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When BMW acquired Mg Rover in 1994, the focus of the deal was the Rover and Land Rover brands. Eighteen years later, and ten years in the U.S., Mini, for now, is the only piece left from that deal and the only piece some key executives at BMW wanted in the first place.

The idea was for the storied Munich-based automaker to acquire Rover and turn it into a stronger mass-market brand in Europe, and introduce it to the U.S. This would allow BMW to concentrate in the luxe end of the business. Land Rover was to be BMW's foray into SUVs because the thinking then was that BMW could not spawn SUVs under its own brand. That was before the X5 was on the road and proving those naysayers wrong.

Mini was garnish in the deal. There were a few BMW execs who believed it could be revived under BMW's crack product development team. "Really, all I wanted out of that deal was Mini, because I thought it was a perfect compliment to BMW," said Wolfgang Reitzle, Technical Director at BMW when the deal was done. "But there was no way we could get Mini without taking the other big problems," Reitzle said in interviews for AOL Autos editor-in-chief David Kiley's 2004 book: Driven: Inside BMW, The Most Admired Car Company in the World.

Mini remains a fixture at BMW, selling in excess of 57,000 vehicles last year in the U.S. and many more worldwide.

BMW lost billions trying to fix Rover and Land Rover before jettisoning them in 1999. The ill-conceived acquisition roiled the culture of BMW and eventually cost chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder and Reitzle their jobs.

Rover was given away to a British private equity firm to wind down. Land Rover was eventually sold to Ford, and is now owned by Indian automaker Tata. Mini remains a fixture at BMW, selling in excess of 57,000 vehicles last year in the U.S. and many more worldwide. Mini (It's actually MINI officially, having gone to all capitol letters under BMW), has pretty much maxed out its Oxford, England capacity for now, and builds the Countryman crossover in Austria.

BMW also acquired the rights to the Riley, Triumph and Austin-Healey brands in the deal. There is chatter that BMW may do something with the Triumph name and maybe even Riley. When then-chairman Pischetsrieder asked then-Ford Europe chief Sir Nick Scheele what he thought of the potential of those three brands before inking the deal, the former Ford exec responded, "Frankly, I would give a tuppance for the lot of them." BMW proved them wrong on Mini, so maybe there is life in Triumph and Riley too.

