Hard to believe that the original Mini first made its extrovert appearance on the motoring scene back in the 1950s, badged as an Austin Seven Mini. It was one of several cars to herald the development of ‘small cars’ that were stylishly small by intention in a sea of large ‘prestige’ cars.
A small car that one could buy even though one could afford something bigger…
That’s hard to conceive when you think that small cars are today’s must have model for most of us based on economy, environmental and responsible motoring principles.
The original Mini first made its appearance in 1959 and became the perfect motoring icon in the fashion conscious Swinging Sixties. Ignoring its revolutionary style for a moment, Austin was also the first car manufacturer to mount the engine sideways (giving so much more interior room for a 10 footer) to be front-wheel drive and to have all round independent suspension and more… On the less favourable front, the girl in the spotty jumper may be brushing water off her knee high boots because leaks were quite commonplace as a result of early panel welding faults. And it wasn’t a reliable car either… It cost £567 in 1961 did 41mpg and a top speed of 74mph.
Today’s Mini is better in almost every way, says Which? Car in a January 2012 article. A completely different animal of course, it’s now German owned, much bigger, faster, safer, greener, comfier and much more reliable. And despite all this BMW have somehow managed to preserve the earlier Mini affection despite a selling price of £14,480 (2011) but with a more impressive 74.3 mpg and a top speed of 114mph.
PS: The photo is from a marvellous book called ‘Advertising British Cars of the 50s’ published by Haynes.