Influencing events & outcomes
Sir Alec Issigonis
An English-Greek car engineer and car designer, Issigonis is responsible for the development of the Mini and for shaping its iconic design and engineering. Before the Mini reaches the market (to, let we forget, less than enthusiastic initial reviews) Issigonis also responsible for the design of the Morris Minor (a British motoring icon), the Morris 110 (very popular in its day), the Morris 1800 and Austin Maxi (a sort of less icon older sibling to the Mini).
A captain of the British motor industry, in 1959 Lord becomes President of the British Motor Corporation (BMC). Following its creation, Lord jokes that BMC stands for, "Bugger My Competitors". He dies in 1967, at the age of 70, during discussions over the formation of British Leyland. Although he had success in his early career, Lord's legacy is an unprofitable product range, weak distribution and poor management, all of which British Leyland inherit.
A British automobile designer, Haynes is responsible at Ford Europe for the design of its 1966 Cortina MkII (transitioning the car from its icon MkI design into a more modernist form). He also works on Ford’s big and boxy Zodiac/Zephyr Mk4. Recruited to BMC in 1967, Haynes works on the design of the Austin Maxi, a facelift for the Morris 110 and then on a facelift for the 1969 Mini Clubman to bring it into the 1970s with a square nose.
The British Motor Corporation Limited (BMC) is formed early in the year, after the agreed merger of Morris and Austin. Acquisition and amalgamation of the leading British car brands under the BMC badge disastrously follow in an attempt to build a British car industry that can compete in world markets. Amidst this corporate manoeuvring, the Mini is produced by BMC and its various equally disastrous successors from 1959.
Having stripped down the original Mini and discovered it cost more to produce than it was being sold for, Ford launches the Fiesta in 1976. This follows the launch of the Fiat 127 and Renault 5. Both of these models demonstrate strong demand for cheerful, cheeky and reliable runabouts (particularly in the context of a world adjusting rapidly following the 1973 oil crisis). The Fiesta is less attractive than the Mini but is also rather more popular with buyers.
Bavarian Motor Works (or BMW, as it is more commonly known) takes ownership of MINI (as it becomes known - all capitalised and upstanding) in 2000. In 1994, Rover Group had been acquired by BMW, before being broken up in 2000, with BMW retaining the Mini brand and using it to launch a cute and retro-styled collection of small(ish) cars which are somewhat larger (and certainly better equipped) than their forefather models.
The Italian Job
Possibly the Mini’s greatest celluloid moment, this 1969 heist movie features three MkI Austin Mini Coopers put through their paces in sunny Italy. Though officially headlined by Michael Caine and Noel Coward, The Italian Job's real stars are this trio of Minis, modified with accessory lights and painted red, white and blue in keeping with the movie's 'Swinging sixties' flavour. Mainly remembered for a thrilling high police chase through Turin.
In this feature movie starring Rowan Atkinson, Mr Bean drives from his home to work in his Mini (registration C607 EUW). In the hugely popular television situation comedy that precedes the movie, Bean is first seen driving an orange 1969 BMC Mini MK II, though this car is wrecked in an early episode of the series. It is replaced with a 1976 Mini 1000 MkII in "Applejack green" with a matte black hood. The association of Bean with various Minis is a feature of the comedy.
The Bourne Identity
In this frenetic thriller, the slightly worse for wear 1989 Mini Mayfair MkV that features in the movie belongs to Bourne’s girlfriend. It is put through its paces in the blockbuster, racing through tight Parisian alleyways and down perilous steps. This acclaimed car chase sequence is filmed by director Alexander Witt, featuring various locations around Paris, with Matt Damon and Franka Potente apparently holding on for dear life inside the car.