This month AOL Autos, our sister website, is giving away a 2012 MINI Countryman. All you need to do is "Like" AOL Autos on Facebook and fill out a quick questionnaire (click here to enter). Jeff Sabatini assembled a gallery to take you through Mini's beginnings some fifty years ago to the lineup the company presents today, which you can check out here if you need more motivation to enter.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 33 Comments
      Eric2203
      • 2 Years Ago
      Please Autoblog, spell check your articles... it's "capital" letters, not "capitol". The Capitol is a monument... And Washington D.C. is the "capital" of the U.S.A., not "capitol". And it's "tuppence", not "tuppance". If my browser can automatically highlight "tuppance", surely you can do better...
        Kwijiboz
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Eric2203
        ....and isn't a tuppence something you "wouldn't" give anyway?
      Jake
      • 2 Years Ago
      That headline is a mess.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Bustago
      • 2 Years Ago
      So thank you BMW, thank you so much for killing what was the last British producer of entry level and mid range cars, and creating a chain of events that killed the economy of the United Kingdom.
        Pdexter
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Bustago
        Or maybe, just maybe it was Brits themself killing their economy? Kind of a weak to blaim one compamy for it, might be time to watch the mirror.
      JayyDubbb
      • 2 Years Ago
      You guys have a hard on for MINI! Constantly posting stuff about the cars.
        JayP
        • 2 Years Ago
        @JayyDubbb
        Just another plug for AOL Auto's Mini giveaway.
        A P
        • 2 Years Ago
        @JayyDubbb
        Now can people see how corrupt this and other auto sites is getting? Look at the last freaking line in the article! ----> ' This month AOL Autos, our sister website, is giving away a 2012 MINI Countryman ' How freaking long will people turn a blind eye to this? German car makers have made it a goal to pour advertising dollars and free cars and luxury trips for auto writers in order to garner good reviews about their truly mediocre automobiles. If anybody thinks this site or Inside Line (probably the worst) or MT or CD are not being bought off, they are delusional.
          Spies1
          • 2 Years Ago
          @A P
          No site is worse than Autospies. They do nothing but shill for Audi and BMW. The only reviews, test drives, and articles they create now are for Audi and BMW. Then they go out of their way to tear down Lexus.
        A P
        • 2 Years Ago
        @JayyDubbb
        Of course they do! Finally somebody it getting how much German advertising money is corrupting auto journalism in the US.
        MacProMan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @JayyDubbb
        haha, is it wrong to be a fan.... cool your jets bro
      bsdamus
      • 2 Years Ago
      BMW successfully killed Rover/MG trying to become a volume producer. BMW can only be profitable by selling over-priced cars to insecure people. Daimler tried the same thing with Chrysler with nearly the same result.
      M
      • 2 Years Ago
      I suspect that the FWD platforms at BMW would be best sold by and more in character for Riley and Mini. I can't imagine myself buying a FWD BMW .... no. I would feel bad about such a purchase. Mini could be used as a volume seller of FWD vehicles. Imagine a step-up small FWD sports sedan (Riley) at Mini ... it would be idea for the Mini distribution channel. Push the Riley... as "British" not German and land it in on the top end of Jetta pricing. The Mini channel I don't think can last using the "Mini" styling language and last. I like the Mini Cooper... but find the styling extensions used on the Countryman to be goofy. The Riley sedan could introduce some fresh blood. Triumph Z4? I think they could get more volume off the Z4 platform and assembly line with a "Triumph" version (using a new exterior and dash... fewer features fewer luxuries) to be sold again in the Mini channel. It would be sold as "British".
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Buckus Comments
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ahhh...good times. I remember when Ford had to sell Land Rovers with BMW engines for a couple years because the engineering to shoehorn a Ford engine in there wasn't completed.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Mlbrown
      • 2 Years Ago
      What about Rolls Royce? Didn't BMW acquire the name in the Rover transaction somehow?
        Dvanos
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mlbrown
        Negative. BMW acquired Rolls Royce after threatening to halt engine production for Bentley which was being bought by VW along with Rolls. After this VW agreed to acquired Bentley and let BMW acquired the rights to Rolls Royce name plate.
          AronD
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dvanos
          I was wrong about BMW holding out on the engines but was right on the trademark "BMW will pay £40 million to Rolls-Royce for the trademark; lease the brand name through the year 2002 to Volkswagen and continue to supply parts. Beginning in 2003, BMW will take control of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, while Volkswagen will become the owner of Bentley Motor Cars Ltd. and the Crewe factory. That plant will continue to turn out the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph for BMW, however, during that model's lifetime" http://www.nytimes.com/1998/07/29/news/29iht-rolls.t.html?pagewanted=all
          Vergenbuurg
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dvanos
          Negative negative. BMW does not own the rights to the Rolls Royce name. Bentley does not own the rights to the Rolls Royce name. Rolls Royce plc, the manufacturer of jet engines and other heavy machinery propulsion systems owns the rights to the name (and the brand logo for that matter). BMW simply licenses the rights to the name and badging from them. BMW was bidding for RRcars/Bentley together in the late '90s... VW swooped in at the last second with a "snipe" bid and won. RRplc didn't take too kindly to this, as they, personally, preferred BMW. After applying pressure on VW (namely, insinuating that they would strip them the right to use the RR badging and name), VW agreed that they would only hold onto Rolls Royce cars for a few years, then transfer ownership to BMW, keeping Bentley.
          AronD
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dvanos
          BMW never threaten to stop engine prodcution. BMW also aquired RR after a bidding war with VW from the Vickers group. VW purchased Bentley and the Crewe factory and thinking the owned RR for $760 mill.BMW bought name plate and Spirit of Ecstacy, which was owned by RR Aerospace for $50 mil.
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