As the world prepares to bid farewell to the iconic Land Rover Defender, one of the last production vehicles in to be assembled largely by hand, this video is of particular interest. It documents the final hours of production of another hand-built British icon. The very last original-shape, Issigonis-designed Mini Mk VIIs, going down the assembly line at Rover's Longbridge plant in Birmingham UK, in October of 2000.
At the end of Mk VII production, the name Mini transferred over to BMW and production began of the MINIs as we know them today. According to Wikipedia and other sources, the Longbridge plant continued to build other Rover cars for about 5 years, and is now slated for redevelopment. Perhaps a little known fact, also courtesy of Wikipedia, the last production Mini to leave Longbridge was in 2012, a 70s model that workers rescued from disused tunnels on the site that were to be filled in as part of the redevelopment scheme.
It is refreshing and perhaps a little sad to see the old Minis being built by hand this way. Even fifteen years ago when this footage was shot, it was already an outdated way of doing things. Does being built by hand give a vehicle more soul and personality? I know where I stand on the matter. What do you think?
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