It’s 1959. A few years after a crippling oil crisis. Your challenge is to create a car with a better ratio of interior space to overall dimensions. The British public need a vehicle that is affordable, economical, and comfy. It must hold 4 passengers but be no longer than 10 feet. What will you do? Well, if your name is Alex Issigonis, you’ll grab a tablecloth and scribble down the first sketch of the Mini Cooper.
“The easiest way to win a battle of this sort”, said Sir Issigonis, “is to make a car that is so unusual compared to the other cars around it, that it automatically becomes a status symbol”.
The Mini quickly surpassed expectations (selling 157,000 units in 1961!). A mania surrounded the car, it achieved Hollywood movie fame and was driven by Beatles and Royalty alike. Needless to say, Sir Alex Issigonis won his “battle” and designed THE most beloved little British car.
And so, the Sixties got into full swing with its own car as a mascot. It is rumoured that fashion designer Mary Quant was inspired by the Mini car when she designed the mini skirt. Even if this is just a rumour, it can’t be denied that the short skirt and the small car are cemented in pop-culture history, and both trends have stood the test of time.
The Mini Cooper, icon of the 1960s, was adored by four other icons of the era. Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr all owned Mini Coopers. Ringo’s was even specially adapted to fit his drum kit in. John bought his wife, Cynthia, a mini when she passed her driving test. Paul was driving his green 1965 Radford Mini Cooper the night he met Linda. George’s Mini was repainted with psychedelic drawings. You get the picture, the Beatle Mania era, was (literally) driven by the Mini Cooper.
As it established itself as an un-ignorable car, The Mini was a preferred choice on TV and in film. Most famously, fourteen Mini Coopers were used in The Italian Job in 1969. Michael Caine and Noel Coward escape the Italian authorities by driving into sewer tunnels. Whilst the Mini Cooper was seen as cool and fun, it was hardly the heist getaway car you’d imagine. Now, you can’t think of The Italian Job without thinking of the Mini. There was even a remake, just to cement the idea of the Mini Cooper as a comedic heist car further.
The Mini, a timeless actor, featured in Goldmember and The Bourne Identity. As an instantly recognisable and consistent performer, our beloved Mini is met with adoring fans all over the world. Yet, putting Hollywood aside, we must celebrate the Mini’s best role to date…
At Bygone Classics, we are fuelled by all this nostalgia. That’s why we feature a Rover Mini Cooper Sport – the final incarnation of the Mini Classic – which was, we have to add, once owned by a Bond girl! This Mini can be yours for a day, a weekend, an afternoon: however long you need to re-live the golden years. In an iconic red, with a 1.3 injected engine, 13 inch Minilite alloy wheels, Sportspack wheel arches and leather seats. Not to mention a fully-electric, reclining sunroof – so you can ride along with the wind in your hair! Driving a mini is, above all else, fun. Pack a picnic, turn the radio up, wear a mini skirt (if you feel inclined to) and drive back to 1960!