The MINI is Dead / Long Live the MINI

Today marks the end of product for the first generation MINI coupes as the R56 MINI officially went into full scale production this morning. This means that, for every four R56’s that are assembled, a solitary R52 (Cabriolet) is now being built. Quite different from just 24 hours ago when those numbers were reversed.

With orders ended and production now ceased, we can officially say the first generation coupe era has ended. The cars will be on dealer lots for a few months yet (especially in the US where they will be the only coupes available until late January or early February) but actually trying to find what you want will start to get pretty difficult.

Over the next eight months the Oxford Plant will be building the R56 in vast numbers with the odd R52 thrown in the mix every so often. Also in the production line will be the R55 prototypes and the first R57 prototypes next summer. So look for more spy photos of each soon.

So lets raise our morning coffee, afternoon tea, or evening cocktail (depending where you are in the world right now) and give a toast to the first generation MINI. The car that rejuvenated a brand and has brought people together like perhaps no other car in history. It will be missed.

Now, bring on the R56.

Since we always have a few people ask whenever we post the above image, you can buy the magnetic badge pictured at Motoringbadges.com.

  • MrChips

    It is my sincerest hope that when the R56 ends it’s run in a few years, we will be able to look back and make just as many glowing and nostalgia-worthy statements about it’s impact.

    Goodbye R53! We love you and will continue to do so. Hello R56! You have some BIG little shoes to fill!

    Rich.

  • Nathaniel Salzman

    Cheers! Everybody give a nod when their speedometer hits 53 mph today. Ha!

    Gabe, do we have any final numbers on just how many R53s were produced to date? Was there any sort of ceremony at Oxford? Either way, I for one couldn’t be more proud to be a MINI owner and part of the MINI community. What other car in this market comes with its own fan club? Viva la MINI!

  • FrankInMiami

    What a remarkable car and what an incredible success story!

    Never seen a mass production car that sold briskly for over 5 years with no signs of letting down. The R50 production began in July 2001 and ended today. Amazing. What a lesson for other automakers.

    Long live the R50 and R53 hardtops. Today our cars have become “Instant classics”.

  • Brian

    Whats an R53?? …………….

    ok, ok, just kidding :)

  • FrankInMiami

    Nathaniel, I am sure that there was some sort of “ceremony” at Oxford today. BMW has much to celebrate today, looking at the past 5 and a half years since the “BMW MINI” was introduced and now looking at the future with the R56 platform.

    I hope Graham Robson is working in a 3rd edition of his book “New MINI” and hopefully he will add photos and articles marking the end of the R50 generation.

    We are witnessing history in the making!

  • http://bravo5.org/ blalor

    Cheers! Everybody give a nod when their speedometer hits 53 mph today. Ha!

    You mean “blink as you’re ripping past 53”? 😉

  • allenski

    I feel a little strange about this “final” day for the R53. Best wishes for the R56…may it live long enough…to prosper, just like it’s first generation.

  • mgcman

    Three cheers for the R53. One of the most significant automobiles of the last decade.

  • http://dbmini.us DB

    What? No love for the R50? Just because there isn’t a super charger? Sheesh 😉

  • http://www.myr53.com SB

    I guess it would be weird if I went out in the garage and hugged my R53? 😉

    End of a great era and hopefully the R56 will follow closely in its foot steps.

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  • FrankInMiami

    DB, we’ll make an exception for ya. 😉

  • Vanwall

    Large shoes for R56 to fill; in fact, there will never be another like the R50 and R53.

    A Toast to those who were here yesterday, but are with us no longer:

    Stand by your glasses steady, boys, This world is world of lies. Here’s a toast to the dead already, Hurrah, for the next man who dies!

    Sniff.

    Bcnu,
    

    Rob in Dago

  • gokartride

    The MINI is Dead?!?!? Not a good way to say goodby to R50/53 especially given the occasional animosity towards R56. No…the MINI is not dead, but yes, it is the end of an era. And DB, as special as R53 is, R50 is even moreso in my opinion…especially since the original bumper strips and four-slat grill have been gone for a long, long time.

  • alpinamike

    Long Live the Covertibles…..at least for two years or less…

  • Billy
    I am sure that there was some sort of “ceremony” at Oxford today.

