Essay : Mini production – how many?

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Ian Nicholls unravels the production data to try and come up with a definitive number of Minis built. He finds more questions than answers – but it looks like more than six million of all types were made.

Mini launched today

In terms of sheer volume, the original Alec Issigonis-designed Mini is the most successful British car of all time, with an official figure of around 5.3 million being produced between 1959 and 2000. Most of these were produced by the Longbridge plant, which manufactured the Mini throughout the little car’s lifetime. However, even the official figures differ.

Chris Rees, in his book ‘Complete Classic Mini 1959-2000’, gives a figure of 5,378,776, supplied by the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust. Jon Pressnell, in his book ‘Mini – The Definitive History’, has a total of 5,387,862, as supplied by MG Rover. This is a difference of 9086. The difference between the two sets of figures appears to start in 1977.

Year BMIHT MG Rover Variance
1977 214,134 212,323 -1811
1978 196,799  196,799 0
1979 165,502  165,502 0
 1980 150,067  150,067 0
 1981 69,986  69,986 0
 1982 56,297  56,297 0
 1983 49,956 49,986 +30
 1984  35,038  35,368 +338
 1985  34,974  34,974 0
1986  33,720  35,280 +1560
 1987  37,210  39,800 +2590
 1988  36,574  38,544 +1970
 1989  40,988  41,958 +970
 1990  46,045  46,665 +620
 1991  35,007  36,717 +1710
 1992  26,197  27,005 +808
 1993  20,468  20,788 +320
 1994  20,417  20,417  0
 1995  20,378  20,378  0
 1996  15,638  15,638  0
 1997  16,938  16,938  0
 1998  14,311  14,311  0
 1999  11,738  11,738  0
 2000  7070  7069  -1

The bizarre feature about these discrepancies is that they do not start to appear until BL/Rover had divested themselves of most of their overseas plants and production was by and large centred on Longbridge.

The next step is to collate all the individual production data on a model by model basis.

Mini MkI including Estates 1,106,000
Mini MkII including Estates 406,000
Mini Clubman including Estates 583,862
Mini MkIII-MkVII Mpi 2,113,065
Mini Cooper and S (1961-1971) 125,767
Commercials 579,683
Riley Elf/Wolseley Hornet 59,367
Mini Moke (including Australia and Portugal) 49,937

Total 5,023,681

Using the BMIHT figure, this leaves some 355,095 cars to account for. If we use those supplied by MG Rover, we have a difference of 364,181. However, what is also confusing is how many were manufactured by overseas plants and whether these were counted as CKD kits built by BMC/British Leyland at its British factories. What constituted a CKD kit and what constituted a car completely made from locally-sourced components?

While many an overseas Mini had an A-Series engine imported from the UK, some had a locally-made unit. So is the figure of 5.3 million really accurate? In a similar exercise in the July/September 2009 issue of the Australian magazine The Mini Experince, now The BMC Experience, journalist Craig Watson disputed this and came up with a figure of at least 6,302,000 Minis produced.

Apparently, he was informed by British Motor Heritage at Gaydon that the research was to big a job for them and that they did not have all the records from Longbridge. Craig Watson used as his base figure the BMIHT total of 5,378,776 but, as this already included some foreign manufactured vehicles, I will start with the total of UK models.

In this article, I will try and clarify the situation, but whether I reach a satisfactory conclusion is another matter. First of all the BMIHT production figures are combined with UK sales up to 1993 to give us an idea of the numbers we are analysing. The overseas sales figures are an approximate estimate, derived by subtracting UK sales from total production and take no account of cars sitting in showrooms awaiting buyers as each new year dawned.

In the early years of Mini production these overseas sales would have been exports of actual cars but, as overseas production began, the picture becomes more confusing.

