Few cars in the history of the automobile can be viewed as more revolutionary than the Mini. Designed by Sir Alec Issigonis, the Mini was both ground-breaking and game-changing in 1959, when it made its debut. A true “compact” car, the Mini featured a short (120-inch) all-steel monocoque construction body, with an 848-cc, BMC A-Series, inline, 4-cylinder engine. In order to maximize interior space in such a small and compact package, Issigonis not only mounted the A-Series engine transversely in the front of the car, but he also located the 4-speed gearbox in the sump of the engine and had this one-piece unit drive the front wheels, so that he could avoid having a standard transmission, driveshaft and tunnel eating up precious space in the cockpit. The result was a tiny, FWD car with a surprisingly spacious interior that could realistically accommodate four adults. Offered as either an Austin Se7en Mini or a Morris Minor Mini, with a £497 price tag it’s no wonder that the Mini would go on to sell more than 5.3 million examples until its eventual end in 1980.
Despite BMC’s insistence on “badge engineered” Austin and Mini variants, both versions were essentially the same except for their name badges.
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