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Numbers crunched: how a Mini is vastly cheaper now than 60 years ago

Minis more affordable now than in 1959

A Mini is more hugely affordable now than when the original car debuted in 1959. That’s despite a typical car being around 32 times more expensive today

Research by Mini shows that, if the cost of cars is compared to average UK household disposable income, drivers in 2019 are far better off. 

Minis more affordable now than in 1959

The original Mini’s £780 typical purchase cost was 307 percent of the average disposable income in 1959.The average disposable income of drivers in 1959 when adjusted for inflation is £5,474. Adjust the original Mini’s price for inflation, and you get £16,784.

By comparison, the average price of a modern Mini was around £18,139 in 2018. Yet the average household disposable income per-head is £20,504.

So the cost of the average Mini today is 88 percent of the average disposable income per-head in a household. Indeed, even if £10,000 was taken off that figure, we’d still be in a better position today than 60 years ago.

Minis more affordable now than in 1959

Around eight in 10 of all new private car registrations today are via finance, while a prospective buyer in 1959 would be looking at saving up every one of those 780 pounds.

Today, a four-figure deposit and a three-figure monthly payment will get you the keys to a Mini. Take a £2,000 deposit and £250 per-month as very generic figures: £2,000 is around nine percent of the total average cost of a modern Mini, while £250 is less than one 70th of the total price.

Adjust those amounts for the 1959 price, and you get a deposit of £70, plus monthly payments of £10.80.

Minis more affordable now than in 1959

“Over the past 60 years, how we buy and finance Minis has evolved just as much as the cars themselves,” said Phil Kerry, sales and marketing director at BMW Group Financial Services.

“Motorists now have more choice, and this will only increase over the next few decades.”

Future electric Minis will be built in China

1.5 million households could have electric cars with ease

BMW Group is teaming up with Chinese car manufacturer Great Wall for a new factory, plus the ongoing development of electric cars. The plant in China will produce future fully-electric models from Mini.

“Today we are taking the next step in our collaboration,” said Klaus Fröhlich, head of development at BMW.

“With the BMW Group as a pioneer in the field of electromobility and Great Wall as a major player and expert in industrialisation in the Chinese market, we are joining forces for development and production of the future electric Mini and new Great Wall models.”

Spotlight Automotive LimitedBMW Great Wall Spotlight Automotive electric Mini

The joint venture is called Spotlight Automotive Limited. The plant will be able to produce 160,000 cars a year, employ around 3,000 people and mean a joint investment of £550 million.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Mini’s Oxford home is being retired. In BMW’s words, ‘Mini Plant Oxford will remain the heart and home of Mini manufacturing, while the Spotlight Automotive joint venture will provide additional capacity and flexibility’.

“This joint venture will enable us to produce a larger number of Mini-brand fully electric vehicles at attractive conditions for the world market,” Dr. Nicolas Peter, head of finance at BMW.

“This is also an important strategic step for the Mini brand. The joint venture with Great Wall underlines the enormous importance of the Chinese market for us.”

One million BMW EVs on the road by 2021Mini Nurburgring no brakes

BMW Group will have five electric cars in its portfolio by the end of 2021, by which time it hopes to have sold one million EVs and hybrids. 

Joining the new Mini Electric are the existing BMW i3, plus the iX3, iNext and i4.

You could own one of the rarest classic Mini Coopers

Mini CCA sale

A rare Mini 970S, a homologation special and one of just 965 made, could be yours for around £40,000.

Perhaps more significant than how many were made, however, is how many are left: less than 60 are known to survive.

This might be the best example, too. The car has been used sparingly since undergoing a bare metal restoration, as evidenced by its five-star exterior condition rating from Classic Car Auctions. The Mini is part of the company’s December sale.

Mini CCA sale

That restoration was a faithful one,  keeping to its original Surf Blue colour and specification. Across all other measures assessed by CCA, including the interior, engine, transmission, running gear and electrics, the car scored between four and five stars. Overall, it gets 116 out of 135.

The 970S was one of two Mini Cooper S variants offered for sale in 1964, with the 1275S being the other. The 970S homologated the sub one-litre racers and has a shorter stroke than the 1071S, but a larger bore. It also used larger valves, making for a 66hp output.

Classic Car Auctions December saleMini CCA sale

There are a wide variety of other road-going racers joining the Mini at CCA’s December auction, from a 1996 Audi S2 Quattro to an ex-G4 Challenge Land Rover Discovery 3. Yes, there’s even a place for an old Disco in motorsport, albeit in very specific off-roading conditions.