Year Production UK Sales Overseas Sales
 1959  19,749  7800  11,949
 1960  116,677  63,900  52,777
 1961  157,059  95,000  62,059
 1962  216,087  116,000  100,087
 1963  236,713  134,346  102,367
 1964  244,359  123,429  120,930
 1965  221,974  103,147  118,827
 1966  213,694  91,697  121,997
 1967  237,227  82,436  154,791
 1968  246,066  86,185  159,881
 1969  254,957  68,061  186,896
 1970  278,950  80,562  198,398
 1971  318,475  102,006  216,469
 1972  306,937  96,185  210,752
 1973  295,186  96,383  198,803
 1974  255,336  89,686  165,650
 1975  200,293  84,688  115,605
 1976  203,575  81,107  122,468
 1977  214,134  60,337  153,797
 1978  196,799  72,617  124,182
 1979  165,502  82,938  82,564
 1980  150,067  61,129  88,938
 1981  69,986  28,772  41,214
 1982  56,297  25,503  30,794
 1983  49,956  27,739  22,217
 1984  35,038  23,329  11,709
 1985  34,974  18,559  16,415
 1986  33,720  16,154  17,566
 1987  37,210  15,873  21,337
 1988  36,574  14,108  22,466
 1989  40,988  12,852  28,136
 1990  46,045  10,067  35,978
 1991  35,007  8531  26,476
 1992  26,197  6809  19,388
 1993  20,468  6326  14,142
 1994  20,417
 1995  20,378
 1996  15,638
 1997  16,938
 1998  14,311
 1999  11,738
 2000  7070

What these figures reveal is what a remarkable car the original Mini was, with overseas sales topping 100,000 by 1962. UK sales peaked in 1963, which allowed analysts pouring scorn on BMC’s business methods, such as Anthony Bambridge of The Observer newspaper, to claim that the Mini was in terminal decline, and all this was a symptom that BMC had got it all wrong and was heading for the rocks.

Certainly UK sales had declined a whopping 38.63 per cent between 1963 and 1967, but overseas sales had increased by 51.21 per cent, offsetting the Mini’s perceived decline. The whole saga that enabled Leyland to gain the upper hand in the merger negotiations with British Motor Holdings was based on an analysis of BMC’s domestic performance in comparison with Ford UK. This revealed the insular mindset permeating the City of London and the financial institutions.

The data on BMC’s overseas success with the Mini and its bigger brother, the ADO16, was not so readily available. BMC was an international player, Ford of Britain was not, and there lay the vital difference between the two manufacturers. The formation of the British Leyland Motor Corporation in May 1968 led to an influx of ex-Ford finance personnel into Austin Morris as BMC was re-branded. These cost-control experts had little time for Alec Issigonis’s design philosophy and his cars, which they deemed to be unprofitable.

Their focus was on the home market and turning Austin Morris into a Ford clone which, given Britain’s failure to gain access to the lucrative EEC car market, seemed a logical step at the time. Austin Morris threw their scant resources into developing their own fleet car, the Morris Marina, which only briefly attained its production target of 5000 cars a week and had little export appeal.

While the new management had little affection for the Mini, the little car stormed ahead in overseas markets, proving particularly popular in the 1969-1973 period when it was already a decade-old design. By now a lot of these sales would have come from BLMC’s overseas plants spread all over the world. In January 1973 Britain joined the Common Market, meaning trade tariffs that had previously made the Mini price uncompetitive in the major European countries no longer applied.

This also had the effect of making the new generation of Superminis cheaper to buy in Britain and, as the 1970s wore on, the British love affair with the Mini began to wane as more modern rival cars were available. However, overseas sales held up remarkably well, with Seneffe in Belgium supplying Europe with Minis, after the end of production in Spain and Italy.

In 1980 the best Mini markets were as follows:

1. UK 61,129
2. France 14,290
3. Italy 5343
4. Ireland 2916
5. Netherlands 2820
6. Belgium 2468
7. Germany 2291
8. Portugal 2110

In 1980 Japan, titan of the world motor industry, took a mere 201 examples of the antique Mini, but by 1990 it was its biggest fan, buying 12,087. Germany, another automotive giant, bought 4790 Minis in 1990, and perhaps this was a sign of things to come. 1980 was also the last year that the Mini was British Leyland’s premier small car, as it was supplanted by the new Metro at the end of the year.

By 1990, the realisation that the Mini was an exploitable brand had dawned on the Rover Group, as British Leyland had become. Chairman Graham Day brought in industry outsiders who could see the big picture and the continuation of Mini production was sustained by overseas sales.

