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60 Years of MINI: From 1959 to now

Even at 60, the MINI is still turning heads.

When the first MINI rolled out of the assembly lines in 1959, it changed the landscape of motoring. It was built as an economy car—compact, efficient, consumer-friendly—but what made it so popular was its looks. There was something about it that defined the era’s minimalist, functional attitude. And from this very first model—the father of all MINIs—generations of successors would be born. 

Two years later, in 1961, racing legend John Cooper tuned the design and the MINI Cooper was created. The move took the car’s popularity from the streets and brought it into the racetracks, further earning it a place in the motoring world. John Cooper believed that “less is more” and this idea was widely adopted by racers, celebrities, and the public.

The Morris Mini-Minor first came out in 1959, and soon gained iconic status.

Everyone from the cool to the comedic had one: George Harrison owned a Cooper S called the “Magical Mystery Tour”;  Gerald Harper rode into the small screen in his Cooper S on the British comedy-adventure series, Adam Adamant Lives!; icons Steve McQueen and Mick Jagger both owned a Cooper S; and even the famed racer and motor brand founder Enzo Ferrari used a Cooper for his own transportation. 

But perhaps most famously, MINIs served as the getaway vehicles in both the original and modern versions of the heist film, The Italian Job.  

The MINI became as much a part of popular culture as the people who drove it and it has since been recreated into several versions, including the Clubman, the Convertible, the John Cooper Works, and the Countryman. 

Now, at 60, the MINI remains an icon of the tracks and the streets. Even across the decades and throughout multiple changes and versions, it retains much of its DNA.

The MINI 60 Years Edition at the recent launch in Manila.

Today’s MINIs are compact by modern standards, though far larger and with much more powerful engines than the original. The MINI still believes in John Cooper’s mantra of “less is more,” but now packed with entertainment systems, safety features, and modern conveniences—all of which are unobtrusive, meshing well with the sleek design.

The new MINIs inherited part of the looks of the original, too. Though now streamlined and with a rather more aggressive profile, the shapes and silhouettes of today’s models still draw upon the the very first MINI from 1959. 

This nod to nostalgia has also allowed the new MINIs to share in the first version’s popularity. Today, the MINI is known on a global scale, and even at 60, it’s still turning heads. 

Watch the Philippine celebration of MINI’s 60th birthday on the video below, where vintage, classic, and modern MINIs came together to pay tribute the iconic vehicle.