It was 55 years ago that the very first Mini was released in the United Kingdom on August 26th, 1959 by the British Motor Corporation. The original Mini, the Mark I Mini, was built to be a small and affordable family vehicle that didn't need to use much gas. That was partly in response to the Suez Canal Crisis of the 1950s, which cut gas supplies short for Europe.
That first Mini cost a paltry $800, and was an instant hit with consumers. It was also one of the first mass produced front-wheel drive vehicles. Others would follow in its footsteps, like the VW Golf.
The Mini Cooper, which is still being built today, originated when racing magnate John Cooper convinced chief engineer Sir Alec Issigonis to put a more robust engine in the Mini. The resulting car won the Monte Carlo Rally 4 times, and was dubbed the "Mini Cooper".
The classic Mini is now out of production. It finally retired after 41 years of production in the year 2000. Today's Mini is owned by BMW. Some have criticised the expansion of the Mini vehicle lineup into strange territory at times, but the core models stick to the spirit of the original Mini. Under the leadership of BMW, we can only speculate as to what the next 55 years has in store us from Mini.