    Unfortunately not! We ‘sweated it out’ all day long and only realised that full scale R56 production had started when we realised we were working a little harder than usual! Jobs still need to be re-allocated and re-timed all across the plant and as quality is a must, it MUST be done very soon! We were told in a team brief that as of Sunday the 3rd of December, R50 and 53 production would cease, but upon questioning our team co-ordinaters, they said that our volume of production had been so profound that we were about 1500 cars ahead of schedule! Yes we are that good 😉

  • FrankInMiami

    Billy, have you guys assembled any R55 Clubman prototypes there at Cowley?

    By the way, kudos for a fantastic product. Here loving my ’02 MC & ’05 MCS.

  • Billy
    Billy, have you guys assembled any R55 Clubman prototypes there at Cowley?

    Funny you should mention it! There was an initial hand built R55 which BMW had disassembled and us re-build! But in the last 6-8 weeks I think there’ve been 8 fresh brand new ones including two today (28/11/06) in that rather interesting shade of black. They do look ver nice when finished, especially in Sparkling Silver or Royal Grey – Just imagine you chop an R56 behind the front doors…..whack on about two feet of sheet metal….a suicide door on the RIGHT hand side (reguardless of drive hand)and two barn stylie doors on the back….chrome handles of course! Oh and FYI – the rear lights are built into the body of the car, and the doors close over the top, much like the Clubman concepts. 😉

  • FrankInMiami

    Billy, you have made my day!!!!

    Very exciting to hear your descriptions of the R55. I haven’t seen the new “Sparkling Silver” paintwork, but my wife liked the sound of it. probably we will order our new R55 in that color, if hopefully still available by then.

    Can you tell me how is the rear seat? Can 3 people seat in the back or it is still pretty much a 2 passenger rear bench? What do you think about the rear boot cargo space vs the 2 door hatchback model?

    Finally, are there 2 rear wipers in the final production model?

    Thanks!!!!

    Excited about the R55 in Miami

  • http://www.northamericanmotoring.com Dave

    The rear seats two in the clubman.

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  • MINI Fireman

    Hats off to the last of the new generation MINI’s.

  • http://www.orange.co.uk/cars Ginger

    Great – can’t wait for my R56 – will it be before Christmas???

  • http://www.recrudese.co.uk rec

    yay, start of a new era i think :] I’m picking my R56 Cooper up on Monday 😀

  • http://www.dickdavid.com dickdavid

    Now the R50 and R53 can start on the road to being a classic.

  • Jon

    Very hard to believe that the R50/R53 are at the end of their production lives. I am lucky enough to have had several examples of both since the inception of the model, and and quite honestly say “job well done” to Mini.

  • Billy
    Finally, are there 2 rear wipers in the final production model?

    Yes there are two wipers, one on each rear door. 2 large chrome handles that meet neatly in the middle, not a Mini Logo as depicted in some Artists impressions and just some useless info, the Right Rear door opens first Lol!

  • Billy
    Can you tell me how is the rear seat? Can 3 people seat in the back or it is still pretty much a 2 passenger rear bench?

    Sorry I forgot to mention that bit – still 2 seats I’m afraid but the luggage capacity is considerably greater, although I’m not certain of exact dimensions, but you can garuntee you’ll get more gear in for your New Mini Adventure

    I’M SUCH A COMPANY MAN! Lol

  • http://www.mini2.info cremi

    Well, it´s not really over for the R50/R53. it will last for a very long time in the hearts (and garages 😉 ) of there owners.

    So let´s give the R56 a chance.

    @Billy: could you watch out for an R56 Cooper S painted in racing green with a german specification the next few weeks? it could be mine 😀

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  • Billy
    Billy: could you watch out for an R56 Cooper S painted in racing green with a german specification the next few weeks? it could be mine 😀

    Absolutely! We really don’t make many Green 56s at the moment so I’ll keep my little eyes peeled.

  • Billy

    Oh and I must make a correction to an error in one of my comments reguarding the rear seats in the R55 – yes there are 3! My appologies to everyone I upset or confused lol.

  • http://www.mini2.info cremi
    Absolutely! We really don’t make many Green 56s at the moment so I’ll keep my little eyes peeled.

    Thank you! I heard all colours will be getting into production in early december. Hope to get my car before christmas 😉

  • http://security.tipcentral.net/ James
    Oh and I must make a correction to an error in one of my comments reguarding the rear seats in the R55 – yes there are 3! My appologies to everyone I upset or confused lol.

    I just tripped over this thread again and saw this info – phew! I already have permission to upgrade to one of these, and I needed to make sure it sat at least 3 in the rear – I may be the first in line to place an order for one in Ottawa. :)