The story of the birth of the Mini has been told so many times over so many beers that you probably know Alec Issigonis as well as the play on the front brake lever of your motorcycle. When Issigonis set out to design new small car for the British Motor Corporation, he sketched out the first form of the Mini on a bar napkin, with the wheels all the way out on the four corners of the car, with minimal overhands up front and rear and put a four cylinder engine transversely up front, with the gearbox just below the engine, between the front wheels! The Mini was famed for its go-kart like handling and stunning utilization of interior space.
MINI reminds us that while Issigonis birthed this cult car, it was John Cooper, winner of two Formula One constructors’ world titles who was also Alec’s business partner and friend saw the potential of the Mini and collaborated to produce the first Mini Cooper in 1961.
MINI also explains how similar and different the various generations of the Mini were. While the first Mini Cooper made 63 horses, the next generation Mini Cooper that was launched in early 2000 made 115 horses! 50 years ago the Mini Cooper S made 70 hp while today, the latest Mini Cooper S makes a whopping 135 kW/184 hp at the disposal of its driver. Yet, the underlying principles were the same. A very light chassis with stunning engineering that enabled the Cooper to handle the twisties so well. The original Mini Cooper had something called Homokinetic joints that reduced torque steer, a subframe, to which the rear wheels were fixed which improved directional stability, and rubber springs and small telescopic dampers that ensured accurate response and progressive spring action. The next generation Cooper achieved something similar with the use of MacPherson spring struts at the front axle, axle shafts equal in length, a multi-link rear axle unique in the small car segment, disc brakes on all four wheels, and DSC (Dynamic Stability Control).
The latest-generation MINI Cooper S also features Electric Power Steering with Servotronic function and a DSC system including DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) and an electronic locking function for the front axle differential.