As many of you probably know there’s an interesting story behind the MINI’s exhaust tip and why it looks like it does. This story was originally posted last year (and has been around for many years) but with the overwhelming number of new visitors to MotoringFile, we thought a retelling might be in order.


It started one late night before a morning board review. According to designer Frank Stephenson; “We worked a number of 24-hour days trying to get the full-sized clay model completed for presentation to the board of directors. So when we finished the job with just hours to spare, I thought it appropriate that the team have a beer or two to celebrate. That’s when I spotted the problem.”

That problem was the complete absence of an exhaust tip on the otherwise complete clay. Thinking quickly, Stephenson stripped the paint from his beer can, punched a hole in the bottom, and fixed it in place on the model.

It wasn’t long before he was called to answer to this unusual design. “It wasn’t the shape (of the tip),” he says, “everybody liked it because it was unique yet oddly familiar. He was concerned that I had wasted a modeler’s time milling the piece when his time could be better spent elsewhere. That was when I felt the need to confess.”

Reportedly that confession got him stunned silence followed by nearly uncontrollable laughter.

While the beer can tip applies to all R50 derived models you can see the influence a bit more in the R50 Cooper as its single tip is larger.