A brief look at how the ground-breaking Mini made it from sketch pad to showroom in little more than two years, a remarkable achievement for a car that completely threw away the rule book.
Keith Adams walks through the Mini’s development to production reality in August 1959.
From cigarette packet to showroom in 30 months
These early Issigonis sketches (above, below) show how clearly he had the Mini concept worked out in his mind, although practical and safety considerations would see some elements – such as the location of the petrol tank ahead of the bulkhead – change before the car entered production
XC9003, July 1957 – Fussy, rejected proposal for the Mini; compare with XC9000 and original XC9001 designs
XC9003, July 1957 – Another view of the above design; note that the indicators are positioned high on the “B” pillar, in keeping with Issigonis’ desire for the car to have tiny rear stop lights
XC9003, July 1957 – Rear three-quarters view of the above design
XC9003, July 1957 – Front and rear views of the above design, revealing a rather dumpy aspect. Further work required…
XC9003, late 1957 – A later version of the July 1957 design
XC9003, 1958 – Ever the minimalist, this is how Alec Issigonis would have preferred to see his brainchild launched; in fact, only the commercial versions of the Mini retained this car’s simple grille
XC9003, 1958 – This Morris-badged car’s compromise grille design is close to that which finally reached production
And finally… To confuse people who may have seen the ADO15 prototypes on the road testing, the testing team developed this false front, nicknamed the “orange box”. The idea was to make the ADO15 look more like an A30/35 and divert speculation away from what it really was
[Editor’s Note: This page was contributed by Declan Berridge.]