Official MINI Cult Brand Profile

MINI Cooper brand lovers


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Quick Stats

Classic Mini Production: 1959-2000

MINI Production: 2001-Present

Designer of Original Mini: designed for BMC by Sir Alec Issigonis.

Designer of modern MINI: designed by Frank Stephenson and drew inspiration from the original Mini. The name of the new car’s brand, MINI, was all-capitalised to distinguish it from its predecessor.

MINI Cult Brand Summary

The Mini is a small car that was designed by Alec Issigonis for the British Motor Corporation (BMC). BMC and its successors built the original Mini from 1959 until 2000. The Mini became an icon of the 1960s, and its space-saving front-wheel-drive layout influenced a generation of car-makers. The vehicle was produced in many limited edition designs and was easily customizable making it a fun car to make your own.

In 1994 BMW bought Mini and in 1995 began development of a new Mini. The new MINI was designed by Frank Stephenson and was first produced in 2001. The MINI captured the essence of the original Mini but updated a lot of technological and safety features the original Mini was not required to have.

Like the Volkswagen beetle, MINI embraced the Golden Rule of Courage and stood out as something different. In the heyday of the gas-guzzling SUVs, the roads were congested with Escalades, Navigators, and the almighty Hummer. With bigger is better sensibility, drivers could preen their feathers and strut their egos by way of their vehicles. Yet when all of the cars were getting bigger, MINI prided itself on being smaller, much smaller. When MINI wiggled its way onto the scene, it became the little engine that could.

It has been more than fuel efficiency that makes MINI a smart choice. Like other Cult Brands that follow the Golden Rule of Freedom, MINI celebrates each individual driver and encourages him or her to “you-ify your MINI.” MINI explains, “Everybody wants their car to say something different about them. Fortunately, the MINI can say anything.”

Like other Cult Brands, MINI loves surprising their customers at every turn. As a MINI owner, you might receive a cryptic package in the mail, complete with a purple filter sheet, a letter descrambler, a password key, and a note saying, “look forward to our hidden messages.” The following week, you’re reading the New Yorker magazine and you spot a MINI advertisement calling for a special code. Like a good detective, you grab your secret kit to decipher the covert message. But it really doesn’t matter what it says. What matters is that you’re like the lucky kid in the neighborhood holding the prized decoder ring from your winning box of Cracker Jacks.

This child-like, adventurous spirit prevails in the world of MINI. Remember how you could explore the world without constraints as a child? You couldn’t care less about what other people thought because you were too enthralled with each new and exciting discovery. MINI understands the nostalgia adults have for their younger years.

With a scrapbook of playful moments and creative collectibles, MINI defines the Golden Rule of Fun and sells lifestyles defined by freedom, good cheer, and camaraderie. As a Brand Lover or enthusiast, you might take part in MINI Takes the States Tour, traveling across country with a caravan of MINIs, stopping in different cities, attending special events, and mingling with other members of the MINI Family. However, staying true to the Golden Rule of Openness, the event organizers proclaim, “Everyone is invited, even if you don’t own a MINI.

For MINI owners, driving is not just a functional activity that makes going to work and running errands possible. It’s all about the experience. In their Book of Motoring, MINI explains, “The difference is in the mind of the operator. Just because you drive, doesn’t mean you motor. When you drive, you go from A to B. When you motor, you go from A to Z. It’s all about living. Nobody can tell you when you’re motoring. You just know.” Ultimately, for MINI drivers, “Mileage equals experience.”

Most of all, MINI proudly fosters a solid network of customer communities—the MINI Family, as it’s called—connected throughout the world. MINI explains, “Dating back to its birth in the UK, there’s a long-standing tradition of MINI owners acknowledging each other when they pass on the streets … So when you pass another MINI, don’t be shy. Give them a wave. It could be as subtle as raising an index finger off the steering wheel or as enthusiastic as two hands out the sunroof (although it would probably be best if these were passenger hands).” You’ll also hear MINI drivers acknowledging one another by flicking their headlights, and even giving high-fives out the window while passing each other by.

MINI Timeline

1906 – Alex Issigonis, designer of the original Mini is born in Smyrna, Turkey.

