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The History of Mini Cooper

The Mini is a small car that was produced by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) and its successors from 1959 to 2000. The most popular British-made car, it has since been replaced by the New MINI which was launched in 2001. The original is considered an icon of the 1960s,and its space-saving front-wheel-drive traversed engine layout influenced a generation of carmakers.

The Mini Cooper and Cooper "S"were sportier versions that were successful as rally cars winning the Monte Carlo Rally three times.

The Mini came about because of a fuel crisis-the Suez Crisis in 1956 reduced oil supplies.

Issigonis’ friend John Cooper, owner of the Cooper Car Company, designer and builder of Formula 1 and rally cars, saw the potential of the Mini. Issigonis was initially reluctant to see the Mini in the role of a performance car - but after John Cooper appealed to BMC management, the two men collaborated to create the Mini Cooper. The Austin Mini Cooper and Morris Mini Cooper debuted in 1961.

A more powerful Mini Cooper, dubbed the "S", was developed in tandem and released in 1963. The Mini Cooper S earned acclaim with Monte Carlo Rally victories in 1964, 1965, and 1967.

Between 1960 and 1967, BMC exported approximately 10,000 BMC Minis to the U.S. Sales were discontinued when stricter federal emission standards were imposed; BMC felt that it would be too expensive to make the Mini’s engine compliant. Similar legislation was later introduced in Europe, and the A-series engine, with minor modifications, proved perfectly capable of complying with it.

Despite this, a small band of enthusiasts keep the legacy of the original car alive in the U.S., where cars more than 25 years old are generally exempt from emissions regulations. Minis that were originally sold in the U.S. are becoming hard to find, so most of the restored Minis now running in the U.S. have been imported by individual enthusiasts - typically from Australia or New Zealand where the climate has limited the amount of rust formation and cars are available for relatively low prices. There is increasing difficulty in finding cars that are old enough to meet the 25 year emissions exemption and yet are still in a reasonable condition. This has led some unscrupulous importers into employing the Theseus paradox, in which they place the vehicle identification number (VIN) plates from older cars onto Minis that are less than 25 years old - claiming that the car was "repaired"by replacing every single part with the exception of the VIN plate. Such vehicles are termed "re-VINs"and are surprisingly common.

Through the 1980s and 1990s, the British market enjoyed numerous "special editions"of the Mini. In 1994 under Bernd Pischetsrieder, a second cousin of Issigonis, BMW took control of the Rover Group, which included the Mini, fitting an airbag to comply with European legislation.

When production of the classic Mini ceased in 2000, BMW (the new owner of the brand) announced the successor to the Mini - which is variously called the "BMW MINI"or the "New MINI". The brand name for the new car is MINI (written in capital letters).

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