Image credits: © MINI.

2005 MINI Concept Tokyo

Sophisticated Ambience and Innovative Style in All Walks of Life.

Únusual, nimble, clever – right from the start, Mini was the ideal companion for the genuine trendsetter. And then, in the early '60s, a special model emphasising outdoor activities, sportsmanship, the opportunity to travel to the country with your friends, and the quest for travelling afar joined that sophisticated British lifestyle: The Mini Traveller with its extended wheelbase, a slightly raised roofline, and practical doors at the rear was exactly the right companion for all these requirements. A car combining the unique chic of Mini with extra space. And so the Mini Traveller always took you to your destination in genuine style.

Forty-five years after the debut of the Mini Traveller in September 1960, MINI, taking up the motto of this year's Tokyo Motor Show – 'Driving Tomorrow' – is launching a design study with numerous innovative ideas: MINI Concept Tokyo interprets the basic philosophy of the 'travelling' Englishman in new and very emotional style at the beginning of the 21st century, at the same time creating a powerful link to the original Mini and that unique British heritage.

Indeed, many features are somehow well-acquainted, but everything is new: The unique overall appearance of the car, its front and side view, as well as numerous design details which have long become genuine icons are typical of MINI. Various innovations both inside and outside are also characteristic of the brand, including wide opening doors with intelligent parallelogram kinematics as well as the coupé-like look of the car without a B-pillar.

Yet a further highlight of the Concept Car is its new silver metallic paintwork complete with exquisite materials within the interior. After all, MINI Concept Tokyo bears reference to its fore-father inter alia through the car's elegant estate design, a symmetrically split double door at the rear, and split side windows for the passengers sitting at the back.

Perhaps the most outstanding highlight of MINI Concept Tokyo is that all the car's functions are highly practical and serve a defined purpose, just as all design features have been refined to the last detail. Indeed, the name alone has an important meaning, 'MINI' boasting its roots in an urban world, with each issue of the MINI International Magazine being dedicated to an exciting city – which is precisely why the Magazine proudly presented Tokyo back in spring 2002.
MINI Concept Tokyo also pays homage to the venue of this great Motor Show and to MINI fans throughout Japan: Worldwide, the Land of the Rising Sun is among the six most important MINI markets, with the Tokyo Motor Show being held for the first time in 1954 now entering its 'second 50 years'. Go British: Small Luxury for Great Style. New Surfaces and Materials in MINI Concept Tokyo.

Satellite Silver serving as the interchanging silver and grey multi-layer paintwork, white and green leather with constantly changing surfaces and a different feel ranging from rough leather all the way to the seat bottoms and backrests in Chesterfield pattern, innovative glass-fibre tissue and a carbon look on the inner door panels as well as metallic glass-fibre optics in the footwells – all this clearly shows what travelling in genuine British style means to MINI at the beginning of the 21st century. Indeed, the very name 'MINI Concept Tokyo' stands for an exceptional ambience and the clever use of space.

Like the original Mini Traveller, the MINI Concept Car for the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show is designed to give up to four passengers everything they need for every kind of adventure. This is based on new ideas in using the car's space and storage areas, ranging from the Cargo Box in the luggage compartment all the way to the freely hovering driver and front passenger seats.

MINI Concept Tokyo Exterior.

Únmistakable: MINI All the Way.
All you need is just one look: MINI Concept Tokyo, just like the 'regular' MINI, is as 'small as possible and as big as necessary'. Precisely this was the particular challenge facing the MINI Design Team, with MINI Concept Tokyo being a completely unique car all the way from its characteristic hexagon grille to the highly emotional rear doors.

At the same time MINI Concept Tokyo proudly boasts features which have made MINI design a genuine icon over the years and decades. This includes straight shoulder and roof lines, with the shoulder line rising up slightly to the rear, creating the exciting wedge shape of a genuine MINI further accentuated by the greater length of the car.