1923 – John Newton Cooper born. Friend of Issigonis and future owner of the Cooper Car Company

1955 – Alex Issigonis is asked by Leonard Lord to go to work in the British Motor Corporation (BMC) design headquarters as Chief Engineer.

1956 – Nasser closes the Suez Canal, the main route for oil to the West. “Bubble” cars are born in response to scarce fuel.

1957 – Leonard Lord, in reaction to the Bubble Cars, gives the OK for the Mini project, code named ADO 15, and early on referred to as the Austin Newmarket.

1958 – Leonard Lord takes a short drive in one of the Mini prototypes and gives the OK for the car, saying he wants it in production in 12 months.

March 1959 The Morris Mini Minor later to be known as the first one built (621 AOK) comes off the “pre”-production line.

May 1959 – Actual production starts.

August 1959 – Austin Seven and Morris Mini Minor in Basic and De-Luxe versions go on sale, August 26th. Basic, 500UKP. De-Luxe (the most popular), 537UKP. The Morris was available in Red, White, or Blue. The Austin in Red, Grey or Blue. The De-Luxe versions had such extras as carpets instead of rubber mats, passenger adjustable seat, opening rear side windows, bumper overriders, full width wheel trims and a heater!

September 1959 – First works Mini in an international event driven by Marcus Chambers. Viking Rally. YOP 663. 51st overall.

1960 – Van goes on sale. Longer by 9 5/8”. Wheelbase 4” longer. 6-gallon (UK) fuel tank under the rear floor. Longer rear suspension trumpets, spare wheel and battery behind the front seats under the leading edge of the load floor. Passenger seat and rear view mirror were extra cost options!

First international class win for a works Mini: Don Morley on the Geneva Rally, 618 AOG.

Countryman (Austin) and Traveller (Morris) Estate cars (with wood) go on sale.

1961 – Pickup goes on sale. Longer than the Van by about 5/8” and using the same “long” wheelbase.

  • Weight 34 pounds more than the saloon and 8 less than the Van.
  • Australian Mini production starts.
  • 997 Cooper shows itself at a press release.
  • Super version goes on sale. The same body and exterior specifications as the soon-to-be-sold Mini Cooper; except, the grilles were unique to the model.

1962 – First outright international win for a works Mini: Pat Moss on the Tulip Rally in a 997 Cooper, 737 ABL.

  • First overall, Baden-Baden Rally, Pat Moss, 737 ABL.
  • De-Luxe and Super models dropped. Replaced by Super De-Luxe. Generally regarded as a step back from the Super model in trim level.
  • John Love wins the British Saloon Car Championship driving for the Cooper Car Company.

1963 – The Cooper S goes on sale in 1071cc form. Externally, there were very few clues to differentiate the new Cooper S from the Cooper.

  • Rob Slotemaker wins the 1300cc class in the European Championship driving for Downton Engineering.

1964 – Mini has one of their greatest racing year.

  • Hopkirk wins the Monte Carlo Rally in a 1071 Cooper S, 33 EJB.
  • Makinen wins the Tulip Rally in a 1275, AJB 66B.
  • John Fitzpatrick takes 1st in the 1300cc class in the British Saloon Car Championship driving for the Cooper Car Company.
  • The Austin/Morris Panel Van shows up in the sales literature. Start date unknown.
  • Hopkirk wins the Circuit of Ireland in CRX 89B.
  • Aaltonen wins the Geneva Rally in EBL 55C.
  • Aaltonen wins the Czech Rally in EJB 55C.
  • Aaltonen wins the Polish Rally in CRX 89B.
  • Makinen wins the 1000 Lakes Rally in AJB 33B.
  • Aaltonen wins the Munich-Vienna-Budapest Rally in CRX 89B.
  • Reclining seat option offered on Cooper and Cooper S.
  • Aaltonen wins the RAC Rally in DJB 93B.
  • Aaltonen wins the European Rally Championship.
  • John Rhodes wins the 1300cc class in the British Saloon Car Championship driving for the Cooper Car Company.
  • Warwick Banks takes 1st in the 1000cc class in the British Saloon Car Championship driving for the Cooper Car Company.

