English 12-A CP
Mr. Ron Cherry
21 October 2010
Spanning over 60 years of automotive excellence, the Mini Cooper has been a cornerstone of British automobile history. Even in 2001, when the Bavarians decided to buy the company, they decided it was a no-brainer to keep the manufacturing process in Cowley. It was a tradition that could never die. The first Mini was sold in 1959, and if you think the new MINI stands out from the crowd now, imagine how different it must have been back then.
Amidst the Oil Crisis in Suez, British prices on petroleum went up severely, so much in fact that a fuel ration of a liter of gasoline was up to £1, or $1.60, which in 1958 was a lot for gas. British carmakers were tired of seeing Volkswagen “bubble cars” littering the streets of London, but for the common folk of the UK, there was little to no choice, for they were the most affordable car they could buy. All of the other cars were too expensive, even without gas prices at an all-time high.
The British called to Alec Issigonis, who took up the challenge of reinvigorating Britain’s automotive history. Issigonis, a certified engineering genius with a passion for finding new ways to do things, had previously designed the Morris Minor, a sales success for British Motor Corporation (BMC), the company that made Morris, Austin, Austin-Healey, MG and several other minor marquees in England. His new design was intended to be more comfortable and practical than other micro cars, Issigonis wanted the car to fit in a 10’ x 4’ x 4’ box, accommodate people as tall as 6’, and because of the cost, that the engine that powers the car must already exist. He also had drawn the car so the wheels were at the corners, much like today’s go karts, and instead of longitudinal engines, he mounted the engine transversely, or left to right, with the gearbox under it driving just the front wheels. The result was a car so efficient, astonishing even: The 1959 Mini. This car had very...