Mini and the Issue of Vehicular Profitability

Gary S. Vasilash

Readers of the British publication Autocar and of its website have voted on “the greatest British car ever made,” and the results are interesting, if not not entirely unexpected.

They are:

1. Mini

2. Range Rover

3. Jaguar E-Type

4. Land Rover

5. McLaren F1

6. Range Rover Evoque

7. Caterham 7

8. Morris Mino

9. McLaren MP4-12C

10. London Taxi

Nice touch, that last.

Austin Mini

The Mini, designed by Alec Issigonis and first produced by the British Motor Corp. in 1959, had a 41-year run, during which time 5.4-million were sold.

A good example of the thinking of “car guys” vs. “bean counters” is encapsulated in an observation by Steve Cropley, editor-in-chief of Autocar: “The Mini had many faults and was never profitable, but it rewrote the rules and had the biggest impact on Britain’s car industry that any car has had.”

It is worth noting that the top 10 producers of cars in the U.K. today are owned by companies or groups that are not British. They are:

1. Nissan

2. Land Rover (Tata)

3. Mini (which, as you may know, is now owned by BMW)

4. Vauxhall (GM)

5. Toyota

6. Honda

7. Jaguar (Tata)

8. Bentley (Volkswagen)

9. Aston Martin (a multinational investment group)

10. Rolls-Royce (BMW)

Apparently that “never profitable” part of the Mini didn’t work out so well for that car or for other British companies.