Yeah, Baby! The MINI Cooper Austin Powers.
At the turn of the century, the Austin Powers movies became a cultural phenomenon. The James Bond parodies were not simply spy spoofs, but were cheekily reverential towards their source material.
The first movie was produced during the heyday of Britpop, the musical and cultural movement that swept the world and the United States in the mid-90’s, which also emphasised Britishness above all.
It was no surprise then, that the first Austin Powers movie found great success, leading to two sequels. That a MINI – being a global symbol of Britishness – should appear in one of these films, was really a question of “when”, not “if.”
Your spy car's a MINI?
It's not the size mate, it's how you use it.
The time finally came in 2002, when a special production of the 2001 MINI Cooper, adorned with a giant Union Jack across its whole body, appeared in the third installment in the series, “Austin Powers in Goldmember”. Even though the car has become synonyms with Austin Powers, in the movie itself it actually belongs to his father, Nigel, who is also a secret agent. He is of course played by Michael Caine, who made Minis famous worldwide with one of the legendary chase scenes of all time, in the 1969 caper movie, The Italian Job.
In Goldmember, the car bursts onto the scene, as our heroes are in hot pursuit of the film’s villain, and is introduced with this classic line of dialogue, which is just as cheeky as a MINI:
Austin Powers : "Your spy car's a MINI?"
Nigel Powers : "It's not the size mate, it's how you use it."
What followed was an exciting chase scene through the streets of Tokyo, which was great for reinforcing MINI’s sense of style and character. Memorably, the car's number plate was „GR8 SHAG”, and really, who could argue?
The MINI would later also function as a submarine car in the movie, with a practical “Submarine Mode” button. This feature is probably not coming soon to production MINI cars yet.
What eagle-eyed viewers might have noticed during its appearance in Austin Powers 3, is that even though its scenes take place in Japan – a left-hand side country, and the car is owned by a British secret agent, the wheel of the unique movie car is on the left side of the cockpit, not the right.
Even with its limited screen time, the MINI Cooper „Austin Powers” became instantly iconic, so much so that it was used front and centre during the 100 years celebrations of the MINI plant in Oxford.
The MINI One-Off Series.
Our history is enriched by a long list of one-off cars. Whether they were created for movies, noble causes, or designed by celebrities to show the world the many faces of MINI’s personality, we love them all equally. That is why we wanted to look back at these cars, and share their unique stories.
Check out other cars in the series.