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BMC Mini

highly influential small car design Midlands,

Side view of a Mini car with doors and side removed, exposing the insides.
Sectioned BMC Mini car, 1959. Science Museum/ Science 7 Society Picture Library

The Mini represented a unique advance in motorcar design when it was introduced in 1959 by the British Motor Corporation.

The popularity of motoring had increased hugely following the Second World War. But the fuel shortage resulting from the Suez crisis also increased demand for economical cars. Britain had seen a sudden influx of German and Italian ‘bubble’ cars and designers wanted to create a domestic alternative.

Chief among the achievements of designer Alec Issigonis (1906-88) was the space he created in a car only 10 feet (3 metres) long. The key to this was turning the engine sideways and integrating it with the gearbox and final drive. In design terms the car became extraordinarily influential and the compact transverse front engine layout became standard for smaller cars from all makers.

Science Museum

Decade
Type
Engineering,
Region
Midlands
Location
British Motor Corporation, Longbridge, Birmingham
Key Individuals
Alec Issigonis, British Motor Corporation,