Black and white sketch of the different MINI models

THE (SHORT) POWERFUL STORY OF MINI.

We’ve been creating cars that inspire awe and pure joy for over 60 years. Hundreds of innovations and millions of models later, we have the same passion to forever change what it means to drive.

Play Button Video of MINI ‘The Inner Drive’ book opening up and showing the history of MINI’s evolution through black and white sketches.

A MINI HISTORY

Black and white image of a fuel station in 1957 with a ‘Closed’ sign in the background.

A FAMILIAR DILEMMA.

The year was 1957, and in post-World War II England the Suez Crisis had sent fuel prices soaring, leading many to start wondering if the large, gas-guzzling vehicles of the day made much sense.

Black and white image of Alec Issigonis in a MINI manufacturing center reaching into the engine of a MINI with its hood up on an assembly line.

A CAR BUILT FOR EVERYONE.

So Sir Leonard Lord of the Morris Company issued his top engineer, Alec Issigonis, a challenge: design and build a small, fuel-efficient car capable of carrying four adults, within economic reach of just about everyone. As fate would have it, the challenge of fitting so much function into such a small package inspired a couple of historic innovations.

Scrap of paper that includes a scribbling of wheels and an axel, with a pencil laying on top of it, on a black background that contains white sketches.

REINVENTING THE WHEELS.

The two most important innovations Issigonis came up with were to create more room in the cockpit: pushing the wheels all the way out to the corners and turning the engine sideways giving the car more stability in tight turn and more passenger space on the inside. The world had never seen a car quite like it. And when the first Mini launched in 1959, the public was a bit baffled.

Black and white image of a three-quarters front view of a MINI vehicle with license plate KEL 236, including people standing nearby and gazing at the vehicle in awe.

THE SPIRIT OF THE STREETS.

Soon enough, people began to recognize that the Mini was not merely a car. The unique combination of classic British style in a low-cost, small size, fun and nimble package came to symbolize independence and spontaneity. The very essence of the youthful 1960s culture.

Sideways view of a white MINI vehicle that’s packed full of people squished up against each other, in front of a brick wall that’s in the background.

A CULTURAL PHENOMENON.

One of the most remarkable elements of the Classic Mini’s popularity was how its infectious spirit transcended traditional class barriers. From hipsters and mods to milkmen, rock stars and royalty to rally racers. Everyone could have efficiency, fun and freedom, motoring in a Mini.

Black and white image of two MINI vehicles racing against each other on a racetrack, one vehicle numbered 11 and one vehicle numbered 16, with a crowd, siren, and clear skies in the background.

A THRILL RIDE.

It soon became apparent that, while intended to create more passenger room, Issigonis’s numerous layout innovations also helped make the Mini a standout performance car. Wheels at the corners meant a wide, go-kart stance and nimble handling. And the transverse engine kept weight over the front tires, helping provide great balance and grip.

Play Button Video of image of Pat Moss sitting and smiling in the backseat of a MINI vehicle, with image adorned with awards and ribbons.

TRAILBLAZING ON THE TRACK.

It was 1961 when the humble little people-mover fell into the hands of British racing legend John Cooper. A more powerful engine, bigger brakes and a few tuning tweaks later, the Classic Mini Cooper 997 was introduced. And a rally demon was born.

Shortly after in 1962, when gender roles were thought to be defined, one woman chose a life of speed. Her name was Pat Moss and she wasn’t just ahead of the curve, she set it, by leading Mini to their first motorsport victory in the Netherlands Tulip Rally.

Black and white image of MINI vehicle numbered 37 and including license plate 33 EJB, with a handful of men in suits standing nearby and staring off into the distance.

A GIANT KILLER.

Before long, the nimble little Classic Mini was outracing and outlasting the larger, more powerful, but clumsier sedans of the day. Visits to the winner’s circle became a regular event as Mini chalked up numerous international race wins – including 3 at the prestigious Monte Carlo rally from 1964 to 1967.

Sideways view of a black MINI vehicle with a webbed design parked in an empty space on a grey floor with a white background.

