What can we say that hasn’t already been said about the original Austin Mini, the first and best of all the compact cars?
The concept by Sir Alec Issigonis was stunning – turning the 850cc A-series engine east-west, mounting it on top of the gearbox and then shoehorning it all into a little engine bay was a brilliant concept; so good, in fact, that that is still followed by most manufacturers today. A body designed to have a revolutionary ten-inch wheel at each corner further minimised the intrusion of mechanical components into the cabin, leaving loads of room inside the little car for two adults in the front and three sprogs across the back seat.
Marketed at first under both the Austin and Morris brand names (the title Mini came a little later) at an achievable price (under £500), it all but killed the then working man’s transport of the motorcycle and sidecar overnight. The Mini became a social phenomenon – never before had a car managed to cross the class barriers so completely. You could find a Mini parked outside a terraced house in Leicester or just as equally garaged in the carriage house of a stately home.
If you have ever owned a classic Mini it will be only be remembered affectionately – they are just that sort of car.