News : MINI marks the end of the R56’s production


The last R56 MINI has driven off the production line at Cowley. No less than 1,041,412 of the outgoing MINI have been produced at the high-tech facility, which has built more than 2.4 million MINIs since 2001. 14% of all cars built in the UK last year were MINIs, accounting for 14% of all UK vehicle exports in 2012.

When launched in 2006, the MINI saw the introduction of turbochargers for the fastest versions and a new British-made  four-cylinder engine, co-developed with PSA and assembled at Hams Hall in Birmingham – thus increasing local content compared with the previous R50. With the later introduction of MINIMALISM technologies, customers also benefited from improved fuel economy and performance in equal measure.

This model also furthered MINI’s programme of customisation and personalisation, which had kicked off with the R50 in 2001. The New MINI is set for launch in the UK in Spring 2014, but production had already started in Cowley. The F56 MINI features significant improvements in technology, engine efficiency and power delivery, quality and personalisation.

Keith Adams


  1. This is an impressive figure given it relates to examples built at Cowley only and does not take into account the other variants being built. A great achievement for Cowley.

    Does anyone know whether the ‘first’ and ‘last’ examples of the R50, R56 and the first F56 generation MINIS were retained by MINI (GB) Ltd?

  2. @3, Its certainly interesting, I wonder if anything post prototype -as in built and marketed would fit this car or was it a development buck?

    @4 Over time I am sure it will surpass the original.

  3. You can’t describe MINI, Cowley as anything but a success story. No doubt about it.

    A shame such success could not have been made with the whole Rover Group. I doubt, however, the Cowley workforce ever give this point much thought.

  4. @5
    A couple of ex-Longbridge workers told me this on the Mini forums:
    Quote 1:
    I was working at longbridge in 1997/8 and was asked if I wanted to look at one of the new minis in ‘methods’ building, It was very interesting and the spec list read from something out of a bmw 7 series options list!

    you have to remember that the New MINI was a risk and a lot of people thought they’d never sell a 12k mini to anyone! 200,000 a year proved that wrong but at the time…

    I seem to remember that early cars had the indicator repeater green light in the stalk , now where have I seen that before?

    it quickly got deleted (shame) and just the alarm was on the other stalk , I think,

    anyhow we built the first R53 s with battery in the boot etc and with hand mod’d bonnet as per photo above and by the following Wednesday there was a picture in Autocar ! 😮

    there was also an R3 Rover 200 with ‘S’ running gear which used to fly around

    what are the plans with it , I cant imagine there are any others and process is to scrap em , maybe they forgot about this one!

    Quote 2:
    I remember going to a planning meeting at longbridge when they were going to build it there. The plan was to rip out the ‘classic’ mini line and install the new line there.

    The issue with this shell is that it will have been built for the revised K series engine that was originaly planned for it and not the Neon engine they went with after the split and they also revised the rear suspension quite a bit.

  5. @9 Just looking at the reasonable output of the Marina over its lifespan and the Ital,talk about falling like a stone!

  6. @3 Interesting item for sale but an expensive ornament, That prototype Shell headlights looks nicer than the production items, there’s a bit of Aston Martin DB5 about them, The Rover stamps on the glass and the link Shows that BM. were quite serious about assembly at Longbridge and the future of Rover, sadly it all got cancelled at the 11th hour, wonder how much money they lost when they changed to Oxford.

  7. @12
    According to the interesting book, ‘New MINI’ by Graham Robson, the brand new assembly line had been installed at Longbridge and already produced the first 15 or 20 R50 MINI bodyshells when the descision came to swap it all over with the Rover 75 production facilities at Cowley. It meant several months were lost for the MINI’s arrival in showrooms, as the entire body-in-white facilities and assembly lines for both had to be dismantled and moved on lorries 70 miles in each direction.
    A stockpile of 2600 complete Rover 75’s and 6700 bodyshells were first built at Cowley and stored in the Longbridge hall previously prepared for MINI assembly in order to prevent a gap in MG-Rovers stocks of cars to sell.
    BMW are said to have spent £230 million over 9 months on the changeover and to modernise and re-equip Oxford and the first production MINI was built at Cowley on 26 April 2001.

  8. @13 The New Bini book is on my Xmas list ! For BM to switch production when everything had just been installed would not have been cheap (I’m pretty sure it ran into millions) which could of given the 25/45 slight face lift rather than just “Dead Money”. Which is probably when the final nail was in the coffin, Bit sad really but if it were your business How much money do you keep throwing at it before you decide to call it a day, salvage what you can and take the best bits with you !

    Bernd Pischetsrieder Had belief in Rover (whether He still did towards the end ?) If only they gave it more time/, If the Quant family threw it more money,/ If there hadnt been so much bickering between Mr Pischetsrieder and His side kick, Or if BL hadnt got into so much trouble in the 1st place … ..

  9. I presume it’s just the R56 hatchback that’s going out of production, and that the other Cowley variants (convertible, Clubman, Clubvan, coupe and roadster) are still in production?

  10. @15
    Yes, all the other MINI variants based on the R56 platform continue until their approx. 7 year replacement cycle (with mid-term refresh) when they each move over to the new UKL1 platform.

    “UKL1 Minis will be produced at Oxford alongside models from the current MINI range. That will require considerable logistics expertise because the factory will be producing two entirely different model lines.”

  11. @16
    Thanks, that ‘Mk2’ line must be a nightmare to run, seeing that it will have all the low volume niche models!

  12. Well done mini. im looking forward to the new mini nxt year and im sure it will be as good if not better than the gen-1 +gen-2 models, great work BMW.

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