The wheels moved all the way to the outside, the driver‘s and front passenger's doors very long relative to the overall length of the car (more than 160 cm or 63´´), as well as the characteristic joints and seams around the side direction indicators all bear testimony to the enhanced and even more progressive design language of MINI Concept Tokyo.

The diagonal seam between the side direction indicators and side door is an icon which has grown over the years, dating back to the welding seam on the original Mini. The roof, in turn, appears to be hovering in space thanks to the windows extending all round and the omission of a B-pillar, marking one of the unmistakable styling highlights of the Concept Car together with the door handles so typical of MINI.

Many features appear familiar – but in reality everything is different:
The overall look of the car is firm and smooth, with features such as the wheel arches, the shoulder line and the powerdome receiving particular treatment. MINI Concept Tokyo is therefore a clear statement – it is a car with class and character, a car both muscular and elegant in appearance, a car with an extra-high roof adding functional benefits to its unique look. All this is further accentuated by the headlights integrated into the body of the car and blending perfectly with the engine compartment lid, as well as the hexagonal grille made in one single piece. Clearly, these features give MINI Concept Tokyo a particularly alert and performance-minded, but at the same time a likeable and charming impression.

Engine Compartment Lid Hinging at the Front.
The sporting look of MINI Concept Tokyo is further enhanced by the engine compartment lid hinged at the front, the wheel arches and radiator grille forming one homogeneous component free of seams or joints together with the engine compartment lid. Like on a classic sports car, this entire unit swivels to the front and upwards when opened, the headlights remaining in position. Access to the engine compartment with the lid open is therefore perfect, allowing the beholder to admire sophisticated design and high-quality materials also within the engine compartment. The wheel arches and the entire area around the engine are painted consistently in Satellite Silver, with the power unit being presented almost the same way as in a display cabinet.

Travelling should not only be an experience in style, but also an enjoyable amenity in life. So to ensure perfect harmony of the car's look and its drive power, MINI Concept Tokyo comes with the engine of the MINI Cooper S also clearly characterised by the additional air intake on the engine compartment lid and the twin tailpipes. Obviously, this gives the driver everything he needs for that go-kart feeling so typical of MINI – with its long wheelbase, wide track, short overhangs, and muscular engine.

Side and Rear Doors Opening with Parallelogram Kinematics.
More space inside the car obviously calls for better access from outside. So an important aspect in designing MINI Concept Tokyo was to make the process of entering and loading the car as easy and convenient as possible. Precisely for this reason, focusing on both the driver's and front passenger's doors, as well as the two rear doors, MINI is introducing a new philosophy significantly improving the process of entering and exiting the car as well as loading and unloading in confined space: All four doors come on intelligent suspension units with parallelogram kinematics, the doors swivelling only slightly to the side, but as far front as possible in one single movement.

This minimises the space required around the car for opening the doors, while nevertheless giving the user generous access to the interior. Coupé-Like Design for Optimum Access. Long Side Doors, no B-Pillar, Split Side Windows at the Rear.

Parallelogram kinematics thus turns the sometimes confined opening angle of long coupé doors into an advantage ensured by the very special philosophy of MINI Concept Tokyo, particularly as the side doors on the Concept Car are more than 160 centimetres or 63 inches long. And a further important point is that the side windows, like on all MINIs, are frameless.

This cosmopolitan athlete also takes on various other features of a two-door coupé, again making entering and loading the car as easy as possible. The omission of the B-pillar, for example, creates an optical highlight once again accentuating the dynamic overall look of MINI Concept Tokyo.

The two side windows at the rear, in turn, come in split sections merging smoothly into the front side windows. To open the rear side windows, all you do is press a button and the front section will disappear under electric power beneath the rear section. This principle of split side windows at the rear, incidentally, has been carried over from the classic Traveller and is now re-interpreted on MINI Concept Tokyo. Without a B-pillar and with the windows opening completely both front and rear, MINI Concept Tokyo creates a particularly generous impression you will otherwise only experience in a coupé and convertible. And omission of the B-pillar also improves access to the rear seats.

