Okay, at first glance this looks like a stupid question. The Mini was replaced in 2001 by BMW’s new MINI. Question answered, let’s move on – but that is not really what I am asking.
The classic Issigonis Mini was innovative, a great success at motorsport and the best-selling British car of all time. These are things every petrolhead knows. What set the Mini apart from its contemporaries was its versatility as a used car. With millions built it was readily available, mechanically simple, cheap and economical to run.
This was also applicable to other bestsellers such as the Ford Cortina, but the Mini had the advantage that it was compact, easy to drive and, because the vast majority built had sub-1.0-litre engines, it was also cheap to insure. Many were pressed into service as a second car, for shopping and the school run.
For many of us, the Mini was our entry into the exciting world of motoring, because the qualities I have listed made it the ideal first car. Millions of us learned to drive in a Mini, whether it was the parents’ pristine runabout or a rust-ridden old banger, as we dreamed of being the next Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, James Hunt or Nigel Mansell (delete as appropriate).
We might be driving something more upmarket now but, for many drivers, owning a Mini was a rite of passage. Perhaps well into the 1980s, the Mini was the default first car. Its position was finally usurped when the price of the earliest Ford Fiestas dropped into bargain basement territory for them to be affordable to teenage motorists.
So what as replaced the Mini as the ideal first-time car? Remember it has to be cheap to buy and insure, so that discounts the current 1.5-litre MINI. My nominations would be the Nissan Micra K11, the 1993-2000 Vauxhall Corsa and the first-generation Ford Ka. However, AROnline’s readers might think differently…
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