Born: 1959, Great-Britain
Designer: Alec Issigonis
Context: 1956 Oil Crisis caused by closure of Suez Canal
In a few words: The Austin Mini is the most significant automotive design of the second half of the 20th century.
Transformational Value: First mass produced car with transverse mounted engine and gearbox, a technical solution copied by practically all automobile manufacturers.
Story: Designed by Greek-born British engineer Alec Issigonis, the Mini was Britain’s answer to the oil shortage sparked by the 1956 Suez Crisis. The objective was to create a car for four adult occupants, yet limited to 3 meters in length. This was accomplished by placing the engine sideways and giving the car tiny 10 inch wheels placed at the four corners. Within a few years, the transverse front engine design was copied by practically every manufacturer and remains today the design of choice for most small and front-wheel drive cars on the market.
John Cooper started modifying the Mini in 1963 for more performance, creating the Mini Cooper and the Mini Cooper S, the car exhibited here.
Wheelbase / Length / Weight: 203 cm / 305 cm / 630 kg
Front-wheel drive, 4 cylinders, 1275 cc, 76 hp, 4 speed manual
Owner: Jill Terry