“With 140 lots, we are really pleased with the high quality of cars in our December sale and look forward to seeing the year out on a high,” said Gary Dunne, manager at Classic Car Auctions.

Mini adventure: Yiannimize goes rental for Hertz

Mini now part of Hertz British Collection

Hertz has added the Mini One, Mini Cooper and Mini Countryman to its British Collection rental fleet. To celebrate, it called upon the help of vehicle wrapping company Yiannimize. The results are certainly eye-catching.

The artwork features the traditional red, white and blue of the Union Flag, plus 16 references to British culture. Highlights include the Pizza Express in Woking, Jo Swinson’s battle bus and people arguing on social media. Probably.

Hertz launched the British Collection in March 2019. The fleet includes the Land Rover Discovery Sport, Jaguar F-Pace, Jaguar E-Pace, Jaguar XE and Jaguar XF. Now, for the first time, customers can rent one of the three Mini variants.

Hertz British Collection Mini

Richard Davies, country manager, Hertz UK, said: “Mini is an icon of British style and culture, and, as such, it had to be part of our British Collection. The exclusive wrap designs we have chosen to mark the expansion, along with the high-end service that characterises our British Collection, will offer customers a fun, yet classy, way to travel.”

A total of 60 Minis – well, it is the car’s 60th anniversary – are available at Hertz locations in Edinburgh Airport, Heathrow Airport and Marble Arch. The Jaguars and Discovery Sport can be rented from the same locations, along with Manchester Airport and Glasgow Airport. Bookings must be made online via the Hertz website.

Hertz British Collection Mini and Yiannimize

For the authentic British experience, customers are treated to a complimentary door-to-door concierge service, access to a dedicated lounge featuring designs from Tom Dixon furnishings, botanical drinks and flowers by McQueens.

They also get a make and model guarantee, meaning the car they book is the one they drive away with. Drivers must be aged 25 or above and must be able to present two credit cards.

The Yiannimize Mini Coopers are subject to availability, so your rental car might not feature the eye-catching wrap. You can decide whether or not this is a good thing.

Baby, you can drive my car: famous Mini fans in pictures

Famous Mini fans

The original Mini isn’t just a car; it’s also a pop culture phenomenon. At the height of its powers in the 1960s, it joined Rolls-Royces, Bentleys and Jaguars in the garages of the rich and famous. Now, as the Mini celebrates its 60th anniversary, we look back at iconic images from the period. Time to meet some of the Mini’s most noted fans.

A Beatle and a Mini

Famous Mini fans

Among the most celebrated Mini-lovers were the Beatles. Ringo Starr is pictured here in 1964 with a Monte Carlo Rally Mini.

Radford retro

Famous Mini fans

Swedish actress Britt Ekland also owned a Mini: bought as a birthday present by her comedian husband, Peter Sellers. After collecting the car from Mini customisers Radford in Hammersmith, the couple look understandably pleased.

A royal endorsement

Famous Mini fans

Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon were both Mini fans. Here they are leaving Great Ormond Street Hospital in London with their son in 1965.

Prime mate

Famous Mini fans

Not to be outdone by the Beatles, the Monkees were Mini fans, too. Here’s guitarist and singer Mike Nesmith enjoying a jaunt with girlfriend Phyllis in a soft-top Mini in 1967.

Getting Twiggy with it

Famous Mini fans

Model and style icon Twiggy is very much associated with the Mini. Here she smiles as she prepares to drive away in 1968. She passed her driving test in this Mini, too.

Posing up a storm

Famous Mini fans

On the left, like James Bond leaning on his Aston Martin DB5, here is American actor Warren Beatty with his red Mini Minor. It’s a promo portrait for the film Kaleidoscope. On the right are The Beach Boys, with a Mini Moke in full band promo mode.

The Italian Job

Famous Mini fans

The Mini was the car of the stars, and also a movie hero in its own right. Of course we’re talking about The Italian Job.

Cool fellas, de Ville

Famous Mini fans

Now, this is pretty cool. George Harrison’s psychedelic Radford Mini de Ville is the stuff of legend. It’s fun to see it at work with John Lennon riding shotgun in 1967, as the band works on Magical Mystery Tour.

Muscle and Moke

Famous Mini fans

On the left, a dramatic shot of American actress Lindsay Wagner using her strength to ‘lift’ a Mini. Wagner was promoting the television series, The Bionic Woman. On the right, French actress Brigitte Bardot takes her dogs for a ride in a Mini Moke in 1980.

