I think the question must be asked: WHY?
Why indeed. When a prospective new buyer is faced with so many choices of small modern cars with all the modern luxuries, technologies and refinements, why do some still buy a car which was designed and styled some 40 odd years ago? Why do people, myself included, fly thousands of miles to attend birthday rallies and meetings and spend small fortunes on an obsolete vehicle? Over 5 million have been sold in Europe alone! Can there be so many daft lunatics – millions all over the world? Or is there something very special about this small car………….
The mini is the only car which is classless and timeless:
The car was / is bought by the very rich and famous, middle class and even the poor who could afford little else. For the man in the street, it was a case of “if it can be driven by rock & movie stars and royalty, then why can’t I”. I read a recent article of a man who took his mini to a specialist for all kinds of upgrades and modifications. He was told that the expense didn’t warrant the value of the car and that he should rather buy a Ferrari, to which he replied “Thanks but I already have three!”.
It’s design was so far ahead of it’s time that even today, the mini does not look out of place on the roads -unlike almost any other car made in the 50’s. It also has the capacity to keep up with the modern traffic – Most other cars of average engine size produced in the 1950’s are simply too big, bulky and un-aerodynamic to achieve any kind of reasonable performance. The likes of Beetles and Morris Minors spring to mind.
It was a first with numerous innovations. Gearbox below the motor, sharing the same oil, Smallest wheels of any real car, rubber suspension and of course, front wheel drive with the first successful implementation of CV joints as we know them today. The new “more-stable-on-the-road-than-in-the-water” beetle is more like a mini than the original ever was.
The ride is hard but this is what you pay for excellent roadholding and cornering – ask any F1 driver.
The mini is sporty and fun to drive:
The mini’s racing history is well known. Herbie’s escapades at Monte Carlo are just blissful romantic myths and wishful thinking on the part of beetle lovers. The mini’s numerous 1st place wins on the other hand, is hard fact! In its racing career it took on cars expected to be far it’s superior – and won.
The car has a character that has endeared itself to thousands of people. Nomatter where you are in the world, there will be clubs and a following for this car.
It is the excitement of driving the car that has endeared it to me. My other car is a golf, but this is so smooth, quiet and boring that I have to be careful not to fall asleep while driving it! I could write a whole book on the exciting times I’ve had with my mini.
Aftermarket spares and support:
The spares and parts and accessories available for the mini are second to non. You can get anything for the car. Second hand spares is no problem. For a car that’s been around and unchanged apart from a few cosmetics, for 40 years, and the number produced it’s no wonder that almost every scrappy has loads of parts. With new spares you are able to customise the car to your own liking and taste. There is so much stuff available that you can do almost anything and it’s great putting together a package that is totally unique from anyone else’s car in the world.
Unfortunately, through no fault of it’s own, the mini is doomed. Each car is built by hand as it has been for 40 years now – not a profitable way of going about things in todays world. Its name has also become somewhat valuable with car manufacturers prepared to fork out billions for it, so production of the original will soon come to a stop.
It will still live on amongst mini lovers and in peoples hearts. It has become a part of our history and seen a lot of mans greatest achievements like the USA and Russian space projects, the advent of the microprocessor (computer), the list is endless if you take past history spanning over 4 decades.
The mini was the greatest car ever built. Show me a car today that will still be produced in 40 years time and will not have gone out of date or style. The small compactness yet versatility of this 1950’s design is still hard to beat even today. Yes there are loads of small cars on our road but I have yet to see a real car as small. –By real I mean those battery operated things which can be about the same size or smaller but are not a patch on any proper car and are totally unpractical at this stage in history.