The figures show that the surge in the popularity of the Mini was only brief and relatively miniscule, no pun intended, in around 1988 to 1991, but the renewed marketing emphasis by Rover created a situation in which the Mini became a cult car and inspired discussion about branding a future small Rover as a Mini.

UK PRODUCTION IN THE 1960s

So that is the overall production figures, but how does it divide up, who produced what? Thanks to author James Taylor’s book, ‘Factory Original Mini Mk1 and Mk2′, we now have the UK production figures from 1959 to 1969, divided between Longbridge and Cowley.

Year Longbridge Cowley Total
 1959  10,000  10,000  20,000
 1960  69,523  47,154  116,677
 1961  114,700  42,359  157,059
 1962  153,579  62,508  216,087
 1963  157,898  78,815  236,713
 1964  170,570  73,789  244,359
 1965  151,118  58,515  209,633
 1966  128,889  73,951  202,840
 1967  140,421  84,229  224,650
 1968  –  –  234,088
 1969  230,682  –  230,682

1967 was the last full year that the Mini was produced at both Cowley and Longbridge. At the prodding of BMC executive Geoffrey Iley, all Mini production ceased at Cowley in January 1968. From then on, all Morris-badged Minis emerged from Longbridge, an estimated 173,000 saloons. No information has emerged as to the actual date upon which the last Mini emerged from Cowley or, indeed, if any were actually produced in 1968.

From the above figures we can see the discrepancies between UK production and total production figures, beginning in 1965, which suggest overseas production was coming into play.

1965 12,341
1966 10,854
1967 12,577
1968 11,978
1969 24,275
1970 ?
1971 60,048

It was in 1965 that the first distinctive overseas models began to appear, Minis that were not carbon copies of those emerging from Longbridge and Cowley. In 1968, Longbridge produced 139,452 Austin cars along with 94,636 Morris-badged cars, which were credited to Cowley, but most if not all were not actually made at Longbridge. This is a grand total of 234,088.

In 1969, Longbridge produced 230,682 Minis. The next source of information comes from a British Leyland press release after the record year of 1971. By then, the MkIII Mini was in production in Britain. BLMC produced 318,475 Minis in 1971, and claimed that 258,427 were produced by Longbridge, which leaves 60,048 emerging from overseas plants.

NEW ZEALAND

And so onto the overseas plants, beginning with New Zealand, which assembled its first Mini from a CKD kit in December 1959 at Newmarket, Auckland and Petone, Wellington. All Kiwi Mini production was from CKD kits supplied from the UK and later Australia. Detailed production figures are unavailable, but this is what I have found.

1965 Cumulative Mini sales topped 16,000. Between 1965 and 1970 New Zealand built 1,975 examples of the Riley Elf.
1970 Cumulative Mini sales topped 40,000
1972 Around 5000 Minis are sold.
1976 Cumulative Mini CKD production was 58,793 in October 1976. This was a year when only 2404 Minis were sold in New Zealand.
1977 Sales slumped further to 1671 examples.
1982 New Zealand Mini assembly ceased in August 1982, a year when only 411 were sold in the country.
Between 1960 and 1982 67,829 Minis were sold in New Zealand of which at least 58,793 were locally assembled.

The New Zealand production figures are probably counted as CKD kits within the total Mini production figure of 5,378,776.

SOUTH AFRICA

Also beginning Mini assembly in December 1959 was South Africa, which assembled the car at Blackheath. There was a high local content from the start, which in 1965 reached 50 per cent. By 1967 this had reached 58.8 per cent and climbed higher later in the year when the A-Series engine began to be made locally. Local content increased further to 66 per cent in 1975.

South African Mini assembly briefly ceased in October 1978, pending an ultimately abortive merger between Leyland South Africa and the Sigma Motor Corporation. When this merger went belly up, Leyland South Africa restarted production at Blackheath in May 1980. South African Mini production ended in October 1983.