YOU-NIQUE.

In addition to being exhilarating to drive, owners loved how easily their Mini became an extension of themselves. A dynamic expression of their individuality and a personality-packed sidekick that was always up for a bit of spontaneous fun.

Sideways view of a yellow MINI pickup truck and male worker wearing a hardhat and a flannel shirt reaching into the trunk which includes branches and fencing, parked on a grass surface with trees and other males working in the background.

A WORKHORSE.

By 1969, over 2 million Mini had been sold around the world. Pickup and station wagon versions were introduced and all were incredibly durable – whether rallying or doing the daily errands. Owners knew they could depend on their Mini to get the job done. And inspire smiles the entire time.

Open road with trees, green mountains, and sunny skies in the background.

AMERICA WOULD HAVE TO WAIT.

By 1977, the Classic Mini’s popularity had truly taken off around the world with over 4 million cars sold in each corner of the globe. Sadly, Americans never quite got the chance to catch the fever since new emissions regulations in the late 1960s forced Mini to give up its U.S. green card.

Three-quarters front view of classic red MINI vehicle with license plate R498 HJM parked on a wet surface in next to a fountain in front of a historical looking building.

EUROPEAN CAR OF THE CENTURY.

Fast forward to 1999. Over 5 million Classic Minis had found happy homes around the world leading a panel of 130 international automotive journalists to vote Mini “European Car of the Century.” In fact, only Ford’s Model T received more votes for the global title.

Three-quarters view of a dark blue MINI vehicle with white bonnet stripes parked in a desert scene with a rock wall in the background on the left side.

THE NEXT EVOLUTION.

In October of 1999, just a few days before the final Classic Mini rolled off the production line, the concept for a new MINI is unveiled at the Paris Auto Show. The distinctive design and personality is immediately recognizable. But it’s clear that the new model has also taken a healthy dose of automotive steroids.

For insight into the design process behind every new MINI we build, click the link below.

Five MINI vehicles, in different colors and facing different directions, parked on a cobblestone surface with trees, clear skies, and people walking around in the background.

MORE THAN JUST A CAR.

Taking the 2003 North American Car of the Year Award, the general public and auto enthusiasts alike find the new MINI hard to resist. Invoking smiles and curiosity everywhere they go, new owners quickly discover just how much fun a MINI can be. Owners personalize their MINIs to their hearts’ content and form motoring clubs all across the country.

Two motorsport vehicles, including one red MINI with black bonnet stripes, racing against each other and rounding the bend on a racetrack with grass in the foreground.

FEISTIER THAN EVER.

Like their notorious predecessors, all new MINI models share the same great performance DNA. Updated with modern performance features and a committed passion for racing, the MINI Motorsport teams are once again taking tracks (or, in the case of the World Rally Championship and Dakar Challenge, dirt roads and deserts) by storm. The newest to represent our racing heritage is the MINI John Cooper Works Team, who wield a pair of the most powerful MINI models ever built – the John Cooper Works Hardtop 2 Door.

Five MINI vehicles, in different colors and facing different directions, parked on a cobblestone surface with brick buildings in the background on a sunny day.

A MINI FOR EVERYONE.

Since the Hardtop burst onto US roadways in 2002, the public’s appetite for MINI has grown along with the MINI lineup. The expanding family includes available ALL4 all-wheel drive, three models with more seating and four doors, spirited two-seaters, topless motoring – and a new era of sophisticated technology and high-end interiors.

Closeup view of the back of a white MINI vehicle driving on a country road behind other MINI vehicles fading into the distance.

The Next 60 Years?

Around the world, the MINI phenomenon has been reborn. Proof that great fuel efficiency, an almost limitless range of customization, incredibly tight handling and an undeniably cheeky personality are truly timeless qualities. Most recently, we've added the spacious and sophisticated MINI Clubman, and the powerful John Cooper Works Hardtop 2 Door – proving that there are still more boundaries to push and horizons to chase. With beta programs and partnerships like the 100% electric, zero-emissions MINI E, we're excited to find out what adventures are in store for the next 60 years.

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