The first Mini rolled off the production line at Cowley, now called Plant Oxford, fifty years ago today and, for the first time in half a century, one of the very cars is returning to its birthplace for a celebration of 50 years of production. The Mini Minor, finished in Old English White and carrying the registration number 621 AOK, is at Plant Oxford for the day to mark its birthday in style.
Cowley built 602,817 Minis from 1959 to 1968, before production was moved to Longbridge. Since 2001 more than 1.4 million new MINIs have been built at the production facility and, in total, more than six million classic and new MINIs have been sold since the car first went on sale in 1959.
BMW Group member of the Board of Management for Production, Frank-Peter Arndt, was at Oxford today to celebrate with the staff there. Arndt said: “Anniversaries are always a wonderful opportunity to look back at the past. But on days like today, it’s also good to look to the future. Therefore, our objective is absolutely clear: we are going to continue the success story of MINI and continue to strengthen it.
“Where is MINI going? Where will it be in ten, 20 or even another 50 years’ time? Perhaps it’s rather ambitious to look that far ahead but, one thing is certain, MINI is a brand not only with a great tradition, but also a fantastic future.”
Dr Jürgen Hedrich, Plant Oxford’s Managing Director, said: “Little did anyone know just how popular Sir Alec Issigonis’ car for the people would be – or that, half a century later, it would be reborn as the MINI and once again be built in Oxford. This is a momentous day in the plant and car’s history. Everyone at the plant is proud to be part of both the heritage and the future of this car.”
In the same week as this milestone anniversary, independent publishing house Faber and Faber is launching a book dedicated to the incredible story of MINI. “MINI: The True and Secret History of the Making of a Motorcar” is written by Simon Garfield, who uncovers a fascinating story of British endeavour, ingenuity and masterful marketing by meeting the people behind the scenes. The book is on sale now priced at £17.99.
Thousands of visitors from across the globe will also be celebrating MINI’s 50th birthday at MINI United, which is being staged at Silverstone from 22-24 May. The festival welcomes MINI owners and non-owners and the entertainment line-up is expected to attract visitors from right around the world. Paul Weller, Calvin Harris and Twisted Wheel are the entertainment highlights and tickets are priced at £35 for the full festival weekend. Children under 14 are admitted free. Tickets and further information can be found at www.miniunited.com.
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