A Brief History of Mini Cars

The Mini car brand has a long and august history, with a wide range of major achievements to its name. Today it is thought of by many people as being one of the top brands of classic cars, a fact which was highlighted in 1996 when the Classic & Sports Car magazine awarded Mini one of its most prestigious ever awards – ‘Number One Classic Car of All Time’.
The History of Mini cars goes back to August 1959, when 3 new cars were introduced to the British market – the Austin Seven, Morris Mini-Minor and the Morris Mini-Minor DL 2-door saloons. Each of these cars was fitted with an 848cc engine and a 4-speed manual transmission.
The first Mini cars were an instant hit, and as Britain moved into the 1960’s a wide range of new cars were released, and the brand became the icon we know it as today. In 1960 the firm released two new 3-door estates – the Austin Seven Countryman and Morris Mini-Minor Traveller. Both cars came with the same 848cc engine as the original saloon models, and 116,667 cars were made in the first year of production alone.
1961 Saw the introduction of the Austin Seven Super and Morris Mini-Minor Super 2-door saloons, as well as the Austin Mini Cooper and Morris Mini Cooper which featured a new and more powerful 997cc 55bhp engine.
In 1962 a rebranding exercise changed the name of all the old Austin Seven models to Austin Mini, to reflect the growing popularity of the Mini name. Also in this year new oil pressure and water temperature gauges were added to the dashboard of all new cars, the cloth upholstery on entry level models was replaced by pvc seat covers, and the former ‘Super’ and ‘De Luxe’ trim levels were combined to produce the new ‘Super de Luxe’ designation.
A new 1071cc engine capable of producing 70bhp was introduced for the Austin Mini Copper S and Morris Mini Cooper S in 1963.
1964 was a busy year for the firm, with the release of the new Mini Moke, Austin and Morris Mini-Cooper 998 models, Mini-Cooper 970 S and Mini-Cooper 1275 S with a new 1275cc 76bhp engine. The firm also introduced the option of an automatic transmission on some of its models in this year. The automatic transmission option was rolled out even further in 1965, when it was made available on standard Austin / Morris Mini models and the Morris Mini SDL.
In the second half of 1967 the firm launched a new Mark 2 range with a restyled design and improved levels of equipment. A year after this in 1968 a new four-speed manual transmission with synchromesh further upgraded all new manual transmission cars manufactured by the firm.
A second rebranding exercise in 1969 saw the previously separate Austin and Morris badging merged into Mini 850 and Mini 1000 badging.
All through the 1960’s the Mini was marketed as an affordable mass market vehicle, which made car ownership available to lower income household who may not have been able to afford it before. But this began to change in the 1980s and 1990s when a range of special edition cars were sold in the United Kingdom, and the brand’s modern reputation as a fashion icon and desirable classic car began to form. This helped the brand to survive the collapse of Rover in 2000, when it passed to BMW ownership.
The Mini brand celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2009, and many special events marked the occasion. These included a limited edition set of stamps from the Royal Mail, and a large gathering of 4000 cars and their owners from all around the world in Longbridge, Birmingham.