By Paul Wimsett, UK Desk
The 1960s was all about miniskirts and the Mini itself. The Mini has a stronger link to the sixties than the Beatles or satire, as the Mini was launched in 1960 itself, the satire boom and the creation of Beatles occurred in 1963.
The Origins of the Mini:
Designed by Sir Alec Issigonis, who although born in Greece inherited British citizenship through his father and like many immigrants, saw himself as more English than the English. Many of the cars he designed, the Austin and the Morris Minor had a distinctive look about them, cars for a small family rather than cars where you could sit people in the back seat and in the trunk. BTW: Kids in the trunk is totally illegal now, but common at the time to make use of all the necessary space in a saloon car. (BTW: a “saloon car” is a sedan.)
The reasoning behind the car was purely practical, there was a fuel shortage after the Second World War and generally only the breadwinner needed to get around. So many households made do with a single, small car.
The Mini Cooper was one of the first designs to be used as part of this first generation. The first car had an 848cc engine, or 34bhp (brake horsepower), the equivalent to about 25Kw; so practically all the power of a modern boiler. Obviously this had to change. A modern Cooper has around 160bhp or the equivalent of 119 Kw, around five times as much.
As well as showing itself as an excellent racing car in the 1960s, it was driven by such diverse personalities as Paul McCartney, Steve McQueen and even rival car maker Enzo Ferrari. It all came down to convenience and the Mini was the ideal car for the time, working on the success of similar small cars.
The Future of the Mini:
The Mini has been an iconic car for a number of decades, but for how much longer can it continue? Ultimately, it all comes down whether it can ride the storm of Brexit in Britain and whether it can continue to offer something from its competition with less money to play with.
Let’s take a Mini Countryman it’s a modern type of car, still a Mini but using the Crossover status. Some are known as Countryman Coopers, some are not.
With a length of 2,670 mm and a width of 4,313 mm (which exclude the mirrors). The standard Cooper has a weight of 3,300 Ib.
A Mini Cooper has a 0-60 rate of 7.3 secs. (The average is about 10-12 seconds). A Porsche Skyrider can do 0-60 in about 2.1, but then not everyone wants to drive a sports car. The acceleration rate is dependent on the power of the engine, so we can assume that the Cooper has a better than average powered engine- not something you might associate with a small car?
In the End:
It should come as no shock that Sir Alec become known as a “Greek God” in British car innovation. It would difficult to write the story of the British car industry without him and Britons hope that Mini manufacture will continue into the future.