Mini is a brand of small cars built by the British Motor Corporation (BMC), officially launched in the year 1959. The brand was bought by BMW in 1994 as a part of the Rover group. The car is famous for its small and convenient design. The car used a space saving front wheel technology and made available an 80 percent of the car’s floor pan to carry the passengers and the luggage. It is considered equal to the Volkswagen Beetle. The latest cars of the Mini use the BMW technology and come under the best affordable small cars list in the US.
The Mini is a car model which came into existence because of the fuel shortage that hit the UK in 1956 Suez crisis. As petrol was rationed in the United Kingdom, the sales of the large cars, which consumes more fuel for its running and luxury comforts, went down considerably. This was the time when the German small cars, called as the bubble cars became famous among people. At that time Leonard Lord was the head of the British Motor Corporation. He hated the German bubble cars and wanted to make a perfect miniature car, thus freeing the British roads from the German bubble cars. For this sake he started the project ADO 15(Amalgamated Drawing Office project number 15). According to his design requirements, the car should fit into a box with a dimension of 10X4X4 feet. The passengers should occupy 6 feet out of the 10 feet length of the car. A car designer Issigonis, who was skilled in designing small cars, started to make the design for the Miniature car. The team that designed the Mini was also a small team with nearly 9 members. The prototype of the car was designed and made ready by 1957. This prototype was called as the Orange box, getting its name from its colour.
The ADO15 did not use any new type of engine considering the cost issues. It used a normal BMC A series engine with four cylinders. But the engine was mounted transversely in order to save space. The engine oil lubricated, four speed transmissions was set in the sump. The car became the first car to use the front wheel drive technology. This configuration of the Mini is the same which has been used ever since in all small cars that use Front wheel drive. The car also had some disadvantages like the engine mounted fan blew in a reverse pitch and blew hot air from the engine into the radiator. It also exposed the ignition system to the outside rain water through the grille. The suspension system of the car was made of compact rubber cones instead of the conventional springs to reduce space. The suspension did not give a much comfortable drive.
The first Mini was introduced in April 1959 and later started production in August the same year. The car was set for display on the same day in 100 countries. The car was called as the Mark I Mini. The car was branded fewer than two important brands of the BMC namely the Austin and Morris until 1969. In 1969, Mini became a marquee on its own. The Morris version was called as the Morris minimus as there was already a car in the Morris called the Morris Minor. The car was called with various names in various markets and according to the brand names of Austin and Morris. Until 1962, it was called as the Morris 850 or the Austin 850. In 1964, the car got a new suspension system derived from the Morris 1100. The new suspension used a hydrolastic system. Though the ride was softer using the new suspension, the weight of the car and also production costs increased. So the original rubber suspension was re introduced in the Mini cars in 1971.In 1975, a model of Mini set with four speed automatic transmission was introduced known as the Mini matic.
Mark II Mini was launched in 1967 and was mostly sold under the name of Morris. The Wolseley Hornet and the Riley Elf were introduced as the luxury version of the Mini cars. They were a little bit lengthier than the normal Mini, with a length of 10.7 feet. The Morris Mini traveler and the Austin Mini countryman were also luxury versions of the car launched in the year 1961. The Mini van was launched in 1960, which was a commercial vehicle. It used the same long Traveler chassis but did not have the rear windows. In 1978 it was renamed as the Mini 95, getting its name from the gross weight of the vehicle which was 0.95 tonnes.
The Mini Moke was a utility vehicle similar to a jeep which was launched in 1964. It was intended for use in the British army and featured a four wheel drive with twin engines. But it did not have the ground clearance necessary to serve the army usage. Later a single engine, front wheel version of the car was sold among civilians. Mini pick up was launched in 1961 and was a pickup truck from the Mini.
In 1961, Cooper Car Company and the BMC jointly produced a car called as the Mini Cooper. The Austin Mini cooper and the Morris mini cooper were also launched. The Mini Cooper used the same engine, but with different ability, as the Morris Mini Minor. The displacement of the engine was increased to be 997 cc and the power of the engine produced was 55 bhp. This car had twin SU carburetors, closer ratio gear box and front disc brakes. These features were incorporated for the first time in a small car at that time.
A more powerful Mini Cooper S was released in 1963. This car had a 10741 cc engine. The updated version of the car was revealed in 1964, which were meant for race. They had a 970 cc engine and another version of the car had a 1275 cc engine. The car with lesser displacement capacity was not a big hit in the market. The Mini Cooper S won the Monte Carlo rally in the year 1964, 1965 and in 1967. The Cooper models were dropped from production in 1971.
