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View Full Version : Why is the mini the best?



ash01
03-04-2003, 10:11 AM
Hello I am writing an essay on the mini and why it has been so popular with people.

As a former mini owner myself I am interested in hearing other peoples opinions as to why the mini brand is so successful.
thanx!

huck6
03-04-2003, 03:22 PM
OK, I'll bite. For me, the elegance of the mini lies in its simple and timeless design. Any vehicle that can remain basically unchanged for so many years and yet remain popular, has touched on a strong structural theme. I also enjoy the idea of owning a simple vehicle that does not come with the "driver assistance" stuff that I don't need or want anyway. Obviously I'm talking about the classic mini.

BTW, my full time ride is a Wrangler, another vehicle that would be easily recognizable by any US soldier since 1941. graemlins/blush.gif

zanzibar
03-04-2003, 09:46 PM
I'll try to come up with a witty answer, but for now I've just posted your question on Mini Mania's message board http://www.minimania.com/msgthreads.cfm

That should get you some responses

aeronca65t
03-04-2003, 11:03 PM
I've had two Minis; an 850 (later powered by 1275) and a 1275 Clubman sedan. I liked almost everything about them (except for the shared engine/trans oil).

Issigonis' notion of a transverse front-wheel drive setup was ground-breaking. It was virtually unknown prior to his implementation of this feature on the Mini....now it's ubiquitous. The "wheels-at-each-corner" design was both efficient for space utilization and good for handling....this has also been copied by other makers. The 10" wheels and rubber (dry cone) suspension never really caught on in other cars, but it was also a part of Issigonis' "out of the box" viewpoint. Ditto the external body seams (mostly a cost saving scheme)or the later "wet suspension".

From the "allmini" website:

Sir Leonard Lord said to Issigonis ".......these bloody awful bubble cars, we must drive them out of the streets by designing a proper miniature car." This was when the mini began!
The idea of designing a small car appealed to him, as he liked small things. He didn't like many of the big cars that surrounded him. It was March 1957, the mini project started. It was a small team of eight men, who worked with Issigonis. He did many sketches on what concepts he wanted to incorporate. Once his sketches had been transmuted into metal, he began moving masses into different positions until they were perfect. The Morris minors final proportioning is a story in it's self. The car had been completed as a model, but Issigonis was not entirely happy with it. He got the enigineers to cut the car straight down the middle and moved the halves apart until it looked right. And how correct he was to do this, as those few extra inches made it perfect!


The original Issigonis sketch:

http://www.steve-marshall.co.uk/mini/info/mini_drawing.gif

Basil
03-04-2003, 11:12 PM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by zanzibar:
I'll try to come up with a witty answer, but for now I've just posted your question on Mini Mania's message board http://www.minimania.com/msgthreads.cfm

That should get you some responses<hr></blockquote>

Ummm...never mind images/icons/frown.gif

coldplugs
03-04-2003, 11:45 PM
My opinion is there were three main reasons for its success, at least through the sixties.

1) Good space utilization. The interior had lots of useful space for the cars size. Clearly this was due to the drivetrain layout but I think most buyers didn;t care how they did it, just that they achieved it.

2) It became a fad with the trendy types. Carnaby Street and all that. The era of mini-skirts etc. The unusual styling (!) had a lot to do with that.

3) Lack of strong competition. This is arguable I'm sure, but what good alternatives were there in the early sixties?

zanzibar
03-05-2003, 12:09 AM
Basil, That wasn't a dig at your forum. I'm sorry if it came off that way. MM is JUST Minis, and it's loaded with fanatics who, hopefully, will come here to post some responses. I put a link to this forum in my MM post. I like this board, and like you, I would like to see more Mini stuff. this might be the type of thread that will attract them.

Back to the topic: The Mini is like a combination of a Bulldog and a Whippett...cute, tough and quick. Great looks, great performance and a terrific "personality".

Stingray
03-05-2003, 11:47 AM
Anyone who's ever driven a Mini understands the appeal. It's more fun than you can imagine and the car draws more attention than anything else on the road. Lots of smiles per gallon!

By the way, I'm a member of the Mini Mania board that was directed here by Zanzibar. Nice forum!

