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A fashion icon
Fuel prices rose drastically in 1957 England due to the Suez Crisis, making it necessary for the British Motor Corporation to look for a replacement for the gas guzzling large vehicles they were producing at that time. With gas being rationed, consumers needed to get the maximum amount of miles from every drop.
Alec Issigonis, an engineer with a stellar reputation for being an expert at designing small vehicles, was asked to come up with a compact, fuel saving car with room for four adults. Perhaps most important for the consumer, BMC requested that the vehicle also be affordable.
That request led to the development of the first Mini in 1959 by Issigonis and a small group of designers. By turning the engine sideways and pushing the wheels out to the corners, they provided more stability during turns as well as more room for passengers. The motor was a BMC four-cylinder water-cooled engine, mounted transversely with the engine oil lubricated four speed transmission. Being equipped with four wheel drive ensured that it was ready for any and all adventures.
The MK II came on the scene in the late 1960s, sporting the redesigned front grille that has remained with the Mini through the years. The MK III Mini came with several modifications, including bigger doors with hinges that were hidden from view. 1964 brought the Austin Mini Cooper S on the scene.
The Mini turned out to be much more than just a practical solution to the needs of the consumer. The 1980s and 1990s brought a number of ‘special edition’ versions of the Mini, turning it into a fashion icon rather than just a mass produced automobile. The Mini was given the honor of being named European Car Of The Century in 1999 following the sale of five million of them all around the world.
In 2000, production of the classic Mini came to an end when the new owner, BMW joined together the sporty, yet luxurious BMW features with the original four wheel drive to invent the new MINI vehicle. In 2002, the Hardtop made its way to highways in the United States. The roomy Mini Clubman and the John Cooper Works Hardtop have been added recently.
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