Larger Wheelbase for More Interior Space. The Cargo Box – Your Butler within the Luggage Compartment. MINI Concept Tokyo offers more space for spontaneous decisions, for example when travelling in style whenever you like. The long wheelbase, for example, helps to increase the space available at the rear. An important
factor contributing to driving characteristics typical of MINI is the characteristic position of the wheels with 'one wheel at each corner of the car'.

To maintain this particular philosophy of MINI, MINI Concept Tokyo has the same short body overhangs as all other MINIs. The two wide-opening rear doors hinged at the sides, in turn, make loading the car very easy and convenient. The completely retracting windows on the rear doors again without a frame not only supply additional fresh air, but also ensure easy access to the luggage compartment, without having to even open the doors.

Behind these rear doors, MINI Concept Tokyo offers lots of space for taking up cargo in the luggage compartment and in the Cargo Box integrated into the floor of the car. Indeed, the Cargo Box is a very helpful 'butler' in handling luggage both small and large. To ensure easy loading, the Cargo Box moves out conveniently at an angle from the luggage compartment – so that then you just place your shopping bags in the Box and let it move down again slowly into the rear section of the car.

A further useful amenity is the transparent cover on the Cargo Box swivelling up when required, and serving, first, as a partition between the passenger area and the loading compartment and, second, as a wind deflector with the rear door windows open. And last but not least, the entire cover on top of the Cargo Box opens by 180o when required, coming to rest on the rear-seat backrests folded down. Then the cover can be pulled to the rear from this horizontal position, extending out between the rear doors for easy and convenient loading.

Intelligent Cargo Roof for Consistent Úse of Space.
MINI Concept Tokyo offers new options even on the roof – for example to make sure you are perfectly prepared for, say, a spur-of-the-moment picnic while on the road. So whatever you happen to have in your picnic basket – delicious sushi, a tea party, or salt'n vinegar crisps – your table and two chairs are already on board, begging you to have a good time even before opening your bottle of champagne: All you do is pull out the rear section of the cargo roof in front of the rear window and remove the round table and two chairs integrated in the roof. To facilitate this process, the rear edge of the cargo roof is designed as a handle for easy operation.
The cargo roof takes up and reflects the particular design of the engine compartment lid with its elevated arches at the side and the centre section rising up to the rear.

Multifunctional Wheel Rims in Brass Look.
Wheels with many features: Introducing multifunctional wheel rims, MINI Concept Tokyo allows the driver to customise the design and look of the car without having to elaborately change the entire wheel. MINI Concept Tokyo presented at the Tokyo Motor Show comes with wheels in 10-spoke design and particularly sophisticated brass looks, the spokes with their cylindrical contours curved to the outside bearing a clear resemblance to the sports rims of the 'regular' MINI Cooper S.

These multifunctional rims are made up of a lightweight carrier section complete with the basic rim and tyre. The carrier wheel features numerous bolting points and mounts allowing the driver to fit easily exchangeable, customised design elements. The wheels are a major design feature on every car. And in the case of MINI these major components everything revolves around not only form the 'cornerstones' of the car in the true sense of the word, but also stand out particularly through their size and calibre.

The Sports Útility Box: Take Along Whatever You Want.
Whether playing cricket, going out for tennis, or enjoying a day at the sea – you obviously need the right equipment to enjoy your time with friends and companions. And MINI Concept Tokyo makes all this very easy: Just hang the matching Sports Útility Box on to the rear side window when opened, put in anything you would like to take along, and that's it! The Sports Útility Box is a multifunctional, interchangeable storage compartment made of stamped leatherette. In its length and height it is a perfect fit for the rear side window when opened, making this exactly the right place for the Sports Útility Box.

