Blog: What if?


WE ALL know the MINI is a big, bloated cynically conceived, BMW engineered pastiche of a groundbreaking original, don’t we? Of course we do. But I sometimes wonder how things would have been if by some miracle, John Towers had negotiated his way into MG Rover keeping the car for itself back in 2000?

What got me thinking was something quite insignificant really – its key.

Down the local curry shop in Peterborough, I sat next to a pleasant media-type lady, who – obviously – owns a MINI. She said she loves Minis in general, having started off her motoring career behind the wheel of an original, but now, having moved to a company car, it seemed the obvious way to go. I couldn’t disagree really – although I rate the MG ZR pretty highly, it’s not really the sort of car Mini lovers really go for, is it?

BMW may have had much influence over the
MINI design, but at heart, it’s
still a Rover…

Anyway, when she was about to leave with her boyfriend, she chucked her keys on the table… Lo-and-behold – the MINI key is identical to the Rover 75 key. Reminding me of the two cars’ shared Anglo-German DNA, I recalled yet again, how you can see in so many small details – the mirrors, the door handles, the interior design, similar use of chrome exterior detailing – these cars are products of the same company. Park a Silver MINI next to a similarly coloured (pre-fecelift) Rover 75, and the similarities are brought into sharp relief…

BMW may have had much influence over the MINI design, but to quote a rather naff advertising tag-line, above all, it’s a Rover.

However, would it have been the success it has been, had MG Rover been responsible for marketing it? Undoubtedly, Longbridge build quality would have been more than a match for Cowley’s, but would MINI buyers find MG Rover dealerships nice places to visit? And would they be turned on by the advertising? Would there have been any advertising?

Interesting questions, don’t you think?

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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