Welcome to 365 Days of Motoring

An Everyday Journey Through Motoring History, Facts & Trivia

Belt up and enjoy this 365-day ride as you cruise past the most momentous motoring events in history. Packed with fascinating facts about races, motorists and the history of the mighty engine, this is a must-visit web site for any car enthusiast.

Mini

Mini


A chronological day-by-day history of Mini.

Saturday 28th January 1911

106 years ago

The first Monte Carlo Rally ended with Frenchman Henri Rougier, in a Turcat-Mery, declared the winner. The event, officially the Rallye Monte Carlo, was organized at the behest of Prince Albert I (great-grandfather of current Prince Albert II and grandfather of Prince Rainier III, who married American actress Grace Kelly). Like many motoring contests of the time, it was seen primarily as a way for auto manufacturers to test new cars and new technologies, much like the Indy 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.Results of the hybrid event depended not on driving time alone, but on judges’ assessment of the automobiles’ design and passenger comfort, as well as what condition the vehicles were in after covering 1,000 kilometers of roads not really made for the horseless carriage. The arbitrary system provoked a minor outrage, but the judges’ decision stood. Automobile dealer Henri Rougier won first place in a Turcat-Méry 45-horsepower model. Second place went to a driver named Aspaigu in a Gobron and third to Jules Beutler in a Martini. The rally was held again the following year, but then not again until 1924. World War II and its aftermath interrupted the annual event, with no rallies from 1940 through 1948.Winning the rally gave a car manufacturer a great deal of publicity and trustworthiness. Before Paddy Hopkirk won the rally in 1964, Mini was seen as being just a commuter car. After winning, the Mini Cooper was seen as a world-beater and a hot performance car — all thanks to the Rallye. The Monte Carlo Rally is a racing event unlike any other. Where most speed contests are held on specially prepared and scrupulously maintained race tracks, the Monte Carlo is held on the roads to the north of the principality (which has a total area of just 0.76 square mile). Unlike on a race track, where there are walls to keep the cars from flying off, and safety crews seemingly every 50 yards or so, the Monte Carlo Rally has distinguishing features like narrow mountain roads, cliffs with drop-offs measured in the hundreds of feet, snow and ice. About a quarter of its stages are run at night in pitch blackness. Since 1973, the race has been held in January as the first race of the FIA World Rally Championship season. Running under the WRC calendar, the Monte Carlo Rally has highlighted wins from some of the greatest rally drivers of all time. Sandro Munari won the Monte Carlo three times in a row. Walter Röhrl had four victories. The tragic Henri Toivonen blazed to victory in 1986. Finnish superstar Tommi Mäkinen won four times in a row. And all of them were eclipsed by the young French phenomenon Sébastien Loeb, who has won Monte Carlo a staggering five times. And the cars these drivers piloted to victory also rank as some of the all-time greats: the svelte and diminutive Alpine-Renault A110 1800, the sci-fi–looking Lancia Stratos, the brutal Audi Quattro A2, the suicidally fast Lancia Delta S4, Mitsubishi’s evergreen Lancer Evo and most recently the Citroën Xsara WRC.

Henri Rougier and the victorious 45Hp Turcat-Méry before the inaugural Monte Carlo rally

Henri Rougier and the victorious 45Hp Turcat-Méry before the inaugural Monte Carlo rally

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Wednesday 9th February 1927

90 years ago

William Morris, using his own money purchased Wolseley Motors at auction for £730,000, possibly to stop General Motors who subsequently bought Vauxhall. Other bidders beside General Motors included the Austin Motor Company. Herbert Austin, Wolseley's founder, was said to have been very distressed that he was unable to buy it. Morris had bought an early taxicab, another Wolseley link with Morris was that his Morris Garages were Wolseley agents in Oxford.Morris had tried to produce a 6-cylinder car and not been successful. He still wanted his range to include a light six-cylinder car. Wolseley's 2-litre six-cylinder 16-45, their latest development of their postwar Fifteen, "made a deep impression on him". Morris incorporated a new company, Wolseley Motors (1927) Limited, he was later permitted to remove the (1927), and consolidated its production at the sprawling Ward End Works in Birmingham. In 1935, Wolseley became a subsidiary of Morris' own Morris Motor Company and the Wolseley models soon became based on Morris designs. It became part of the Nuffield Organisation along with Morris and Riley/Autovia in 1938. After the war, Morris and Wolseley production was consolidated at Cowley, and badge engineering took hold. The first post-war Wolseleys, the similar 4/50 and 6/80 models, were based on the Morris Oxford MO. Later, Wolseleys shared with MG and Riley common bodies and chassis, namely the 4/44 and 6/90, which were closely related to the MG Magnette ZA/ZB and the Riley Pathfinder respectively. Other badge engineering exploits followed at BMC. In 1957 the Wolseley 1500 was based on the planned successor to the Morris Minor. The next year, the Wolseley 15/60 debuted the new mid-sized BMC saloon design penned by Pinin Farina. It was followed by similar vehicles from five marques within the year. The tiny Wolseley Hornet was based on the Mini but the booted body style was shared with Riley as the Elf. Finally, a version of the Austin 1800 was launched in 1967 as the Wolseley 18/85. The Riley marque, long overlapping with Wolseley, was retired in 1969. Wolseley continued in diminished form with the Wolseley Six of 1972, a variant of the six-cylinder Austin 1800, the Austin 2200. It was finally killed off just three years later in favour of the short-lived Wolseley 18-22 series saloon, which was based on the Leyland Princess (also known as the 18-22 series) and never even given a clear name, being badged just "Wolseley", and sold only for seven months until that range was renamed as the Princess. Today, the Wolseley marque is owned by Nanjing Automobile Group bought as part of the assets of the MG Rover Group. Note that the Wolseley Sheep Shearing Company continued trading, and continues today as Wolseley plc.

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Thursday 3rd December 1936

80 years ago

Just three days after the fire at the Crystal Palace, work began on a Grand Prix track with a new "Panamac" non-skid surface. Called a "miniature Nürburgring" by the British motor press, the twisty circuit was completed in 5 months. 20 cars entered the first London Grand Prix on 17 July 1937, a race eventually won by Prince Bira in his ERA R2B Romulus at an average speed of 56.5 mph (90.9 km/h). Later that year, during the International Imperial Trophy meeting also won by Bira, the BBC broadcast the first ever televised motor racing. With the outbreak of World War II, the park was taken over by the Ministry of Defence, and it would not be until 1953 that race meetings could take place again. The circuit had been reduced in length to 1.39 miles (2.2 km), bypassing the loop past the lake, and pressure from the local residents led to an injunction which reduced motor sport events in the park to only five days per year. A variety of races took place, including sports cars, Formula Three, the London Trophy for Formula Two, and non-championship Formula One races. Average speeds continued to rise over the years, with the first 100 mph (161 km/h) lap average set in 1970 by that year's Formula One world champion, Jochen Rindt. Also in 1970, the injunction limiting race days expired and racing was increased to 14 days a year. However, driver safety was coming into focus in the early seventies and it became clear that racing around a park at 100 mph (161 km/h) was not safe. Expensive improvements were undertaken, but it was not enough to save the circuit. The last International meeting was in May 1972, the final lap record going to Mike Hailwood at an average speed of 103.39 mph (166.39 km/h). The final meeting was held on 23 September 1972, but club events still continued until the circuit's final closure in 1974. The circuit's location within Greater London made it a popular venue for both film and television settings, The Italian Job filmed on the startline at Crystal Palace for the scene showing initial testing of the Mini Cooper getaway cars and in the paddock area for the scene where a security van is "blown-up". The Crystal Palace transmitter tower can be seen in the background of this scene. The circuit was also used in Ron Howard's film Rush, to recreate the last corner accident between James Hunt and Dave Morgan, and for parts of the UFO (TV series) episode The Responsibility Seat. Although the circuit no longer exists (as an actual racing circuit), it can be driven virtually in the Grand Prix Legends historical motor racing computer simulation game, for which it was recreated in detail. It was later converted to several other racing simulation programs, including the popular rFactor. The circuit was used for the prologue time trial of the Tour of Britain cycle race on 9 September 2007, and is used regularly for summer road race league events, normally held on Tuesday evenings.

Crystal Palace Circuit

Crystal Palace Circuit

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Tuesday 11th January 1944

73 years ago

John Walter Christie (78), a pioneer designer of front-wheel-drive cars, died in Falls Church, Virginia, US. Although he is best known for developing the Christie suspension system used in a number of World War II-era tank designs, he had earlier been working on designs for a front-wheel-drive car, which he promoted and demonstrated by racing at various speedways in the United States, including the 1905 Vanderbilt Cup race. Christie was seriously injured in a crash when his car struck loose debris during a lap at Brunots Island Race Track in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Christie then switched his energies away from automobile racing to developing his front wheel drive New York taxicab design. With benefit of hindsight, the taxi design's importance came in large part from the fact that it incorporated a transversely mounted engine/transmission assembly, applying a basic architecture that would be greeted as revolutionary when applied by Alec Issigonis in the BMC Mini fifty years later. However, in 1909 the vehicle's more striking novelty lay the fact that the entire "forecarriage", incorporating all the key mechanical components, could be detached and replaced in "less than one hour", so that the vehicle could stay on the road while the engine maintenance took place.

