Originally designed by the British Motor Corporation (a company formed by the merger of British auto manufacturers Austin and Morris), the Mini launched in 1959 and has since become one of the most iconic vehicles in history.
The Mini was sold under both the Austin and Morris nameplates, and eventually became its own marque.
Note: In 1994, BMW acquired the Mini brand and began producing retro-inspired modern Minis in 2000. Despite the name and styling cues, the BMW Mini is mechanically unrelated to the original.
Much like the Volkswagen Beetle, the Mini endured with minor changes for several decades. It was produced for multiple markets and built under license by different manufacturers across the globe, in places like England, Belgium, Venezuela, Portugal, South Africa, and New Zealand.
The final original Mini, a Mk. VIII, rolled off the assembly line in 2000.
In addition to excelling as an efficient people mover, the Mini’s performance variant, the “Cooper,” earned an impressive resume on the track—notching victories in events like the British Saloon Car Championship and Group 2 Rally Racing.
The Mini featured in this Lot Shots rolled into the Summit Racing retail store parking lot on a sunny afternoon. We were fortunate to bump into the owner, who was able to give us some good insight into the Mini. He pointed out some of the curiosities about the car, such as its longitudinally mounted radiator and spring-less suspension. (Most vintage Minis actually ride on hard rubber bushings in lieu of leaf or coil springs).
This particular Mini is considered a Mk. III (1969-76) and is easily identifiable by its hidden door hinges, replacing the exposed hinges of the earlier two generations.
It’s a Mini 1000, which refers to its 998cc engine. That motor was good for about 34 horsepower and a top speed just above 70 mph.
The owner tells us its mostly stock, save for some custom interior bits, a recent repaint, and black fender flares pulled from a later model.
During our impromptu parking lot interview, and new generation BMW-era Mini pulled into an adjacent lot space, giving us a good demonstration of the original’s diminutive size.
The early minis were fitted with “hydrolastic” suspension, which was effectively an early form of airbags (connected front to rear on each side). And, like the early forms of anything, they were pretty much rubbish, leading to them, indeed, riding on the rubber bump stops.
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