Mini’s are BMW’s Too

Photo from NM Mimi Motoring

A stated objective of the New Mexico Chapter of the BMW Car Club of America is “Organizing and presenting events for the enjoyment of BMW and MINI automobile owners and enthusiasts…”. It’s in our bylaws and in our charter with the BMW CCA. BMW automobiles are marketed under the brands BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce (motorcycles are marketed under the brand BMW Motorrad). To understand why Mini is there, we need to look at a bit of history.

Photo of original MiniIn the post-World War II England, the Suez Crisis had sent fuel prices soaring which increased the demand for small fuel-efficient vehicles. In the 1950’s, Morris Company engineer Alec Issigonis designed a small, fuel-efficient car capable of carrying four adults that was affordable. The challenge of fitting so much function into such a small package inspired a couple of historic innovations such as putting the wheels all the way out to the corners and turning the engine sideways giving the car more stability in tight turns and more passenger space on the inside. The first Mini came out in 1959 and the unique combination of classic British style in a low-cost, small size, fun and nimble package came to symbolize independence and spontaneity. Sales took off for the Mini and in 1961, British racing legend John Cooper added a more powerful engine, bigger brakes and a few tuning tweaks. Mini Coopers did very well on the rally circuit and in 1969 were used in the famous chase scene in the movie The Italian Job (1969).

Photo of a 2004 Mini CooperFast forward to the mid 1990’s when BMW wanted to expand into front wheel drive cars, but did not want to “dilute” the BMW brand. The Rover Group was acquired by BMW and development of a modern successor to the Mini began in 1995. An entirely new Mini model was launched in 2001 by BMW and was built in BMW Group Plant Oxford. It’s legendary go-kart like handling and style quickly propelled sales in the premium small car market. Like its predecessor, there is a performance John Cooper Works (JCW) variant and the BMW Mini was also used for the new chase scene in the remake of The Italian Job (2003)!

Times have changed and Mini has been hit – like all manufacturers have in the sedan market – as sales moved increasingly to crossovers such as the X series BMWs. However, Mini front wheel drive platforms are now used on the BMW X1, X2 and more recently in the new 2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe. Mini owners are unphased about all of this and are extremely passionate about their cars. If you own a Mini or considering one, there is a fiercely independent, very active Mini group in New Mexico. Check out NM Mini Motoring on Facebook.