By GEOFFREY CHARLES,
The two-millionth Mini saloon to be produced since the little front wheel-drive car was launched in August 1959, rolls off British Leyland’s Longbridge assembly line tomorrow. This is the first time a British car has passed the mark, though three British Leyland models have passed one million: the Morris Minor (1.5m.), the 1100/1300 (1m. by March, 1967) and the Mini itself (1m. by February, 1965).
Lord Stokes said he sees no reason why the Mini- “albeit in other forms” , should not continue for another 10 years.
George Turnbull, managing director of the Austin Morris division and deputy managing director of British Leyland, said: “The Mini will be the backbone of our production in the Longbridge plant, the biggest in the group, for many years to come. Harry Webster, our chief engineer, and his team have many good ideas up their sleeves for keeping the Mini ever fresh in the future.”
The Mini, which was designed by Alec Issigonis, pioneered the concept of front-wheel-drive, transverse engine design in Britain, a formula followed by several Continental car makers. After the Mini, the 1100/ 1300 and 1800 B.M.C. models embodied the same layout, and in less than 10 years more than 3.7m. of these cars and their derivatives have been built. As well as 2m. Minis, the total includes 1.5m. 1100/1300s and 200,000 1800s.
Between them, these models currently account for 25.7 per cent of the Britsh new car market . The 1100/1300 is the best-selling car in Britain, with 14.6 per cent of the market, and the Mini the fifth best seller, with 8.1 per cent. The 1800 holds 3 per cent The latest British Leyland front wheel drive, transverse engine model is the 1,485 c.c. Austin Maxi, which was announced on April 24 and is being produced at a rate of 2,000 a week. A record 248,034 Minis were produced last year, and in its 10-year life nearly 43 per cent has been sold abroad, earning £240m. in overseas currency The Mini is Britain’s leading export car. with 150,632 exported last year. Weekly production of all Minis is now nearly 7,000.
Production of the Rover 2000, halted by a strike of drivers who transport body units from Oxford to Solihull, is to restart tonight. The drivers at the Oxford transport company, J. Harding Ltd, decided yesterday to return to work today. The four-day-old strike was called off after Mr David Buckle, the Oxford district secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union, told the drivers he had been given an assurance by one of Harding’s directors of transport that a new agreement could be drawn up.