Mini Sales in South Africa

1959 36
1960 2321
1961 3403
1962 5650
1963 8029
1964 7734
1965 5996
1966 5147
1967 5063
1968 4899
1969 4860
1970 5493
1971 4361
1972 4662
1973 5386
1974 4496
1975 4606
1976 4072
1977 3346
1978 3197
1979 1556
1980 1223
1981 3263
1982 3382
1983 2322
1984 308

Total 104,811

55 Mokes sold in 1971, 1972 and 1975 were Australian-manufactured vehicles. Craig Watson produced a total South African production figure of 104,772. If we look on all South African Minis prior to 1965 as CKD kits, because their engine was imported from the UK, and therefore counted with Longbridge and Cowley production, then we come up with a rough production figure of at least 64,405, and that does not count the 11,469 Commercial variants that were made from 1961 to 1979, some of which would have had a British-made engine.

NETHERLANDS

The first European country to build the Mini was the Netherlands, which assembled them at Amersfoort under the auspices of J.J Molenaar N.V. between 1959 and 1966. Unlike some other countries, the actual production figures are available. These were all CKD kits.

1959 30
1960 472
1961 520
1962 836
1963 861
1964 1031
1965 445
1966 180

Total 4375

AUSTRALIA

Next we have Australia, which assembled its first Mini from a CKD kit in January 1961, and output from the Zetland plant soon reached 100 cars a day. The success of the Mini and ADO16 down under forced Volkswagen to switch from local Beetle assembly to importing CKD kits. The early Australian Minis only had 30-40 per cent of local content which was pushed up to 45 per cent in early 1964 with the use of local pressings.

The problem with assessing Australian Mini production is that, when the plug was pulled at Zetland and later Enfield, orders were given to destroy all the production records. British Leyland’s PR men produced a figure of 176,284 Minis produced in October 1978, but how was this figure arrived at? It certainly did not include the total of 26,142 Mokes, which brings the grand total to 202,426.

If these figures are accurate, then early Australian Mini production from 1961 to at least 1964 was attributed, in the form of CKD kits, to Longbridge and Cowley. In March 1965, BMC Australia introduced the YDO5 Mini De Luxe, which pushed local content up to 85 per cent. By now Zetland was assembling engines sent in kit form from the UK. With increased local content, perhaps Australian cars from 1965 account for some of the discrepancies between total Mini production and UK production?

In 1975,Leyland Australia reduced local content by replacing the locally-assembled 1098cc engine with a 998cc unit imported from Britain. This was at the same time that production switched to Enfield. Australian Mini production ceased in October 1978.

CHILE

Chile was the next country to start up Mini production in 1964, centred on the town of Arica. How many were made there is open to dispute. There appears to have been 288 made in 1965 and 879 in 1968.

A production target of 2000 a year seemed to be pie in the sky as the Mini craze seemed to bypass Chile. The Chilean Government then demanded a 45 per cent local content for the car, which as Chile possessed no indigenous steel industry posed a problem. The solution arrived at was to employ a glassfibre body, jointly developed by Pressed Steel Fisher and Peel Engineering in the UK. Production began in 1969 and ended in 1974. Craig Watson estimates that altogether around 2200 Minis were produce in Chile.

ITALY

The most famous overseas producer of the Mini was Innocenti of Milan, first under licence then, from 1972, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the British Leyland Motor Corporation. Jon Presnell described them as CKD kits, but clearly the UK built cars bore little resemblance to Innocenti models like the Mini Minor and 1001.

Powertrains were imported from the UK, but much of the Innocenti Mini was locally sourced. Fortunately the annual production figures survive. First the traditional BMC-derived models.

1965 1689
1966 26,817
1967 39,956
1968 45,701
1969 45,634
1970 48,554
1971 58,309
1972 61,964
1973 57,660
1974 49,275
1975 1,675

Total 437,234

So are the Innocenti figures counted as part of the official 5,378,776 total for Mini production? Were Innocentis considered to be CKD units by the BMC/BLMC record keepers? Does the official total only count all cars manufactured after May 1972, when Innocenti was absorbed into BLMC? This is probably around 138,000 cars.

Then there is the question of the Bertone-styled Mini 90/120 hatchback, which still used an A-Series powertrain and Mini floorpan. Are these counted in the official production figure of 5,378,776?

