The Mini, as it became universally known, was developed under codename ADO15 by BMC (the British Motor Corporation) in response to the fuel shortage caused by the 1956 Suez Crisis and the huge growth in sales and popularity in the UK of imported small cars and bubblecars.
Famously, Leonard Lord the head of BMC, tasked Alec Issigonis – who had already achieved a reputation with the earlier creation of the Morris Minor - with the design of a British competitor to a set of specific design requirements covering overall size, passenger space and power plant. By mid-1957, Issigonis and his team had the first prototype ready, incorporating its iconic space-saving transverse engine and front-wheel drive layout, together with unique, compact, rubber cone suspension system. Although the use of an existing engine had been specified, the 948 cc A-Series unit fitted provided a little too much performance, and a revised 848 cc capacity version was created for the new car. Claimed power was just 33 bhp but this still endowed the vehicle with a 75 mph top speed.
The new car was officially announced to the public on 26 August 1959 and initially marketed under both the Austin and Morris names, as the ‘Austin Seven’ and ‘Morris Mini-Minor’. Although they were a slow seller in the first instance, sales soon picked up with the help of well-publicised celebrity purchases by film and music stars, and the Mini entered into popular culture, becoming a marque in its own right in 1969 and remaining an automotive design icon well after the end of manufacture in the 21st Century.
The Austin Seven name was only used until 1962, when it was rebranded as the Austin Mini.
This early Austin Seven Mini was first registered new in Guernsey in April 1960 and has been in the hands of just two families and a single third owner since that time. It has covered under 29,000 miles in 60 years and is in an amazingly original and unmolested condition.