This may be helpful information to a Mini enthusiast or classic car restorer who is interested in purchasing Mini spares and accessories.
The Mini is considered an icon of the 1960s and has become one of the most famous classic cars of all time. In 1959 The British Motor Corporation launched the Mini to compete with the bubble cars of the day. These were a consequence of the Suiz crisis in 1956 that resulted in petrol rationing. Alec Issigonis who designed the Morris Minor was asked by BMC boss Leonard Lord to design a car that would drive the bubble cars off the road. He was instructed to design a car that would seat four, be the smallest car that the corporation currently made and use an existing engine. The Mini was given the A series engine already used in the Morris Minor and Austin A 35 thereby making economical use of existing parts. The only difference was that it was mounted sideways in a very clever arrangement with the gearbox in the sump driving the front wheels. This design has been taken up by pretty much every car manufacturer worldwide to this day.
Over 41 years of production from 1959 to 2000 the Mini can be divided up into 3 basic major design changes: The Mini Mk1 from 1959 to 1967, the Mini Mk2 from 1967 to 1970, the Mini Mk3 from 1970 to 1976 and the Mini Mk4 from 1976.
This divides Minis up into the major body shell design changes.
- Mini Mk2: Wider rear windscreen and different shaped radiator grill.
- Mini Mk3: Larger doors, wind-up windows and internal door hinges.
- Mini Mk4: Rubber mounted subframes.
As far as Mini spares are concerned the Mini is very versatile and lends itself very much to DIY maintenance because of its basic design, economical cost of Mini parts and huge choice of aftermarket Mini parts and accessories for modification. Because a lot of basic measurements and designs have not changed over the years many Mini spares are interchangeable between the marks and years of Mini production.
For example, the basic measurements of the Mini engine mountings and Mini subframes have remained the same allowing engines to be swapped between Minis of different years. The seat mountings have stayed the same since 1962 allowing any front seat to be fitted to any car and goodness knows how many versions of seats have been designed over the years. It is also useful for any Mini DIY enthusiast to know that the most used thread size of nut/bolt/set screw for the average part is 5/16 inch UNF. 1/4 inch UNF covers the smaller Mini spares and 3/8 inch UNF for some of the larger Mini parts. There are of course other sizes for less numerous Mini spare parts. These are all imperial measurements. Metric threads were not used with the exception of, for example, brake pipe unions on the GMC227 Mini dual circuit brake master cylinders introduced in 1985 and some aftermarket Mini spares. The rear subframes, rear suspension and rear brake parts have mostly remained the same throughout the 41 years of production.
There were two basic engine designs over the life of the Mini. These were the original A series and the A+ series engines. The A+ series engine was introduced in 1980 and was really a hybrid of the A series engine built as a stronger version. The cylinder block and cylinder head were heavier castings. Again many of the basic measurements were kept the same allowing, for example, cylinder heads to be interchanged. The Mini engine capacities were 848cc, 997cc, 998cc, 970cc, 1071cc, 1275cc and 1098cc.
Apart from the Mini saloon there were also other versions which included the Mini Cooper range, Mini Automatic, Mini Van, Mini Pickup, Mini Moke, Mini Traveller, Mini Countryman, Mini Clubman, Mini Clubman Estate and Mini 1275 GT. There were also numerous other models and limited editions. For example the Austin Seven Mini, Mini Super Deluxe, Mini Special, Mini HL, Mini Mayfair, Mini Sprite, Mini 25, Mini 30, Mini 40, Mini Sky, Mini Red Hot, Mini Racing Green, Mini Racing Flame and a great many more Mini models.
The manufacturing names over the years were Austin, Morris, British Motor Corporation, British Leyland and Rover Cars.