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Tuesday 6th March 1956

61 years ago

The Renault Dauphine, designed mostly by Fernand Picard, was introduced at Le Palias de Chaillot in Paris, France. The rear-engined economy car was manufactured in a single body style – a three-box, four-door saloon – as the successor to the Renault 4CV; more than two million units were sold worldwide during its production run from 1956 until 1967. Along with such cars as the Volkswagen Beetle, Morris Minor, Mini and Fiat 500, the Dauphine pioneered the modern European economy car. Renault marketed variants of the Dauphine, including a sport model, theGordini, a luxury version, the Ondine, the 1093 factory racing model, and the Caravelle/Floride, a Dauphine-based two-door coupé and two-door convertible.

Renault Dauphine

Renault Dauphine

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Tuesday 18th August 1959

57 years ago

The first pictures of BMC’s new compact four-seater Mini, designed by Alec Issigonis, were revealed to the press. Designated by Leonard Lord as project ADO15 (Amalgamated Drawing Office project number 15) and the product of the Morris design team, the Mini came about because of a fuel shortage caused by the 1956 Suez Crisis. Petrol was once again rationed in the UK, sales of large cars slumped, and the market for German bubble cars boomed. Lord, the somewhat autocratic head of BMC, reportedly detested these cars so much that he vowed to rid the streets of them and design a 'proper miniature car'. He laid down some basic design requirements: the car should be contained within a box that measured 10×4×4 feet (3.0×1.2×1.2 m); and the passenger accommodation should occupy 6 feet (1.8 m) of the 10-foot (3.0 m) length; and the engine, for reasons of cost, should be an existing unit. Issigonis, who had been working for Alvis, had been recruited back to BMC in 1955 and, with his skills in designing small cars, was a natural for the task. The team that designed the Mini was remarkably small: as well as Issigonis, there was Jack Daniels (who had worked with him on the Morris Minor), Chris Kingham (who had been with him at Alvis), two engineering students and four draughtsmen. Together, by October 1957, they had designed and built the original prototype, which was affectionately named "The Orange Box" because of its colour. The ADO15 used a conventional BMC A-Series four-cylinder, water-cooled engine, but departed from tradition by mounting it transversely, with the engine-oil-lubricated, four-speed transmission in the sump, and by employing front-wheel drive. Almost all small front-wheel-drive cars developed since have used a similar configuration, except with the transmission usually separately enclosed rather than using the engine oil. The radiator was mounted at the left side of the car so that the engine-mounted fan could be retained, but with reversed pitch so that it blew air into the natural low pressure area under the front wing. This location saved vehicle length, but had the disadvantage of feeding the radiator with air that had been heated by passing over the engine. It also exposed the entire ignition system to the direct ingress of rainwater through the grille. The suspension system, designed by Issigonis's friend Dr. Alex Moulton at Moulton Developments Limited, used compact rubber cones instead of conventional springs. This space-saving design also featured rising progressive-rate springing of the cones, and provided some natural damping, in addition to the normal dampers. Built into the subframes, the rubber cone system gave a raw and bumpy ride accentuated by the woven-webbing seats, but the rigidity of the rubber cones, together with the wheels' positioning at the corners of the car, gave the Mini go kart-like handling. Initially an interconnected fluid system was planned, similar to the one that Alec Issigonis and Alex Moulton were working on in the mid-1950s at Alvis. They had assessed the mechanically interconnected Citroën 2CV suspension at that time (according to an interview by Moulton with Car Magazine in the late 1990s),[citation needed] which inspired the design of the Hydrolastic suspension system for the Mini and Morris/Austin 1100, to try to keep the benefits of the 2CV system (ride comfort, body levelling, keeping the roadwheel under good control and the tyres in contact with the road), but with added roll stiffness that the 2CV lacked. The short development time of the car meant this was not ready in time for the Mini's launch. The system intended for the Mini was further developed and the hydrolastic system was first used on the Morris 1100, launched in 1962; the Mini gained the system later in 1964. Ten-inch (254 mm) wheels were specified, so new tyres had to be developed, the initial contract going to Dunlop. Issigonis went to Dunlop stating that he wanted even smaller, 8 in (203 mm) wheels (even though he had already settled on ten-inch). An agreement was made on the ten-inch size, after Dunlop rejected the eight-inch proposition. Sliding windows allowed storage pockets in the hollow doors; reportedly Issigonis sized them to fit a bottle of Gordon's Gin. The boot lid was hinged at the bottom so that the car could be driven with it open to increase luggage space. On early cars the number plate was hinged at the top so that it could swing down to remain visible when the boot lid was open. This feature was later discontinued after it was discovered that exhaust gases could leak into the cockpit when the boot was open. The Mini was designed as a monocoque shell with welded seams visible on the outside of the car running down the A and C pillars, and between the body and the floor pan. Those that ran from the base of the A-pillar to the wheel well were described as 'everted' (lit., 'turned outward') to provide more room for the front seat occupants[citation needed]. To further simplify construction, the hinges for the doors and boot lid were mounted externally. Production models differed from the prototypes by the addition of front and rear subframes to the unibody to take the suspension loads, and by having the engine mounted the other way round, with the carburettor at the back rather than at the front. This layout required an extra gear between engine and transmission to reverse the direction of rotation at the input to the transmission. Having the carburettor behind the engine reduced carburettor icing, but the distributor was then exposed to water coming in through the grille. The engine size was reduced from 948 to 848 cc (57.9 to 51.7 cu in); this, in conjunction with a small increase in the car's width, cut the top speed from 90 to 72 mph (145 to 116 km/h). In 1959, BMC and Alec Issigonis won the Dewar Trophy, for the design and production of the Mini. The Mini shape had become so well known that by the 1990s, Rover Group – the heirs to BMC – were able to register its design as a trademark in its own right.

One of the earliest sketches for the Mini design as penned by Alec Issigonis. Note how the car changed remarkably little between concept and production.

One of the earliest sketches for the Mini design as penned by Alec Issigonis. Note how the car changed remarkably little between concept and production.

1959 Morris Mini-Minor: pure, unspoiled Mini. Along with the Austin Se7en, this car caused an absolute sensation when launched during August 1959. People took a long time to latch on to the fact that something so small could accommodate four fully-grown adults and their luggage.

1959 Morris Mini-Minor: pure, unspoiled Mini. Along with the Austin Se7en, this car caused an absolute sensation when launched during August 1959. People took a long time to latch on to the fact that something so small could accommodate four fully-grown adults and their luggage.

