August 2, 2000 – BMW officially announces a new MINI Cooper

mini cooper
A 2000 Mini Cooper. By Liftarn – CC BY 3.0

August 2, 2000, marked a significant day in automotive history when BMW officially announced its plans to produce a new Mini Cooper. The story behind the creation of this iconic car is one of vision, innovation, and a desire to uphold the company’s standards and image while venturing into new territory.

In early 1994, BMW acquired the Rover Group from British Aerospace, which included the Mini brand among other iconic names. The Mini brand, while loved by many, did not meet BMW’s traditional characteristics, such as rear-wheel drive, that were essential to uphold the company’s premium standards. However, BMW saw this as an opportunity to create a competitively priced, yet premium, compact car that could appeal to a broader audience.

Rover’s First Attempts: The ACV30

Around the same time, Rover was working on a successor to the original Mini. It unveiled the ACV30 at the 1997 Monte Carlo Rally, a two-door coupe powered by a rear-mounted MG F engine. Subsequently, Rover released the Spiritual and Spiritual Too concepts, which were a more realistic attempt to create a modern Mini. These concepts coincided with BMW’s official creation of the Mini project and marked the initial steps toward what would become the new Mini Cooper.

In 1998, BMW set out to create the production version of the new Mini. Designers from various BMW studios worldwide submitted 15 full-sized design studies. Out of these, the design chosen to represent the future Mini was from BMW Designworks in California and was crafted by American designer Frank Stephenson. The new Mini One R50 and Mini Cooper models were born, fitting perfectly into BMW’s plan to have two compact cars, while leaving the supermini class for the BMW 1 Series.

Stephenson and his team worked tirelessly to ensure that the new Mini retained the unmistakable essence of its predecessor. He wanted the first impression when people approached the car to be, “it could only be a Mini.” And indeed, the design achieved that and more.

The Birth of a Legend: A Farewell to the Original Mini

2004 Mini Cooper. By Vauxford – CC BY-SA 4.0

As the new Mini Cooper took shape, it marked the end of an era for the original Mini. The last Mark VII Mini, a red Cooper Sport, rolled off the production line at the Longbridge plant in October 2000, marking the production of 5,387,862 original two-door Minis. The historic moment was made even more special as the pop singer Lulu drove the car off the line. The last original Mini was preserved at the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon, alongside the very first Mini Mark I ever made.

The new generation Mini Hatch/Hardtop made its debut in July 2001 and proved to be an immediate sales success. The car’s unique blend of style, performance, and affordability resonated with customers, bringing the iconic brand back to the forefront of the automotive world.

Mini Clubman. By M 93

BMW’s commitment to the Mini brand continued to grow over the years. In 2005, an investment of £100 million was announced for the Mini plant in Oxford, United Kingdom, leading to the creation of 200 new jobs and a 20% increase in production output. The Mini lineup also expanded, with the introduction of new models like the Mini Clubman and roadster versions in subsequent years.

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