Patrick Mennem talks to ‘Mr Mini’ about tomorrows motors.
While salesmen at the Motor show in London are busy selling cars of TODAY, designers are working hard on cars of TOMORROW.
Last week I forecast that the new American ‘compact’ cars—small by US standards, but about the size of the Ford Zephyr—would have an impact on the design of future British cars. But what form will the impact take?
To find the answer, ! talked to one of Britain’s top designers, Alec Issigonis, of the British Motor Corporation. He told me: “We have got to produce cars that will carry a given number of passengers in comfort, but will occupy less road space than contemporary cars. People need a certain amount of room to be comfortable and you cannot cut down on that. The only things left that can be rearranged to save space are the engine and transmission,” he added.
Mr. Issigonis revolutionized design by mounting the engine across the body in BMC’s Morris Mini-Minor and Austin 7. He cut bonnet space and did away with the conventional gearbox housing and propeller shaft. Critics have said that on bigger cars , such changes would create steering and weight problems. Mr Issigonis says there are engineering problems that can be overcome.
Are the BMC planning bigger cars with engines mounted across the body?
On, that Mr Issigonis was silent. But I know they have experimented with such cars. In the commercial vehicle world our manufacturers are often the first with unconventional and successful designs .