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Wednesday 26th August 1959

57 years ago

British Motor Corporation (BMC) launched its newest car, the small affordable Mark I Mini. The diminutive Mini went on to become one of the best-selling British cars in history. Ford reportedly purchased a Mini and, after dismantling it, determined that BMC must have been losing around £30 per car, so decided to produce a larger car – the Cortina, launched in 1962 – as the Mini’s competitor in the budget market. The story behind the Mini began in August 1956, when President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal in response to the American and British decision to withdraw funding for a new dam’s construction due to Egypt’s Communist ties. The international crisis that followed led to fuel shortages and gasoline rationing across Europe. Sir Leonard Lord, head of BMC–formed by the merger of automakers Austin and Morris in 1952–wanted to produce a British alternative to the tiny, fuel-efficient German cars that were cornering the market after the Suez Crisis. He turned to Alec Issigonis, a Turkish immigrant who as chief engineer at Morris Motors had produced the Morris Minor, a teapot-shaped cult favorite that had nonetheless never seriously competed with the Volkswagen “Beetle” or Fiat’s 500 or Cinquecento. Mini development began in 1957 and took place under a veil of secrecy; the project was known only as ADO (for Austin Drawing Office) 15. After about two and a half years–a relatively short design period–the new car was ready for the approval of Lord, who immediately signed off on its production. The new front-wheel-drive car was priced at around £600 and marketed under two names: Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor - one revived the famous Austin Se7en name and the other called on some Cowley plant history to be called the Morris Mini Minor. The two vehicles were the same except for each had a different radiator grille, and by 1962 both were known simply as the Mini. Issigonis’ design, including an engine mounted sideways to take up less space, had created a surprising amount of space for a small-bodied car: The proposed engine size was originally 950 cc. However, Leonard Lord, chairman of BMC thought that the 90 mph (140 km/h) top speed was excessive and thus reduced the engine size to 848 cc to gain a more manageable speed (for the time) of 72 mph (116 km/h). Issigonis' suspension featured the use of rubber cones as springs: the spring rate of rubber changes with compression, allowing the suspension to adapt to passenger load variations (a full passenger load could actually double the tiny vehicle's gross weight). A conventional suspension would have required an increase in height to the design. This unique design was adapted from Issigonis's home-built racer and built for the Mini by Alex Moulton. Although only 10 feet long, the Mini was a genuine four seater. This was possible within such a small bodyshell because the engine was mounted transversely, driving the front wheels via a gearbox which was uniquely incorporated into the sump of the engine. Engine and gearbox thus shared the same oil, which was a significant piece of design in response to the 1956 Suez crisis and the fears of future oil shortages. The overall width of the vehicle was reduced, because there was no need to accommodate a separate gearbox across the width of the car and because there was no transmission tunnel in the floorplan of the Mini, there was more space that could be used to accommodate the passengers thus compensating for the reduced width. Overall length was minimized because of the Mini's two-box design, comprising only a passenger compartment and the engine compartment. There was no third box providing a separate luggage compartment (i.e. a boot) and that inevitably compromised luggage space. To offset that problem, large bins beside each of the four seats provided some useful interior storage and a centrally located instrument binnacle allowed the dashboard to be opened up for storage too. The requirement for storage bins in the front doors effectively determined that the Mini should have sliding windows rather than wind-up windows. The tiny 10-inch (250 mm) wheels helped to reduce the intrusion of wheel arches into the interior of the vehicle and allowed a modest amount of additional luggage space in a "boot" area behind the rear seats. Overall the Mini represents some very clever packaging which has often been imitated but has never been bettered An Austin de luxe saloon was tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1959. It had a top speed of 72.4 mph (116.5 km/h) and could accelerate from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 27.1 seconds. A fuel consumption of 43.5 miles per imperial gallon (6.49 L/100 km; 36.2 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £537 including taxes of £158. With its low starting price, the Mini was truly a “people’s car,” but its popularity transcended class, and it was also used by affluent Londoners as a second car to easily maneuver in city traffic. By the time production was halted in 2000, 5.3 million Minis had been produced. Around that same time, a panel of 130 international journalists voted the Mini “European Car of the Century.” A high-performance version of the Mini engineered by the race car builder John Cooper had first been released in 1961; known as the Mini Cooper, it became one of the favorites of Mini enthusiasts worldwide. In 2003, the Mini Cooper was updated for a new generation of buyers by the German automaker BMW.

1959 Morris Mini Minor (Mini Mark 1)

1959 Morris Mini Minor (Mini Mark 1)

Showing what you can get in a MINI

Showing what you can get in a MINI

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Friday 30th September 1960

56 years ago

It was announced that the new Rootes car would be called Hillman 'Imp'. Being a direct competitor to the BMC's Mini, it used a space-saving rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout to allow as much luggage and passenger capacity as possible in both the rear and the front of the car. It used a unique opening rear hatch to allow luggage to be put into the back seat rest.In addition to its 875 cc aluminium engine, it was the first mass-produced British car to have an engine in the back and the first car to use a diaphragm spring clutch. The baulk-ring synchromesh unit for the transaxle compensated for the speeds of gear and shaft before engagement, which the Mini had suffered from during its early production years.It incorporated many design features which were uncommon in cars until the late 1970s such as a folding rear bench seat, automatic choke and gauges for temperature, voltage and oil pressure.This unorthodox small/light car was designed for the Rootes Group by Formula One driver Michael Parkes and Tim Fry. It was manufactured at the purpose-built Linwood plant in Scotland. Along with the Hillman marque was a series of variations including an estate car (Husky), a van and a coupé. The Imp gained a reputation as a successful rally car when Rosemary Smith won the Tulip Rally in 1965. This led the Rootes Group to produce a special rally conversion of the Imp under both the Hillman and Singer marques known as the Imp Rallye. In 1966, Rosemary Smith after winning the Coupe des Dames, was disqualified under a controversial ruling regarding the headlamps of her Imp. The Imp was also successful in touring car racing when Bill McGovern won the British Saloon Car Championship in 1970, 1971 and 1972. Arguably, it was considered advanced for the time with its various innovative features and technical advantages over other cars. But reliability problems harmed its reputation, which led to the Rootes Group being taken over by Chrysler Europe in 1967. The Imp continued production until 1976, selling just under half a million units in 13 years.

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Monday 12th December 1960

56 years ago

Berkeley Car's poor cash flow forced the company into liquidation. The company of Biggleswade, Bedfordshire in England produced economical sporting microcars with motorcycle-derived engines from 322 cc to 692 cc and front wheel drive, between 1956 and 1960. The Berkeley automobile was a collaboration between designer Lawrence "Lawrie" Bond and the Berkeley Coachworks factory owned by Charles Panter, which at the time was one of the largest manufacturers of caravans in Europe. It was an ideal project for Berkeley, who had developed considerable skills in the use of Glass-reinforced plastic (GRP), and were looking for something to fill the gaps in the very seasonal caravan market. What Panter and Bond wanted to achieve was "something good enough to win World 750cc races... but cheap, safe, easily repairable and pretty." The early cars were an immediate success on the home market, and several derivative models were spawned over the four years of car production. Export markets, most notably the United States, were exploited and the cars earned a reputation for fun, if fragile, sports motoring on a budget. Recognising the threat posed by the newly introduced Mini and Austin-Healey Sprite in the late fifties, the company started to develop are a more conventional model with the support of Ford. The caravan market collapsed towards the end of 1960, and Berkeley's poor cash flow forced the company into liquidation, taking its car manufacturing activities with it. After having produced about 4100 cars of various types, the workforce was laid off shortly before Christmas that year. An attempted sale of the company to Sharp's Commercials Ltd (manufacturer of the Bond Minicar) came to nothing, and the company's assets were liquidated in 1961.

Berkeley Sports SE328, 328 cc (1957 - 1958)

Berkeley Sports SE328, 328 cc (1957 - 1958)

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Friday 6th September 1963

53 years ago

The Austin 1100 (ADO16) was launched. Front-wheel driven, with front disc brakes and interconnected Hydrolastic fluid suspension, it had a surprisingly large interior considering the compact external dimensions. Performance was lively by the standards of the day thanks to the A-Series engines, in 1098cc and (from 1967) 1275cc capacities, and steering and handling came close to Mini levels of fun. Much cleverer than their Ford, Vauxhall and Rootes rivals, these cars consistently topped British sales charts but rusted as badly as any other British mass-produced saloons of the time.

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Friday 17th January 1964

53 years ago

The Monte Carlo Rally started. It ended on 23rd January with Paddy Hopkirk and his co-driver Henry Liddon causing sensation when he piloted a Mini Cooper S, (Car No. 37, registration 33 EJB) to victory against the toughest competition from Ford and Saab.

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Tuesday 21st January 1964

53 years ago

Mini driver Patrick (Paddy) Hopkirk, and his navigator, Henry Liddon, piloted a Mini Cooper S, (Car No. 37, registration 33 EJB) to victory 1964 Monte Carlo Rally. Hopkirk crossed the finish line just 17 seconds behind Bo Ljungfeldt in the far more powerful V8-powered Ford Falcon. The handicap formula at the time, designed to even out the weight and power differences between the various cars, meant the classic Mini actually led the way in the overall standings. Hopkirk defended his advantage in the sprint through the streets of Monte Carlo that rounded off the rally. Such was his fame after this win that he was invited on Britain's most watched television programme, Sunday Night at the Palladium, and he got to meet the Beatles.

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Sunday 26th September 1965

51 years ago

The Mini Marcos made its racing debut at a rain soaked Castle Combe race track. Driven by Geoff Mabbs, it lapped all but one car to win the BRSCC race by 81 seconds at an average of 76 mph.

Mini Marcos

Mini Marcos

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Friday 29th October 1965

51 years ago

The 12th Toyko Motor Show was held immediately after imports of passenger cars were liberalized on October 1. Models exhibited: large luxurious models, the President and the new Cedric, equipped with Japan s firstV6, 3.0-liter and V8, 4.0-liter engines, and the Crown equipped with a 6-cylinder engine. Small cars concentrated on the 800-1000cc class: the fastback Colt 800, the Honda S800 and N800, the Subaru 1000 equipped with new features, and the Familia Coupe (1000). These models attracted attention as family cars geared to the "my car days," and not to be used as taxies. Sports cars such as Prince R380, Hino GT Prototype, Toyota 2000GT and Honda F-1 Racer challenged speed records and attracted the attention of young enthusiasts. Overseas participants in the show were the Soviet Union and U.K. firms, with twelve exhibits: the Moskvitch 400, the Austin Healey 3000 Mark III, the Austin 1800, and the Morris Mini Cooper.

