The MINI Story – a virtual museum tour delivered to you online

Take a 360° video joyride through the MINI Virtual Museum. See incredible films, rare MINI and more.

Source: The MINI Story, MiniUSA

For a short synopsis, “You don’t have to travel to Europe to see the new MINI museum exhibit. We’ve mapped out the entire experience with our 360° video technology. Sit behind the wheel of MINI Concept models, pore over the motorsports exhibits like you were actually there, and relive the entire, fascinating story of MINI,” said MINI USA in a recent announcement. Cool stuff.

MINI turns 55: a small car with a great history – and IMM Pics, lots of em!

Classic Mini

When the first classic Mini, made in Birmingham, went on the market on August 18th 1959, none of the people involved at the time are likely to have imagined that the concept of a revolutionary small car would turn into one of the automotive industry’s most impressive success stories stretching over a period of five and half decades. 55 years ago, two models were presented to the public which differed solely in their radiator grille, hub caps and paint finishes: the Morris Mini Minor and the Austin Seven. Designer Alec Issigonis’ concept was both simple and ingenious: lots of interior space combined with minimum exterior dimensions, four seats, perfect driving properties, low fuel consumption and a reasonable price. These brilliant ideas had an impact that was to extend into the 21st century.

New MINI

The brand’s underlying principle was confirmed once more when it was restarted with the market launch of the MINI in 2001: a superior concept gained popularity in a range of different forms and eventually became firmly established. Since then MINI has combined the classic values of the early generations with the demands of a modern automobile. Very few vehicle concepts have survived for such a long period of time or gained a comparable level of popularity – and no other concept has been applied to such a wide variety of versions as is the case with MINI.

Today and beyond?

Today the range comprises a large number of models: starting with the classic body variant of the MINI, it includes the MINI Clubman, the MINI Convertible, the MINI Coupé and the MINI Roadster, going right through to the MINI Countryman and the MINI Paceman. The brand began another fresh chapter of its success story in spring 2014 when the new MINI went on the market. An entirely new variant in the model program follows in autumn 2014 – the  MINI 5 door.

All models share unsurpassed elegance, highly stable value retention, unbeatable handling, outstanding safety, unrivalled sporty flair, an expressive and instantly recognisable design and uncompromising quality at premium level. The combination of different qualities is as modern today as it was 55 years ago and the concept is younger than ever.

IMM 2014

On the first weekend in August, members of the classic Mini and the new MINI community met in the county of Kent to celebrate the most successful and most popular British small car on its 55th anniversary. MINI enthusiasts were just as impressed by the new generation of the original in the premium segment of small cars as they were by some of its ancestors that were to be seen on the grounds. The vehicles on show ranged from one of the very first cars of the brand dating back to 1960 to a classic Mini Clubman Estate and a classic 25 Special Edition Mini from 1984 through to one of the last classic Minis ever built from the year 2000. Guests of honour at the anniversary included Paddy Hopkirk, who achieved the brand’s first win at the Monte Carlo Rally in a Mini Cooper S 50 years ago and Russ Swift, who demonstrated some of his unique stunts and tricks. Fans of the brand traditionally get together at the International Mini Meeting to demonstrate their passion for the world’s most famous small car. This year they designed and produced hundreds of individual stickers featuring messages and pictures. The best designs will be on show later this year at a big MINI exhibition at the BMW Museum in Munich. The International Mini Meeting (IMM) was first held in Germany in 1978 – at that time it was a relatively small-scale three-day camping event. Its popularity increased from one year to the next, however, with fans prepared to travel further and further until the organisers finally decided to turn it into an international meet-up. The IMM takes place in a different country every year, but it returns to the UK every five years to mark the brand’s anniversary in August.

[Source: BMW Group, Munich]

Can you believe it was 50 years ago Mini won the Monte Carlo with Paddy Hopkirk?

A big victory for the small car: 50 years ago the classic Mini won the Monte Carlo Rally for the first time. Paddy Hopkirk made the one-off British small car a motor sport legend in January 1964 – Timo Mäkinen and Rauno Aaltonen repeated the triumph in 1965 and 1967.

[reprint of BMW Press Release/story, courtesy of BMW Group AG]

Small car, huge win: it is now 50 years since one of the most spectacular victories in the history of international motor sport. On 21 January 1964, the Mini Cooper S won the Monte Carlo Rally for the first time. It was the pairing of Northern Ireland’s Patrick (“Paddy”) Hopkirk and his co-driver Henry Liddon that pulled off the big surprise, resisting the supposed superiority of significantly more powerful rivals in their small British car. Its faultless run over country roads and mountain passes, ice and snow, tight corners and steep gradients laid the foundations for the underdog-turned-giant-slayer to cement itself in both the hearts of the public and the annals of motor sport legend. Indeed, the classic Mini’s dominance of the Monte Carlo Rally continued over the years that followed, Hopkirk’s Finnish team-mates Timo Mäkinen and Rauno Aaltonen adding two further overall victories – in 1965 and 1967 – to the British manufacturer’s collection.

