THE CREATOR OF AN ICONIC CAR: ALEC ISSIGONIS.
A GLIMPSE INTO THE LIFE OF THE MINI FOUNDER.
Alec Issigonis (Sir Alexander Arnold Constantine Issigonis) was born in Smyrna in the Ottoman Empire (now Izmir, Turkey). His father, a successful and wealthy shipbuilding engineer, was of Greek origin but held a British passport. His mother was from Bavaria. In 1922 the family left Turkey for England, as all British people were banished from the country. His father, however, did not survive the crossing.
Issigonis had the dream of becoming an automobile engineer at an early age. From 1925-1928 he studied engineering at Battersea Polytechnic in London. He excelled in mechanical drawing, but failed his mathematics exams three times. He managed to obtain his Diploma, but was not admitted to advanced studies.
In 1928 his first job was in the design office of Gillett, an engineering firm in London. In 1934 Issigonis was invited to join the drawing office at Humber Ltd in Coventry. During this time he started to build a special sprint racer with a friend.
At the age of 30 he worked for the Morris Engineering Department and celebrated his first success with the construction of the Morris Minor. When Morris and Austin merged to form the British Motor Corporation in 1952, Issigonis decided to leave the company. He then moved on to Alvis, where he worked on the development of a luxury saloon, but the project had to be discontinued for cost reasons. Issigonis then went back to the British Motor Corporation, where the influence of many political factors led him to his major breakthrough.
The oil crisis sparked the idea.
For Alec Issigonis it was THE chance to prove himself. The task: a car with lots of space inside with minimum dimensions outside, seats for four passengers, impeccable driving characteristics, superior fuel economy, and a very affordable price. That's exactly what he did. And the result was the creation of more than just an economical car.