-S

Travellering
03-05-2003, 12:06 PM
Hi,
Just my input, but I think the mini's success was due also to its timing. The cheeky sixties found an icon in a little cute car that could wallop all comers on a twisty course. Sod "Flower power," you could have a lot of fun with Petrol power, and still be paying less than almost any other vehicle on the road.

silky
03-05-2003, 12:56 PM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Travellering:
a little cute car that could wallop all comers on a twisty course.<hr></blockquote>

Exactly...the unlikely underdog...not big, not powerful, not macho looking, not rear-wheel-drive, not even a sports car...just cute and FAST!

Alex G
03-05-2003, 01:49 PM
For me I love it because its small, nippy, and a great piece of timeless overall design. The car has great character and can't help putting a smile on your face weather your driving it or watching one go past. Its also a car the mobilised millions as simple transport but could kick arse on the motor circuit against other more powerful machines. And with endless customizing options available every one is individual images/icons/smile.gif

huck6
03-06-2003, 06:57 PM
The mini also reminds me of the sixties. Not some over-rated hippy scene, but a forgotten European chic that seemed to fuel some of the spy novels and gentleman elagance in the late 50's early 60's.

Of course being a '67 model myself, I have only other people's memories to rely on.

ash01
03-07-2003, 01:16 PM
thanks guys youve helped loads
cheers

BEEJAY7
03-08-2003, 07:21 AM
Hi Ash

What a great thread!

I agree with everything that has been said in previous replies, but they don't go far enough !.

It is without doubt that the mini was THE car that had more influence on the British Car Industry( and subsiquently the World Car Industry) than any other.

It was launched at a time when the only choice the mass motorist had in the UK, was Old fifties design Ford sidevalves and ancient design BMC A35/40's
Forget Beetles, they were too big, slow and air cooled...and they came from Germany, and hardly any "foreign" cars were to be seen.

The launch of the mini coincided with the "swinging sixties" (awful term but accurate).
The UK was at the centre of the world then and the Mini was the choice of everybody from celebraties to "commoner's" like myself.

Sports cars were completly out of reach for the average UK citizen, and were only driven by the rich.

The mini was radical, it had front wheel drive it was a design study in people packaging, had masses of interior storage space, a wheel at each corner, was frugel on fuel and was FUN to drive.

Sure it had it's shortcomings, mine stopped every time it rained, (until I fitted a Spash Shield), The subframe design was perhaps not the best, and worst of all every MINI produced lost money for Leyland, BMC etc..But at the time that didn't matter to those of us enjoying them.

As a young "lad" the MINI was my first "proper" car, i.e. one that wasn't held together by wire mesh and filler. I stll remember it with fondness today. 477 DXO was a red 850 with a Cooper Grill and white roof. It was the car I had when I started dating my now wife. It was the car I taught her to drive in.

The Mini single handed started the UK Tuning and aftermarket accessory boom, specialist firms of all description appeared, some are still active today.

Every car manufacturer in the world copied the idea, without the MINI there would be no Supermini's (Even the name for that class of car was stolen!). The Japanese car industry would probably not be where it is today.

Sorry this is so long, but I think it important that the MINI should be granted the Credit it deserves.

Cheers

graemlins/savewave.gif graemlins/england.gif graemlins/savewave.gif

Sherlock
03-08-2003, 12:58 PM
Put simply,

When the official vote for the "Car of the Century" was completed about three years ago the Mini came second (if I recall correctly), only beaten to the punch by the well-deserving Ford Model T.

huck6
03-08-2003, 01:27 PM
The mini also reminds me of my first car, an '80 Ford Fiesta. It was, at least in the States, the "mini" of its day. When compared to the avalible and affordable competition, it ran on a shoestring, could corner on a dime and if you dropped it into a ditch, it only took a couple of guys to pick up the front end and get you going again.

But, as far as personality goes, the mini has my poor old fiesta beat by a mile.

Ken G
03-12-2003, 04:03 AM
Nobody has mentioned that the Mini did not have impressive absolute performance (remember that most Minis were 848 cc and lowish compression; mine could get up to 70 mph only with a good tail-wind), but the handling was something unknown in all but expensive non-mass-production cars. It wouldn't go fast, but you didn't need to slow down on corners, and in Britain with few if any motorways at the time, that was useful.

