Thanks to Egypt’s communist ties and its nationalization of the Suez Canal in 1956 Europe was soon facing massive fuel shortages. As a response Sir Leonard Lord, head of British Motor Corporation (BMC), set out to build a small, fuel efficient car to compete with the German cars that currently held the market. Due to his efforts, BMC, which was created in a merger between Austin and Morris in 1952, launched the Mark I Mini on this day in 1959. The Mini would go on to became one of Europe’s greatest selling cars. The project was head by Alec Issigonis, the former chief engineer at Morris who had created the Morris Minor. When development began in 1957 it took place under a veil of secrecy. Code named ADO 15, for Austin Drawing Office, the car was ready for approval in just two and half years. Lord signed off on the project right away and the front wheel drive vehicle began to roll off production lines with a price tag equivalent to just $800. It was marketed under two different names, the Austin Seven and the Morris Mini-Minor, the only difference being the radiator grille. By 1962 they were each known simply as Mini. John Cooper began building high performance Minis in 1961, giving them the name Mini Cooper. Production continued until 2000, at which point some 5.3 million Minis had been produced. A certain group of journalists went on to vote the Mini the European Car of the Century. BMW began producing a new line of Mini Coopers in 2003, one of which the author of this page drives! (Pictured) Pictures:1959 Austin Mini1961 Austin Mini Cooper2000 Mini Cooper S2008 Mini Clubman S (the author’s)
August 26, 1959 – Mini makes its debut
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