Top 5: Original moments involving a Mini
The first one built
Mention most car designers' names and nobody will know who you're on about but Sir Alec Issigonis will always be remembered for giving us the Mini. With its intelligent use of available space combined with a low centre of gravity, it was nothing short of a sensation when it emerged in 1959. The transverse engine meant a tiny bonnet, the 10in wheels meant cheap tyres and the entire package meant fun with a capital F. It's recognised as the second most important car of all time, after Ford's Model T.
Monte Carlo Rally
Sir Alec's friend, John Cooper, was a builder of racing cars and it didn't take long for him to see the Mini's enormous potential for success in motorsport. Initially reluctant, Issigonis eventually collaborated and the famed 1961, 55hp Mini Cooper was the result. The 1963 Cooper S was more powerful and Paddy Hopkirk stormed to victory in one at the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally, sealing its place in the hearts of petrolheads all over the world. The original pocket rocket, the Mini Cooper, ranks as one of the all-time greats.
The Italian Job
Just like the car, the original film is the best for most of us, so forget the terrible Hollywood remake of 2003. Instead revel in the 1969 quintessential crime caper where three Mini Coopers (red, while and blue, naturally) were used to rob gold bullion under the Italians' noses. Disbelief must be suspended, however, as the gold would have weighed more than the cars, but the chase scene is one of cinema's finest and made sure the Mini became as synonymous with the UK as fish n' chips and bad weather.
The last one built
There wasn't a dry eye in the motoring world when the last original Mini was built on October 4, 2000. The red Cooper Sport model, which was presented to the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, represented the end of an era after almost 5.5million had been manufactured. The ailing Rover Group had been granted the right to use the Mini name by its new owner, BMW, but it was making huge losses. BMW took the name and attached it to a car that's 58cm longer, 50cm wider and 500kg heavier.
If you've ever been in a Mini with more than one adult passenger you'll know what we mean when we say it can be a tight squeeze. That didn't stop a group of Malaysian students in Kuala Lumpur from setting the Guinness World Record for the number of people you can fit into one: 21 crammed themselves into every possible position, including two inside the snug boot. With the doors closed, they needed to stay put for at least 20 seconds to smash the previous record of 18 women set in 2000.
Published: January 13, 2012 04:00 AM