The first Mini rolled off the production line on August 27, 50 years ago today.
Wikipedia says its space-saving front-wheel-drive layout (that allowed 80% of the area of the car’s floorpan to be used for passengers and luggage) influenced a generation of car-makers.
It also confounded some people who thought they knew more than they did.
My first car was a second-hand Mini. It took several friends and me on many happy excursions, including various ski trips. Once when we stopped to put on chains we could see car loads of blokes laughing at us because they thought we were putting them on the wrong wheels. When one of them stopped laughing and came to point out our mistake, we pointed out his, explaining that chains are supposed to go on the front wheels of front-wheel drive cars.
It probably wasn’t one of the advantages the designers had thought of, but the front wheel drive enabled passengers to sit on the bonnet to give more traction when going up steep, snowy hills.
It’s a difficult to tell from this photo, taken in Leith Street Dunedin in the winter of 1975, but the car was a sort of dull mustardy orange colour.
Six years later, a bright yellow Mini raced on to movie screens in Goodbye Pork Pie:
The Wellington chase scene is here.