The Mini Cooper is a British Icon
Many great things came out of austerity ridden Britain during the 1950’s. Among them, is the British Motor Company’s, Mini Cooper. Upon its release in 1959, the quirky car quickly became popular amongst a whole generation for its likability and uniqueness. It was not long before the theatrical car soared through the screens of cinema in classics like The Italian Job. The Mini Cooper is a true British icon.
Mini Cooper Features
This quaint car is a joy to drive for its front wheel drive and manoeuvrability. Because of the cars small stature, the driver is sat very close to the wheel and at a low centre of gravity, making for an intimate and immersive drive, almost like driving a go kart. Don’t be mistaken, this car isn’t going to turn heads with its speed and performance but it is a blast to drive with its world class handling. In the vision of the BMC, that’s exactly how it was supposed to be.
The nimbleness of the car with its large steering wheel gives it sharp handling allowing the driver to turn corners at a drop of a coin. The 59′ Mini is not a powerful car by any means with its 848 cc, 1.0 litre engine but even despite this, it’s hard to drive it slow because it is so much fun. It’s really easy to get carried away. That is what really stands out about this car even with its iconic design, it is the experience that gives the driver the lasting impression.
“ In order to be alert, you have to be a little bit uncomfortable”
It might not be the most comfortable thing to drive but as the designer, Alec Issigonis said, “ In order to be alert, you have to be a little bit uncomfortable”. He has a point, it is in discomfort that drives us to our full potential and this small creation somehow has that ability to bring it out. Put the key in its dainty ignition and embrace in its diminutive glory.
The two-door Lilliputian car has an interior that is nothing to write home about. It looks almost like a stepped down project, left unfinished. It is very basic to say the least as it tries to impress with its function rather than looks. The seats are made of soft fabric which are comfortable. The dashboard is curved, fitted with a trio of dials and is placed deep in the cabin, giving a spacious feel.
The speedometer is notoriously inaccurate as the dial tends to vibrate between 10-15 km/h making it hard to know how quick one is going. The rest of the interior is essentially hard plastic and clunks of metal but this gives the driver an organic feel and connection to the machine.
The distinctive two-door saloon was originally designed to be a fuel economic car which is to be expected, given its size. Much of the world including Britain was affected by a fuel crisis in consequence of the Israeli conflict which meant rationed petrol. This in turn made the demand for smaller, less gas guzzling cars like the German bubble cars which were becoming popular there at that time. The British Motor Company, which was behind the Mini Cooper, reportedly hated this concept and pushed for a miniature car more suitable for the British demand which led to the birth of its beloved Mini Cooper.
From its inception in 1959, BMC enjoyed great commercial success, selling 76,000 Mini Coopers in 10 years. Today, one can be found for under $50,000 which underlines the relevance and value the car still has. The Mini has left its mark on automobile history and in 1999, the Mini Cooper was voted second most influential car of the century, cementing its legacy in as a true British icon.