a redesign in 2000. Sure, there were some small tweaks and options introduced (including a pick-up and station wagon version), but the design remained largely unchanged through the 20th century.
4. It’s a racing icon: The biggest innovation of the Mini was Issigonis’ decision to “push out” the wheels to the four corners of the car. While that gave the car’s interior more space, it also gave the car excellent handling (even today the Mini is super agile). Its racing prowess was increased in 1961 when the Classic Mini Cooper 997 was introduced with a bigger engine and more braking power. Its status as an icon was cemented after three wins at the Monte Carlo Rally between 1964 and 1967.
5. It’s not so mini any more: The original Mini was just ten feet long. However, after the brand’s global relaunch in 2000, the Mini began to grow, and today’s Minis are much larger than the icon of the 1960s (check out this image for proof). With the new size comes new features too – the Mini even has an all-wheel drive version today.
6. Expect to pay big for upkeep: The 2016 Mini has great ratings for affordability as a second-hand vehicle. However, since 2000, BMW has produced the Mini, and you can expect to pay luxury prices for any fixes that your Mini might need.
7. They’re still a lot of fun to drive: Mini’s still have mass appeal, and it’s not just because of their history. The cars have snappy acceleration and very responsive handling. Plus, they’re still sure to turn heads as your drive by.