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 Hopkirk Paddy 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 1969 Cars 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 2003 The 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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The 2022 Mini Cooper SE alongside the 2009 Mini E

Photo courtesy of MINI

The Amelia Island Concours is an event that features some of the rarest and most desirable vehicles in the world today, but it has increasingly become a launchpad for automakers' latest models. This year, Mini took the opportunity to unveil updates to its Cooper SE. The all-electric car was shown off as an updated 2022 model.

The new Cooper SE features updated front and rear styling, an overhauled interior, and several new color options, including a multi-color roof. The Mini Cooper SE is still one of the more fun-to-drive EVs on the market, as its small size and low center of gravity make it just about the closest thing to a go-kart that can be legally driven on the road.

Mini at Amelia Island 2009 Mini E alongside 2022 Cooper SEPhoto courtesy of MINI

The SE comes standard with an 8.8-inch digital gauge cluster, a heated steering wheel, lane departure warnings, and SiriusXM satellite radio. Pricing remains reasonable, making the Cooper SEthe most attainable EV on sale today, according to Mini. The car's base pricing is held at the previous model year's number, and starts at $29,900. Even after the $850 destination charge is added, the car clocks in at a great price. That's before any federal or state tax credits are applied, which can make the car's final price tumble below $20,000 for many buyers.

The 2022 Mini Cooper SE gets attractive updates and a stellar price, so what's the downside? Well, range is the biggest one. On a full charge, the Cooper SE will only be able to travel 114 miles – a far cry from other EVs' abilities, which can top 300 miles for some cases. To be fair, those vehicles cost more, so it's a tradeoff that buyers will have to negotiate. That range is still more than suitable for an urban commuter, and two major EV publications agree. The car won Urban Green Car of the Year from Green Car Journal and took second place for Greenest Car by Greencars.org.

Mini at Amelia Island Updated 2022 Mini Cooper SEPhoto courtesy of MINI

Joining the 2022 Cooper SE was Mini's first all-electric vehicle, and established the automaker as an early player in the EV space. Mini, along with parent company BMW, used the vehicles as rolling test beds for EV technology, and referred to the first customers as "Electronauts." The cars were only available for a one-year lease at a cost of $850 per month, and offered up to 100 miles of range and 204 horsepower.

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Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Sylvania Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on June 22, 2020 in Talladega, Alabama.

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The Vulcan Trophy is presented to the winner of each of NASCAR's top-tier Cup Series races - one in the spring, one in the autumn. Television broadcasts usually show the trophy a few times throughout the race, then when the champion is in the winner's circle in Victory Lane. It's worth taking a closer look at.

The trophy is more than two-and-a-half times taller than a bowling pin.

The Vulcan Trophy stands 38 inches tall(26 inches Vulcan, 13 inches base), but it's not the biggest of the NASCAR trophies. The Harley J. Earl Trophy, which is given the winner of the Daytona 500, is four feet tall and five feet wide.

It's also heavy, weighing in at 130 pounds.

Kyle Larson Las Vegas Speedway 2021

Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, celebrates with the checkered flag after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 07, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

The Vulcan Trophy weighs just about as much as NASCAR driver Kyle Larson, who is listed on Wikipedia as being 135 pounds.

The Vulcan on the trophy is holding three items with ties to mining history. 

Birmingham was founded in 19871 and is unique because its land contains coal, iron ore, and limestone - the raw materials for making iron and steel. This is the inspiration for the items the Vulcan is holding.

According to NASCAR, "His hammer and anvil that he used in his forge (shop where metal is heated and hammered into useful items) and the spear, which is a piece of his completed work that he held high and admired. For the winners of Saturday's doubleheader – the General Tire 200 for the ARCA Menards Series and the Ag-Pro 300 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series, they will receive the smaller Hammer & Anvil Trophy."

The trophy is a miniature version of a famous statue.

Vulcan Statue Birmingham

Elevated view of the Vulcan Statue, Birmingham, Alabama, 1970s. The statue portrays Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, and is the world's largest cast metal statue.

Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Just 45 minutes west of Talladega Superspeedway is the City of Birmingham, Alabama. At the Vulcan Park Museum there, atop Red Mountain, a 56-foot tall Vulcan statue is fastened to a 124-foot platform. It's the largest cast-iron statue in the world. Vulcan pays homage to the God of Fire in Ancient Roman mythology. It has stood overlooking the city since the 1930s.

The trophy is crafted by hand.

The trophy is handcrafted by artists from Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama. Sloss Furnaces was once the largest manufacturer of pig iron in the world now it's a National Historic Landmark.

To construct the trophy, sculptors start with an original wax pattern. A rubber mold is designed and molded in sand. Hot, melted iron is poured into the mold. After it cools, the iron pieces are removed from the sand mold.

Those pieces are then finished, a process that includes torches removing moisture from the iron. A was finish and clear coat is applied before a final brush up.

The Vulcan Trophy only goes back to 2016.

Team Penske driver Joey Logano was the inaugural recipient of the Vulcan Trophy after he won at the superspeedway in 2016. "I was pumped to be the first driver to win one," Logano said. "Trophies are one of the best parts of what we do, and some of them are just cooler and more special because of what they are. Talladega Superspeedway nailed it when they had the Vulcan Trophy made."

The speedway's history with the Vulcan goes back farther.

In 1969, one month after the running of the first NASCAR Cup Series race at the 2.66-mile speedway, the ARCA series took to the track in the Vulcan 500, a race named after the famous statue.

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