To fit the Box in position, all you do is open the vertically split window (with the front section moving back electrically) and hang the lower section of the Sports Útility Box in the window opening. Flaps on both sides of the Sports Útility Box ensure easy and practical loading and unloading both from outside and from the passenger compartment, also making it easy to pass through all kinds of objects. The flat section of the box extends back outside the car all the way to the C-pillar.

MINI Concept Tokyo allows convenient use of several Sports Útility Boxes at the same time, being fitted and used individually, depending on the user's requirements. A Genuine Chameleon in Modern, Aesthetic Style and with the Highlights of British Heritage. Surfaces in MINI Concept Tokyo. MINI Concept Tokyo is taking a new approach not only in technical and functional terms, but also in the design and finish of the car's surfaces. So the MINI Design Team has been really imaginative, the exclusive combination of surfaces in white, green and brass look emanating a flair of modern elegance without ever appearing overdone – rather, MINI concentrates on its key philosophy also in this respect.

Such reserved style in the car's aesthetic looks typical of British understatement is enhanced in two important respects – first, by the exceptional quality and innovative features of the materials used; second, by the exterior colour constantly changing as a function of the beholder's angle of vision while at the same time reflecting the area around the car. So as a result, MINI Concept Tokyo is almost like a chameleon, the car being not only a player, but also the highlight and focal point of the action usually surrounding a MINI.

Satellite Silver Exterior Paintwork.
The exterior paintwork of the MINI Concept Car offers a brand-new rendition of aesthetic style, an exciting dualism of non-metallic and metallic paint: Satellite Silver offers a glistening silver look in the light, while all areas not directly illuminated from the beholder's perspective come out in a distinguished grey colour. MINI achieves this effect by applying the Silver Metallic paintwork in two layers, the colours of both layers varying slightly from point to point. Contours in Black Neoprene. Normally surfers and sailors wear Neoprene suits to protect themselves from cold temperatures. MINI Concept Tokyo, in turn, uses Neoprene to give the exterior a new feel.

Through its special features and material qualities alone, Neoprene offers exciting effects in several respects: The sophisticated, silken-matt surface contrasts with the glossy Satellite Silver of the car's body, with similar distinctive contrasts between the hard surfaces of the doors and wheel arches and the soft foam structure of the Neoprene contours: After being touched, the Neoprene elements automatically take on their original shape again, thus offering a unique feeling never experienced before in the automotive world. Indeed, featuring this material clearly committed to active outdoor sports,
MINI Concept Tokyo powerfully emphasises its sporting appeal.
British Green and Brass Look: The Tradition and Heritage
of MINI Concept Tokyo.

Despite its clear focus on the future of travelling in style, MINI Concept Tokyo – particularly through the materials and colours used – marks a clear link to the 46-year-old tradition of the brand and its British heritage. Dark British Green, for example, is reminiscent of the British history of motorsport starring the Mini as a multiple winner of the Monte Carlo Rally. Indeed, to this very day the MINI Cooper and MINI Cooper S proudly bear the name of one of the most ingenious minds in European motorsport in the '50s and '60s of the last century. A special brass look, in turn, conveys the traditional style and quality so typical of, say, a gentleman's club in London. Viewed from the front, MINI Concept Tokyo proudly boasts its typical, hexagonal grille in brass look – the grille is finished with the hexagonal elements of a classic British sports car. The auxiliary headlights are yet a further reminiscence to the era of MINI's first sporting activities.

The section around the side direction indicators with their diagonal joint and air intake is also a characteristic design feature typical of MINI, a piece of the Únion Jack in brass look adding to the sophisticated style of MINI Concept Tokyo. And to provide the final touch, the spokes on the wheel rims also come in a special brass look for particular style. The exterior around the cargo roof is accentuated by British Green.

