It’s one of the most iconic pieces of industrial design of the last century – possibly of any century: the Mini, which revolutionised car design, turns 60 this year.
And the world is a very different place from what it was in 1959, when the brainchild of Sir Alec Issigonis first turned a wheel.
The cute little boxy car didn’t take off immediately, but by the time the Swinging Sixties with its peaceniks, free love and antiwar movements hit its stride, the Mini was the anti-status symbol of choice.
It was chosen by glamorous models (wearing mini dresses), royalty and pop stars, as well as being sold in the millions in Britain and other parts of the world.
Today, that quintessentially British image is now German, with the brand owned by BMW. The car has also grown in size, as well as in performance and safety, and is packed with clever gimmickry.
The Mini is a metaphor for how the world has changed: it’s bigger, faster, slicker, safer … and a lot more complex than it was six decades ago. The mutation of the Mini shows how people these days seem to be consumers above all else.
Perhaps we lost a little along that road…