1965 – Makinen wins the Monte Carlo Rally in AJB 44B. Considered one of the greatest rally drives ever.

1966 – Fall wins the Circuit of Ireland in DJB 92B.

  • Aaltonen wins the Tulip Rally in GRX 310D.
  • Hopkirk wins the Austrian Alpine Rally in DJB 93B.
  • Fall wins the Scottish Rally in DJB 93B.
  • Aaltonen wins the Czech Rally in JBL 494D.
  • Fall wins the Polish Rally in GRX 309D in 970 S form. Makinen wins the 1000 Lakes Rally in JBL 493D.
  • Makinen wins the Munich-Vienna-Budapest Rally in HJB 656D.

1967 – Aaltonen wins the Monte Carlo Rally in LBL 6D.

  • Hopkirk wins the Circuit of Ireland in GRX 5D.
  • Hopkirk is 1st in Class in the Sebring 3 Hour Race in GRX 309D.
  • Hopkirk wins the Acropolis Rally in LRX 830E.
  • Fall wins the Geneva Rally in LRX 827E.
  • Makinen wins the 1000 Lakes Rally in GRX 195D. Fall, Vernaeve, and Hedges take 1st in class at the 84 Hour Marathon.
  • Hopkirk wins the Alpine Rally in LRX 827E.
  • John Rhodes wins the 1300cc class in the British Saloon Car Championship driving for the Cooper Car Company.

1968 – Although taking 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in class and winning the Manufacturers’ Team Prize, the Monte Carlo win streak is ended.

  • The Minis were 3rd, 4th, and 5th overall. ORX 7F, ORX 707F, ORX 777F.
  • Moke production in England stops. (Total English production: 14,518; Austin 5,422; Morris, 9,096)
  • John Rhodes wins the 1300cc class in the British Saloon Car Championship driving for the Cooper Car Company.
  • John Rhodes takes 1st in the 1300cc class in the European Championship driving for the Cooper Car Company.
  • Gordon Spice takes 1st in the 1000cc class in the British Saloon Car Championship driving for Arden.
  • John Handley takes 1st overall and 1st in the 1000cc class in the European Championship driving for British Vita.

1969 – Issigonis awarded Knighthood for services to automotive engineering.

  • British Leyland buys 51% of Authi.
  • Hopkirk takes 1st in class at the Tour de France in OBL 45F.
  • Mini Cooper discontinued. (Total 997 & 998 Cooper production: approx. 100,100. Total 998 Mk II Cooper production: Austin, 9,900; Morris, 21,800)
  • Alex Poole takes 1st overall and 1st in the 1000cc class in the British Saloon Car Championship driving for Arden.

1971 – Issigonis retires. Continues on as a consultant.

1972 – British Leyland buys the motor vehicle portion of Innocenti.

1976 – Mini 1000 special, Limited edition goes on sale. (Total production: approx. 3,000.) “Cosmetically enhanced” Mini 1000. Special paint and interior. Reclining seats.

1979 – 1100 Special limited edition goes on sale at 3,300UKP.

  • “20th Anniversary” edition.
  • Total production: approx. 5,100.
  • 45bhp 1098 engine.
  • Choice of two special paint colors.
  • Vinyl roof. 165×70 tires on 5” rims.
  • Clubman bumpers, etc.
  • Mini 1000 called Super.

1980 – Clubman discontinued. (Total production: Saloon, 331,675; Estate, 176,688.)

  • 1275 GT discontinued. (Total production: 117,949.)

1982 – City changed to City E.

  • Van and Pickup discontinued.

1983 – Mini Sprite limited edition starts at 3,334UKP. (Total production: approx. 2,500.) Special paint and stripes. Wheels and tires like the 1100 special. Different interior.

The South African Mini Panda goes on sale. Alpine White paint, Panda decal, white wheel covers, radio/tape combination, twin rear-mounted speakers, rear-mounted telescopic aerial, window air deflectors, twin spotlamps, synthetic sheepskin seat covers front and rear, leather gearknob and rubber floor mats front and rear.

