Sir Alec Issigonis, designer of the Mini, among other cars, is to remain design consultant with British Leyland after he goes into semi-retirement at the end of the month. He has reached the company’s official retiring age of 65.
Mr George Turnbull, British Leyland’s deputy managing director said yesterday at a ceremony in honour of Sir Alec: “We have had to bend the rules because we do not believe that Sir Alec’s extraordinary talents have suddenly waned or dried up”.
Mr Turnbull, speaking at the Longbridge Austin-Morris works, Birmingham, added that Sir Alec would be doing exactly what he had been doing for the past three years. “But, I hope perhaps working slightly shorter hours “.
Sir Alec’s space-saving idea of combining front-wheel drive with a transverse mounted engine revolutionized small car design. Since the introduction of the Minis by BMC in 1959 it has been adopted by some European manufacturers. Mr Turnbull said one of the difficulties of describing Sir Alec’s new position of advanced design consultant was that almost everything he was doing was on the top secret list.