Serious investigation into replacing the Mini begun in earnest in 1993, when Design Director Gordon Sked asked his design team to come up with some concept ideas for a new Mini. He was clear that they needed to think outside of the box, not to worry about carry-overs, and to try and recreate the spirit of the 1959 original. What would eventually appear at the 1997 Geneva Motor Show as the MINI Spiritual’s roots lay in this blue sky exercise – and is was one that showed great promise, and just like Issigonis’ car, was rather ahead of its time.
The one-box rear-engined min-car was a packaging marvel, with an overall length of around 10ft – just like the ‘real’ Mini. It was available in standard and long-wheelbase form, which were known as the Mini and Midi, and was overseen by designer Oliver Le Grice proposal. Like the ACV30, it was an active design concept that was taken to the famous 1995 Gaydon shoot-out in which management decided which Mini concept would be developed into a production car.
History records that the Spiritual twins didn’t make it, being passed over for a more conventional and sporting proposition, although BMW Group boss Bernd Pischetsrieder liked it, stating that it was at least a decade ahead of its time. So, the project was put on ice, only to be dusted off for the 1997 Geneva Motor Show, where it was unveiled as a concept to help with the build-up of Mini publicity in the run up to the pre-launch of the new car at that year’s Frankfurt Motor Show.
A fascinating might have been, though…