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"Mini" is common slang for miniskirt.
The original Mini was a small, economical, inexpensive, and characterful car designed for the nationalized British Motor Corporation[?] (BMC) by Alec Issigonis (later Sir) (1906-1988), and first released in 1959. The car's design became very influential, and almost all small cars built since the 1970s share its mechanical layout -- a transverse four-cylinder water-cooled engine driving the front wheels. It was originally called the Austin Seven (sometimes spelt Se7en) or Morris Mini Minor, but later Mini became a brand in its own right.

The 1960s saw the heyday of the car, with well-publicised purchases by movie & music stars, victories in rallies, an appearance in a major film (The Italian Job), spin-off models including commercial vehicles and an estate, and strong sales. However the car never made much money for its makers. Indeed, it is thought that due to an accounting error the car had been incorrectly priced originally and each sale made a loss for the company.

Production of the original Mini outlasted its major competitors -- the VW Beetle (at least in Europe), the CitroŽn 2CV and the Metro, its intended replacement -- running until October 2000 with a total of 5.3 million cars.

In 1994 under Bernd Pischetsrieder[?], BMW took control of BMC's successor the Rover Group[?], which included the Mini. But by 2000, Rover was still suffering massive losses. BMW decided to dispose of most of the company: MG and Rover went to Phoenix, a new British consortium; Land Rover went to Ford; BMW kept the Mini brand name and now sells a completely new Mini, techically unrelated to the old car, which the Rover subsidiary had almost finished developing.

New Mini

Launched in 2001, the new Mini (sometimes called BMW Mini) is built in Cowley[?] in Oxford. Historically this was the Morris car plant. The new Mini has a Brazilian-built Chrysler engine. Like the original, this is a transverse four-cylinder unit, driving the front wheels. The styling of the car, like that of the new VW Beetle[?] is deliberately reminiscent of the original. The car has been criticized for its poor space-efficiency compared with the original, but it has quickly become a sales success in Europe and (from 2002) in the USA. It comes in 4 varieties: the Mini One, Mini One D, Mini Cooper, Mini Cooper S. It is featured in the 2003 remake of The Italian Job.


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