The central section of the roof, in turn, comprises an insert in British Green in front of the mount for the picnic set, thus contrasting with the overall finish of the roof in White. Aluminium for a Touch of Lightness and Sophisticated Style. Glossy and matt aluminium accentuate the exterior look of MINI Concept Tokyo, adding a very special additional message particularly where the car proudly bears design features carried over from the classic Traveller.

The rear view of the C-pillars in striking aluminium look, for example, emphasises this powerful heritage. And the radiator grille, the front light surrounds as well as the exhaust tailpipes are also made of aluminium, emanating a blend of high performance and luxury.

MINI All the Day and for Every Purpose. Floating Elements for Particular Interior Design.
Querying the conventional and finding unconventional answers – proceeding from a high level of concept progress and emotional power, MINI Concept Tokyo fulfils this mission in perfection. This also applies to the interior design of the MINI Concept Study, a completely new feeling of space blending perfectly with clever solutions and new ideas for complete enjoyment together with MINI every day. The concept of colours and materials continues the exterior message within the interior, focusing consistently on function, the practical use of space, and genuine value. This creates MINI, that small but fresh dose of luxury for the whole day offering that special something every day, hour, and minute.

Precisely this is why MINI Concept Tokyo reflects many features of the'regular' MINI's interior design ranging from the evolutionary development of the large central instrument via the paddle switches typical of MINI all the way to the much larger, characteristic door panels on the driver's and front passenger's doors in their elliptic shape. And in the process the Concept Car still focuses on details, adding new touches here and there – such as the mobile phone integrated into the steering wheel as a 'third spoke'. Driver's and Front Passenger's Seats 'Hovering' in Space. Free-Standing Suspension and Integrated Belt System.

Opening the driver's and front passenger's door, you will immediately enjoy the elegant and open impression conveyed by MINI Concept Tokyo:
The driver's and front passenger's seats would appear to 'hover' in space, being fitted at the inside directly on the front centre console by special load-bearing arms. This not only gives the rear passengers additional freedom for their feet, but also adds a particular touch of generosity to the floor area as a whole.

This impression is further enhanced by the slender structure of the seats reduced in principle to two bucket elements reminiscent of an open seashell. To give the rear-seat passengers convenient access to the seats at the back, the front seats come with a unique Easy Entry System, moving forward electrically and at the same time swinging to the outside. This turns away the driver's/front passenger's backrests (instead of folding them forward) and ensures convenient access to the second row. Then the seats move back automatically to their original position. As a further feature, the driver's and front passenger's seats come with a seat-integrated bolt system keeping the seat belts within perfect reach at all times and avoiding any obstruction when moving to the rear. Room for Sitting and Loading in the Second Row.

The long wheelbase of the car offers adequate space for two in the second row of seats. The front-seat backrests fold down individually, forming a flat surface together with the floor of the luggage compartment. This facilitates loading conditions from all sides, whether through the rear doors or the driver's/front passenger's doors, enabling the driver and passengers to place bags and other objects conveniently where they belong. The extra-large and flat loading area is also perfect for larger objects and bulky cargo, and the centre armrest positioned horizontally between the two seats is integrated in the flat surface, offering an additional storage compartment.

Opening up wide, the two rear doors allow convenient access to almost the entire cross-section of the interior, keeping the loading sill particularly low. As a result, the passengers benefit from loading capacity quite acceptable for a car of this size, even with both rear-seat backrests in upright position. Cupholders: Everything Where it is Needed and at the Right Temperature.

Two things would obviously be inappropriate in MINI Concept Tokyo: luke-warm tea and luke-warm Coke. So showing its usual consistency, MINI Concept Tokyo offers special 'on-board' service also to meet this challenge: The chrome rings around the air vents at the side fold down to form cupholders at exactly the right place inside the car. First, this keeps your drinks within easy reach at all times. Second, your Coke remains cool on hot days, with fresh air from the air conditioning flowing directly past the cupholders. And on cold winter days, warm air not only de-mists the side windows, but also keeps your tea at the right temperature.