Subaru 1000

Subaru 1000

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Wednesday 26th October 1966

50 years ago

The Nissan Sunny and Toyota Corolla were unveiled at the 13th Tokyo Motor Show. Other carmakers also presented their new models in the 800-1,000cc engine class, heralding the "Era of Cars for Everyone." Amid the My Car boom, mini-vehicles fitted with under 660cc engines also earned popularity among consumers again. New mini vehicle models such as Honda's N360, the Daihatsu Fellow, and Suzuki Fronte featured significantly improved performance. Notably, the Nissan Prince Royal, the first made-in-Japan limousine used by the emperor and empress, was unveiled at the show. Visitors were surprised at the vehicle's overwhelming body size and engine.

Toyota Corolla (first generation)

Toyota Corolla (first generation)

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Friday 20th January 1967

50 years ago

A Mini Cooper S driven by Rauno Aaltonen and Henry Liddon won the Monte Carlo Rally.

1967 Monte winners,Rauno Aaltonen and Henry Liddon celebrate in Monaco

1967 Monte winners,Rauno Aaltonen and Henry Liddon celebrate in Monaco

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Saturday 4th February 1967

50 years ago

The sport of Rallycross was born at Lydden, Kent, UK. Rallycross is a form of sprint style automobile racing, held on a closed mixed-surface racing circuit, with modified production or specially built road cars, similar to the World Rally Cars, although usually with about 200 bhp (150 kW) stronger engines, due to e.g. their 45 mm turbo restrictor plates. The sport started as a TV show (with especially invited rally drivers), produced by Robert Reed of ABC television for ITVs World of Sport programme, at Lydden Circuit (between Dover and Canterbury) in Great Britain on this day. The first ever true rallycross was organised by Bud Smith († 1994) and the Tunbridge Wells Centre of the 750 MC, with the aid of Lydden Circuit owner Bill Chesson († 1999), and was won by later Formula One driver as well as 1968 Rally Monte Carlo winner Vic Elford in a showroom Porsche 911 of the British importer AFN, ahead of Brian Melia in his Ford Lotus Cortina and Tony Fall in a BMC Mini Cooper S. After that inaugural event there were another two test rallycrosses at Lydden, on 11 March and 29 July, before the new World of Sport Rallycross Championship for the ABC TV viewers started with round one on 23 September, to be followed by round two on 7 October. The series was run over a total of six rounds (three at Lydden and three at Croft) and was eventually won by Englishman Tony Chappell (Ford Escort TwinCam), who became the first ever British Rallycross champion after winning the final round of the new series on 6 April 1968 at Lydden. Since 1973, Lydden Circuit has seen rounds of Embassy/ERA European Rallycross Championships and FIA European Championships for Rallycross Drivers, the first 23 (till 1996) all organised by the Thames Estuary Automobile Club (TEAC). To this day, Lydden, as the so-called "Home of Rallycross", still holds British Rallycross Championship racing, especially with its popular Easter Monday meeting. Rallycross is mainly popular in the Nordic countries, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Great Britain. An inexpensive, entry level type of rallycross is the Swedish folkrace or its Norwegian counterpart, the so-called bilcross. The folkrace is most popular in Finland where it was founded back in late 60's. In Europe, rallycross can also refer to racing 1:8 scale off-road radio-controlled buggies.

Hillman Imps in Rallycross (1967)

Hillman Imps in Rallycross (1967)

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Thursday 15th February 1968

49 years ago

Subaru of America Inc was organised in Pennsylvania and began importing the Subaru 360, a two-seater mini saloon.

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Tuesday 14th May 1968

48 years ago

British Leyland Motor Corporation, Ltd was formed through the 1968 merger of British Motor Holdings Ltd. and Leyland Motor Corp. Ltd. to create the entities known as British Leyland Motor Corporation, Ltd. (1968–75), and British Leyland Limited (1975–78). It was renamed BL PLC in 1978. With headquarters in London, the company had interests in about 95 percent of the British automotive industry, and it manufactured vehicles ranging from commercial trucks and buses to private automobiles, construction equipment, and engines.Leyland, initially the dominant partner in the merger, was the first British manufacturer to concentrate on commercial vehicles. James Sumner of Leyland, Lancashire, built his first steam-driven wagon in 1884; and in 1896 he allied with the wealthy Spurrier family to set up the Lancashire Steam Motor Company, renamed Leyland Motors Ltd. in 1907, after its first experiments with gasoline engines. Except briefly in 1920–23, the company did not produce automobiles until 1961, when it acquired Triumph Motor Co. Ltd. (Triumph had begun in 1903 as a motorcycle manufacturer and began making cars in 1923.) In 1966 Leyland merged with another car manufacturer, The Rover Co. Ltd. (founded 1904), and the combined companies became Leyland Motor Corp. Ltd. The first chairman of the new British Leyland in 1968, Donald Gresham Stokes, Baron Stokes, had also been the old Leyland’s last chairman. British Motor Holdings Ltd. had a much more complex history, but basically it grew out of three auto manufacturers: Morris, Austin, and Jaguar. Early in the 20th century William Richard Morris (later 1st Viscount Nuffield) founded a garage in Oxford, which after 1910 became known as Morris Garages Limited. In the 1920s, with Cecil Kimber as general manager, it began producing the popular M.G. cars, which were manufactured until 1980, when they were discontinued because of rising production costs. The M.G. Car Company was created in 1927 and was absorbed by another Morris car company, Morris Motors Ltd., in 1935. In that same year, another organization, Wolseley Motors Ltd. (founded in 1901 and taken over by Morris in 1927), was similarly absorbed. In 1952 another venerable car manufacturer, Austin Motor Co. Ltd. (founded in 1905 by Herbert Austin), merged with Morris Motors to form British Motor Corporation Ltd. It continued to turn out Austin, Morris, M.G., and Wolseley cars and the highly successful “Mini” series. Although production of the Mini Cooper ended in 1971, the model was relaunched in 1990 and by 2001 was selling internationally through parent company Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW). The first Jaguar car was produced in 1936 by S.S. Cars Ltd. (founded 1932 in Coventry), which was renamed Jaguar Cars Ltd. in 1945 both to avoid the accidental reminder of the German SS and to highlight the name of the make that had proved to be most successful. Jaguar in 1960 bought Daimler Co. Ltd. (founded 1893), makers of limousines and other prestige cars; and in 1961 it bought Guy Motors Ltd. (founded 1919), a commercial-vehicle manufacturer. In 1966 Jaguar amalgamated with the Austin-Morris interests (i.e., the British Motor Corporation) to form British Motor Holdings Ltd., which two years later merged with Leyland to become British Leyland; in 1984 Jaguar was sold. With two successive name changes, British Leyland became BL Limited in 1979. The company assumed its current name in 1982. In 1981 BL entered into a joint venture with Honda Motor Company, Ltd., of Japan to produce Japanese-designed Triumph Acclaims in the United Kingdom. BL began selling its interests in the 1980s, and by 1990 the Ford Motor Company had acquired full ownership of Jaguar. BMW purchased Rover in 1994 but later sold the sport utility vehicle (SUV) brand to Ford, which continued to develop the Land Rover line of SUVs as part of its Premier Automotive Group. That group also comprised Aston Martin, Jaguar, and Volvo.

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Thursday 19th June 1969

47 years ago

The 2,000,000th Mini was delivered. Over 1,250,000 of the cars delivered since 1959 were standard Austin and Morris types. Vans were the next most popular variant with 339,985 and the various Cooper models amounted to nearly 115,000 units.

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Wednesday 3rd September 1969

47 years ago

The classic British heist movie The Italian Job is released in theaters in the United States. The film starred Michael Caine as Charlie Croker, the leader of a gang of goodhearted thieves determined to steal a 4-million-pound shipment of gold on its way from China to a bank in Turin, Italy. The real stars of the film were the three Mini Cooper getaway cars.

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Friday 10th October 1969

47 years ago

The Mini Clubman and 1275GT were launched. The Mini Clubman was intended to replace the up market Riley and Wolseley versions, whilst the 1275GT, was heavily criticised as the replacement for the popular 998 cc Mini Cooper (the 1,275 cc Mini Cooper S continued alongside the 1275GT for two years until 1971).

Mini 1275GT

Mini 1275GT

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Friday 24th October 1969

47 years ago

Vehicles exhibited at the 16th Toyko Motor Show included the midship type Bellett MX 1600 exhibited by Isuzu, the mini racing machine by Suzuki, and the rotary coupe R100 with racing specifications by Mazda. The Honda 1300 Coupe 7 and the Mitsubishi Colt Formula FIIB attracted much praise. Nissan set up a sports corner exhibiting the R 382, the Japan Grand Prux winner, which showed the company’s enthusiasm toward motor sports. Among new models, the Mitsubishi Colt Gallant, especially the Gallant GTX-1 (GTO s base model) to be sold in 1970 was most popular.

