Some countries have one car that is so ubiquitous as to be a national mascot. For the Germans, it's the VW Beetle. The French have the Citroen 2CV. America? As much as we'd like to claim something glamorous and sporty like the Corvette or Mustang, in reality our mascot is probably the Ford F-150. This post, though, is about Britain. If there is one car that symbolizes The Empire to the rest of the world, it's an original Mini. (Sorry, Jaguar, maybe you can form a support group with the Corvette, the Mustang, and the 911.)
I found this Austin Mini parked street side several months back. It looks to be of the Mk II variety, built from 1967 to 1970. Clearly visible in the pictures are many of the practical design elements that made the original Minis so successful, such as sliding windows to make room for storage in the doors, wheels pushed all the way to the corners to expand the passenger compartment, and the bottom-hinged trunk, designed to be left open for hauling large loads. If the badges are to be believed, this is the hot "S" version, but with half a million Mk II Minis built, "S" production percentage is only in the single digits. Horsepower figures for even the hottest Minis didn't crack triple digits, but their light weight and extremely low center of gravity made for a steady stream of racing victories in their time. Regardless of provenance, the upswept center exhaust, ground effects, and dropped stance swing this Mini away from the usual cute and well into aggressive. On start-up, this car snarled like a dirt bike, and any car with tires wider than they are tall deserves some respect.
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