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The first “Austin Mini 7”, the iconic car designed by Sir Alec Issigonis and manufactured by the British Motor Corporation went on sale at a price of £497. It was one of the cheapest saloon cars available and had been designed and introduced in answer to the fuel shortage and petrol rationing caused by the Suez Canal crisis in 1956.

Until 1969, when it became a “brand marque” in its own right, the Mini was marketed under BMC’s two main brand names, Austin and Morris. The Morris version was known to all as “the Mini” or Mini-Minor (the existing but larger Morris Minor continued in production for many years). Austin dealers sold their almost identical car as an Austin 7 recalling the popular small Austin 7 of the 1920s and 1930s.

The original car had a four-cylinder water-cooled transverse mounted 850 cc engine, four speed gearbox and front wheel drive, because of the design and suspension the ride was hard but the handling was legendary for a cheap non – sports car.

There were later more luxurious (by comparison) variants which were sold as the Wolsey Hornet and Riley Sprite with different front grills, rear wings, wood fascia and leather trim but these never really took off. A whole range of vans, estate cars, pickups, beach buggies and the iconic Mini Cooper sport versions were produced until the model range was discontinued in 2000. However a larger model of the Mini is now in production (manufactured by BMW) was introduced and is still a top selling car.

The original Mini was the most popular British-made car ever (5.4 million sold) and was an icon of the sixties (and later) featuring in movies, driven by trendy pop stars and movie celebrities and had considerable success as a rally car winning the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 65 and 67.

Category: Historic Events

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