The first Mini rolled off the production line way back on May 8 1959, and today is the 50th anniversary of that event. It was a couple of years beforehand that the first prototype was tested, and later in August 1959 before it hit showrooms, but it?s the 8th of May that is widely considered to be the day Mini enthusiasts celebrate.
That first car, registration 621 AOK, still exists, being kept warm all these years at the British Motor Industry Heritage Museum, and it?ll be shown off at a number of commemorative events in 2009, including the International Mini Meet 2009.
To help celebrate old man (but young at heart) Mini?s 50th birthday, MINI AUnited 2009 will kick out the jams on May 24 at Harold Park Raceway in Sydney.
Timed to coincide with with MINI United 2009 at Silverstone in the UK, MINI AUnited 2009 will feature a range of events designed to help enthusiasts take part in what is hoped to be the largest gathering of MINI cars and customers in the Mini?s storied history in Australia.
?This is a great opportunity for all drivers of the ?New? MINI and ?Classic? Mini to get together and celebrate the heritage of this fantastic brand," Justin Hocevar, National Manager MINI said.
"What makes it really exciting, of course, that this is happening simultaneously with MINI United celebrations in the UK.?
MINI is also offering a range of MINI AUnited service packages at dealerships around NSW and the ACT to help enthusiasts get their classic Mini or new MINI ready for the big day, including the MINI AUnited 2009 Health-Check, Bling-Pack and Touch-Up packages.
All proceeds from the event will go to Barnados Australia, The Children?s Charity.
An icon of the 60s, a time of cultural revolution and rapid social change, the Mini stands as one of the most recognisable and memorable vehicles in automotive history.
?Anniversaries are always a wonderful opportunity to look back at the past. But on days like today, it?s also good to look to the future. Therefore, our objective is absolutely clear: We are going to continue the success story of Mini and continue to strengthen it,? BMW Board member, Mr Frank-Peter Arndt said.
?Where is MINI going? Where will it be in 10, 20 or even another 50 years? time? Perhaps it?s rather ambitious to look that far ahead, but one thing is certain, Mini is a brand not only with a great tradition, but also a fantastic future.?
?Little did anyone know just how popular Sir Alec Issigonis?s car for the people would be ? or that half a century later it would be reborn as the Mini and once again be built in Oxford,? said Dr J?rgen Hedrich, Plant Oxford?s managing director.
?This is a momentous day in the plant and car?s history. Everyone at the plant is proud to be part of both the heritage and the future of this car.?
The legend lives on in the new MINI, and while it is larger and bulkier ? to cater, of course, to today?s needs and safety requirements ? most enthusiasts seem to agree that the spirit of the original Mini remains strong in the 21st century?s own MINI.
Events Table for MINI AUnited 2009
MINI MEET (2pm, gates open from 1pm)
Participants will meet at Harold Park Raceway for the MINI People?s Choice Awards to determine Australia?s favourite MINI where they will also have the opportunity to view the latest from MINI, including the new MINI Cabrio and Australia?s most fuel efficient and lowest CO2 emitting vehicle on our roads, the MINI Cooper D. The latest MINI Accessories and MINI Collection will also be available for all to enjoy.
MINI SKY (3pm)
As ?New? MINI and ?Classic? Mini drivers enter Harold Park they will be parked in formation to mark the 50th Anniversary. To capture the memory, aerial photography will mark the occasion.
MINI MOTION (4pm)
MINI Motion is set to be the biggest MINI Convoy Australia has witnessed. From Harold Park the convoy will head north on the City West Link, which will take the convoy over the ANZAC Bridge and past the Sydney CBD.
MINI ICON (4.15pm)
As part of MINI Motion the convoy of vehicles will take in two of Australia?s most iconic landmarks, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House creating a sight to behold for Sydneysiders and a lasting memory for those celebrating MINI?s 50th Anniversary.
MINI VISION (6.00pm)
The sights and sounds of MINI AUnited continue at the final destination but this time in front of the big screen, at the historic Blacktown Drive-In, where the legendary MINI movie, The Italian Job will be screened.
Registration and Information
All drivers of the New MINI and Classic Mini are invited to join. For more information about the event and to register for MINI AUnited 2009 please refer to www.minaunited.com.au. The MINI AUnited 2009 Central Information Hotline is 1800 682 385.