Innocenti Mini 90/120 Production

1974 3461
1975 30,759
1976 12,789
1977 38,120
1978 40,719
1979 39,991
1980 39,770
1981 23,187
1982 3591

Total 232,387

In April 1976, Alessandro De Tomaso bought Innocenti from British Leyland. Jon Pressnell estimates that 39,121 Mini 90/120 hatchbacks were manufactured under British Leyland ownership.

SPAIN

The other major European manufacturer of the Mini was Authi in Spain which, when production began in September 1968, was still ruled over by the dictator General Franco. There was not much in the Authi Mini that was imported from the UK. With protectionist trade tariffs making foreign imports expensive, local production of even the engine was a must. These are the annual production figures for the Authi Mini, which was assembled at Landaben, near Pamplona. I find it extremely hard to believe that the Authi Mini could be considered a CKD kit.

AUTHI

1968 998
1969 7769
1970 14,308
1971 22,628
1972 25,072
1973 27,084
1974 23,119
1975 5589

Total 126,567

In the summer of 1973 Authi became a wholly-owned subsidiary of BLMC, so around 40,000 Authi Minis were produced under British Leyland ownership.

BELGIUM

After the demise of Authi and the sale of Innocenti, Seneffe in Belgium became British Leyland’s premier continental car plant. Seneffe had been owned by Belgium’s Morris-MG importer and, from 1963, it had begun assembling cars. In January 1963 President Charles De Gaulle of France had rejected Britain’s application to join the Common Market, as the EU was then known.

This effectively locked BMC out of an expanding car market, as it faced high trade tariffs on its highly-acclaimed front-wheel-drive range, which rendered them price uncompetitive. The solution to alleviate this was to create an assembly plant within the Common Market, hence the purchase of Seneffe in August 1965. There would still be some tariffs to be paid as the powertrains were imported from the UK.

Seneffe was greatly expanded in the early 1970s and it cannot have been just to produce the Mini, which was already an ageing design with an expected limited shelf life. In British Leyland’s fantasy world of the early 1970s, one suspects Seneffe was geared up to supply Britain’s new Common Market partners with thousands of Allegros a week, as Longbridge’s capacity was apparently limited by its new paint plant to 4500 Allegros per week. If BLMC wanted to produce more it would have to be at a different location.

Seneffe Minis are probably counted as CKD kits and are incorporated in the UK production figures. Production figures for 1965 to 1970 are not available, but this is what we do have.

Seneffe Production

1971 41,696
1972 51,041
1973 ?
1974 26,602
1975 25,788
1976 42,959
1977 53,988
1978 50,156
1979 34,523
1980 27,478
1981 778

Total 355,009

Interestingly, Austin-Morris claimed it had a shortage of Minis due to increased demand in the car’s 20th anniversary year (1979) and that more cars would have to be imported from Seneffe. The figures show that Seneffe production actually declined!

OTHER COUNTRIES

In addition to these figures we have around 1291 glassfibre Mini Cords assembled in Venezuela between December 1991 to early 1995. Between 1970 and 1972 Yugoslavia assembled from CKD kits 5354 IMV Mini 1000s.

IMV Mini Production

1970 283
1971 4482
1972 589

Total 5354

There were other countries that built Minis, like Ireland and Malta, for which there is no concrete data, but these were CKD kits and are probably counted as UK production.

NUMBER CRUNCHING

Before I come to a general conclusion, how about some analysis of some of the individual years for which we do have a production breakdown? First of all I will add all the overseas production figures that I believe were not CKD kits and had high local content.

Year Spain Italy South Africa Total
1965 0 1689 5996 7685
1966 0 26,817 5147 31,964
1967 0 39,956 5063 45,019
1968 998 45,701 4899 51,598
1969 7769 45,634 4860 58,263
1970 14,308 48,554 5493 68,355
1971 22,628 58,309 4361 85,298

And this data does not include Australian production, for which there is no information. So how does this compare with the data the BMIHT attribute to overseas production?

Year BMIHT Spain/
Italy/
S.Africa
Variance
 1965  12,341  7685  -7685
 1966  10,854  31,964  +21,110
 1967  12,577  45,019  +32,442
 1968 11,978  51,598  +39,620
 1969 24,275 58,263  +33,988
 1970  ?  68,355  ?
 1971  60,048  85,298  +25,250

The 1965 variance figure does seems plausible for annual Australian production.

