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The 1959 Austin Mini, a Really Cool Ground Breaking Car for its Time

One of the coolest cars of all time is the Austin Mini. Being at the forefront of engineering by Alexander Issigonis in 1959 the Austin Mini was the first small car to have front wheel drive (Source: Techologystudent.com). The technological advancement of a traverse engine allowed for the engine to save space and was manufactured by British Motor Company (BMC) after the Suez Oil Crisis to save on fuel consumption.

1959 Austin Mini

1959 Austin Mini Cutaway Model to see the “compactness” Image Credit: Clive Barker

Original Name of the Austin Mini

The Austin Mini was first called the “Austin Seven” and “Morris Mini-Motor” and wasn’t officially called the “Austin Mini” until 1962. Some even claim the design was instrumental in the creation of the “Mini-Van”.

Basic Specifications of Austin Mini 1964

FeatureType
Engine Inline-4
ValvetrainOHV 2 Valves / Cyl
Displacement65.4 cu in
Power 70.0 bhp @ 6200 rpm
Torque62.0 ft lbs @ 4500 rpm
Transmission4-Speed Manual
Top speed 90.0 mph
0 - 60 mph13.0 seconds
0 - 1/4 mile19.2 seconds

During the 1960’s the Austin Mini became so popular it was the best selling car for ten years and eventually became an iconic figure for films and television shows. According to Wikipedia, the Mini is the British equivalent of the Volkswagen Beetle.

1965 Austin Mini Stretch

1965 Austin Mini Stretch was really popular. Image Credit: Robert Knight

Setting new standards for small cars

The Austin Mini’s style evolved over time, but remain the same today. BMW owns the rights to the Mini’s style and it is popular even today. If you compare the 1960’s model Mini to the early 2000’s you can see the shape is essentially the same. BMWs goal was to keep the original feel and format when styling the car for newer generations.

Crosley Super Deluxe Speed

Crosley Super Deluxe Speed which is similar to the “Mini” and became unpopular. Image credit: http://jalopnik.com/

One of the Greatest Designs of All Time?

What makes the Austin Mini one of the greatest styles of all time is the bench mark of good design while other manufacturers tried to copy the style of the Mini. A couple of examples would be the Suzuki Swift and the Crosley Super-Deluxe Speed. The Swift, produced by the Japanese, is clearly seen as trying to accommodate the same customer. The Crosley was a complete flop being produced by Crosley Corporation in the United States until 1952 and is considered more of a “clownish” type of vehicle today.

The Suzuki Swift

The Suzuki Swift clearly seen as similar to the original Austin Mini. Image Credit: Rocking Cars

Safety Record

The creator of the Austin Mini, Issigonis designed the vehicle with “safety in mind”, but when asked about the crash worthiness of the vehicle he was quoted as saying “I make my cars with such good brakes, such good steering, that if people get into a crash it’s their own fault”. Issigonis exerted, “I don’t design my cars to have accidents”. According to authors Nicolas Faith which published “CRASH The Limits of Car Safety” in 1997 and Jack McClean, a journalist for Car Safety.

Table – Variants of the Austin Mini

RankVariants of Austin MiniYears
1Wolseley Hornet and Riley Elf1961 – 1969
2Morris Mini Traveller and Austin Mini Countryman 1960 – 1969
3Mini Van1960 – 1983
4Mini Moke1964 –1989
5Mini Pick-up 1961 – 1983
6Morris Mini K (Australia only)March 1969 – August 1971
7Mini Cooper and Cooper S:1961 – 1971; 1990 - 2000
8Mini Clubman and 1275 GT1969 – 1980

Removing the Austin Mini from the Market

However, in 1968 the vehicle was removed from the American market since it could not meet safety standards. Jack Daniels, from the original Issigonis team, worked on safety improvements until his death in 1977 and after it was thought the lack of safety would stop production completely. With increasing demands for safety and pollution in the European market the Mini was planned to be taken out of production in 1996. BMW chose to invest in the iconic Mini with the launch of the BMW Mini in 2000.

The original Morris Mini-Minor

The original Morris Mini-Minor which became the Austin Mini in 1962. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Iconic Design and a Legendary Car

The original design of the Austin Mini set the bench mark for other compact automobile manufactures with ground breaking technology which continues today. The original Mini has stood the test of time and is considered the “Number 2” best vehicle of all time according to Edmunds.com.

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The design is recognizable by all generations and has inspired other automobile manufactures to design similar small cars. The BMW version is as popular as the original 1960’s Mini and drivers from all walks of life enjoy the “Mini” with its offered style competing with more expensive deluxe model vehicles.

Greg Fowler
I love to network, travel, and spend time with my children. When I am not doing that I am working on AutoInsureSavings or other websites. If I am working, the best way to reach me is via my Google+ Profile.

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