Now 80 years old, Paddy Hopkirk’s eyes still light up when he recalls the driving qualities of his winning car: “Although the Mini was only a little family saloon, technically it had a lot of advantages. Its front-wheel drive and front-mounted transverse engine were a great advantage, and the fact the car was smaller and the roads were ploughed, they were quite narrow, so I suppose that was an advantage. We were very lucky – the car was right, everything happened at the right time and came together at the right moment.”

It was the legendary “Night of the Long Knives”, the penultimate stage of the Monte, which put the Mini Cooper S with car number 37 and the now famous licence plate 33 EJB on course for victory that winter of 1964. Hopkirk crossed the finish line just 17 seconds off the pace set by his chief adversary Bo Ljungfeldt in the far more powerful V8-powered Ford Falcon. The handicap formula at the time – designed to even out the weight and power differences between the various cars – meant the classic Mini actually led the way in the overall standings. And Hopkirk defended his advantage in the sprint through the streets of Monte Carlo that rounded off the rally. At the winner’s ceremony he shared the cheers of the crowed with his team-mates. Timo Mäkinen’s fourth-place finish and Rauno Aaltonen’s seventh overall set the seal on the success of the Mini Cooper S and ushered in the era of the “Three Musketeers” in the Monte Carlo Rally.

The classic Mini’s victory was celebrated with particular excitement in its native Britain. Hopkirk received a congratulatory telegram from the British government and the Beatles were also among those leading the applause. “I got a telegram from the Beatles,” remembers Hopkirk. “That was followed by a photograph of the four of them autographed to me saying: ‘You’re one of us now, Paddy.’ And it’s very nice to have that nowadays.”

The triumph of the classic Mini in the Monte was lauded as a sensation by motor sport fans around the world. But this wasn’t a success that came entirely out of the blue: the small car developed by Alec Issigonis, then Deputy Technical Director at the British Motor Corporation, possessed an inherent sporting talent from birth. The first person to spot this potential was John Cooper. The sports car designer was the driving force behind construction of a more powerful version of the car. The Mini produced only 34 hp at launch, but its front-wheel drive, low weight, wide track and comparatively long wheelbase made it an extremely agile four-seater and paved the way for its forays onto race circuits and rally courses.

As early as 1960, big-name racing drivers like Graham Hill, Jack Brabham and Jim Clark were spotted testing the cornering flair of the John Cooper-tuned small car on the Silverstone Formula One track. However, the classic Mini was most at home in rally racing. Patt Moss, sister of grand prix driver Stirling Moss, piloted it to wins in the Tulip Rally and Baden-Baden Rally in 1962. And by the following year, the diminutive British car was ready to burst into the public consciousness at the Monte Carlo Rally. Preceding years had been a tough learning experience for the works team, but now they would make people sit up and take notice. Rauno Aaltonen and Paddy Hopkirk drove the 55 hp Mini Cooper to a 1-2 finish in their class, which was good enough for third and sixth places overall.

It was clear that the classic Mini was better equipped than any other car to pull off the classic David vs Goliath act. John Cooper had long suspected that the car had what it took. Back in 1959 he instructed Roy Salvadori to drive a prototype to the Italian Grand Prix in Monza. The journey itself turned into a race between Salvadori and fellow racing driver Reg Parnell at the wheel of an Aston Martin DB4. The result confirmed what Cooper had foreseen in his mind’s eye: the Cooper-prepared classic Mini arrived around an hour earlier than the much more powerful Aston.

Identifiable from a distance with their tartan red bodywork and white roofs, the six small racers dispatched by the BMC works team for the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964 were – at least on paper – fighting against the tide once more. The Mini Cooper S lined up at the start for the first time. Its new four-cylinder engine now had an increased 1071cc capacity and output had also been boosted to around 90 hp. This was a lot more than in previous years but still modest in the face of competition from the likes of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SE and Ford Falcon, whose six-cylinder and V8 units had three or four times more power at their disposal.

The 33rd edition of the Monte Carlo Rally began – as was traditional at the time – with a nod to the origins of the event, the cars starting from nine European cities before converging on the French city of Reims. The Hopkirk/Liddon partnership got their journey with the Mini Cooper S under way in Minsk, while for Rauno Aaltonen and Tony Ambrose the Monte adventure started in Oslo, and Timo Mäkinen and Patrick Vanson set off from Paris. The classic Mini successfully negotiated all these journeys and all six works cars were able to take their place in the 277-strong field in Reims. The first stage of the rally to Saint-Claude brought together the two cars which were to define the 1964 Monte from start to finish. Bo Ljungfeldt roared to the top of the time sheets in his Ford Falcon, but Paddy Hopkirk remained hot on his heels in his Mini Cooper S.

