Heritage

MINI celebrates 60 years of iconic style

MINI is celebrating its 60th birthday in 2019.

Photo courtesy of MINI

McCartney. Sellers. Statham. Madonna. McQueen. The names that have driven them are as iconic in their industry as the name MINI is in its.

This year, MINI turned 60. It was on August 26, 1959 that the car made its debut in Oxford, England following the design charge of creating a competitor to German and French micro-cars.

Over the years, MINI has hit a number of milestones, but aside from the overall launch, perhaps the brand's most influential moment is when John Cooper got involved. His development of the Mini Cooper gave the brand stronger performance chops, strengthened by the car's in at the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965, and 1967.

1964 MINI rally Paddy HopkirkPaddy Hopkirk won the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally. Photo courtesy of MINI

In 1967, the car took center stage on the silver screen alongside Michael Caine in "The Italian Job." The MINI became a status symbol as owners including George Harrison from The Beatles and legendary actor and motoring enthusiast Steve McQueen purchased one for themselves. After a seven-year run, the first-generation MINI's tenure came to an end.

The Italian Job 1969Cars racing down staircase in a scene from the film "The Italian Job", 1969.Photo by Getty Images

In 1999, MINI celebrated its 40th anniversary and was named the "European Car of the Century by 130 international automotive journalists. MINI sold 5.3 million cars in its first 40 years in business.

With great privilege comes great responsibility. By 2000, MINI had became part of the BMW family and the company tasked its employees with redesigning the vehicle while maintaining the hallmark equipment and branding MINI enthusiasts had come to know and love.

BMW introduced a new generation of MINI Cooper models in 2001. Cooper, Cooper S, and One models were available. The John Cooper Works range of tuning options quickly followed.

Jason Statham, Seth Green, Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, and Mos Def brought the MINI back to the tip of American tongues when they starred in the 2003 remake of "The Italian Job."

The Italian Job 2003The entrance at the premiere after-party for "The Italian Job" on May 27, 2003 in Los Angeles, California.Photo by Getty Images

MINI owners were able to have the wind in their hair beginning in 2005 when the company introduced their first convertible. The model, with a full automatic roof, came in Cooper, Cooper S, and One variants. In 2007, the company followed up with MINI Hardtop convertible models and a John Cooper Works grade arrived in 2008.

In the last decade, the company has introduced Coupe, Roadster, and Paceman models, which have since bid "cheerio," but the fresh Countryman and Clubman MINIs are still on sale today.

This year, the company debuted a new all-electric MINI, dubbed the MINI Cooper SE. The model delivers around 125 miles of range and shares components with the BMW i3. The new vehicle will reach dealerships later this year.

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New hot hatch

This is the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla

The GR Corolla is headed for our shores later this year.

Toyota

Car enthusiasts in the United States frequently have to watch as automakers release wild performance cars, particularly hatchbacks and wagons, that we can't get. Surprisingly, it's Toyota that is here to save us all. The automaker's GR Yaris hatchback made waves in global markets when it landed a couple years ago, and now it's bringing a beefed-up GR Corolla to the U.S. that will get many of that car's rally-inspired go-fast bits.

Two trims will be available at launch. The "entry-level" model is the Core trim, which comes later in 2022. In 2023, Toyota will release a limited Circuit Edition that gets upgraded performance components and a nicer interior.

The Corolla hot hatch shares its turbocharged 1.6-liter engine with the GR Yaris, but in the Corolla it got a bump to 300 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. The car comes exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission and Toyota's GR-Four AWD system. The driver can change the GR's power distribution to suit the situation and driving style. The system can send up to 70 percent of power to the rear.

2023 Toyota GR CorollaThe GR Corolla gets a turbocharged three-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive.

Though it's based on the standard car, the GR Corolla is wider than its counterpart, and features more weld points for better structural rigidity. Toyota says it used extensive structural adhesive throughout as well, which should further improve handling. The car rides on 18-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires standard.

The GR's interior features a driver-oriented setup with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a short-throw shifter positioned for easy reach by the driver. The Core trim comes with cloth upholstery and the Circuit Edition gets suede and synthetic leather. Both models offer sport seats with GR logos and the Circuit Edition brings heating for the front buckets.

Toyota will offer three packages to upgrade the Core Edition:

  • Performance package: front and rear Torsen limited slip differentials (LSD)
  • Technology package : JBL premium audio, navigation, and wireless smartphone charging
  • Cold Weather package: Heated front seats and heated steering wheel

2023 Toyota GR CorollaA six-speed manual transmission is the only option. Toyota

Toyota hasn't given out pricing details for the GR Corolla, but we should learn more soon. The Core trim is due out later this year and the Circuit Edition will be sold as a 2023 model year exclusive for the car's first year on sale.

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The event takes place across a 1,000-km desert route.

Performance Communications

Off-road racing events are gaining popularity, but as with other aspects of motorsport, women are generally underrepresented. Following the lead of Rebelle Rally, an all-women American event, a new navigation rally will take place next week in Saudi Arabia. Rally Jameel will run see competitors running between 300 and 500 kilometers a day in hopes of achieving navigational excellence in the Saudi desert.

The event is scheduled to take place between March 17 and March 19, and will feature 33 two-person teams from around the world. Seven of the competitors are from the United States, but all of the competing women will be faced with a 1,000-kilometer race route that runs from Ha'il to Riyadh.

Rally Jameel33 two-person teams will compete.Performance Communications

Competitors will field a variety of AWD and 4WD vehicles, including models from Toyota, Lexus, and Porsche. The idea is that the vehicles should be normal, everyday models, instead of purpose-built off-road racers. Rather than speed, the event prioritizes navigational precision. Participants can use navigation tech and a digital road book, and must focus on their routes to achieve the best timing.

Rally Jameel takes inspiration from the Rebelle Rally, the first women's off-road navigation rally in the U.S. Rebelle organizers blessed the Saudi Arabia-based event, and Jameel will see at least one competitor that competed in the event, Sedona Blinson. Abdul Latif Jameel Motors, a Toyota Saudi Arabia dealership, initiated the event, along with Bakhashab Motorsport.

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