Heritage

Prototype Mini project drawing by Sir Alec Issigonis in 1959.

MINI SPACE ODDESSY.

HOW TO GET WHAT YOU REALLY WANT AND NOT JUST WHAT YOU NEED.

At a time that felt the global tremors of fuel rationing following the Suez crisis,the need for careful conservation and creative ways to maximize resources, became paramount - much like our world today.
X-ray image of a classic Morris Mini-Minor.
Difficult social challenges fed this burgeoning designer's mind, resulting in a radical yet enduring solution, and one of the world's most loved small cars.

Sir Alec Issigonis was a disruptive designer of his time. His original vision of the classic Mini may have been forged from necessity, but quickly became a fashion and motoring statement of its time.
 Morris Mini-Minor parked by the water's edge at a marina and two women prepare to board a dinghy nearby.
Two women studying a map standing next to a Morris Mini-Minor.
The unique car was more than just an efficiently sized, agile road handler. It provoked an instant emotional response - a cheeky persona and looks that signalled freedom for a new generation eager to push traditional boundaries. It’s primary shapes, round front lights, hexagonal grill, distinct roof that fitted almost like a lid onto the car, and angular chassis, coupled with strident bold colours, defied everything that conventional car manufacturing seemed to be about.

But how to get around the space and performance questions in such a compact design? Windows that slid open and didn't need room to hide the mechanism for wind-up windows and left extra space in the doors to provide deep pockets.

But to crack the ultimate in experience question, Issigonis performed two even more radically creative sleights of hand. Setting the wheels at the very outer edge of each corner of the car added a revolutionary go-kart feel and an impact on the cars performance that was unmistakable - the car gripped the road and took cornering with ease and confidence.

Sir Alec Issigonis sitting inside a Mini.
A Mini Cooper racing in 1965.

For his second trick, Issigonis rotated the engine so that it sat sideways. This increased the interior space and legroom and allowed 80% of the internal space of the car to be used by passengers. Upping the ante on comfort, it also underscored the sociable nature of the small car as more passengers could climb in for the ride.

Prototype Mini project drawing by Sir Alec Issigonis in 1959.
The Mini was not only a creative response to urban challenges. It embodied a charming, irrational spirit that captured the zeitgeist, attracting creators of all kinds and cementing it as an influential, cultural icon. Its soaring popularity was underscored by pop stars, film makers and fashionistas alike - Paul McCartney became the proud owner of a 1965 Mini Cooper S, Peter Sellers customized his adored Mini, subsequently driving a cloned version of it in “A Shot in the Dark” and glossy magazines featured the head-turning car as a pop art prop in psychedelic fashion shoots.
A Morris Mini Cooper S Mk 2 – 1968 in London.
Because of Issigonis’ ingenuity and flare, Mini’s fans got more than just a car. They got a driving experience that reimagined the notion of city mobility and revolutionized small car design for years to come.