From barrel to wedge: the failed Mini replacements
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, British Leyland tried unsuccessfully to produce a viable replacement for the Mini. A number of interesting proposals emerged – none of which made it into production.
Long before the term ‘supermini’ had been coined, British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC) had begun to think about producing a new Mini with superior space, comfort and practicality. This gallery contains some initial thoughts and some blind alleys.
Project Ant: the ‘barrel’ Mini replacement
This car was tentatively developed around the same time as Sir Alec Issigonis was developing his 9X project. As with the 9X, the idea was to improve on the Mini’s already brilliant space efficiency, while also being cheaper and less labour intensive to produce.
The resulting full-scale mock-up clearly shows a fair degree of success, with its Mini-like styling and simplified body engineering. The flanks of the car were clearly convex, which apart from adding to the interior space of the car also (according to Longbridge Engineers) added a degree of strength.
Of all the abandoned Mini proposals, this one was the most successful in its styling because it managed not only to look cleaner, but also maintained clear links with its predecessor.
Roy Haynes’ hatchback Mini Clubman proposals
Roy Haynes was a very accomplished stylist, of this there is no doubt, but in this particular instance, he was always going to be hamstrung by the fact that the Mini body was going to be nigh-on impossible to improve on. The brief he was given was to improve the style of the Mini and increase the boot room. Certainly, he succeeded in the latter…
The final proposal, dated May 1968, looked good considering it used so much Mini hardware, and successfully integrated a hatchback. If anything it worked because it looked like a Morris Marina.
1972 Leyland-Crompton electric car prototype
Dating from 1971, this electric research vehicle was designed by Michelotti and built jointly by British Leyland and Crompton-Leyland Electricars, based on Mini underpinnings. While obviously not intended as a Mini replacement, it does demonstrate the direction of BLMC’s small-car thinking at the time, and predicts some of elements of the project ADO74 designs.
The design was displayed at the Geneva Motor Show in 1972, but went no further. (Note how similar the shape of the door frame and C-pillar is to that of the later Triumph TR7).
William Towns produced this striking design, called Minissima, for the 1973 London Motor Show. Entry to the cabin was via a single rear door, and it managed to fit seating for three within its overall length of just 90 inches.
The car was bought by British Leyland, along with the design rights, only for it to emerge over ten years later as the Elswick Envoy invalid carriage.