Honda 1300 Coupe 7

Honda 1300 Coupe 7

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Saturday 23rd September 1972

44 years ago

The famous Crystal Palace racing circuit in London held its final meeting, ending a 45-year racing tradition. The closure had been announced a few weeks before the beginning of the 1972 season, prompted by noise complaints and safety concerns.The circuit opened in 1927 and the first race, for motorcycles, was on 21 May 1927. The circuit was 1-mile (1.6 km) long, and ran on pre-existing paths through the park, including an infield loop past the lake. The surface had tarmac-covered bends, but the straights only had hard-packed gravel.Improvements begun in December 1936 increased the circuit to 2 miles (3 km), and tarmac covered the entire length. 20 cars entered the first London Grand Prix on 17 July 1937, a race eventually won by Prince Bira in his ERA R2B Romulus at an average speed of 56.5 mph (90.9 km/h). Later that year, during the International Imperial Trophy meeting also won by Bira, the BBC broadcast the first ever televised motor racing. With the outbreak of World War II, the park was taken over by the Ministry of Defence, and it would not be until 1953 that race meetings could take place again. The circuit had been reduced in length to 1.39 miles (2.2 km), bypassing the loop past the lake, and pressure from the local residents led to an injunction which reduced motor sport events in the park to only five days per year. A variety of races took place, including sports cars, Formula Three, the London Trophy for Formula Two, and non-championship Formula One races. Average speeds continued to rise over the years, with the first 100 mph (161 km/h) lap average set in 1970 by that year's Formula One world champion, Jochen Rindt. Also in 1970, the injunction limiting race days expired and racing was increased to 14 days a year. However, driver safety was coming into focus in the early seventies and it became clear that racing around a park at 100 mph (161 km/h) was not safe. Expensive improvements were undertaken, but it was not enough to save the circuit. The last International meeting was in May 1972, the final lap record going to Mike Hailwood at an average speed of 103.39 mph (166.39 km/h). The circuit's location within Greater London made it a popular venue for both film and television settings, The Italian Job filmed on the startline at Crystal Palace for the scene showing initial testing of the Mini Cooper getaway cars and in the paddock area for the scene where a security van is "blown-up". The Crystal Palace transmitter tower can be seen in the background of this scene. The circuit was also used in Ron Howard's film Rush, to recreate the last corner accident between James Hunt and Dave Morgan,[1] and for parts of the UFO (TV series) episode The Responsibility Seat. Although the circuit no longer exists (as an actual racing circuit), it can be driven virtually in the Grand Prix Legends historical motor racing computer simulation game, for which it was recreated in detail. It was later converted to several other racing simulation programs, including the popular rFactor. The circuit was used for the prologue time trial of the Tour of Britain cycle race on 9 September 2007, and is used regularly for summer road race league events, normally held on Tuesday evenings.

The start of the BRSCC 500 race at Crystal Palace in May 1955.

The start of the BRSCC 500 race at Crystal Palace in May 1955.

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Wednesday 25th October 1972

44 years ago

The 3,000,000th Mini was produced. Produced by British Motor Corporation (BMC) and its successors from 1959 until 2000, the original is considered a British icon of the 1960s. Its space-saving transverse engine front-wheel drive layout – allowing 80 percent of the area of the car's floorpan to be used for passengers and luggage – influenced a generation of car makers. In 1999 the Mini was voted the second most influential car of the 20th century, behind the Ford Model T, and ahead of the Citroën DS and Volkswagen Beetle. This distinctive two-door car was designed for BMC by Sir Alec Issigonis. It was manufactured at the Longbridge and Cowley plants in England, the Victoria Park/Zetland British Motor Corporation (Australia) factory in Sydney, Australia, and later also in Spain (Authi), Belgium, Chile, Italy (Innocenti), Malta, Portugal, South Africa, Uruguay, Venezuela and Yugoslavia. The Mini Mark I had three major UK updates – the Mark II, the Clubman and the Mark III. Within these was a series of variations, including an estate car, a pick-up truck, a van and the Mini Moke – a jeep-like buggy. The performance versions, the Mini Cooper and Cooper "S," were successful as rally cars, winning the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965 and 1967. In 1966, the first-placed Mini was disqualified after the finish, under a controversial decision that the car's headlights were against the rules. On introduction in August 1959 the Mini was marketed under the Austin and Morris names, as the Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor. The Austin Seven was renamed Austin Mini in January 1962 and Mini became a marque in its own right in 1969. In 1980 it once again became the Austin Mini and in 1988 the Rover Mini. BMW acquired the Rover Group (formerly British Leyland) in 1994, and sold the greater part of it in 2000, but retained the rights to build cars using the MINI name.

Lord Stokes celebrating the three millionth Mini off the line

Lord Stokes celebrating the three millionth Mini off the line

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Tuesday 30th November 1976

40 years ago

Roger Clark became the first British driver to win a World Rally Championship (WRC) event when he triumphed at the 1976 RAC Rally with Stuart Pegg, driving a Ford Escort RS 1800. Clark passed his driving test in 1956, and immediately joined the Leicester Car Club, where he met Jim Porter, who was his co-driver for 20 years. Initially borrowing a Ford Model Y from his fathers garage, he made his rallying debut at club level in 1956 in a pre-WWII Ford Prefect. The car used number plate 2 ANR, which Clark retained throughout his career, and often used for later private entries. After moving to compete in a 1950s Ford 100E van, in 1960 Clark and Porter began being placed after switching to a BMC Mini Cooper.In this car they won the East Midlands Rally Championship (1961 and 1962),came fourth overall and a class win in the International Circuit of Ireland (1963),third in the Motoring News Championship (1963), and third in his first Circuit of Scotland (1963). This success led to a series of works drives. In 1963 he drove a Triumph TR4 for Spa-Sofia-Liege, and in the same year a Reliant Sabre in the Alpine Rally. In 1964, whilst experimenting privately with a Ford Cortina GT, Clark agreed a two-year works deal with the Rover Company, for which in 1965 the pair won their Monte Carlo Rally category in a Rover 2000. During this period he also made the first two of his five Circuit of Scotland wins in 1964 in his private Ford Cortina, and with combined results won the first of his four British Rally Championship in 1965. Roger drove for BL during the 1980 season where he competed in the iconic TR7 V8 but with limited success. In 1966 Clark and Porter signed to a works Ford of Britain deal, with the successful partnership lasting 15 years. Ford of Britain lead the Ford of Europe rallying team, sponsored by Esso Uniflo, with Clark initially signed into a three-driver team all using the Ford Cortina GT alongside Vic Elford and Bengt Soderstrom. Under their customised contract, the company initially supplied Clark and Porter with improved chassis, body and full works blue-printed engines, which Clark then had built into rally cars in his own workshops. In 1968 Clark switched to the car that he was most associated with, the Ford Escort RS, which he rallied in works form until 1979, and then privately until he retired in the 1980s. Clark and Porter won British Rally Championship titles again in 1972, 1973 and 1975. His most notable successes came in the RAC Rally, the UK's biggest rally race. But as Porter was contracted to work for the rally organisers, Clark was forced to hire-in co-drivers for each of his wins. Clark won twice, in 1972 with Tony Mason, and then again - with the cars now sponsored by Cossack Hairspray, and hence coloured red - in 1976 with Stuart Pegg when it was part of the WRC, a feat that would not be emulated for over fifteen years. Clark and Porter also won the Acropolis Rally in 1968, the Circuit of Ireland in 1970, and the Scottish Rally on six occasions, among a total of 40 national and international victories. In 1973, Clark led the East African Safari Rally by over an hour, when forced to retire at the halfway stage with a disintegrating car. As part of his later extended works-deal with Ford, Clark was contracted and paid as a development driver, for which he was asked to rally unusual models.These development excursions included rallying a Ford Zodiac in Eastern Europe, a Ford Capri in the Tour of Britain; and a Ford Escort attached to a Sprite Alpine to compete in the RAC and Caravan Club organised Caravan Rally of Great Britain, centred around Silverstone Circuit. His autobiography co-authored by Graham Robson reflected his skill - on any surface - to make the Ford Escort "dance" sideways through corners, like his world-class Scandinavians equals Hannu Mikkola and Bjorn Waldegard, entitled Sideways . . . to Victory. Clark died from the effects of a stroke on 12 January 1998. A bronze statue of Clark was later erected in his memory at Mallory Park, Leicestershire, England.