CONCLUSION

If we add all the known figures together, this is what we get:

UK Models 5,023,681
Authi 126,567
Innocenti 437,234
Leyland South Africa 64,405
Australia 176,284

Total 5,828,171

This is 440,309 more than the MG Rover total and 449,395 more than the BMIHT total. In fact the discrepancy does resemble the Innocenti production total.

And if we add the Innocenti 90/120 hatchbacks we get:

Total Minis 5,828,171
Innocenti 90/120 232,387

Total 6,060,558

This essay is not meant to be the definitive article on the subject – far from it – and there will probably be a revision in due course, but all constructive feedback is welcome.

20 Comments

  1. Tremendous research by Ian. My first car was a 67 Austin Mini 850. Didn’t keep it long but still have some good and some funny memories of ownership. I also aspired to the Clubman & 1275GT cars. Just goes to show what a legend the original Mini will always be.

  2. Quite fascinating… What really surprised me was that the total Cooper/Cooper S production was only 125,000 Also, there seemed to be no reference to Portuguese Moke production, or did I miss that (or imagine wrongly that it took place)?

    • Was there not some legal hassel about the use of the Cooper name? So it was dropped. Then the Mini “Cooper” became the Mini 1000 IIRC. I bought a Mini 1000 new in October 1970. I threw out the sales Invoice a few years ago when having a clear out. £702 on-the-road. After about a year of ownership, I fitted Spax adjustable Dampers all round. That little car would then run rings around cars much more highly regarded. Until I retired a few years back, since the late 1960s, I have regularly commuted between Romford and Cheltenham. Using that little 1000cc car, I recorded my quickest point-to-point Journey time for that trip. That was in days when the M40 was nowhere near complete so I used the A40 mostly. Travelling from 1 am through the night on the then almost vehicle less roads, I drove straight though central London and a million to one chance happened that night. Not one of the numerous traffic lights was against me. No stops at all. Even with improved roads/motorways and modern Turbocharged cars with far more power, I have never been able to better that point-to-point time. Not only that, my then to be future Mother-in-Law mostly fast asleep on the back seats. How about that. In recent years, I’ve been held up for ages by long queues of stop start traffic on the M40 Motorway at 1.30 am. Such is the density and individual size of many of todays traffic conditions and vehicles.

      Great days and great cars gorn forever like much of UK indigenous Industry.

      Tata for now.

      • You are correct about dropping the Cooper name because Stokes wouldn’t pay Cooper for the use of it. However, the cars did not continue : the Mini 1000 used the 998cc engine , but it was in nothing like the same state of tune as that of the Cooper which produced 55 bhp, ( the 1000 IIRC produced 38 bhp ) and its gear ratios were much less sporting , and IO have a feeling the 1000 did not at that stage have disc front brakes

        • Chris, just to add a bit more. Stokes refused to pay Cooper £2 per car to carry the Cooper badge. The Mini Clubman 1275GT with 54bhp replaced the 998cc (53bhp) Cooper in late’69, with the MK111 Cooper S (70bhp) struggling on until Aug’71.
          Whilst the Mini 1000 had 10″ wheels it was never fitted with front disc brakes. All Coopers and 1275GT had front discs.

  3. Christopher
    Australian and Portuguese Moke production is included in the UK models total of 5,023,681.

    My current gut feeling is that all Minis produced by Innocenti and Authi prior to their takeover by BLMC are not counted in the official figure.

  4. This has been very interesting reading, well done for trying to work out all the individual production figures where possible.

    It’s interesting to know all the spec variations due to local tastes and or content level quotas.

  5. Hi, that was some compilation of data! Well done.

    I attended the Spanish GP in the early 1970s. Held a Jarama, I think it was Lauda’s first victory in a Ferrari there. On the coach to-from the Airport and circuit, I was surprised to see what was obviously a mini based platform not unlike the UK Mini 1275 x Mini Special 1100 hybrid.Nice interior to by early 1970s production car standards. Both myself and spouse had Minis then and I would have loved to have one of those impressive stylish Spanish jobbies I saw.