Also someone might have mentioned the hydrolastic suspension that replaced the rubber after two or three years, until BMC dropped it (probably because of the expense). For a car of that size, and despite the tiny wheels, the ride was remarkable (without spoiling the handling).

Finally, yes, the next best thing, some years later, was the Ford Fiesta, which was of course built to a very similar plan ... but you could park a Mini is places that a Fiesta would never have gone!

Ken G, 1925 Rover 16/50, but in the 1960s and 70s, an 848 cc Mini, TPE536F if I remember rightly (San Francisco)

darren
03-17-2003, 09:20 PM
here in the UK, we wouldn't dream of putting a Fiesta in the same sentance as a mini- but i see where your coming from.

The Rootes series Imps/ stilleto/ chamois was the next best thing to owning a mini in Britain, and later many of the more mature owners brought Mini Metros- but they had about as much character as a Ford Fiesta.

Nissan released the Micra which was a hit, as was the Vauxhall Nova (Opel Corsa) The Nova and the Fiesta had hot hatch versions. Fiat was also a fun alternative which gave remarkable road holding and good off the lights acceleration- which could leave most Fiestas and Novas eating dust. But Fiat suffered badly with rust in the 1980s.

Through all these fly-by-night cars Austin Rover continued to churn out the mini, and typical to the British Motor Industry didn't realise what a gem they had and lost the name to BMW (makers of MINI).

Funny- in a bizarre twist, BMW now owns the name that chased their cars out of the UK in the first place. One of the key reasons for the creation of the mini was to stop the "invasion of the ugly little German BMW's" (quote from Alec Issigonis) that were finding their way accross the water.

And in a moment of controversy I add- they have finally managed to get them over here with a MINI badge on them images/icons/smile.gif joking of course images/icons/tongue.gif

MattP
03-18-2003, 04:27 AM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by darren:
here in the UK, we wouldn't dream of putting a Fiesta in the same sentance as a mini- but i see where your coming from.

<hr></blockquote>

UIM, the US Fiesta was different and later than the English Ford version. I have yet to have the pleasure of driving a Mini for comparasion, but the US Fiesta was a hoot. My brother bought one new with the 5 speed. It was a blast to run.

MattP

MarkB
03-18-2003, 04:53 AM
hey y'all,
I'd like to build a replica Healey Fiesta. It's funny how some wide wheels and the Healey wings on the grill, can change the pedestrian Fiesta image. Something like finding out your school librarian is an exotic dancer at night. It seems that if the exact specs could be found, it would not be hard to create, and since it was built to US specs, we Yanks could have a cool little British "hot hatch" and it would be emmissions legal.

As for the Mini, now that BMW has given the name over to "fashionista" pretension, I'd go for converting a Riley Elf to a cabriolet, with Mini Cooper S specs. Too bad Elf is a wimpy name. images/icons/tongue.gif

Sherlock
03-18-2003, 12:33 PM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr> MarkB said: I'd like to build a replica Healey Fiesta. It's funny how some wide wheels and the Healey wings on the grill, can change the pedestrian Fiesta image. Something like finding out your school librarian is an exotic dancer at night. It seems that if the exact specs could be found, it would not be hard to create, and since it was built to US specs, we Yanks could have a cool little British "hot hatch" and it would be emmissions legal.<hr></blockquote>

Now that would be a neat project, go for it. graemlins/thumbsup.gif I have a Road & Track article about the Healey Fiesta that should provide some help, but the trick is finding a Fiesta now, they are getting scarce on the ground these days.


<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr> MarkB also said: As for the Mini, now that BMW has given the name over to "fashionista" pretension, I'd go for converting a Riley Elf to a cabriolet, with Mini Cooper S specs. Too bad Elf is a wimpy name.<hr></blockquote>

Haven't you ever heard of the Wolseley Hornet cabriolet? in 1965 Crayford built 57 Hornet cabriolets for a special contest for Heinz Ketchup (57 varieties... get the idea). This was their very first convertible conversion, moving on to chop the tops off of many British Fords (but that's a different story...) The Hornet Crayford cabriolet didn't come with a Cooper S engine, but I'm sure that some might have them by now. And I know of at least one in North America now - in Edmonton, Alberta.

