The original Mini has been named the best British-built car of all time according to Britain’s most influential car bosses and Auto Express. The original Mini beat the likes of the E-Type Jaguar and the Land Rover Defender to the top spot after a rigorous voting process to find the best-British built car.
Beating 75 models that rolled off production lines in the UK, the judges picked their top 10. This was based on sales, groundbreaking design or unbeatable performance. Judges included Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer and Ian Robertson, BMW’s sales and brand board member.
Which other cars were contesting for the top spot?
The Jaguar E-Type came second with the Land Rover Defender in third. With all three fighting off the Aston Martin DB5, the McLaren F1, the Ford Escort MK1 and the Lotus Elise to the top three. Others included the Ford GT40 and the Lotus Seven. You can see the Top Ten below;
- Jaguar E-Type
- Land Rover Defender
- Aston Martin DB5
- McLaren F1
- Range Rover Mk1
- Ford GT40
- Caterham/Lotus Seven
- Ford Escort Mk1
- Lotus Elise
Steve Fowler, Auto Express Editor-in-Chief told motors.co.uk “This survey is a reminder of how many iconic cars Britain has produced over the years. So many of our Top 50 cars redefined segments and pushed the boundaries of what was possible. The spirit of innovation which created models as diverse as the Mini, E-Type and Defender continues today and the British automotive industry should be proud of its achievements and confident of the future.”
When was the Mini first built?
Mini was first produced in 1959 by British Motor Corporation. It was designed to allow 80% of the area of the car’s floorplan to be used for passengers and luggage.
The economy car was designed by Sir Alec Issigonis and has been manufactured in the Longbridge and Cowley plants. It was also made in several factories across the world including in Australia, Belgium, Chile and Malta.
Mini was marketed under the Austin and Morris names as the Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor. The Austin Seven was renamed Austin Mini in 1962 and it was in 1969 that Mini became a marque in its own right.
In 1994, BMW acquired the Rover Group, the former British Leyland. It sold most of it in 2000, but retained the right to build cars using the Mini name.
While sales of the first Mini were slow at first, sales strengthened in the 1960s and production totalled 1,190,000. Mini entered popular culture in the 1960s, becoming British cultural icon. It was owned by the likes of Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Steve McQueen and Madonna. It was also made famous in the cult movie The Italian Job.
In between the decades, it was manufactured, the Mini underwent a number of changes and had numerous special editions. But it always maintained its fundamental character and layout. Some of the special editions include the Mini Mayfair, the Mini Ritz and the Mini Chelsea. Of course, we can’t forget the Mini Paul Smith, which also came with a special Paul Smith denim jacket and tool bag. And the several Mini Coopers.
The Minis, designed by John Cooper, came in several editions. Including the Mini Cooper RSP, the Mini Cooper Monte Carlo and the Mini John Cooper that was launched in 1999. The Mini Cooper Sport 500 was the last Mini to ever use the Issigonis design and was launched in 2000.
Wasn’t it also a champion on the track?
The Mini was also well known for its performance on the race track, performing in international rallies and other motorsport. Notably, the Mini had success in the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965 and 1967. As well as the 1000 Lakes Rally in 1965, 1966, and 1967. It also dominated all of the first 9 positions in the 1966 Gallaher 500 Bathurst.
The Mini also won the British Rally Championship in 1962, 1963 and 1970. As well as the European Rally Championship in 1965 and 1966. It also had success at the 1963 Armstrong 500, winning every year until 1969.
Is this the first award Mini have won?
This isn’t the only award Mini have won and in 1999 they won second place for “Global” Car of the Century, coming second only to the Model T Ford. It did, however, win the “European Car of the Century”.
It also won Autocar’s Car of the Century in 1995 and Number One Classic Car of All Time by Classic & Sports Car magazine in 1996. By the time the production of the Mini ended, 5.3 million were sold which meant it is the most popular British car ever made.
Other cars built in the UK include Aston Martins, which are built in Warwickshire, Bentley who manufacture their cars in Crewe (including the Mulsanne four-door saloon), Rolls-Royce, who are also owned by BMW but still manufactured in Goodwood in West Sussex. And of course, Land Rover and Range Rover.
While there may be more glamorous British-built cars than the Mini, its history and Britishness is unparalleled. And has been a British icon for decades meaning that it’s award as Best of British is well deserved. Do you agree? Or do you think another British-built car should have taken the top spot? Comment below! You can read our reviews of the current Minis available here.