Fifty years ago today, the first Mini rolled off the production line at Cowley, now called “Plant Oxford”. For the first time in half a century that very car is returning to its birthplace for a celebration.
It’s called “The Mini Minor”. It sports a lustrous paint job - finished in Old English White – and a somewhat prescient registration number: 621 AOK. And now, it’s coming home to Plant Oxford to mark its birthday in style.
Plant Oxford built 602,817 Minis from 1959 to 1968, before production was moved to Longbridge. Since 2001, more than 1.4 million new MINIs have been built at the production facility. In total, more than six million classic and new MINIs have been sold since the car first went on sale in 1959. You read that right. Six million.
BMW Group member of the Board of Management for Production, Frank-Peter Arndt, was on hand at Oxford to celebrate with the Plant.
“Anniversaries are always a wonderful opportunity to look back at the past,” he said, “but on days like today, it’s also good to look to the future. Therefore, our objective is absolutely clear: We are going to continue the success story of MINI and continue to strengthen it. Where is MINI going? Where will it be in 10, 20 or even another 50 years’ time? Perhaps it’s rather ambitious to look that far ahead, but one thing is certain, MINI is a brand not only with a great tradition, but also a fantastic future.”
Dr Jürgen Hedrich, Plant Oxford’s managing director, also did a little grandstanding: “Little did anyone know just how popular Sir Alec Issigonis’s car for the people would be – or that half a century later it would be reborn as the MINI and once again be built in Oxford. This is a momentous day in the plant and car’s history. Everyone at the plant is proud to be part of both the heritage and the future of this car.”
In the same week as this milestone anniversary, independent publishing house Faber and Faber is launching a book dedicated to the incredible story of MINI.
“MINI: The True and Secret History of the Making of a Motorcar”, by Simon Garfield, who actually met the people behind the scenes and gets the story of the design ingenuity and masterful marketing that spawned 50 years of success for MINI. (We’re working on getting our hands on some now.)
Thousands of visitors from across the globe will also be celebrating MINI’s 50th birthday at MINI United, which is being held at Silverstone in the UK on May 22-24. If you’re interested, tickets are priced at just £35 for the full festival weekend. Children under 14 are admitted free.
Tickets and further information can be found at www.miniunited.com.
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