The Interior – Only the Best. Leather, Chrome, and Brass Look Dominating the Interior Finish.

Inside the car, white leather underlines the modern style of MINI Concept Tokyo and the generous space available, at the same time conveying a genuine touch of sophisticated class. Indeed, the colour white accentuates the clear lines of MINI Concept Tokyo all the way from front to rear of the interior.
High-quality leather is featured in various types of surface finish, the headrests as well as the interior panels on the side and rear doors coming in grained cowhide. This distinctly structured leather exudes a feeling of lasting, sporting quality and forms a clear contrast with the white leather on the seat backrests and the steering wheel.

The inserts in the seat bottoms and seat backrests on all four seats, in turn, convey a touch of discreet 'Britishness' combined with an equally convincing feeling of 'vintage' origin: The leather used at these points is finished in the same way as the leather on the armchairs in the typical British club, featuring diamond-shaped sections sewn in Chesterfield style and thickly upholstered, with an additional touch added by stylish buttons. And last but not least, the interior colour is also 'very British', varying from British Green to Bronze, depending on your angle of vision.

A feature of particular interest in optical terms and in its surface feel is the 'hovering' dashboard – and another highlight is the use of particularly 'velvety' leather on the armrests in the side doors offering a particularly fine and gentle touch. Through its white colour alone, this sophisticated leather accentuates the luxurious and imaginative flair emanated by the green armrests, providing a wonderful contrast of colours. And again last but certainly not least, the roof lining comes in extra soft Alcantara feeling almost like silk.

The soft, natural surfaces in pure white are supplemented by cool-looking metallic surfaces and further highlights in British Green. Just one example is the aluminium-coated glass-fibre structure covering the elliptical lining inside the doors, another example being the carbon-fibre look of the footwells.

The inserts in the interior floor, in turn, are made of light-green woven nylon, an innovative material so far only used in the production of furniture. Numerous other features within the interior are made of solid aluminium. The circular instruments and air vents, in turn, come with glossy chrome rings. And as the final highlight, the load-bearing arms on the seats are finished in a matt-brushed surface.

Rotating Centre Speedo with Digital Display.
The large central instrument on the MINI's dashboard is acknowledged as an absolute cult item by aficionados of design icons thrilled by these nimble athletes from Great Britain. Precisely this is why the rotating Centre Speedo in MINI Concept Tokyo is particularly self-confident as a genuine 'point of action' boasting displays both front and rear.

The digital side presents the MINI Cruise Mate complete with an info display for the navigation system and a tuner quite conceivable in future as the central instrument for controlling numerous functions within the car. Turned vertically by 180°, the Centre Speedo then presents an engraved world sphere on the back. And it presents both the road speed of the car as well as your current compass course in both positions.

Driving Tomorrow: Úsing the Key as a Multifunctional Man/MINI Interface. The centre console 'island' between the front seats forms what you might call the 'backbone' of MINI Concept Tokyo: This central unit holds the driver's and front passenger's seats and boasts attractive elements in white china look, creating an unusual highlight also in visual terms.

This is also where all the 'nerves' of the car come together, MINI Concept Tokyo possibly using a start/stop key unit with an integrated clock serving as a multifunctional interface between the user and the car. All you would then have to do is place the key on a control unit at the front of the centre console serving as a push button.

The MINI Design Team could well image using this little 'genius' for all kinds of functions ranging from engine start/stop via individual adjustment functions in the car itself (seats, air conditioning, audio system) all the way to controlling the MP3 player.

Source - BMW Automotive Group
The British Motor Corporation came into existence in 1952 by the merging of two manufacturers, Nuffield Motors and Austin. Nuffield was known for its Morris line of vehicles, while Austin had its 'Seven' model line. The transition for the two manufacturers was difficult and had been forced out of necessity. After World War II, many vehicle manufacturers could not stay in business due to destroyed factories, recovering economies, strained resources, and lack of funds. Combining the two companies was a means to stay in business.

