The British are an anachronistic sort. When it comes to automotive brands, they let Jaguar linger with designs that dated back decades until Ford, and subsequently Tata, acquired the storied luxury make. Same with Land Rover. Same with a number of other brands you may or may not have ever heard of.
But then there’s Mini. Or should I say MINI, as parent company BMW likes to clearly differentiate it from its roots.
Mini has been around in one form or another since 1959, but when BMW bought its parent company Rover in 1994, it planned for a major overhaul of the diminutive brand. And a relaunch in the United States in all-caps, of course. However, we don’t believe in BMW’s nonsensical all-caps rule here at Automotive.com.
That said, Mini is now celebrating its 10th anniversary since coming back to the States, bringing with it a legion of loyal followers, evidenced by absurdly high resale values, cutesy styling, an enthusiast-worthy driving experience, and a premium feel to the subcompact segment. In fact, it could be said that BMW’s Mini invented the premium subcompact segment.
“Mini launched in the U.S. during the time when gas was cheap and large trucks and SUVs ruled the road,” says Mini USA vice president Jim McDowell in a statement. “Many thought the brand would be a one-hit wonder, and we are extremely proud that we were able to surprise some of the toughest critics, and at times, even ourselves.”
The brand weathered through with just one product—the Mini Cooper—in four different flavors until the long-wheelbase version called the Clubman showed up for the 2008 model year. The Countryman crossover, Mini Coupe, and Mini Roadster have subsequently arrived, making the Mini brand into a legitimate make of six unique vehicles based around the same basic mechanicals.
Mini’s sales grew to their greatest level during our first bout with $4 gas in 2008, but the brand sold a still-impressive 57,511 vehicles in 2011. That’s approximately one out of every five BMW products sold.
Though almost twice the size of the original Austin/BMC/Rover/Mini Cooper, the current model still embodies a sense of quirkiness and fun, despite the fact that it belongs to makers of all things fast, fun, and not-so-quirky, BMW. We’re glad to say that Mini was one of the primary movers in bringing fun, premium-feeling cars back to the masses, and we say happy anniversary to the little Anglo-Teutonic brand that could.