1984 – 25th Anniversary limited edition starts at 3,865UKP. (Total production: approx. 5,000.) Silver with red accents inside and out. Lots of “25” decals. Leather steering wheel. Radio/cassette. Most notably: 12” wheels and 8.4” disc brakes, soon to become standard on all Minis.

1985 – Ritz limited edition starts 3,798UKP. (Total production: approx. 3,725.) Silver outside with Ritz decals. Accented with Nimbus Grey. Multicolored interior. In other words, a Mini City with some fancy paint and decals – a similar theme to many of the limited editions and specials.

1986 – Chelsea limited edition starts at 3,898UKP. (Total production: approx. 1,500.) A City E painted Targa Red with decals.

Piccadilly limited edition starts at 3,928UKP. (Total production: approx. 2,500.) A City E in Cashmere Gold. Dark velvet interior. Full width wheel trims in plastic.

1987 – Park Lane limited edition starts at 4,194UKP. (Total production: 4,000.) Black exterior with bigger decals.

Advantage limited edition starts 4,286UKP. (Total production: 4,675.) City E in Diamond White with tennis motif decals.

1988 – Red Hot and Jet Black limited editions start at 4,382UKP. (Total production: approx. 6,000.) Red or Black. Tinted windows. Decals.

Designer limited edition starts at 4,654UKP. (Total production: approx. 2,000.) Black or white. Tied in with designer Mary Quant with daisy motif and her signature on the seats.

October 1988 – Alex Issigonis dies at the age of 81.

1989 – Sky, Rose, Racing and Flame special editions start. (Total production: Sky/Rose, approx. 1,100; Racing/Flame, approx. 2,000.)

  • Mini 30 (30th Anniversary) special edition starts. (Total production: approx. 3,000.)

1990 – Flame Red and Racing Green special editions start. (Total Production with Checkmate, approx. 2,500.)

  • Checkmate special edition starts. (Total production with Flame and Racing, approx. 2,500.)
  • Studio 2 special edition starts. (Total production: approx. 2,000.)
  • RSP Rover Mini Cooper goes on sale. (Total production: approx 1,650 with 650 of them going to Japan.)

1992 – The Italian Job special edition goes on sale. (Total production: approx.1,750.)

1993 – Rover built Cabriolet goes on sale.

1994 – Rover Group is acquired by BMW

  • Mini Cooper Monte Carlo special edition goes on sale.

1995 – Designed for the new generation MINI begins between Rover group in the UK and BMW in Germany

1996 – Cabriolet discontinued.

  • No longer any technical differences between “Mini” and “Cooper”.
  • 2000 Production ceased October 4. The car designated as the last one off of the production line is registered as X411JOP and goes to the Heritage Museum to share space with 621 AOK.
  • Total Original Mini production quoted as 5,387,862.

December 2000 – John Cooper dies.

2001 – The new MINI from BMW is produced

2003 – Featured in the 2003 remake of The Italian Job, the Mini Cooper/Cooper S won the North American Car of the Year award for 2003.

2005 – MINI convertibles go on Sale. Owners have to sign a contract stating they will drive with the top down 90% of the time.

2006 – MINI Takes the States rally begins in California, following the Monterey Historic Automobile Races and ends 3,123 miles across the country at the Lime Rock Vintage Festival in Connecticut.

2008 – MINI Takes the States rally is held in the summer. MINI drivers visit Miami, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

  • MINI Clubman goes on sale. Its longer body gives drivers more cargo room while having the same unique MINI look.

2009 – A limited-edition of the John Cooper Works Hardtop is produced. It commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the Formula One World Championship title won by John Cooper (builder) and Jack Brabham (driver). The production vehicle is inspired by John Coopers son, Mike.

2010 – MINI Takes the State Rally takes place in Denver, CO. Over 50,000 MINI enthusiast attend the event.

2011 – The MINI Countryman goes on sale.

Presentations About MINI As a Brand

7 Steps to Customer Loyalty

Articles & Web Resources Related to MINI

MINI Mania Across the States — by Salim Bueno

Making the Case: MINI — by Salim Bueno

A Child’s Day is Forever — by Jenny Lee

Autoblog hits the road with Mini Takes The States 2010 — by Steven J. Ewing

MINI YouTube Channel

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