The Classic Mini At 60: Why We Still Love It Today
It’s funny how legends begin. When Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, put through an order that nationalised the Suez Canal in 1956, not many people expected it would eventually open up a market for British automotive innovation – but in 2019, the Classic Mini turns 60!
In this blog, we’re going to look at how the Mini came to be – and why we still love it all these years on.
The Beginnings of the Classic Mini
The Suez Crisis, as it became known, is seen as an embarrassment for former canal shareholders, Britain and France. Along with Egypt’s neighbours Israel, they invaded the region in hope of wrestling back control of the canal, which provided easy transportation of oil from western Asia, through North Africa and into Europe.
For the first time since the Second World War ended, fuel rationing was re-introduced, placing the brakes on a burgeoning automotive market. Whilst the crisis came to a swift end – the United Nations placed pressure on the invading countries to withdraw (which they did, causing an international humiliation that saw the British Prime Minister, Anthony Eden, resign) – thoughts about how to ‘get around’ a lack of fuel still burned brightly in the minds of car designers. Enter the ideal for the ‘economical car’.
The Idea of An Economical Car
Whilst the fuel crisis was swiftly resolved, running (let along owning) a car was far out of the price range for the average British family. Plans were already afoot for a network of ‘motorways’ that would allow people to travel about the country quicker and easier than ever before. However, without many cars to traverse these planned swathes of road, it would be seen as a complete waste of time by many.
If the idea for the economical car was a nail that was hammered home by the Suez Crisis, it was the inherent need to provide an affordable car for the average family that lined that nail up. As a result, the car industry got to work, trying to find a way to make their cars run on less petrol and somehow provide room for all of the family.
This is the very heart of the Classic Mini. Whilst ‘small’ in stature, the design of the interior was surprisingly roomy. The innovative MK1 design by Alec Issigonis allowed for an 848cc engine (later upgradable to a 1275cc) to be mounted and yet be able to comfortably seat four people. There was even space in the boot for luggage.
Before long, the MK1 Mini was the dominant car on the growing road network; the arrival of the 1960s, an era of British cultural domination worldwide, dovetailed beautifully with this pioneering car; together creating a British icon that is still as revered today as it was back then. And just think – if it wasn’t for a hasty, ill-advised invasion of a canal in Egypt, that idea for an economical family car may not have been hammered home!
Why We STILL Love The Mini
As time has naturally made the average car more affordable, many classic brands of the 1960s have disappeared down the road tunnel of history. Not the Mini though – despite the production on the ‘classic’ iterations ending in 2000, it remains a popular second-hand buy or customisation opportunity for new drivers and committed Mini enthusiasts alike.
But what sparks such interest? As the saying goes ‘you can never keep a classic down’ – so here are some reasons why we still love the Classic Mini:
- Ease of driving. One of the best features of the Mini is the ease in which they can be driven. The economical design lends itself well to control and is an ideal runner for anyone who wants experience what pure driving feels like.
- Great racing. If it’s (relatively) easy and fun to drive, then it’ll make for great racing! The Mini Cooper is one of the most recognisable names in motor racing – Paddy Hopkirk’s Monte Carlo Rally win in 1964 helped to seal that reputation. Channelling that same spirit, many people purchase and customise their Mini’s to take out on the track and off-road rally course; putting their Mini and their driving skills to the test against different terrain, weather conditions and fellow competitors.
- Events. Of course, so many people enjoying their Mini racing creates a scene of likeminded enthusiasts who enjoy nothing more than getting together to race their cars, admire others and even attain (or give) advice on improving the many different models. Such events create long-lasting friendships between Mini owners, creating a bond that goes far beyond simply ‘driving a car’ – so it can be said that owning a Mini is actually only half of what being an enthusiast is all about!
- Image. The Classic Mini evokes an image like no other – owning one has become a symbol of car owning-sophistication. It’s so ingrained as a British icon around the world that most people, even those who have no interest in cars, will know what a Mini is and where it comes from. Can any other brand of car really say the same?
- Customisability. Whether owners simply want a regular runner, something to take out on special occasions or to compete in regular racing events, the ability of the Mini to be customised to the driver’s needs is vast. From different Mini engines to Mini styling and tuning, the paint jobs or what tyres are used…you can make your Mini into anything you’d like it to be. So why not start your journey with us here at Mini Sport?
Mini Sport: World-Leaders In ‘Anything Mini’
Here at Mini Sport, we have been sourcing high-quality Mini parts and accessories since the heyday of this automotive marvel. During that time, we have established a world-leading supply business that, aside from building up relationships with some of the most well-respected manufacturers around, can also create our own products – all to OEM specifications. Why not take a look around our website or download a copy of our catalogue to learn more?
If you have any questions to ask about anything regarding the Classic Mini, our experts would be pleased to help. Give them a call on 01282 778731 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org