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May 14, 2024

Mini facts #57

Our cute little pocket rockets, designed by Alex Issigonis, have claim to fame with some very interesting historic facts:

Already a world record holder

Twenty-eight female gymnasts from Sussex set a record when they crammed themselves into a Mini Cooper outside the Tower of London. As far as we know, it’s still a record.

The Issigonis ashtray ‘a must ‘

Alec Issigonis was a big smoker and as a result he had a large ashtray installed in the original Mini, in place of a radio. Music, he said, was  unnecessary, but an ashtray was a must. Radios were eventually added in later models. (Risky decision in an era when Elvis and Bobby Darin were revolutionizing the teenagers)

Gin’s in

Issigonis liked a drink or two, and the extra space provided by the sliding windows was intended for extra storage for a bottle of Gordon’s gin which was his favourite tipple.

Stirling cross?

Racing driver Stirling Moss was banned from driving for a year in 1961 after being caught speeding while test driving a Mini to pick up his Sunday newspaper.

A lot of nuts in an Issigonis Mini

We haven’t actually counted them but we are reliably informed there were 3,016 screws, nuts and bolts in a typical Issigonis Mini, and each car took about 30 hours to assemble. In the 1990s the Japanese could build a Nissan Micra in just six hours.

The Fab Four were Mini fans

All 4 members of The Beatles owned Mini Coopers. Ringo Starr’ modified his to provide more boot space for his drum kit. Guitars owned by Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison fitted snugly on the back seats of their vehicles.

The ultimate Mini movie

The Mini have been widely used on TV and in films, and most famously in the 1969 gold heist caper, ‘The Italian Job’ . Fourteen Minis were used during filming with daring scenes driving up and down steps, from rooftop to rooftop and through the sewers of Turin. The film starred Michael Caine and Noel Coward. (bet there was no photoshopping then)

But how could we forget Rowan Atkinson and his mini, challenging the parking lot barrier.

A few other famous and proud owners of a mini: Enzo Ferrari, David Bowie, Steve McQueen, Kate Moss, and Madonna.

That is some legacy Alec Issigonis.

Other designs by Alec Issigonis.

Austin 1100
Austin 1800
Austin Maxi 1980