The Mighty MINI
May 5, 2009
The original Mini was designed by Frank Stephenson and had its debut way back in 1959. The car was quite popular throughout the United Kingdom and eventually a good part of Europe. It was manufactured by the British Motor Company from 1959 through 2000.
The concept and redesign of the vehicle took place from 1995 through 2001. BMW now owns the brand and has since changed the name of the brand to all capital letters to distinguish the new MINI from its predecessor. The Rover Group and BMW AG had worked in conjunction on the redesign project and there was some contention over the slot the new MINI would fill. Rover was set on keeping with the history of the vehicle and making it an economy class car. BMW had a different vision for the vehicle and pushed for a trendy sporting car. Ultimately, BMW’s vision for the car won out, however, shortly after this debate, the project was endanger of being scrapped altogether after BMW’s CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder left the company. In 2000, BMW split with Rover and plans for the MINI project resumed.
When the newly redesigned MINI was launched in 2003, interest was high with consumers and sales soon followed. One of the advantages the MINI has had going in was BMW’s decision to place more decision making in the hands of the consumer. While most car manufactures have different trim models and various options to choose from, the MINI takes that concept to a completely new level. From choosing different paint colors and paint schemes all the way to mixing and matching interior colors and fabrics, the MINI gives the consumer full reign. This proved to be so popular that waiting lists grew at dealerships all across the country. MINI car clubs sprang up overnight. Because the car has such a distinct look, it has been used in numerous movies, with MINI owners being invited to bring their cars to premieres at select theatres across the counter.
The name was expanded to MINI Cooper to reflect the sportier versions of the car. The name Cooper traces its roots back to the involvement of the John Cooper and Cooper Car Company, which offers a wide range of tuning options for the MINI.
For 2008, the MINI’s are now equipped with BMW’s EfficientDynamics fuel saving technology. BMW has included the EfficientDynamics system as standard on all MINI models. Unfortunately, to date this technology is not yet available on MINI’s intended for the United States Market.
While there have been some complaints registered by MINI owners, the most frequent being not enough cargo space in the back, they have been mild at best. BMW has planned several new MINI models for the next few years. BMW has definitely hit on a winner and consumers cannot seem to get enough of the little cars. If the recent past is any indication of the future of the MINI, then these cars should be around for a while.
Ronnie Tanner is a contributing writer at SW Engines. He writes about used MINI engines and other related industry specific topics for the company.
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