In 1956, amid fuel shortages in a number of countries including the ÚK due to the crisis in the Gulf of Suez, there was a pressing need to design a fuel-efficient car. Lord Nuffield of British Motor Corporation (BMC) charged this chief designer, Sir Alec Issigonis to create an 'orderly saloon,' that could still compete with the onslaught of fuel-efficient microcars on the market. The first Classic Mini made its debut on August 26, 1959. The Classic Mini was the first mass-produced automobile with a transversally placed engine. It fit 4 adults, was gas-frugal, had great handling, and was priced under $800! The placement of the engine created a commodious passenger area and allowed a proportionately large wheelbase: the Classic Mini became the first sedan to truly handle like a sports car.
Later, Queen Elizabeth II was seen behind the wheel of a Classic Mini and sales began to take off. After a series of celebrities bought Classic Minis, the car became a 'must-have' auto, and over the decades it has become the most popular British car ever made with over 5.3 million units sold. It influenced the design of Mary Quant's mini-skirt and in a poll organized by Autocar Magazine in 1995, Classic Mini was named their Car of the Century. In 1996 a panel of experts from Classic and Sportscar magazine voted Classic Mini to be the 'No. 1 Classic Car of All Time,' and in 1999, an international panel of judges voted Classic Mini to be the European Car of the Century, taking second place in the Global Car of the Century Competition, topped only by the Ford Model T.Why Are They Called the Mini Cooper and MINI Cooper S?
In 1961, legendary British race driver John Cooper re-tooled the Classic Mini to create a higher performance, racing version. He gave it a more powerful engine, higher and closer gear ratios, better brakes, wider tires, a color-contrasting roof to stand out in the crowd, and the Mini Cooper was born. A few years later, Cooper boosted his version of the Classic Mini even more, creating the purest racing car, the Mini Cooper S, in 1963.
As time went on, the Mini Cooper became a racing phenomenon, winning 3 times at Monte Carlo (1964, 1965 and 1967) and taking home first place in numerous other races on the international rally circuit.Were Minis ever sold in the ÚS Market?
Why Did Mini Leave the ÚS?
Between 1960 and 1967 about 10,000 Classic Minis were sold in the ÚS. The stay was brief, however, the Classic Minis left their mark with dozens of Classic Mini Owner's Clubs still thriving in the ÚS to this day.
In 1968, the ÚS Government issued new Safety and Emissions Regulations that, at the time, MINI was not prepared to implement. So we lost our green card.Source - Mini USA