MarkB
03-18-2003, 05:05 PM
Hey Sherlock,
Great minds do in fact think alike. Trouble is, the only thing that stands between me and my head full o' ideas, is money. I would like to see that R&T write-up, or get the publication date, for definite future reference. Such a build would make more sense than some of the other projects I've considered.
As for the Wolseley, I thought about that. It has a cleaner looking grill and no "wimpy" name. I thought of the Riley because it is a fancier car, if I remember BMC heirarchy correctly. That Hornet one-off, at 57 built, sounds kinda expensive. graemlins/cheers.gif
P.S. A thesaurus will in most cases list Sprite as a synonym for Elf, so please don't tell anyone about my own car's wimpy name. graemlins/blush.gif

[ 03-18-2003: Message edited by: MarkB ]</p>

huck6
03-19-2003, 10:33 PM
"Too bad Elf is a wimpy name."

I know some Tolkien fans who might disagree. Still, point taken. images/icons/wink.gif

silky
03-23-2003, 08:46 PM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Sherlock:
...the trick is finding a Fiesta now, they are getting scarce on the ground these days...<hr></blockquote>

There are probably more IN the ground than on top! Mine started rusting at the rear hatch. I spilled a quart of oil in the spare tire well one time. Made a heck of a mess, but kept the iron oxide at bay. It was a really fun car, though, especially in the snow.

US cars were made in Cologne, with the 1600 Kent engine turned sideways. (I don't recall the specs on European cars.)

Webb Sledge
03-26-2003, 06:01 PM
But, Triumph's are the best.... **shakes head**

Steve
03-27-2003, 11:32 AM
There you go with your funny jokes again Webb! graemlins/lol.gif

But seriously, to add my two pennorth (British term) my Mini was a lot of fun to drive, even with 848cc. No top end, of course, but decent torque, which could make acceleration seem more exciting than it really was. I can't add to the technical and design comments that precede this, but would like to state that if you ever drove a Mini, despite its shortcomings (pun intended) you fell in love with the thing, especially the early cars with the exposed hinges and the sliding windows. My Mini EBF 486 C was a 1965 example, the first car I ever bought for myself, and I loved it. I would love to own another some day.

78Z
03-27-2003, 12:05 PM
Online R&T article for the Healey Fiesta - http://www.netz-kasten.de/fiesta1/index.php?lan=en&ID=3x0x6

silky
03-28-2003, 07:00 PM
Thanks for posting the link to the article! I just checked - I have the complete year of '79 Road & Tracks on my shelf. (You can buy them as soon as I figure out how to work the eBay thing...) But back to the car...I second all the bad things they said about the brakes...there was a long steep hill near our house with a light at the bottom. Gravity was not our friend! But otherwise lots of fun...

doug midknight
04-06-2003, 07:24 PM
I had a Fiesta for several years in college. Made once a month trips with it from Georgia to New York City. I loved it! Orange with a radar detector and a CB. Not one ticket in two years of giving it serious stick up I-95! But there was a lovely yellow Fiesta S in town that I just couldn't touch. Blew me away every time. I couldn't figure it out because I knew my base model was lighter than his. Finally caught him and he revealed that his Dad worked for Ford Motorsport and it had a few goodies on it and some engine work. Well, after becoming good friends I took my car up to his Dad's place in Augusta, and his Dad told me to leave it there for a week. He would never tell me what he did to it, but I just couldn't believe the difference after that. A car that was already a blast became incredibly fast off the line, with good midrange torque for its size. Hard to believe it was the same engine. Anyway, would regularly go Rabbit and Golf hunting after that. Huck6, if you ever want to let your '81 go, I'd be interested. I've got a '63 Mini that eases all my stress, but I'd love another Fiesta.

Wayne

huck6
04-08-2003, 03:59 AM
Sorry Wayne, but I let the Fiesta go years ago (shortly after the stick shift broke off in my hands while tooling up the Blue Ridge Parkway). Traded it in on a Jeep CJ (which dropped its clutch while driving back from Gatlinburg).

You can bet that when I get my mini, I will keep it far, far away from the Smokies! graemlins/crazyeyes.gif