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Five Decades of Mini History

Five Decades of Mini History

Tiny, quirky, and now—thanks to a well-executed revival in 2001—more popular than ever, Britain's Mini (renamed MINI at relaunch) has had a long and surprisingly varied history. In the five decades since they were first produced, Minis have been used as everything from delivery vans for narrow city streets to military vehicles to canvases for artistic embellishment.

From the very beginning in 1959, the car had a minimalist philosophy. The first two models, called the Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor, didn't come with radios. The dashboard was fitted with just three instruments: a speedometer, odometer, and gas guage. And even an interior heater was an add-on. Such space-saving measures meant that 80% of the Mini's floorplan was available to passengers, allowing the diminuitive car to hold four adults and their luggage. Click on for a look at 50 years of Mini history.