The automotive media loves a major anniversary, it gives it an excuse to trot out special articles on the product in question and 2019 is no exception – the BMC Mini will be under the microscope.
So, the big one is the 60th Anniversary of our beloved Mini, the numerically most successful car to emerge from the British motor industry and arguably the one major contribution Britain made to the evolution of the automobile. Is it really ten years since I went to the International Mini Meeting at Cofton Park, adjacent to Longbridge?
Once again the statistics will be trotted out, 5.5 million built, the motor sport success, the cars indelible association with the Swinging Sixties and whether it actually made money for its manufacturer. The Mini is indeed a British automotive icon but, amid all the facts and figures, no one has actually tried to document the social history of the Mini.
BMC Mini – truly classless
The Mini was a car that was driven by both the rich and the poor. While the well-heeled could afford a Mini Cooper S, the basic Mini became for many drivers their entry point into the exciting world of motoring. Because the basic Mini was initially available in 850 form and, from 1967, with an upgraded 1000 variant, the car was cheap to insure and easy to drive.
It was an ideal first car, even in dilapidated used car form, and for a pittance provided mobility for millions of drivers. In a Britain suffering from a drastic pruning of the rail network, a beaten up cheap Mini provided a viable alternative to the meandering bus services meant to replace the trains. What I am interested is the stories from these owners.
Why did they choose a Mini, what adventures did they have in the car and any other anecdotes relating to Mini ownership? My favourite story was of the man who used the large door bins of a sliding window Mini as a receptacle when he suffered an upset stomach, the consequence of a heavy drinking session!
Talk to us if you have a Mini story to tell…
If you have any anecdotes, please leave them in the comments section (below), post on Facebook or email us. If the response makes us chuckle or we learn something new, they’ll probably be used for a future article on the social history of the Mini.