Designer transport

Famous Mini fans

Here is Mary Quant in her special edition Mini Designer in 1988. That was 31 years ago, but the Mini was already 29 years old.

Minis in Paris

Famous Mini fans

The year is 1994 and the singer posing with this Mini is Nina Hagen. The cari has come a long way from the original Austin Seven and Morris Mini Minor of 1959.

Caine and able

Famous Mini fans

In 1996, a man who helped make the Mini famous, Michael Caine, poses with a Cooper he has signed. The car was due to be auctioned for charity.

Feeling blue

Famous Mini fans

This bright blue Paul Smith Edition Mini is pictured in 1998. A total of 1,800 were made, of which 300 were sold in the UK. The rest went to Japan.

Stripe dream

Famous Mini fans

This striped special was part of the 40th birthday celebrations, when celebrities helped design their own Minis. Here is Paul Smith’s take.

There’s a star Mini

Famous Mini fans

Cooler still is David Bowie’s customised Mini. It’s completely covered in chrome.

60 Years Lifestyle Collection

Famous Mini fans

In celebration of this incredible little car’s birthday, BMW prepared a special classic restoration, wearing the stripes of the 60 Years Lifestyle Collection of clothing.

60 Years Edition

Famous Mini fans

The new 60 Years Edition is modern Mini’s birthday present to itself. Many happy returns!

Mini John Cooper Works GP hot hatch to cost £33,895

Mini GP 2020 price announced

Mini has announced prices for the GP variant of its Cooper JCW hot hatchback – and it’s not cheap. The hottest Mini will start from £33,895.

In its defence, the GP is a very special type of Mini. This third-generation car will pack 306hp, new chassis technology and bespoke aerodynamics. It all adds up to a Nurburgring lap-time of less than eight minutes.

Not so long ago, times like that were the preserve of ‘grown-up’ hot hatches like the Seat Leon Cupra, Volkswagen Golf Clubsport S and so on.

Mini GP 2020 price announced

Built in limited numbers, this hardest of hardcore Minis has, in the past, proven its worth as an investment. While expensive when new, the original GP1 of 2006 still costs upwards of £10,000, while similar non-GPs are around five times cheaper. 

The GP2 also does well in terms of retained value, with both cars very well regarded by enthusiasts. 

Three thousand examples of the new GP3 will be made available. The GP1 and GP2 of 2006 and 2013 were a fair bit rarer, however, with just 2,000 of each generation. The original GP1 was priced from around £22,000, while 2013’s GP2 exceeded £30,000.

Mini GP 2020 price announced

This car’s launch has been a long-drawn-out process. It was shown in disguised prototype form at the Goodwood Festival of Speed earlier in the summer. Its full reveal is scheduled for the Los Angeles Auto Show, which opens on 22 November 2019.

The new GP seems an appropriate way to round out a year of celebrations of Mini’s 60th anniversary. 

UPDATE: An earlier version of this article listed the new Mini GP’s price as £34,995. A spokesperson told us this is the car’s expected on-the-road price, but it is not fully confirmed yet, so the firm is now quoting £33,895 as the car’s recommended retail price. 

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Opinion: This Mini is half the price, but not half the fun

Mini One Classic opinion

Whichever way you look at it, £34,995 for a new Mini is a lot of money. I’m not going to venture down the ‘Mini car, Maxi price’ alley, but £35k for a supermini? Ouch.

Sure, it comes with a Nurburgring lap time, but I’ve seen coaches, campervans and even Chrysler PT Cruisers lapping the big toll road in the trees, so that’s no big deal.

To be honest, I wouldn’t care if the Henry Cooper Works Doctor came with a dinner date with Keeley Hawes and a lifetime supply of Hobnobs, because it still seems expensive. Actually, thinking about it, the Hawes and Hobnobs thing could tip the balance in favour of the hot hatch.

Naked attraction

I digress. My biggest problem the hardcore Mini isn’t the price, it’s the fact that maximum Mini thrills are available at a more affordable price. Like, less than half the price.

The Mini three-door Hatch One Classic is a rather awkward name for a quite brilliant car. This is the modern Mini in a state of undress – laid bare for a warts and all examination of the car’s famed ‘go-kart’ handling.

It costs £16,195, which is just £200 more than an entry-level Ford Fiesta. For that you get LED lights galore, air conditioning, multi-function steering wheel, a 6.5-inch display, vegan-friendly seats, Bluetooth, DAB digital radio and 15-inch steel wheels.

Mini One Classic on steel wheels

Yes, steel wheels. Forget what you might have read in What Glamour? magazine, because owning a small car with steel wheels is a rite of passage. It’s like the transition from the nursery slopes to the black run – first you must prove your mettle with a set of steelies.