A fuel shortage was occurring. German engineers quickly adapted and began producing fuel-efficient vehicles. Examples include the Volkswagen Beetle. Leonard Lord, Chairman of BMC and former head of Austin, commissioned Sir Alec Issigonis to design a vehicle to compete with the German-made vehicles.

Alec Issigonis was a graduate of Battersea Technical College. After graduation he worked as a draftsman for a plethora of engineering projects. Later, he joined Morris Motors where he was tasked with creating and fitting suspensions to the Morris vehicles.

Issigonis was outfitted with requirements to create a fuel-efficient, affordable, safe vehicle capable of carrying four individuals including luggage. To save on development costs, it was requested that an existing BMC engine be used. What he created was a vehicle that sat atop of 10 inch wheels. By using smaller wheels there was little need for wheel wells.

The car was expected to carry four individuals; the combined weight of the passengers being greater than the entire vehicle. A suspension was needed that could accept this pay-load. With his prior experience creating and working with suspensions, Issigonis designed a rubber cone suspension.

A 950 cc, four cylinder, BMC engine was selected. It was mounted in the front and expected to power the front wheels, a system that was revolutionary at the time. Instead of mounting the engine longitudinally, it was place transversely. The transmission was place under the engine due to space constraints.

When Issigonis presented his designs and recommendations to Lord in 1958, changes were requested. Instead of the 950 cc engine, a 34 horsepower, 848 cc engine would be used, making the vehicle slower but more importantly, more safe. The other request was to make the vehicle two inches wider.

There were two versions of the car when it was first introduced on August 26, 1959. The only difference between the 1959 Austin and Morris versions was their badges.

John Cooper had designed vehicles that successfully won the Formula One championships in 1959 and 1960.

He proposed a marriage between his 1000 cc Formula Junior engine with the Mini. Lord approved the idea and in 1961 the Mini Cooper was born. It was fitted with a 997 cc engine producing 55 horsepower. Later, the Cooper S came into being with the advent of the 970 cc and the 1275 cc engine - the latter capable of 76 horsepower.

From 1964 through 1967 the little car dominated the Monte Carlo Rally. The car easily achieved these victories using a 91 horsepower engine.

Minis became more than just a practical car, they became a fashion statement. This, combined with their practicality, fuel efficiency, and success on the race track, created an overwhelming demand for the little car.

In the 1980's, the Mini was starting to loose momentum. Rover tried to revitalize the Mini brand by creating special editions. In all, there were more than 40 different editions created between 1980 and 2000.

A merger with British Motor Corporation and another company produced the Britsh Leyland Company. Later, it became Rover Group. Currently, it is owned by BMW.

In 2001, BMW introduced the MINI. The MINI currently has three Cooper models. Their main differences being the size of the engine and the horsepower rating. A convertible has also been included to the line-up.

By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2007

Three generations of driving fun: The MINI Cooper and MINI Cooper S through the years.

For three generations and over 50 years, the Cooper name has identified a MINI offering even more in the way of driving fun. The idea, hatched by brilliant Formula One designer John Cooper, to fuel the agile small car with an extra hit of performance and turn it into a sporting machine for the road and track has lost none of its appeal. But the Cooper has never been about horsepower, as a comparison between the classic Mini and its two successors resoundingly proves. The key here is the basic principle of the creative use of space, combined with the inimitable go-kart feeling that runs like a thread through the three generations of the legendary small car. These famous handling traits are enjoyed by drivers on bendy country roads and city streets around the world, with the classic Mini and 21st-century MINI still regularly crossing each other's path.

