Dec 9th, 2013
Given the launch of the new MINI and the recent pre-production shell that popped up on eBay, we’ve been digging into our archives a bit and thinking about how the modern MINI came about. Over the past ten years MotoringFile has written much about Mini, Rover and BMW in the 1990s but it’s such a good story it’s always worth a revisit. So with that in mind we wanted to go back and take look at the concepts from that time period that help guide us to the R50 which set the tone for all modern MINI’s to come.
The idea of a modern MINI had been floating around since the late 60’s. But the Mini’s appeal and subsequent sales success kept it in production for two decades longer than originally anticipated. However the various government backed companies that manufactured the Mini through the years were less than successful on the business side of things. In fact British Leyland, Rover, etc tried to kill the Mini more than once (first to avoid converting the engine to run on unleaded, then to avoid increasing safety requirements) but English public opinion was too negative. So when BMW bought Rover and the Mini there was quite a bit of hope for the future. continued →
Dec 7th, 2013
Frank Stephenson, exterior designer of the R50 and R53 MINI was interviewed earlier this year on the occasion of his latest creation debuting – the McLaren P1. Frank, a long time reader and friend of MF created the R50 during a time of intense turmoil and competition amongst BMW and Rover designers and engineers. The resulting car is often looked at as the most pure of not best looking modern MINI to date. Even if a lack of pedestrian safety standards certainly gave the design team much more freedom, it’s hard to argue the R50 isn’t design success.
It’s with that success that Frank moved onto Ferrari and Fiat where he oversaw everything from the F430 Scuderia to the Fiat 500 to the Maserati MC12. From there Frank moved north and to McLaren where he cleaned up an already in progress MC12 and designed the already mythical P1. So to say he has some credibility around MotoringFile and the general automotive world is an understatement. And that begs the question, what are his thoughts on the modern state of MINI design? Yahoo Automotive’s Jamie Kitman caught up with Frank earlier this year and talked specifically about that amongst other automotive topics. Keep in mind that this interview happened earlier this year and thus doesn’t include reactions to the new F56. However the full interview is well worth a read but the MINI specifics portions (which you can see after the break) are particularly interesting.
To say Frank dislikes the R5X MINI range would be an understatement. We can’t say we agree with him but it’s easy to understand his perspective. While he didn’t have to deal with the raft of new crash standards with his R50, he is clearly qualified to have an opinion.
Check it out after the break. continued →
Dec 3rd, 2013
Want an early look at MINI development? This prototype shell found on eBay gives us an interesting window into that time period where Rover still had some control over engineering and BMW was guiding the ship from afar.
Sep 21st, 2013
Six years ago I spent the day with Marcus Syring (head of MINI exterior design) driving a car he designed (the MINI Clubman) down Highway 1 along the California coast. I was blown away by his graciousness, intelligence and humbleness as he answered eight hours of question after question. Over the years we became friends and his genuine love for the brand and his high regard for the opinions of MINI owners was always great to see. However all good things must come to an end and today we bid Marcus farewell and best of luck in his new role at Rolls Royce. He’s leaving at the perfect time having seen the third generation of “new” MINIs finished. For more on Markus, check out this in-depth article seen on MF earlier this year.
Official Release: The MINI Design team led by Anders Warming welcomes Christopher Weil, 38, as its new head of Exterior Design. A Bavarian by birth, he has worked as a designer for the BMW Group since 2000, most recently for Automotive Design at BMW Group DesignworksUSA. Marcus Syring, 49, leaves his post as head of Exterior Design to join Rolls-Royce. Oliver Sieghart remains responsible for Interior Design and Annette Baumeister for Colour and Material Design.
“As head of BMW Group Design I’m very proud of the wealth of talent in my team. I am convinced that through this restructuring we have given a significant boost to design in the individual brand studios and will continue to shape the future of BMW Group Design with success,” says Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design.
Jul 25th, 2013
A few weeks ago MINI’s carefully planned launch for the 3rd generation MINI (aka the F56) was rudely taken off script. Over 25 photos were taken of the F56 in various states of undress during a marketing photoshoot. And the reaction to what was seen wasn’t good. Due to the angle, lighting and the fact that the photos we’re taken using extremely long zoom lenses from far away the F56 did not come out looking good.
From what we know of the car the photos didn’t do the overall shape and design justice. And apparently MINI agreed immediately releasing a rather cheeky PR response. But today MINI is giving us much more on not just the new F56 MINI but the entire future of MINI design. Make no mistake this is a concept car. But the overall shape and many of the design features here are lightly disguised versions of what we’ll see on the F56.
With Anders Warming now fully leading the design team there’s never been a better time to take a step back and look at the future of the brand. From what we see here and what we know, it looks pretty bright to us. But we’ll let you be the ultimate judge after seeing the gallery, reading the interview and watching video after the break. continued →
Jul 22nd, 2013
MINI’s been toying with concepts for years that show the potential versatility of the brand’s products. Now we have three new ones based on existing products. The trio each reflect different aspects of the rise in popularity of camping and festivals, creating a choice of premium home-from-home options for the traveller.
Feb 26th, 2013
Writing for MotoringFile over the years has afforded us great opportunities to get to know the people behind the cars that we love. From Frank Stephanson to Gert Hildebrand and now Anders Warming we’ve always been impressed by the character of each and the dedication to the brand above personal interests. But perhaps no one has had a bigger impact and been ore dedicated to MINI in recent years than Marcus Syring. continued →