Archive : 30 years ago – Minis have feelings too

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

From the archive: it’s February 1987, and Rover announces that the Mini was saved from oblivion by positive market research following one of the most famous seasonal car adverts ever run – Minis have feelings too.


Minis have feelings too

The Mini car has won a reprieve – due to the abiding love of women drivers. It was due to be scrapped next month after 27 years. But market research has shown that women are still clamouring for the snappy little vehicle.

So much so, that Minis will roll off the production line until at least 1991 and weekly output will rise from 650 a week to 750. Rover Group Chairman Mr Graham Day, said research showed that 7 out of 10 Mini buyers are city-dwelling women aged 20 to 39. ‘Women treat their Mini cars with affection and have pet, names for them,’ said Mr Day.

At Christmas , the Rover Group ran a TV advertising campaign showing two Minis driving up to each other and stopping just as their noses “kissed” under a mistletoe bough. And sales for January jumped to 1,200 – 21 per cent up on last year.

 

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

21 Comments

  1. But for this, no MINI then, and maybe no BMW takeover. Funny how things turn out. Horrible sickly-sweet ad, by the way!

  2. Like many people, my first car was a Mini ( 1967 / white 850) bought in 1975 for £275. I spent money on paintwork, wheeltrims, replaced tatty reg plates and despite its faults (wet starting problems in particular) I still really liked it! I only kept it 11 months but because it was my first car I still have a soft spot for it. I yearned to move onto a Clubman or 1275GT but never made that purchase.

    Also remember this Xmas ad… doesn’t seem that long ago.

  3. Great Advert, i remember it well, nothing horrible or sickly about it – it did exactly as it was supposed to bring the punters in and it did….

  4. Presented the Mini as ‘cute’, which to a certain extent the rounded form of the small bodyshell could be thought of having this character.

    I wonder if the Bavarians would try similar with their modern day efforts?
    A MINI with the huge underbite bumper which barely reaches the huge Countryman SUV and instead just gets stuck under it, with the tagline ‘ICH LIEBE DICH. VE HAV ZE FEELINGS TOO! JA?’

  5. I think this is where the classic Mini leaves the MINI in its wake. It will NEVER have the same affection in the hearts of the British public like the original did, regardless of how many they sell.

    It would be interesting to see how the MINI would have evolved if Cowley had never been split from MGR. I am sure it would have been the car that made enough money to keep the business afloat. I think MGR would have kept a more tangible link to the past with new models and derivatives, and I don’t believe there would be so many negative feelings toward the new car. I think BMW’s management & disposal of Rover have left a lot of people feeling rather bitter, particularly their perceived short-termism in trying to turn the company around

  6. @Paul T

    Great points well made.

    I would like to think that MGR would’ve pursued the ‘Spiritual’ line, possibly with variants similar to the Daewoo Matiz and the Toyota iQ.

    Most importantly, like the original they would be seen as ‘everyman’ cars. Not Estate Agent or Hairdressers cars like the Bavarian attempt.

  7. That brings back a nice warm memory. Time to strike the welding torch back up and get my Mini back up to scratch dam the tin worm!!

  8. Great advert – and IIRC it led to the Racing Green/Flame & Checkmate models (of which I had an ’89 Racing Green), which in turn spawned the born-again Coopers. Virtually every standard Mini you see now has been kevved-up to resemble a born-again Cooper, which is a shame in some ways, but kept the car in production for another 10 years. Personally though, it’s the Paul Smith SE that wets my appetite for another Mini…..

  9. Are there any Minis that came with headlamp washers? Then someone could make an advert of such a Mini being forced to watch the MINI, the MINI Clubfoot and the Countryman and using the headlamp washers to make out the Mini is crying, before being shown the MINI coupé and the Mini throwing all its oil out of the filler cap.

  10. @12 Cameron MacAulay

    Perhaps they could be retrofitted to a proper Clubman or Canadian high-bumper Mini?

    Would make a Christmas advert for the Wood & Pickett Margrave 50? (ceci, n’est pas un MINI!)

  11. Yet again an opportunity to knock the BMW MINI – A car that sells massively more than the old Mini did world wide, is very profitable, built in Britain – including body stampings and drive train – and keeps thousands in well paid employment. Only the British could have negative sentiment about this.

  12. @14 – I think the negative sentiment has more to do with the way the MINI brand has been morphed into anything but. I’m really pleased that the MINI is British built, and that it keeps people in jobs, but the cars are horrible, and the way in which BMW acquired the original MINI and the brand still leaves a bitter taste for many.

  13. I can remember hearing this news as an excited 13-year-old and sending a letter off to Graham Day congratulating him on the wise decision to keep production going until at least `91. He sent me a rather sniffy reply which said all he had committed to was keeping the Mini in production for as long as people bought it. Of course, not long after this came the `new’ Cooper model, and a sales hit in Japan. Also, a lot of the negative coverage surrounding Rover was about its advertising, and how effective – or not – it was in portraying the right image and attracting customers to the brand. Sickly or not, at least this advert worked.

  14. “Also, a lot of the negative coverage surrounding Rover was about its advertising, and how effective – or not – it was in portraying the right image and attracting customers to the brand.”

    You’re right, there were always grumblings about Rover Cars advertising in one way or another. Yet Land-Rover’s advertising was thought of as world class, anyone ever found a Dam in your way? So i assume they had separate advertising teams?

  15. I forgot that it’s not the done thing to point out the ridiculous these days; ok, so the cars are made in Britain and keep many people in the south in a job, but they are no longer small cars, which is the whole point of something being “mini”. I tend to find the drivers of these cars to be sneering supercilious poseurs and that perhaps does taint my viewpoint slightly.

    That advert, however, is class.

  16. The current Beamer Mini has none of the charm and the flair of the old car and looks far too modern and futuristic. But, having said that, the design was rather old and crumpled like a coke can in a crash so needed updating for safety requirements.

  17. I’m not sure the new MINI looks futuristic; it’s more an overweight Bavarian caricature. Someone on here suggested once that the Rover Group missed a trick by not rebodying the K series engined R6 in 1990 – not in the clothes of the R6X but in a retro style body. Retro was already creeping into the design language by that time eg Nissan Figaro and second generation Micra.

  18. I loved my Minis……….in the early 80s I would buy a tatty Mini for £100. Sort out the body – A panels were £1.50, wings were £9 and I would respray using only 1 litre of cellulose! I would then drive for a few months and sell for a £200 to £300 profit. I did this a few times……
    Twenty years later I was a senior engineering manager at Rover, my last Rover company car was a BRG Mini Cooper S. Chosen as a second car for purely nostalgic reasons. Nostalgia was not what it used to be!
    The car had lost all its charm from my youth, it was slow, the ride and handling was not how I remembered it, those wide tyres were a disaster, the interior was now full of huge seats, when it rained it leaked – a lot.
    I drove it for fun at the weekends (I had a Rover 400 too), then I drove it less and less – I did not enjoy it at all.
    My 12 year old son summed the car up perfectly: I was defending the Mini to him, “dad this car is rubbish”, it’s a classic I said – they have made over 5 million! He thought for a moment and said “ did they sell them all?” Ah, the honesty of youth!
    Under Ford ownership one of my first company cars was a fiesta – this was a revelation, the handling was as sharp as I thought the Mini used to be, but for a small car it was super – refined.
    The new Mini is a fantastic product, its a pity that Rover did not have the vision to develop the brand in this way.

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