Roger Clark

Roger Clark

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Sunday 14th August 1977

39 years ago

The world’s longest ever rally, the Singapore Airlines London to Sydney rally, started in Covent Garden, London. The race was won at Sydney Opera House on 28 September by the British team of Andrew Cowan, Colin Malkin and Michael Broad in a Mercedes 280E. They were followed home by team-mate Tony Fowkes in a similar car. Paddy Hopkirk, this time driving a Citroën CX, took the final podium spot. The 1977 London-Sydney Marathon was the first-ever rally to have a competing truck, several years ahead of the Paris Dakar. It had two former Grand Prix drivers; several front-line international rally drivers; Fiat entered a team of prototype diesels - the first time for a diesel works-rallycar on an international event. There were works-factory teams at one end, and privateers at the other in everything from a fibreglass kit-car, the Magenta; the first time a kit-car had ever been accepted into an international rally; a Mini Clubman and even a Mini Moke. In between, there were Range Rovers, Jeeps, Peugeots, Mercedes of various descriptions, Ford Escorts, a Mazda rotary-engined car, Datsuns, Volvos, Saabs, even a mobile-home camper van. Crews came from around the world to take part… professionals, experts, adventurers, more than one crew were on their first-ever rally, including a couple who literally drove straight from a dealer’s showroom direct to the start-ramp. It was also the first big-time rally for a Subaru 4WD.There were several instances of cheating that would have made Dick Dastardly proud, including a crew that left London and then flew their car to India, cheekily trying to check in at the time-control table set up outside the hotel in Madras without even bothering to remove the car still strapped to the back of a truck, having come straight from the airport. The route took in mountains, rivers wild enough for a Datsun to float off downstream, and several deserts – the Australia section was a marathon drive in its own right. When the ship arrived late into Freemantle, rather than cancel sections to get the rally back on schedule, it was decided to make up the lost time by simply running it non-stop – for seven days and nights.

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Friday 16th September 1977

39 years ago

Former T. Rex singer Marc Bolan was killed instantly, at the age of 29, when the purple Mini 1275 GT (FOX 661L) driven by his girlfriend, Gloria Jones, left the road and hit a tree in Barnes, London. Miss Jones broke her jaw in the accident. The couple were on the way to Bolan’s home in Richmond after a night out at a Mayfair restaurant.

Marc Bolan

Marc Bolan

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Saturday 18th March 1978

39 years ago

Gordon Johncock won the USAC Championship 'Jimmy Bryan 150' at Phoenix International Raceway. Johncock and Danny Ongais dueled for the win until the clutch began slipping on Ongais' Interscope Parnelli/Cosworth. Pat Patrick's Wildcat/DGS entries finished 1-2 with Steve Krisiloff a career best second. Ongais won the pole with a 24.76 lap (145.396 mph). In the preliminary Mini Indy (Super Vee) race, future NASCAR star Tim Richmond won in his first start in the class.

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Monday 10th September 1979

37 years ago

British Leyland (BL) announced it was to end production of all MG models. The history of the marque has been a bumpy one since the creation of the brand in 1924 by Cecil Kimber, who chose the letters MG as a tribute to William Morris, the owner of Morris Garages.The original MGs – known as Morris Garage Chummies – were made by fitting tourer bodies to Morris Cowley chassis. Purists, however, say the first true MG was the 14/28 sports model, which was also the first to sport the distinctive octagonal logo.Originally the cars were built in Oxford, but production was shifted a few miles south to Abingdon in 1929, where it continued until the plant was closed amid huge protests in 1980. The Prince of Wales was one of a number of distinguished MG owners. His first car was a cobalt blue MGC GT, which was bought in January 1968. Ironically on the day the Abingdon plant shut, he was performing the official opening of British Leyland’s Mini Metro plant in Longbridge, where MGs had also been produced since 1962. The closure of Abingdon also stopped production of the much loved two-seater sports cars, even though the brand was kept alive by Austin Rover, who stuck the badge on an array of unimpressive saloon cars and hatchbacks. These Metros, Maestros and Montegos may have been sportier than their conventional counterparts, but they were not true MGs and did not attract the devotion of the MGB, which had become the world’s top selling sports car. “The marque has a great deal of affection, but has not been treated particularly well,” said Chris Seaward of the MG Car Club. It has been passed from house to house.” In 1995, when the MG was owned by BMW, the MGF – a proper sports car in line with the marque’s heritage was launched. It was hugely successful. In 2000 BMW sold the business to the Rover group which stuck the MG badge on some Rovers, as well as continuing to produce sports cars. It was not a happy period with the company going into receivership and production stopping after an ill-fated rescue attempt by the so-called Phoenix Four, which made huge amounts for the businessmen involved but not for the staff on the Longbridge production line. In April 2005 the MG MG Rover Group went into administration, after which it was bought by NAC China’s oldest carmaker. Production restarted in 2007 in China, and later at Longbridge plant in the UK under the current manufacturer MG Motor. The first all-new model from MG in the UK for 16 years, the MG 6, was officially launched on 26 June 2011.

MG's logo since 2006

MG's logo since 2006

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Wednesday 8th October 1980

36 years ago

British Leyland launched the Mini Metro, designed to be a slightly bigger and more modern alternative to the Mini. Yet many of the Mini's features were carried over into the Metro, namely the 998 cc and 1275 cc A-Series engines, much of the front-wheel drivetrain and four-speed manual gearbox, and suspension subframes. The Metro used the Hydragas suspension system found on the Allegro. The hatchback body shell was one of the most spacious of its time and this was a significant factor in its popularity. Initially, the Metro was sold as a three-door hatchback. For a brief period, 1980-1982, the Metro was seen as a desirable, even groundbreaking supermini. Sadly its reputation was tarnished by the high level of warranty claims due to quality control problems that should never have occurred in a car whose running gear dated, essentially, to the Fifties.

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Thursday 12th June 1986

30 years ago

Austin-Rover was renamed the Rover Group. It initially included the Austin Rover Group car business (comprising the Austin, Rover, Mini and MG marques), Land Rover Group, Freight Rover vans and Leyland Trucks. The Rover Group was owned by British Aerospace (BAe) from 1988 to 1994, when BAe sold the remaining car business to the German company BMW. The group was further broken up in 2000, when Ford acquired the Land Rover division, with the Rover and MG marques continuing with the much smaller MG Rover Group until 2005. Ownership of the original Rover Group marques is currently split between BMW (Germany), SAIC (China), and Tata Motors (India).

Rover Group logo 1986

Rover Group logo 1986

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Wednesday 1st July 1998

18 years ago

Production of the rear-engined two-door, two-seat mono-box city car, the 2.5 metre long Smart city-coupé, began. It was renamed Smart Fortwo the following year. In contrast to other mini cars, the Smart had rear wheel drive which provided improved control and enhanced stability. Moreover, the Smart City Coupe came with an impressive line-up of safety features, starting with ESP, ABS, front and side airbags and ending with the ASR technology developed by Mercedes.

Smart city-coupé - 1998

Smart city-coupé - 1998

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Thursday 5th August 1999

17 years ago

A Mini John Cooper LE was announced to jointly celebrate the Mini’s fortieth birthday and John Cooper’s achievements in the racing arena. The cars were finished in Brookland Green with white bonnet stripes, matching the Cooper works team colours, and a red leather interior. Only available in the UK, production of the John Cooper LE was limited to just 300.

Mini John Cooper LE - 1999

Mini John Cooper LE - 1999

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Tuesday 9th May 2000

16 years ago

BMW sold the bulk of the Rover Group (the Rover and MG marques) to the Phoenix Consortium, while it retained the rights to the Mini marque, and sold Land Rover to Ford.

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Wednesday 4th October 2000

16 years ago

After 41 years the Rover Mini finally ended production. Over five million cars had been sold since the first £496 cars were sold in 1959, and there have been more than 130 different models.

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Sunday 24th December 2000

16 years ago

John Cooper, the driving force behind the Cooper Car Company died aged 77. With his father, Charles, he started building racing cars after the Second World War; and it was Stirling Moss who gave the company its first GP victory in the 1958 Argentine Grand Prix. This was the first rear engine car to win a grand prix and started a revolution - within two years all the cars on the grid were rear engined. "He made a great contribution to the sport of motor racing - he put England back on top," Stirling Moss said. "It's thanks to John Cooper that I was able to get into the sport as his racing cars were relatively cheap." Cooper's development of the British Motor Corporation Mini — the Mini Cooper — was adored by both rally racers and ordinary road drivers. Before John Cooper's death, the Cooper name was licensed to BMW for the higher-performance versions of the cars, inspired by the original Mini, sold as the MINI. John, along with his son Mike Cooper, served in an advisory role to BMW and Rover's New MINI design team. Cooper was the last surviving Formula One team principal from the formative years of the sport, and he often lamented later in life that the fun had long since gone out of racing. He helped establish Britain's domination of motorsport technology, which continues today, and he received the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to British motorsport. He remained head of the West Sussex family garage business (which had outlets for Mini Cooper at East Preston and Honda at Ferring) until his death.

