Launched to a dumb-founded motoring press in 1959 the Alec Issigonis designed Austin 7 and Morris Mini Minor introduced a whole new concept in car design. The new cars were more or less instantly referred to as the Mini and seemed to capture the mood of the "swinging sixties", they seemed to almost break through the traditional class barriers that surrounded British cars in general, everybody wanted to drive a Mini.
Over the early years the Mini developed through a variety of model year changes including the MkII and MkIII. In 1969 British Leyland attempted to replace the standard Mini with the more modern and luxurious 1100cc Clubman. Although the Clubman offered more comfort and power than the standard car it failed to capture the publics affection and was replaced by the hatchback Metro in 1980. Ironically the Metro also failed to replace the original 1959 design despite offering more space and improved performance.
As well as the standard Mini models the range has enjoyed a number of more specialist models over the years. These models include the legendary Mini Cooper family, Mini-Moke (originally intended for the British Army but only ever produced as a civilian model), Traveller/Countryman estate cars plus the useful Van and Pick-up commercials.
With the dawn of the new Millennium the original Mini continues to sell in steady numbers and enjoys a growing band of supporters and specialist firms world-wide. By the end of 2000 the "New" Mini will make its debut. Only time will tell If it proves as successful as the original product first seen in 1959.