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Welcome to Fraser Fast Facts • Vol. 1, Issue 27

The Mini Cooper Then and Now

From Morris to BMW, the Mini Cooper has come a long way baby!

Mini Cooper Celebrates 60 Years of Being Awesome

fff mini coopers head to headCelebrated as the original “Influencer”, this pop culture marvel was loved by virtually everyone, and found its humble beginnings as a drawing by Sir Alec Issigonis on a paper napkin.

The Mini bopped onto the streets of London in 1959, born of the post-WWII fuel shortage, it was an iconic, yet everyday car, that reached the ripe, old age of 41 in 2000, with a formidable five and a half million produced.

Featured in both the original and remake movies The Italian Job, both the original Mini Cooper and it’s modern counterpart were featured respectively. Chase scenes accurately depicted the incredible, cat-like handling of the Minis.

The original Mini Cooper was more about economy, than anything else. Okay, it was also quite nimble, and a lot of fun. As you may have heard, it can comfortably seat a person that’s six feet tall, and it can hold a LOT more everything than it looks like it can. They clearly coined the phrase “it’s bigger on the inside”.

Powered by an engine slightly larger than a riding lawnmower, the 1.3 liter, four-cylinder power plant churns out 63 lethargic horsepower, and can lunge the car from 0 to 60 in a side-splitting 13 seconds. BUT, you can corner with the gas pedal to the metal, because the car is so low to the ground, and never really goes that fast. Even with a top speed of 89 mph, but 50 mph, with the windows open, feels like a wild go-cart on steroids.

fff mini cooper angledThe appeal of the original Mini Cooper was unprecedented, but when the last Cooper Sport edition rolled off the Londonbridge line in 2000, it was feared history’s greatest car would fade, well, into history.

Enter BMW… to the rescue. In a 1.3 billion dollar deal, BMW completely reimagined the MINI Cooper in a modern design, replete with a two-tone roof and racing hood stripe. This re-launch included a convertible, a roadster, the rebooted Clubman, and the Countryman, touted as the world’s dinkiest SUV.

The modern (BMW) Mini Cooper does sing a different tune. First, it’s grown significantly. It’s got lots of shiny, blinky, gadgets, a radio, (missing from the original), modern safety features, and a lot more power. The 2.0 liter turbocharged engine wrangles 189 horsepower, can reach 60 mph in a respectable 6.5 seconds, and has 17 inch wheels, compared to the original’s 10 inch ones.

1969 interior 2019 interiorSafety on the modern MINI differs radically to that of the original. Sporting automatic-breaking, parking-assist, self-dipping headlights, and a five-star collision rating. This is a radical departure from designer Issognois’ famous claim: “I make my cars with such good brakes, such good steering, that if people get into a crash it´s their own fault. I don’t design my cars to have accidents.”

Mini is celebrating 60 years of fashion, taste, and individuality. The modern Mini is definitely bigger on the outside, but those modern amenities have eaten away at the spartan but spacious interior of the classic model. Mega instrumentation, significantly less storage space, and a pension for accidentally bumping something on a regular basis makes buying one of the five-plus original Mini Coopers out there almost more attractive than today’s modern successor.

fff mini cooper side by sideRemember, the classic Mini is tiny, and most SUVs can’t even see it in their rearview mirror. Also, the safety features are NON-EXISTENT, so you take your life into your own hands when you’re driving in heavy, fast, traffic.

But, all in all, the phenomenon of loving a Mini Cooper is all based on how much you smile, or even laugh when you’re driving it. And yes, in a pinch you can cram 26-1/2 female gymnasts in the original, and 23 in the modern Mini.


  • The original Mini had sideways sliding windows, not crank up and down.

  • There are eight places in the (modern) interior to open a bottle of beer.

fff mini cooper david bowie

  • David Bowie created a mirror-covered Mini, now in the Design Museum of London.

    fff mini cooper mary quant miniskirt

  • The Mini inspired Mary Quant to create the ‘mini skirt’… really.

  • A convoy of 269 Minis set a record in the Guinness Book of World Records.

  • The Mini Cooper was designed to be off-balance until a driver got in. Then it was level.

  • The first generation Mini had no radio, but it did have an ashtray.

  • A slot in the doors was specifically designed to hold a bottle of Gordon’s Gin… really, again.

fff mini cooper gymnasts

  • The world record for how many people can fit in a Mini Cooper was achieved by a bevy of female gymnasts; 28 for the modern-day model, and 23 for the original.

  • The original Mini wheel specification was to be 8 inches, but Dunlop refused to make wheels and tires so small that a compromise of 10 inch wheels was reached.

fff mini cooper drawings

Remember, if you don’t care about passengers, you might be able to cram a world-class FRASER remanufactured engine in the Mini with you!

Thinking about building a replica with an american-made engine? Fraser has the right engine ready for you!