Poppy – 1996 Mini Cooper Sportspack
Today’s Mini is, of course, very different to that first car. Under the ownership of the BMW Group, the Mini is bigger, and is just one of a family of related models. A family that is continuously expanding to incorporate versions that Issigonis (who died in 1988) would never have dreamed of.
But what was Issignosis’s vision, and why has the Mini enjoyed such an enduring appeal? Issigonis, born in 1906, was a talented engineer and designer who worked for Humber, Austin and, from 1936, Morris Motors Ltd. There he worked on a number of cars, including the Morris Minor. In 1955 he was recruited by the British Motor Corporation to design a family of new models.
The smaller of these took priority when fuel rationing was introduced to the Suez Crisis and development was accelerated. In August 1959 that small car was launched as the Morris Mini Minor and the Austin Seven. It wasn’t until 1961 that it was renamed the Austin Mini, and eight years after that Mini became a marque in its own right.
Issigonis’s design broke the mould, with its transverse-engine, front-wheel-drive layout and incredibly compact dimensions. It revolutionised the small car and became the best-selling British car in history, with a production run of 5.3 million units. Production ran until 2000.
Poppy, our 1996 Mini Cooper, is one of the later models produced with fuel injection. Where the first Mini from 1959 was refined and elegant in its appearance, Poppy is striking and in-your-face thanks to its optional Sportspack. Wearing its trademark two-tone livery in Tahiti Blue / Aspen White and sporting the tell tale white bonnet stripes, Poppy makes no attempt to disguise its racing roots. The car was first delivered in Luxembourg where it spent all its life before joining our colourful fleet in early spring. Despite it’s “modest” 1275cc engine it is an absolutely joyful thing to drive and will always put a smile on your face, no matter if you are stuck in traffic or enjoying a blast on country lanes.