Dec 31st, 2010
Yesterday we published part one of our interview with former Head of MINI Design Gert Hildebrand. We talked about the past, the design process and touched on number of questions that have been batted around here on MF over the years. Today we get into the juicy stuff (in our opinion) with more talk about the present and future of the MINI brand as well as automotive design. Oh and what will Gert be driving upon leaving MINI? It’s in there as well. Finally we also have a nice bonus gallery of Gert’s photos from MTTS after the break.
MotoringFile: I know this is cliched but we have to ask. What is your biggest regret while at MINI? Is there anything you would have done differently?
Gert Hildebrand: Looking back and regret makes never sense. It only may hurt. Nothing and no one is perfect, so there are a lot ofÂ MISSING IN ACTION cases. If you are not a corporate-man (which mostÂ designers are not) some of the grease to operate at management level might be missing. But on the other side it brings character to the product. Some more greaseâ€¦â€¦.?Â NO I REGRET NOTHING!
Dec 31st, 2010
Unfortunately, it looks like this one is only viewable over at Facebook for now, but it’s well worth the trip over to big blue. Big thanks to Jack for sending it in.
Dec 30th, 2010
A few weeks ago MINI announced that Head of MINI Design Gert Hildebrand was to leave at the end of 2010. Over the years we’ve enjoyed a great relationships with MINI executives and none more warm than with Gert. So both sides thought a final interview was in order. It gives him a chance to properly say goodbye to MINI fans and us a chance to ask all those questions we’ve always wondered about.
Due to the length and depth of the interview we’ve split it into two parts. Look for part two tomorrow (focusing on the present and future).
Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview Gert. It’s been a privilege getting to know you over the years and we feel it an honor to interview you upon your departure from MINI. We have lots of questions for you that span the past ten years so let’s jump in…
MotoringFile: In almost ten years at MINI, what has been your biggest challenge?
Gert Hildebrand: The biggest challenge was to keep a balance between the historical responsibility to a very rich past and the need to move along with new concepts and evolutionary-managed modern form language.Â Not to stick with retro-heritageÂ but not spoil the design with fashionable fast living features and styling on the contrary.Â As a German national it was of course important to keep the Britishness of the brand and product intact. If this was achieved under my watch it’s up to others to judge. But this was and is essential to the past and upcoming success for MINI.
MF: Tell me about the first few years – what were they like as you were building the brand?
GH: MINI DESIGN started Jan 2001 in a 40 square-meter room in the BMW/FIZ buildingÂ with 4 designers:Â frank Stephenson (Exterior), Marcus Syring (Exterior/Interior), Jaennette Ohlhauser (Color/Trim) Â Marisol Manso(Color & Trim) and myself.Â The first thing that Marcus and I did was the MINI ROADSTER which itself was based on an earlier speedster that Frank did. From there we started to create the broader portfolio strategy. This first few days of work defined all the products we have on the market today (plus a few to come). After that it was just working to get them approved and protecting the unique aesthetic and characteristic parameters. In fact that work continues to this day! The work could be summed up by this: ANALYZING, DEFINING, IMPLEMENTING (DOING)
Dec 30th, 2010
We’ve received word that the MINI Dakar race team is safe and sound in South America ready for the big race. Best of luck to them and we can’t wait to see that Countryman in action.
[Press Release] All members of the Monster Energy X-raid rally team has safely arrived in Buenos Aires to begin final preparations for the official start of the 33rd Personal Dakar Argentina-Chile on New Yearâ€™s Day. continued →
Dec 29th, 2010
MINI UK has started a winter tyre (yes, it’s spelled tyre in the UK, just go with it) program to give MINI owners better grip in the winter months. Our MINI dealer sources tell us that for now, these specific tyres are not available to US dealers at this time. They’re in the UK, in the back, with all the diesel MINIs. But take hope, your local MINI USA dealer can put together a winter tire combo for you too, it just won’t be these specific shoes.
With average British winter temperatures dipping below 7Â°C, MINI customers can now equip their cars with specially developed winter tyres. With more natural rubber in their compound to give extra grip at lower temperatures, winter tyres are the perfect way to stay safe in the ice, snow and rain. And, with MINIâ€™s winter wheel and tyre packages, style conscious drivers donâ€™t have to compromise; both steel and alloy rim design combinations are available across the entire range. continued →
Dec 28th, 2010
Tastes in custom cars are as varied as the rainbow of available metal flake paint they come in. Take this latest offering from Schmidt Revolution. They took a MINI Clubman S, added some custom wheels, a blue vinyl wrap, a Streetec air suspension, and then tuned the engine up to 200 hp. The best part (and no, I can’t keep a straight face as I type this) is the name. They’re calling it the StreetWorker. The grill badge is a nice touch though. More photos after the break. continued →
Dec 27th, 2010
In my estimation, the Countryman exists to appeal primarily to two groups: those who want more interior room, and those who want a MINI with AWD. I definitely fall into the latter category. These Minnesota winters push the cold weather driving capabilities of any car. And while my stock 2006 Cooper S is manageable in the slush and slick of Keillor country, I have to drive it very, very carefully â€” even on good tires. As such, I’ve been very keen to get my hands on MINI’s new micro crossover and see if the new All4 system just might be my winter road secret weapon. continued →