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Sunday 8th July 2001

15 years ago

The BMW Mini went on sale in the UK. By 10:00 am the 148 dealerships had taken more than 3,000 orders. The hatchback/hardtop Mini was the first model of the new generation Mini, and was back then known as simply Mini. It was available in Cooper, Cooper S and One variations at launch. In many European markets, the Mini One was powered by a 1.4 litre I4[34] version of the Tritec engine but all other petrol powered Minis used the 1.6 litre I4 version. The names Cooper and Cooper S followed the names used for the sportier version of the classic Mini, which in turn come from the involvement of John Cooper and the Cooper Car Company. The Cooper heritage was further emphasised with the John Cooper Works (JCW) range of tuning options that are available with the Mini. John Cooper also created a one-off racing model of the Mini Cooper S named the Mini Cooper S Works. This car featured many extras which help to improve performance, such as a racing exhaust and air filter as well as uprated suspension. The car also had one-of-a-kind 17-inch (430 mm) racing wheels. The Mk I Mini One, Cooper and Cooper S used some version of the reliable, Brazilian-built Tritec engine, co-developed by Chrysler & BMW; the Mini One D used a Toyota-built 1ND-TV diesel engine. In August 2006, BMW announced that future engines would be built in the UK, making the car essentially British-built again; final assembly took place at Oxford, and the body pressings were made in nearby Swindon at BMW's Swindon Pressings Ltd subsidiary. The last Mk I variant was the Mini Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit: a light-weight, quasi-race-prepped John Cooper Works model. Hand-finished by Bertone in Italy, it was offered as a limited-production run of 2,000 cars during the 2006 model year, with 444 of those originally intended for the UK market (although ultimately, 459 were sold).

BMW MIni (2002)

BMW MIni (2002)

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Friday 7th June 2002

14 years ago

The 163-bhp Mini Cooper S with a 6-speed gearbox, capable of 0 to 60 mph in 7 seconds and a top speed of 135 mph, went on sale in the UK.

Mini Cooper S - 2002

Mini Cooper S - 2002

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Tuesday 11th June 2002

14 years ago

22 Spanish friends crammed into a Mini Cooper to establish a new world record.

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Friday 14th June 2002

14 years ago

The movie "The Bourne Identity" was released, featuring the amnesiac assassin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) who drives a vintage Austin Mini Cooper through the traffic-heavy streets of Paris to evade his police and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) pursuers.

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Saturday 28th September 2002

14 years ago

The British-built Mini Cooper was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show.

Mini Cooper 2002

Mini Cooper 2002

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Thursday 6th March 2003

14 years ago

The MINI One D made its world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show, the first series production MINI ever to feature a diesel engine. The MINI One D went go on sale in the UK on June 7, 2003. The 'heart' of the MINI One D was a 1.4 litre, 4-cylinder diesel engine, developed in co-operation with Toyota Motor Corporation.

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Monday 31st March 2003

13 years ago

Invacar, a small vehicle adapted for use by disabled drivers was banned from British roads because of safety concerns.. The veteran vehicle could not meet modern-day government regulations, which required approval under the Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval Scheme as part of a standard set by the European Union. There were still around 200 Invacars in Britain before the 2003 recall and scrapping programme. Hundreds of stockpiled Invacars in government warehouses were scrapped along with all their spare parts. A few examples survive in the hands of private owners and museums in Britain and abroad. Invacars can still be used on UK roads, only vehicles owned by the government were scrapped in 2003. All Invacars were owned by the government and leased to disabled drivers as part of their disability benefit. Invcars were developed in 1948 by Bert Greeves who adapted a motorbike with the help of his paralysed cousin Derry Preston-Cobb as transport for Derry. Early vehicles were powered by an air-cooled Villiers 147 cc engine, but when production of that engine ceased in the early 1970s it was replaced by a much more powerful 4-stroke 500 cc or 600 cc Steyr-Puch engine, giving a reported top speed of 82 mph (132 km/h). During the 1960s and 70s the Invacar, with its modern fibreglass shell and ice-blue colouring nicknamed Ministry Blue after the Ministry of Health, was produced in the tens of thousands. Developments including an extended wheelbase, wider track and use of Austin Mini wheels saw the Invacars right through to the end of the final DHSS contract in 1977. More than 50 variants were produced.

Invacar

Invacar

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Wednesday 4th February 2004

13 years ago

Mini USA announced the debut of the Mini Cooper S MC40, costing $27,000. This limited-production commemorative edition celebrated the 40th anniversary of Mini's win at the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964 - a victory that forever changed the reputation of Mini to that of a true motorsport legend.

Mini Cooper S MC40

Mini Cooper S MC40

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Saturday 28th February 2004

13 years ago

The limited edition 2nd Anniversary MINI Cooper and MINI Cooper S went on sale in Japan. The MINI Cooper was limited to 300 cars and sold for 2,498,000 Yen. The MINI Cooper S was limited to 200 cars and sold for 2,798,000 Yen.

2nd Anniversary MINI Cooper Limited Edition

2nd Anniversary MINI Cooper Limited Edition

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Saturday 26th June 2004

12 years ago

The MINI Convertible (Cabrio) went on sale in the United Kingdom.

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Thursday 24th February 2005

12 years ago

The MINI was introduced in Korea.

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Tuesday 21st June 2005

11 years ago

MINI announced three special 2006 models: MINI One Seven at £12,565, MINI Cooper Park Lane at £15,260, and MINI Cooper S Checkmate at £17,635.

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Wednesday 28th September 2005

11 years ago

An 11-year-old boy discovered by police driving a BMW and barely able to see over the steering wheel was banned from driving, despite not qualifying for a licence for another six years. The 12-month ban after admitting driving without due care and attention, driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence and driving without insurance. He was also given a four-month supervision order and told that nine penalty points would be applied to his licence - as soon as he is old enough to obtain one. Magistrates heard that the boy had swapped a mini motorbike for the BMW and was found driving at night without lights near his home in Andover, Hants. As police followed, he lost control of the car and mounted a pavement.The boy, who is said to have attention deficit disorder, said that he did not realise he required a licence.

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Friday 28th October 2005

11 years ago

MINI United 2005 began in Misano, Italy. Over 6,000 MINI fans attended. The MINI Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit was first presented to the public at MINI United. The GP was a lighter-weight two-seat MINI Cooper S with a JCW Kit which produces 218 bhp.

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Wednesday 23rd November 2005

11 years ago

During an episode of Top Gear’s news segment featuring BMW's MINI Concept from the Tokyo Motor Show showcased what Richard Hammond quoted as a "quintessentially British" integrated tea set, Jeremy Clarkson responded by mocking that they should build a car that is "quintessentially German." He suggested turn signals that displayed Nazi "Heil Hitler" salutes, "a sat-nav that only goes to Poland" in reference to the Nazi invasion of Poland that started WWII, " und ein fanbelt that will last a thousand years," a reference to Adolf Hitler's propaganda slogan of "the thousand-year Reich".

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Wednesday 14th December 2005

11 years ago

The first MINI LOUNGE opened in Madrid, Spain. The bar, restaurant, and nightclub was located at Paseo de la Castellana, 123, Madrid. The opening of the MINI LOUNGE in Madrid was yet another innovative MINI marketing mile stone. A Spanish MINI dealer was ready to convert this idea into the very first lounge in Madrid. Based on his business plan, BMW AG/MINI Brand Management Munich offered him a license agreement. The MINI communicators are thus once again walking unconventional ways of approaching target groups, and they appear where an encounter with the brand is least expected. It is part of the MINI LOUNGE strategy to showcase neither MINI cars nor any of its accessories. Solely the lounge's chic and cosmopolitan atmosphere conveys the brand's image. The architecture throughout the lounge also reflected the special touch of MINI using the recognizable MINI design, as well as the typical MINI color black as sources of inspiration. The Italian cooperation partner Bisazza added further visual stimuli through the use of spectacular mosaics.

Mini Lounge, Madrid, Spain

Mini Lounge, Madrid, Spain

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Friday 27th January 2006

11 years ago

Three famous number plates from the Mini Coopers used in cult film The Italian Job were sold for £19,800 at auction. Each number plate related to something from the movie - GPF 146G came from the Grand Prix Flag, HMP 729G was Caine's prison number and LGW 809G was the gang's flight number. They were removed from the cars shortly after filming. The plates were bought as one lot by a private telephone buyer during the sale at Cheffins auction in Cambridge

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Thursday 8th March 2007

10 years ago

The new MINI One and MINI Cooper D models were unveiled to the public at the International Geneva Motor Show. The entry-level One featured a perky 95hp 1.4-litre petrol engine, while the Cooper D boasts performance and fuel efficiency from an all-new 1.6-litre 110hp turbodiesel powerplant.

Mini One

Mini One

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Wednesday 28th March 2007

10 years ago

269 Mini’s illuminated Blackpool, to set a new Guinness World Record for the longest Mini convoy in the world. Owners travelled from as far as Croydon and Cardiff to be part of the historic two-mile route and help raise cash for Comic Relief.