The small British car positively craves twists and turns demanding quick and precise changes in direction; this is where it feels most at home. The classic Mini was tailor-made for tackling hairpins and corner-strewn roads, and it still looks the part today – aided by the healthy 46 kW/63 hp available in a Mini Cooper towards the end of its production run. The classic Cooper was built up to autumn 2000, by which time its successor was already twitching in the starting blocks. In contrast to the original Mini, the new model was available in Cooper guise from the outset. And with 85 kW/115 hp under the bonnet, it would do its nameplate proud. From the word go, the car's powerplant and chassis formed a harmonious alliance to deliver unbeatable driving fun. As John Cooper realised, sometimes you actually can't have too much of a good thing. 50 years ago he unveiled the 70 hp Mini Cooper S. And today, its youngest descendant places 135 kW/184 hp at the disposal of its driver. As if that wasn't enough, the turbocharged engine powering the latest MINI Cooper S also sets the benchmark for efficiency in its output class.

When Alec Issigonis set out to develop a new small car for the British Motor Corporation in the mid-1950s, his priorities were space and price. Indeed, at a touch over three metres in length, the classic Mini offered astonishingly generous accommodation for passengers and their gear alike. Issigonis settled on a front transverse installation for the four-cylinder engine, under which lay the gearbox, plumb between the wheels. The positioning of those wheels at the far corners of the car and the Mini's short overhangs did the rest. The Mini was small on the outside but roomy on the inside, not to mention – at around 600 kilograms – extremely light. The principles underpinning its design remain the template for small and compact cars in the modern era.

However, it was left to another key figure in the brand's history to uncover the vast well of sporting talent under that diminutive shell. John Cooper, a friend and business partner of Mini creator Issigonis and winner of two Formula One constructors' world titles, was quick to spot the car's dynamic potential, and in 1961 the first Mini Cooper hit the roads. Production of the Cooper was temporarily suspended in the 1970s, but by that time the Mini Cooper badge had long since become the signature of a sporty and agile small car.

As well as the intervention of John Cooper, the launch of this famous sporting career also relied on the brilliance of the classic Mini's chassis. Issigonis had broken new ground with the steering and suspension of his new creation, and in so doing laid the foundations for the go-kart feeling appreciated by drivers to this day. Homokinetic joints reduced torque steer, a subframe (to which the rear wheels were fixed) improved directional stability, and rubber springs and small telescopic dampers ensured accurate responses and progressive spring action. The wealth of ideas packed into this small car still impresses. And the result of those ideas – the classic Mini's much-celebrated handling – explains why the car continues to enjoy such a loyal community of fans. When the successor to the original car came along in 2001, it was clear that highly advanced chassis technology would be needed in order to set the pace in driving fun all over again. The MINI Cooper rose to the challenge in some style, thanks to MacPherson spring struts at the front axle, axle shafts equal in length, a multi-link rear axle unique in the small car segment, disc brakes on all four wheels, and DSC (Dynamic Stability Control).

The latest-generation MINI Cooper S also features Electric Power Steering with Servotronic function and a DSC system including DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) and an electronic locking function for the front axle differential. Known as Electronic Differential Lock Control (EDLC), this system gives the MINI a crucial edge through the tight bends of Alpine passes, for example, by braking a spinning wheel as required to enhance drive out of corners as well as the car's steering properties. Added to which, pressing the standard Sport Button in the MINI Cooper S makes the steering even more direct and stirs up a particularly sporty soundtrack from the engine. All of this was unimaginable 50 years ago, of course, but you get the impression John Cooper would have wholeheartedly approved.

Source - BMW

Concepts by MINI

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Seat Announces UK Pricing And Specification For New Ateca Fr

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Prices range from £17,055 to £30,085 Retailers open Octavia order books on 25 January* Revised model features striking new front end design and new technologies Range includes Hatch and Estate var...


Kias first-ever D-segment tourer makes debut at 2016 Geneva Motor Show Design inspired by 2015 Kia SPORTSPACE Concept 553-litre cargo capacity and versatile 402040 split-fold rear seats High st...


The most successful European car of all time turns 40 More than 30 million Golf models have been sold worldwide Car went on sale in Europe in May 1974, was sold in the U.S. from December that year a...
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