Heath Robinson strikes
The Mini was an enduring success for the British Motor Corporation and then British Leyland – and the sheer number of markets the Issigonis Brick was exported to proves that the car’s appeal was truly international. However, being designed between 1956-’58 did begin to count against it as the years rolled by.
Governments across the world were introducing increasingly tough safety legislation – following in the footsteps of the USA, which had gone safety crazy in the aftermath of Ralph Nader’s influential book Unsafe at Any Speed. The Mini had no hope of meeting US regulations, post-1970, and was quietly withdrawn from the market.
That wasn’t the end of the Mini in North America, though – they continued to be sold there throughout that decade.
Mini: disappears from the USA, stays on in Canada
It was tough, though. As the 1970s drew on, the Canadian Minis needed an increasing amount of modification in order to remain on sale there. Here’s a brief overview of those changes – although the most obvious, its bumpers, won’t need too much in the way of explanation.
- Fuel tank mountings changed
- The fuel filler neck was modified and fuel tank caps from other markets would no longer fit
- Huge side marker lights/reflectors were added
- The front turn signal lights increased in size beyond anything ever offered elsewhere
- Latches to hold the front seats in place were introduced on the Canadian Minis long before they were used in England
- Dash panel arrangements and switches varied and even seat belt warning buzzers were incorporated
- Bumpers were raised and an early form of smog control by using an air pump and injector ports in the head was added
- The location of the smog pump also necessitated a change in the radiator so that the inlet was towards the back near the filler cap.
But those bumpers!
Could there have been a better way of raising the bumper height without killing the Mini’s cute styling?
Pictures: Andy Bannister, information from minimania.com
- Concepts and prototypes : Hyundai/Rover Oden (1992) - 9 November 2023
- Opinion : So, maybe the Montego was the best they could do… - 8 November 2023
- The cars : Austin Montego (LM11) development story - 7 November 2023