The Mini One Classic is powered by one of the best three-pots in the business. In this form, the BMW 1.5-litre twin-turbo produces 102hp, which isn’t going to set any ‘Ring records, but is more than enough to raise a smile on the inner ring road.

At 44.8mpg to 47.9mpg, it’s also the most frugal Mini Hatch, short of putting your name down and waiting in line for the electric version. But unlike the leccy one, the Mini One offers enough range for a Londoner to take a day trip to Crich Tramway Village near Matlock without breaking into a sweat.

Other tramway museums are available. Probably.

Just say no

Clearly, Mini has made a mint out of a business model that encourages dealers to encourage punters into upgrading to a more expensive model. Mini would rather you didn’t buy a three-door Hatch One Classic, not when there are countless trim levels, engines, packs, options and accessories to choose from.

Anyone who leaves a Mini showroom with a £16,195 Mini has either mastered the art of saying “no” or is a former cast member of Grange Hill.

I’m fully aware that the list price is largely irrelevant, so the fact that the Mini One Classic is available on PCP or PCH for £199 a month will be music to the ears of Generation Rent. Granted, the rear seats are best reserved for child contortionists, and the ride is a little on the firm side, but if your heart is set on a Mini, I doubt you’ll care.

It’s also fair to say that the Fiesta offers better value for money and greater practicality, so the rational money would be on the Ford. But that’s missing the point of this pointless opinion piece.

Personally, I think Mini could go further by targeting its entry-level model at the under 25s, offering free telematics-based insurance and other incentives to get them behind the wheel. In a few years, they might want to ‘upgrade’ to a Sport, Cooper or JCW, but I suspect they’ll be having too much fun in the One Classic to even notice.

Still want that Nurburgring special, etc, etc?

David Brown Mini Remastered review: a £100,000 retro revival

David Brown Mini Remastered

My first car was a Mini. If you’re fast-approaching middle age, yours probably was too. I bought my (t)rusty 1983 Mini City for £325, sprayed go-faster stripes on the bonnet and shoehorned a subwoofer into the boot. After passing my test, I enjoyed one day of glorious freedom, then crashed it in Croydon. Result: a write-off. My Mini adventure was over before it began.

Twenty-four years later, those memories are all flooding back: the Tardis interior, the bus-like steering wheel, the whining gears, the rorty A-Series engine. I’m driving a Mini again, but this one took 1,400 hours to hand-build and its stripes weren’t applied with a rattle-can. It’s also worth 300 times more than my ill-fated teenage jalopy, so I’m giving Croydon a wide berth.

Read more Motoring Research reviews FIRST on City AM

That price tag – anything from £90,000 to £130,000 – is impossible to ignore, but the David Brown Mini Remastered isn’t a mere Mini. Its strengthened, de-seamed and rust-resistant bodyshell is all-new, a donor engine is rebuilt for 30 percent more power (71hp, plus 88lb ft of torque) and its interior is lined in plush leather and knurled aluminium. Creature comforts include air conditioning, remote central locking, puddle lights, electric windows and a touchscreen media system. This is luxury on a Lilliputian scale: more pint-sized Rolls-Royce than rebadged Rover.

David Brown Mini Remastered

There’s no such thing as a ‘standard’ Mini Remastered either. David Brown Automotive can match the paintwork to your shoes or lipstick, embroider your family crest on the seats and offer carpets made of leather or deep-pile wool (neither sounds particularly practical). Everything is bespoke, limited only by your largesse. My must-have from the accessories catalogue is an open-face crash helmet – colour-coded, of course – and pair of flying goggles. Chocks away!

This particular Mini has an Alpine theme and was originally supplied with a teak roof rack and hand-made skis, although they’ve been detached for a blazing July day in Battersea. Shame the matching picnic hamper is missing, too. David Brown’s PR people have prepared a ‘swinging London’ playlist, so six speakers kick into The Who’s My Generation as I press the start button. This feels like a nostalgia trip already.

Driving a Mini forces you to recalibrate your reactions. Its steering is so sharp, so hair-trigger responsive, my brain feels hard-wired into the wood-rimmed wheel. The ride is firm, bordering on bouncy, but the pay-off is handling that shamed most 1960s sports cars – and made the Cooper a giant-killer on the rally stage. The Mini seems to pivot on its own axis, clinging to corners like an eager puppy with a chew toy. As I blast across Clapham Common, T. Rex’s 20th Century Boy on the stereo, I can’t suppress a smile.

