The Mini Cooper S wins the Monte Carlo Rally (as it would also do in 1965 and 1967), cementing the car’s rallying reputation worldwide. The suspension of the car is also replaced this year by the hydrolastic system, which gives a softer ride (but also increases weight and production costs).
A star is born
The British Motor Corporation (BMC) launches Sir Alec Issigonis’s Mini small car on 26 August 1959. The production version of the Mini is demonstrated to the press in April and by August several thousand cars have been manufactured.
Mini models include the Morris Mini-Minor and the Austin Seven, the Countryman, Moke, 1275GT and Clubman with performance versions of these models use the name Cooper (due to a partnership with racing legend John Cooper).
Though slow at the outset, Mini Mark I sales grow through the 1960s and production of the car eventually totals 1,190,000.
The name Mini becomes a marque in its own right and replaces the separate Austin Mini and Morris Mini car names one year after British Motor Holdings merges with Leyland Motors to form British Leyland.
Under British Leyland, the Mini is given a facelift by stylist Roy Haynes (who had previously worked for Ford). The restyled version, called the Mini Clubman, has a squarer frontal look, using the same indicator/sidelight as the Austin Maxi.
A new model, dubbed the 1275 GT, is also brought forward to replace the 998 cc Mini Cooper (the 1,275 cc Mini Cooper S continues alongside the 1275 GT until 1971). The Clubman Estate replaces the Countryman and Traveller.
The Mark II Mini is launched at the 1967 British Motor Show by BMC British Motor Holdings and features a redesigned grille, a larger rear window and various cosmetic changes. A total of 429,000 Mk II Minis are eventually manufactured.
The original rubber suspension reappears and is retained for the remaining life of the Mini. The 1,275 cc Mini Cooper S is discontinued in the UK, leaving the Mini 1275 GT as the only sporting Mini on sale for the rest of the decade.
The Mark IV is introduced, though by this point British Leyland is working on a new small car (the Mini Metro) which is expected to replace the Mini.
The end cometh
For August 1979 the Mini's 20th anniversary is marked by the introduction of the first true limited-edition Mini, the Mini 1100 Special. This is the first time a UK-market 'round-nose' (non-Clubman) Mini has been available with the 1098cc engine, while the UK limited edition is also fitted with Exacton alloy wheels and plastic wheel arch extensions.
Even more change
Development of a modern successor to the Mini begins following Rover Group (including Mini) being acquired by British Aerospace in 1988 which, in turn is aquired by BMW in 1994, when the German car maker buys Rover Group (which by then owns the Mini Brand).
In with the new
BMW launches the new MINI.
The current range includes a three-door hatchback, Clubman estate, Countryman five-door crossover, Coupe/Roadster and Paceman.
Out with the old
The original Mini ceases production.
By March, Rover continues to suffer huge losses and by May BMW disposes of most of the Rover companies.
MG and Rover go to the Phoenix consortium and Land Rover is sold to Ford Motor Company.
BMW retains the Mini name and the planned new model, granting Rover temporary rights to the brand and allowing it to manufacture and sell the remaining old Mini models.
At the end of this period a total of 5,387,862 cars have been manufactured, nearly 1.6 million of which having been sold in Britain, although the majority of these are sold at least 20 years before the Mini's demise.
After the last of the Mini production line stock is sold, the Mini name passes to BMW (where it becomes capitalised as MINI).