1959 Morris Mini Minor - Wikimedia Commons

One of the most iconic and recognizable shapes on the road is the Mini, and 2009 marks the golden anniversary of the original. The brainchild of Sir Alec Issigonis, the Mini was created in response to the 1956 Suez crisis which strangled the supply of Middle East oil to Britain. Issigonis set out to create a car that maximized interior space within a minimal exterior. He came up with a mechanical layout that would eventually be adopted in cars the world over. By turning the four cylinder engine sideways to drive the front wheels, he was able to take all of the powertrain out of the passenger space. The wheels were also pushed out of the way to the corners of the car and shrunk down to a mere ten inches; a change that necessitated the development of new tires. The Mini went through a number of iterations and remained in production until 2000 when it was finally discontinued. The Mini was sold under several brands including Morris, Austin and Rover. At the turn of the millennium, when Rover was under BMW ownership, a new modern MINI was developed. Meeting modern safety requirements meant the MINI grew nearly 22 inches compared to the original, yet it still remains one of the smallest cars on the market.

Happy birthday Mini!

[Source: The Times of London]

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