    Some years later I saw on mainland Europe what I believe was Innocenti versions of the Minis.

    Ca. 1982, here in the UK, I looked at what appeared to be a Belgium “built” Mini 1000 with a view to purchase. It was by far the most corroded Mini I had ever seen before or since. Even the domed rear headlight shells had corrosion holes in them. Truly remarkable.

  6. Wow, those early 70s production figures are impressive, around 300,000 for 3 years. You can see the effect of the 3 European plants kicking in, such a tragedy that no new Supermini was launched to take advantage of this European customer base

    Incidentally, was Longbridge and Cowley production literally split between whether the vehicles were badged Austin or Morris (plus Wolseley and Riley), as the difference in favour of Austin is to me quite surprising.

  7. Great work Ian!

    It just shows the problems with BMC / Leyland / Rover – they couldn’t even keep tabs on what they had built! It just shows if BMC had invested in Seneffe as a full production plant back in the 60s instead of ramping up UK production and hope we joined the EEC the whole story may have been a lot different.

  8. maestrowoff:

    I’ve also thought a Supermini was something BL could have done with in the 1970s.

    Daveh:

    When the feature Seneffe was first posted it also crossed my mind that BL could have built cars from scratch there.

    • There was also rumours in the early 60s that BMC were interested in buying Borgward – a company with an even more diverse range than BMC – which would have given them a production capacity in the EEC. Again if only…

  9. @ MGJohn, for those good old days where you could park easily, speed cameras hadn’t been invented, and you had the open road. Even in the town where I live of 30,000 people, all the supermarkets have cameras that will book you for being a minute over the limit and the council car parks charge you £ 1.60 an hour and if you’re late by a few minutes, chances are you’ll get an £ 80 fine.

  10. Working in PR or Marketing during the glory years of the Mini, I had to gather together Mini production numbers on several occasions, such as the 20th/25th/30th etc birthday bashes. Every time we did the exercise, we came across anomalies and inconsistencies similar to those which Ian Nicholls discusses above. Each time, a considerable amount of analysis and double-checking had to be carried out to arrive at reasonably accurate numbers. The problems stemmed from a variety of causes – for example, some figures were recorded by financial year rather than calendar year, and the definition of the financial year had changed at various times ! When you also had overseas companies with all their own procedures and time periods for recording data, it added to the confusion. It was quite common to find double-counting, e.g. a CKD kit being logged in the UK and the resultant car assembled overseas being logged as a BU (built-up) unit as well. So you could never take a given set of figures at face value. I think you can be reasonably sure that over 5 million Minis were made, however, and that makes it comfortably the biggest volume British car ever, built over the longest period ever if we discount the Lotus.Caterham Seven !

    • Ian
      Did Innocenti and Authi supply BL with detailed manufacturing data before they were taken over by British Leyland in 1972 and 1973 respectively?
      If the owner of one of these cars applies to Gaydon for a heritage certificate will they get one?

  11. @ daveh, I very much doubt the unions would have stood for production being moved to Seneffe and saw BMC and British Leyland as a British company that should only make cars in Britain. I know a few thousand Allegros made it over from Seneffe in 1978/79, but these were done quietly to avoid a big fall out with the unions. Also for all Seneffe had far better industrial relations than the British factories, seemingly the quality was no better.

  12. Ian,

    Do you know one where I could start with to try and find out production date, body number and any other information about my mini? it’s a 1990 Mini Flame Red 998. I’ve spoken to heritage at the British Motor Museum who advised for that period the records were not passed to them and referred me to BMW. I have spoken to BMW who have been really helpful they passed me to their historic division in Germany who also confirm that they don’t have the records for that time period. I believe that British Aerospace were at the helm in 1990, but am unsure where to go to see if records were saved. I have a very bad feeling that no one cared at the time and due to the constant shifting in ownership they were skipped!

    Many thanks and a very informative read by the way.

  13. The section on New Zealand implies UK CKD kits were supplanted by Australian. In fact, some kits for the Mini 1100 K were imported and assembled but this was short term and the majority of cars built were of English origin with a proportion of locally made parts.

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