It would appear that the vast majority of European countries have a rich heritage of automotive history behind them that also extends into a rich and profitable future. Italy has Ferrari, Fiat and Maserati. Germany has BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen. Even France has Renault, Peugeot and Citroen. As a proud member of the British Isles, it pains me to say that we (as a people) haven’t got a great deal to show for our efforts in the past.
That’s not to say that we haven’t had our time in the sun though. One of the most popular and iconic cars in existence came from the British Isles and took the world by storm after appearing in a rather famous film, The Italian Job. The Mini Cooper was catapulted to fame in the sixties and was lauded for its dinky size, speed and manoeuvrability. It became a car of choice for the rich and the famous, as well as those with more moderate salaries. The Mini Cooper became a signifier of swinging sixties London and as a result, became one of the most iconic automobiles in history.
Sadly, like the vast majority of British car manufacturers, the engineering and design of the current Mini incarnation have been sold abroad. BMW are now responsible for manufacture of the newer Mini, but along with modernising the car, they seem to have sapped all the original character out of it. Power-steering, ABS and Satellite Navigation has robbed the Mini of its original charm.
If I was to buy a Mini these days, I would go back to the good old British version, warts and all. Fortunately you can still track a few of the original models down on the Used Mini market, but they are few and far between these days. If you manage to find one, be sure that you treasure it.