Mini Clubman :
The Mini Clubman is a face lifted version of the Mini under the owner ship of the British Leyland. It was launched in 1969. It used a 1098 cc L4 engine or another version of the same model used a 998 cc L4 engine. This was produced along another Mini car, the Mini 1275 GT which was meant for races. The Mini Clubman existed in Mini’s portfolio up to 1980.
Discontinuation of Mini:
The Mini was a mass production car, but in the 1980s and the 90s, there were a lot of special editions of the Mini which turned it to a fashionable car. The Mini by the time was acquired by the Rover group in 1988 and then came to the hands of BMW in 1994 while BMW acquired Rover. In 2000, Rover was in a heavy loss and BMW planned a sell off for most of the brands of the Rover. But BMW did not sell the brand name Mini.
BMW restarted the brand of the Mini with the new model written in capitals and was called the MINI. The brand reborn in the year 2001 named as the MINI hatch first generation. Though owned by the BMW, the car had a MINI logo. This was deemed as the successor of the Mini. It shares the Front wheel drive architecture of the Mini and in addition got many standard feature and equipments from the BMW. MINI has now become a fashion vehicle which was the fact that inspired BMW to keep the brand in its own hand even during the sell out of the Rover. The new MINI is a bit longer and wider and has a more weight than the classic Mini. It is around 58 cm longer, 50 cm wider, 7 cm higher, and weighs 1,144 kg rather than 650 kg. But it is fitted with many advanced features of the BMW.
The new MINIs came with an option of 1.4 litres and a 1.6 litres engine. Also a sportier cooper and an enjoyable convertible were introduced in the same. The first generation MINI was dropped in 2006 and in 2007 the second generation MINI replaced it. This saw the first MINI powered by a diesel engine. The diesel engine was then made available in the Coupe and Roadster. The second generation MINI features a more economic engine and is bigger than its predecessors.
In 2006, a MINI cooper S series car was launched. It has the same front engine in a transverse location with super charged engines. The displacement of the engine is 97.5 cu inches. It can produce a power of 163 bhp at 6000 rpm. IT also features the same front wheel drive as the Mini. It can accelerate to 0 – 100 kmph around 7.5 seconds. The MINI uses Mac person struts and anti roll bars for the frontal suspension while it uses Multi link Z axle and Anti roll bars for the rear suspensions. It gives a mileage of 29 miles per gallon.
Later in 2010 and in 2013, the MINI cars revived the Cooper and Countryman style cars. This includes coupes and convertibles from the MINI. It launched the cars in many markets, about 100 and the Indian market being its 100th Market.
Every model of the MINI cars has a Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper works version of the specific model. The John Cooper works model is considered as the most powerful in any of the model of MINI series vehicles. It is named in the honour of the earlier designer of the Mini, who led the introduction of the famous Mini Cooper. There is also an electric engine available in the MINI cars. The MINI uses two options for the transmission, as the four speed manual and a five speed manual gear box. A four speed automatic gear box is also available in the markets. There are a lot of additional features available for the MINI cars that can be chosen by the customers.
The BMW planned for an initial production of 100000 units of MINI in a year during its re introduction of the brand in 2000. But later 230000 units were produced. The new models of the MINI are the MINI Convertible, MINI Clubman, MINI Countryman, MINI Coupé and MINI Roadster. The new models of the MINI namely a MINI Club van and a MINI cooper pace man are launched in the year 2013. The club van features the same body as the MINI clubman and have lot of comfort features such as the full leather sport seats, LCD screens etc.
The MINI cooper pace man started production in 2013 March with a Cooper, Cooper S and a John Cooper works trim levels. It is a two door vehicle with a slinkier roof line and is referred as the Sport activity coupe by the company. It was first introduced at the 2012 Paris Auto show. This also is powered by a 1.6 litre inline four cylinder engine that produces a power of 121 bhp in the standard trim. The turbo charged John cooper works trim level engine produces a power of 208 hp. It features a six speed manual transmission and offers an automatic transmission as an option. The John Cooper works features an all wheel drive while it can also be opted for in the Cooper S version too. The MINI Cooper pace man is a heavier vehicle than the previous versions. It is about 3000 pounds in weight. The standard version takes 9.7 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph speed. The Cooper S is a little more powerful than the standard version and it takes 6.9 seconds to accelerate to the same speed.
For details, visit Mini's official website.