The next leg of the rally was made up largely of mile-long flat-out sections, but Hopkirk refused to let his big-engined rivals build up a decisive advantage. The “Night of the Long Knives” would become the day of reckoning; this was the classic Mini’s chance to demonstrate its talents to the full. “It was quite snowy that year, so we had done a lot of practising and preparing,” explains Hopkirk. “The Mini was particularly good downhill, and all the tests were up and downhill, so what we lost going up, I think we made up for going downhill.”

Irresistible handling, correct tyre choice, Hopkirk’s gifts at the wheel and the snow – which slowed the bigger cars down – all came together and ensured that Hopkirk was able to take over the lead on the 1,607-metre (5,270 ft) Col de Turini. However, it remained a tight contest all the way to the finish, with Bo Ljungfeldt, as expected, again posting the fastest time on the final stage through Monte Carlo. However, Hopkirk was also squeezing everything from his Mini Cooper S once again and hung onto his advantage to wrap up the win. “It’s not like rallying today when you know where you are. I had to do the final circuit, then the journalists told me I had won and I couldn’t believe it. It surprised the world and us, so it was very nice,” recalls Hopkirk.

The following year Timo Mäkinen and co-driver Paul Easter ensured the classic Mini would retain its title. They were helped by a new engine with capacity increased to 1275cc, but it was the Scandinavian’s driving skill that landed the decisive blow. Mäkinen was the only driver to remain penalty-point-free throughout the rally distance, despite the fact that the 1965 Monte Carlo Rally was providing one of the most exacting tests in the history of the event. Epic levels of snow and ice made the going seriously tough, but that didn’t stop the organisers including a second night stage through the Maritime Alps in the programme. Mäkinen and his Mini Cooper S appeared impervious to the deteriorating conditions. The Finn won five of the six special stages on the final leg of the rally and finished the event with a handsome margin over the second-placed car.

The most impressive and also most dramatic Monte Carlo Rally for the “Three Musketeers” was to follow in 1966. Mäkinen, Aaltonen and Hopkirk dominated the event from the start, and it was in this order that they completed a clean sweep of the top three positions overall at the finish. Public enthusiasm for the quicksilver classic Minis appeared to be boundless – as was the disappointment when the French race commissioners revealed their decision to disqualify the trio on account of lights that allegedly did not conform with official regulations. This was also the reason given for removing the fourth-placed Lotus Cortina from the classification, which meant that the Finnish Citroën driver Pauli Toivonen was crowned the winner.

The dream of a Monte hat-trick lay in tatters, but the “Three Musketeers” resolved to return at the earliest opportunity. In the winter of 1967 Hopkirk, Mäkinen and Aaltonen lined up alongside two other BMC works teams for the Monte Carlo Rally. And this time neither the rules nor the other cars could stand between the Mini Cooper S and victory. Rauno Aaltonen was joined by Henry Liddon – Paddy Hopkirk’s co-driver from the successful 1964 Monte – for his latest assault on the rally. The Finnish-British team clicked straight into gear. Aaltonen guided the classic Mini to what was this time an undisputed victory with 12 seconds to spare. And nobody was more pleased for the duo than Hopkirk: “Henry Liddon was really an outstanding co-driver. But the co-drivers never got enough credit, you know. They did a fantastic job in reading the notes and they were the office manager of the car.”

Hopkirk finished the 1967 Monte Carlo Rally in sixth place and also drove the classic Mini to fifth overall the following year. Aaltonen was third in 1968. However, the era of the small car that stormed to the summit of rally racing was clearly approaching an end. Its rivals had grown just too powerful and the sporting zenith of the classic Mini was now behind it. Memories of that famous triumph in the winter of 1964 will forever burn bright and the “Three Musketeers” have written an indelible chapter into the history of motor sport. As for distinctive headlight solutions, such as incurred the wrath of the powers-that-be back in 1966, they also live on as some of the most popular Original MINI Accessories – from black headlight housing and the evocative spotlights fronting the radiator grille to retrofit xenon headlights.

Miniology Radio July 2013: Joe Huffaker

On this month’s edition of Miniology Radio Norm has a chat with Joe Huffaker of Huffaker Engineering in Sonoma, Ca. Joe has been on the racing circuit for many years and talks about some racing history and also the future of racing.

This is a very interesting interview, especially if you love to know about this racing legacy.

Miniology Radio Special Edition: Paddy Hopkirk

Miniologist Jessica Nelson presents this intimate and personal interview with Mini rally legend Paddy Hopkirk. Paddy tells us about his life in Buckinghamshire UK, his first date, his favorite charity SKIDZ, among other more MINI related topics.

This is a don’t miss episode of Miniology Radio! Paddy is such a charming and interesting fellow. Here’s to Number 37!