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Wednesday 4th April 2007

9 years ago

The 1,000,000th MINI was built in Oxford, England. It was Pepper White with an Almond Green roof displaying a graphic which consisted of one million little MINIs.

MINI Logo

MINI Logo

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Saturday 14th April 2007

9 years ago

The MINI Cooper D went on sale in the UK.

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Saturday 10th November 2007

9 years ago

The new Mini Clubman went on sale in the UK. The new car took inspiration and styling cues from the Morris Mini Traveller, Austin Mini Countryman and the Mini Clubman Estate, which enjoyed widespread success in the 1960s.

Mini Clubman (2007)

Mini Clubman (2007)

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Saturday 5th January 2008

9 years ago

John Anthony Ambrose (73), British rally driver who, as co-driver, twice won the RAC Rally, in 1956 and 1965, died in Newbury, Berkshire, UK. After leaving Oxford, Ambrose joined the Royal Air Force but continued to drive in rallies. In 1956, he won the RAC Rally with Lyndon Sims in an Aston Martin DB2. He joined the BMC rally team in 1960, with further successes following. These included victory on the Tulip (Holland, Belgium and eastern France) in 1961 (class victory) and 1964 (outright victory). He also co-drove with Rauno Aaltonen in an Austin-Healey 3000 to win the Spa-Sofia-Liege event in 1964, an event lasting four days and nights with no scheduled sleep time. Aaltonen later recalled how Ambrose had driven 77 miles (124 km) at night in just 52 minutes, reaching speeds of 150 miles (241 km) per hour over cobblestone roads whilst Aaltonen slept in the car. Ambrose also co-drove with Aaltonen as Aaltonen took the 1965 European Rally Championship title, including victory at the RAC Rally.[1] The 1965 RAC Rally victory was the first time that a Mini had won the event. Ambrose left the BMC team in 1966 to spend more time with his family and his business. His last rally was the 1966 RAC Rally, with Simo Lampinen, although an accident meant that they had to stop. After giving up racing, Ambrose helped with the organisation for the 1968 London-Sydney Marathon and the 1970 London-Mexico Rally. Businesses that he was involved with included a family-run decorating firm and a pub in Wales. A

John Anthony Ambrose

John Anthony Ambrose

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Friday 27th June 2008

8 years ago

The Dacia Sandero super mini was launched in France.

Dacia Sandero

Dacia Sandero

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Wednesday 20th January 2010

7 years ago

The Mini Countryman (R60) was officially announced.

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Friday 29th January 2010

7 years ago

The first official photographs of the Mini Countryman were released. The fourth addition to Mini’s range – after the regular three-door hatch, the Convertible and the Clubman – the Countryman was also the first current-generation Mini to have four-wheel drive and four regular passenger doors.

Mini Countryman

Mini Countryman

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Sunday 9th May 2010

6 years ago

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad opened what was dubbed as the Middle East's biggest car plant set up by Iranian state-run automobile company Saipa. Saipa began by assembling Citroën's two-cylinder mini passenger car, the Dyane, in 1968. It went under the name Jyane (or Jian) in Iran. There was also an uncommonly ugly glazed panel van version of the Jyane, as well as the Baby-Brousse, a rustic little buggy in the style of a Citroën Méhari but with a metal body. Later, a pickup version of the Jyane also appeared. The Baby-Brousse was built from 1970 until 1979. In 1975 Saipa began manufacturing licensed versions of the original Renault 5 and later the Renault 21. Production of Citroëns ended in 1980. From 1986-1998 Saipa built the Z24 pickup, a license built version of the 1970-1980 Nissan Junior with a 2.4-litre engine. In 1998 Saipa took over the Zamyad company, which then undertook the production of the Z24. Since 2003, this truck has been sold under the Zamyad brand.Renault 5 production ended in 1994 (Pars Khodro took over the production lines), and the 21 was discontinued in 1997. In 1993 a relationship with KIA began, and production of the Kia Pride commenced. Saipa's Pride is marketed under the names Saba (saloon) and Nasim (hatchback). At the 2001 Tehran Motor Show the liftback Saipa 141 was added to the lineup. This is a five-door version based on the Saba, and is somewhat longer than the Nasim. The Pride series cars carry 97% local content. From 2001 to late 2010, Saipa has had also produced the Citroën Xantia under licence as well as assembling sedan models of the previous generation Kia Rio using parts imported from Korea, from May 2005 to late 2012 where Saipa lost its license to produce Kia Rios.In 2000, SAIPA purchased 51% of Pars Khodro. It also manufactures the Citroen C5 and the New C5. Other products are the Renault Tondar 90, a Renault Logan assembled by SAIPA and its subsidiary Pars Khodro in a joint venture with Renault known as Renault Pars, with over 100,000 orders within a week of it going on sale in March 2007.Production was launched in Venezuela in 2006, and in Syria in 2007

Saipa 232

Saipa 232

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Saturday 2nd October 2010

6 years ago

The Paris Motor Show opened. Renault unveiled the Twizy, its smallest 4-wheeled electric vehicle. Legally classified in Europe as a heavy quadricycle (light quadricycle for the lower-powered Urban 45 model), the two-seater Twizy has a maximum range of 62 miles (100 km). Also unveiled was the MINI Scooter E Concept,

Renault Twizy

Renault Twizy

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Saturday 1st October 2011

5 years ago

The MINI Cooper Coupe, MINI Cooper S Coupe, and MINI John Cooper Works Coupe went on sale worldwide. The MINI Cooper Coupe was $22,000, the MINI Cooper S Coupe was $25,300, and the MINI John Cooper Works Coupe was $31,900 (including a $700 destination charge).

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Sunday 15th January 2012

5 years ago

X-raid Team driver Stéphane Peterhansel and co-pilot Jean-Paul Cottret won the 2012 Dakar Rally in South American in their No. 302 MINI ALL4 Racing, based on the MINI Countryman.

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Sunday 22nd January 2012

5 years ago

Dani Sordo driving his MINI John Cooper Works WRC Countryman finished 2nd at the Rallye Monte-Carlo.

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Thursday 19th April 2012

4 years ago

MINI announced two design models: the MINI Green Park and the MINI Hyde Park. Both were available as MINI Hardtop and MINI Clubman models. The MINI Green Park was Pepper White with a British Racing Green roof. The MINI Hyde Park was Pepper White with a Hot Chocolate roof.

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Saturday 12th May 2012

4 years ago

MINI officially announced the limited-edition 2013 MINI John Cooper Works GP. The press release stated that the MINI JCW GP lapped the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 8:23, nearly 19 seconds faster than the original 2006 MINI Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit.

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Thursday 14th June 2012

4 years ago

MINI officially debuted the “new look” MINI Rocketman for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The updated Rocketman was displayed at the BMW Group Pavilion during the games. The three-door, 3+1 seater was around 70 cm shorter than the Mini Hatch and used a carbon fibre-reinforced-plastic space-frame chassis. It was designed to seat three with an additional seat available for extra journeys.

MINI Rocketman

MINI Rocketman

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Saturday 23rd June 2012

4 years ago

The MINI Clubvan was officially introduced. It was available in three models: MINI One Clubvan, MINI Cooper Clubvan, and MINI Cooper D Clubvan.

Geneva Motor Show 2013 - Mini Clubvan

Geneva Motor Show 2013 - Mini Clubvan

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Monday 9th July 2012

4 years ago

Steve Morgan of Birmingham, owner of the last Mini to leave Longbridge, incorporated a new “Austin Motor Company Limited”.

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Sunday 9th September 2012

4 years ago

A MINI John Cooper Works Challenge from Besaplast Racing Team won its class (A2) at the 24 Hours Barcelona. Five MINIs from four teams entered the endurance race.

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Monday 1st October 2012

4 years ago

VDL NedCar announced that it has signed a contract to build future MINI models in Born, The Netherlands.

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Thursday 13th December 2012

4 years ago

The MINI John Cooper Works Paceman (R61) was officially announced.

MINI John Cooper Works Paceman

MINI John Cooper Works Paceman

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Saturday 16th March 2013

4 years ago

The MINI Paceman (R61) went on sale in the US.

MINI Paceman (R61)

MINI Paceman (R61)

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Friday 14th November 2014

2 years ago

The most donuts around a car driving on two wheels in one minute of 10, was achieved by Han Yue (China) and Zhang Shengjun (Chinese Taipei) driving a MINI three door hatch and a BMW M4 Coupe in Chongqing, China.

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Thursday 8th January 2015

2 years ago

A British stunt driver set a new world record for parallel parking after spinning his Fiat 500 into a space that had just 7.5cm spare. Alastair Moffat performed the stunt at the Autosport Show in Birmingham in front of a packed crowd of 2000 people. The driver had originally set the record with 8.6cm to spare but was removed from the top spot after rival stunt driver Han Yue set the record in a MINI with just 8 cm.

Alastair Moffat

Alastair Moffat

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