1959 Morris Mini-Minor and MINI Cooper 60 Years Edition 3-Door

60 years of passion.

27. November 2019
ca. 5 minutes

Big birthdays deserve to be celebrated. Especially when we’re talking about 60 years of innovation, versatility, performance and lifestyle. That’s why, on its 60th anniversary, MINI is staying true to the tradition it embodies like no other brand: revolutionising the premium small car. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights and see how MINI, with its 60 years of passion, is bringing electromobility to the road.

In August 1959, the British Motor Corporation (BMC) unveiled a small four-seater car that would write automotive history – under the name “Mini”. This totally new small car concept, the brainchild of engineer Alec Issigonis, went on to become the model for future small cars. Issigonis used a transverse engine with a front-wheel drive layout for the first time to ensure optimum use of space. With only minimal overhangs, a large wheelbase and wide toe, the Mini had all the ingredients for impressive driving characteristics and maximum spaciousness.

The successful launch of the Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor in August 1959 was followed by numerous model variants: the Van (January 1960), the Countryman and Traveller estate-car versions (September 1960) and the Pick-up (January 1961). All models shared the same technology and were powered by an 848 cc engine. The 1964 Mini Moke was an off-road Mini that was intended as a commercial vehicle and therefore came with basic technology. From October 1961, for more sophisticated tastes, BMC introduced two three-box sedans built on the Mini base: the Riley Elf and the Wolseley Hornet.

Morris Mini-Minor Super-de-Luxe
An old MINI Morris Minor and a MINI 60 years special edition driving next to each other

Morris Mini-Minor Super-de-Luxe (1963)

Morris Mini-Minor (1959) and MINI Cooper 60 Years Edition (2019)

The collaboration with successful racing-car engineer John Cooper had a lasting impact on Mini history. Cooper persuaded the BMC management to work with him – resulting in the first Mini Cooper, presented in 1961. In the years up to 1971, other models followed – most notably, the Mini Cooper S series, which has thrilled motorsports fans around the world since 1963. With three victories at the Monte Carlo Rally (in 1964, 1965 and 1967), Mini fought off much stronger competition to make motorsports history. In response to high demand, the Mini Cooper was integrated into the Mini series and more than 100,000 were built in the space of ten years.

In 1976, the first of many special editions of the classic Mini was released onto the market: the "Mini Limited Edition 1000" with orange-striped nylon seats. From the outside, the Mini was recognisable from its green-and-white paint with gold trim and chrome-plated exterior mirrors.

Over the years, a wide range of special editions has been released – with highlights ranging from sporty to trendy, from elegant to fresh, including: "Mini Sprite" (1983), "Mini Ritz" (1985), "Mini Designer" (Mary Quant, 1988), "Mini Thirty" (1989), "Mini Paul Smith" (1998), "Mini Cooper S Sport 5" (1999) and "Mini Cooper S Works" (1999).

The last new classic Mini variant debuted in 1991. It was the only one that originated in Germany, rather than England. A dedicated dealer in Baden had cut off the roof of the classic Mini and turned it into a very handsome convertible, as a lot of Mini fans had done before. Unlike earlier attempts, however, the quality of this effort was so good the Rover Group, which was responsible for the classic Mini in the meantime, decided to acquire the design and produce it. Between 1993 and 1996, around 1,000 units of the production model were sold.

Designer Mini Paul Smith
A MINI e driving in front of the Hollywood sign

Designer Mini Paul Smith (1999)

MINI Cooper SE (2019)

The acquisition of the Rover Group by the BMW Group in early 1994 opened up new perspectives for the MINI brand. The "MINI 2000" concept vehicle presented at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt in 1997 offered the prospect of a new edition of the unique British small car. The MINI R50 production model made its first official appearance at the Paris Motor Show in late September 2000.

Within a very short time, the new version of the classic small car became a global success story, which continues to this day. From new models like the MINI Convertible, MINI Clubman and MINI Countryman to the John Cooper Works sub-brand – over the past 18 years, MINI has always been able to spark enthusiasm with new innovations and vehicles that have cemented its cult status.

But even after 60 years, MINI has still not grown tired of revolutionising the small car segment. The future MINI feeling will be virtually silent and locally emission-free, but still extremely powerful. A test fleet of 612 MINI E models was launched for research purposes back in 2009.  On public roads, a group of 1,100 private and business users clocked up more than 16 million kilometres, gathering exciting insights and data that have been advancing electromobility at the BMW Group ever since.

The next step will be a fully-electric MINI model. From 2020, the new MINI Cooper SE will bring fresh impetus to the electric vehicle segment. With its 135 kW/184 hp electric engine, it combines sustainable mobility with characteristic driving pleasure, expressive design and premium quality. The brand's first pure-electric model will be produced at the MINI factory in Oxford in the UK from November 2019, with drive technology from the BMW Group's competence centres for electromobility in Dingolfing and Landshut. In this way, MINI is once again charting new territory for urban mobility.

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