David Brown Mini Remastered

It’s still a brilliant city car, too. Punchy power delivery and a tiny footprint (a metre shorter than a Ford Fiesta) make light work of traffic around Elephant and Castle. The fact that everyone let you out of junctions also helps; you don’t get that in a Porsche, nor will you turn half so many heads. Despite extra soundproofing, the 1,275cc engine is still pleasingly gruff, exhaling with occasional pops from the twin tailpipes. The optional five-speed gearbox is definitely worthwhile if you plan to venture beyond London limits, though.

The Mini is the best-selling British car of all time, with 5.4 million made between 1959 and 2000. David Brown’s ambitions are modest; it currently builds just one car a week and plans to double that next year. The notion of a £90,000 Mini is crazy, of course, yet the demand is clearly there. And after a few hours criss-crossing the capital, I’m also in thrall to its charm. Roger Daltry hoped to die before he got old, but the Mini has life in it yet.

Price: From £90,000

0-62mph: 11.7 secs

Top speed: 90mph

CO2 G/KM: 185

MPG combined: 43.0

Photos by Max Edleston. This review was originally published in City AM.

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Mini announces partnership with Parkrun

Mini Countryman at Parkrun

Mini has announced a new three-year partnership with Parkrun UK.

As part of the relationship, Mini will be attending a number of Parkrun events throughout the year, inviting runners to take a closer look at the Mini Electric and Countryman Plug-in Hybrid.

More than 2.2 million people have taken part in Parkrun events across the UK, so the partnership gives Mini access to a large and captive audience every weekend. Thousands of people take part in the free, weekly, timed 5km runs.

Mini celebrated the announcement by attending a Parkrun event in Oxford – the home of the Mini, where the all-electric model will be built.

Around 440 people of all ages took part in the early morning event in Cutteslowe and Sunnymead Park.

Mini Countryman boot at Parkrun

David George, managing director, Mini UK said, “Mini are really excited to support Parkrun. For the past 60 years we have made cars that bring smiles to people’s faces and created a real sense of community. Our shared optimistic spirit and desire to bring people together is what makes this such a great partnership.”

Nick Pearson, Parkrun CEO, added, “We’re delighted to welcome Mini as an official supporter of Parkrun. Like Mini, Parkrun was born in the UK and for over a decade we have been driven by our mission to create a healthier, happier planet.

“Every weekend, more than 200,000 people get together at their local events and take steps to positively improve their health and wellbeing.”

Mini Electric: yours for £299 a month

The Mini Electric is likely to be one of the most in-demand electric cars of 2020, with prices starting from £24,400 for the Level 1, rising to £30,400 for the Level 3. Standard features include AC and DC charging, sat-nav with real-time traffic information, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, and front and rear LED lights.

A lease deal makes the Mini Electric more accessible to Parkrunners. The Personal Contract Hire (PCH) package is spread over four years, with monthly payments of £299 after a £4,000 deposit.

Electric Mini laps the Nurburgring without braking

Mini Nurburgring no brakes

It takes a certain level of bravery to take to the Nurburgring at all. But one Mini driver has lapped the infamous circuit without even touching the brake pedal. His goal: to test the new electric Mini Cooper SE’s Green Mode regenerative systems.

For clarification, we’re not talking about flat-out driving. Rather, the lap required perfectly measured inputs of throttle to engage the right amount of battery-charging regenerative braking at the right time. 

The Green Hell in Green Mode

Mini Nurburgring no brakes

What’s the point of driving the Nurburgring if not flat-out? Well, besides the PR kudos that comes with taking your car there, it’s great for testing and calibration.

As with many electric cars, the Mini allows you to select how much retardation and regeneration you get when off the throttle, to the point where you can drive with one pedal. The Mini’s system is two-stage and adjustable with a toggle switch to the left of the start-stop button.

Mini Nurburgring no brakes

There’s a whole new challenge in selecting the right amount of regeneration for the coming corner. The softer stage provides 0.11g of deceleration, while the harder setting provides 0.19g.

Mini calls it ‘timely toggling’, to ensure ‘soft recuperation ahead of extended bends and full energy recovery with corresponding deceleration ahead of tight curves’.

The car will let you know which mode you’re in, with recuperation rates displayed, and LED lighting to correspond. The toggle switch also has its own LED that lights up in energy recovery mode.

Mini Nurburgring no brakes

“The first lap in the ‘Green Hell’ already reveals the extent to which the two-stage recuperation increases driving fun in tandem with efficiency,” said a Mini spokesperson.