Mini: An Innovative Blend of Style, Economy, and Performance
The Mini was developed in response to the 1956 Suez Crisis, which caused a fuel shortage that forced the UK to ration the commodity. People needed an affordable, compact vehicle that used fuel conservatively. The result is the irresistibly charming car that no one would fail to recognize. The Mini, with its iconic miniature car design, quickly became the ideal, fuel-efficient family car. This image was transformed in 1961 when racing legend John Cooper worked with Mini designer Sir Alec Issigonis to develop a performance car that would dominate the racetrack.
The Mini Cooper and the Mini Cooper S: Giants of the Monte Carlo Rally Scene
John Cooper's experience building Formula One race cars was put to use in developing the Mini Cooper and the Mini Cooper S, which, at 76 horsepower, had more than twice the power of the Classic Mini. It also had bigger, servo-assisted disc brakes and an improved suspension system. Starting with the Mini Cooper's 1962 victory delivered by Pat Moss, the Mini Cooper S would go on to win the 1964, 1965, and 1967 Monte Carlo Rallies. Three Mini Coopers initially had a clean sweep in the 1966 rally by taking the first, second, and third places. However, the judges disqualified the Mini Coopers on a technicality with the headlights. Seven other cars were disqualified in that controversial event that came to be known as "the Monte Carlo Fiasco." Despite the controversy, the Mini Cooper's superior performance could not be denied.
The Mini John Cooper Works series: Continuing the legacy of a racetrack legend
Newer technologies have further improved the power and performance of this classic vehicle, giving rise to the Mini John Cooper Works series. Named after the legendary automaker, this series features cutting-edge enhancements such as a 208-horsepower, twin-scroll engine that can generate 192 lb-ft of torque, and 4-piston aluminum Brembo front brake calipers with huge, 12.4-inch, ventilated brakes discs designed to deal with all that power. Handling has never been better with the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system for automatic stability and the Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) system for better traction and engine response. The driver can switch between modes at the push of a button. Like its predecessors, the Mini John Cooper Works World Rally Car proved itself on the racetrack by placing second on the 2012 Monte Carlo Rally, clearing 1,101.39 miles in just four hours and 35 minutes.
And with its classic look and above-average gas mileage (consistently 30 mpg or higher), the Mini continues to be the stylishly compact, fuel-efficient, family car.
The Mini in Film
When it comes to exciting car chases in films, people usually imagine high-performance race cars, sleek, turbo-charged street cars, or hulking behemoths tearing down the street in a cacophony of engine roars, tire squeals, and crashes. But the humble Mini, with its small, compact form, is also a giant of the silver screen. Here are some of the Mini's best-known appearances.
The Italian Job Movies
Mini Coopers are prominently featured in The Italian Job (1969) and a 2003 American remake of the same name. In the earlier movie, the protagonist (played by Michael Caine) and his friends made their getaway in three Mark 1 Austin Cooper S cars. The excellent handling capabilities of the vehicle were showcased as the Mini Austin Coopers made tight turns in the Alps near the end of the movie. In the remake, Charlize Theron skillfully drives a classic Mini Cooper to easily weave her way through rush-hour traffic. Later on, three newer, Rover-produced Mini Coopers are shown to be ideal heist vehicles as the protagonists (led by Mark Wahlberg's character) prepare to use them inside a mansion to steal around 35 million dollars worth of gold. Those same Mini Coopers are used in a climactic car chase through the streets and subway system of Los Angeles.
Mr. Bean's vehicle of choice
Mr. Bean, one of the UK's most beloved comedic icons, drives a British Leyland Mini 1000. The car is involved in much of the comedy. Mr. Bean has attempted to get dressed in it, avoid a parking toll with it, and even drive it from an armchair strapped on top of it. At one point, his Mini Cooper even gets crushed by a tank. Mr. Bean's lime-green Mini is currently on display at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu.
A yellow 1978 British Leland Mini 1000 treks through New Zealand in the 1981 film Goodbye Pork Pie.
A 1999 Rover Mini Cooper LE is shown to be part of Lara Croft's collection in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001).
Jason Bourne (played by Matt Damon) evades capture by tearing through the streets of Paris in an Austin Mini Cooper in The Bourne Identity.