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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Professor Lynne Pearce studies what people think about while driving, among other subjects.

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

As a member of the English and Creative Writing Department at Lancaster University in the U.K., Professor Lynne Pearce has spent most of her career studying the fields of feminist literary and cultural theory. These days, she has one big question: "What do we think about when we drive?"

Cars often provide a sanctuary, keeping out the noise that surrounds our daily lives. There's memes that celebrate moms who hide out inside their minivans. Hitting the open road and getting away from the hustle and bustle has been a theme of ads by MINI and the State of Nevada, both featuring the song "Don't Fence Me In".

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Pearce's interest in driving was likely sparked naturally by her father. She is the daughter of a Cornwall-based mechanic and garage owner who has spent more than 20 years writing about driving.

For the past 22 years she's lived two hours north of Glasgow, Scotland and regularly took the 800-mile round trip between her late parents' home and her home. Inevitably, the drive gave her time to reflect on her day, life, and more.

"Whenever I get into the car I feel a sense of relief," said Pearce in an interview with Porsche. "My body relaxes, and I look forward to the uninterrupted time I have to think."

That feeling prompted Pearce to publish her first essay on motoring - "Driving North/Driving South" in 2000. Since, she's published "Drivetime: Literary Excursions in Automotive Consciousness". In her work, Pearce describes how driving has given her time to enjoy a "ing-fenced slice of time which nothing would intrude upon or interrupt". Further, "Many of the things I had to think about in both my professional and personal life were unravelled, sometimes resolved, in the course of my drives ...".

Lynne Pearce Porsche Cayenne Pearce recently had the opportunity to try the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid.Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

During her day behind the wheel with Porsche, Pearce took the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid on the A82, a 167-mile road that runs from Glasgow to Inverness via Fort William, Scotland. It's her favorite road in the U.K. The portion of the route that runs past Buachaille Etive Mòr toward Glencoe village contains what is widely regarded as some of the best scenery in Scotland.

"When I was working on my book, and told people that I was interested in what we think about while we're driving, I was often met with incredulity because there is this misconception that the only thing we can possibly think about when we're in a car is driving itself. However, since the early days of motoring, psychologists have been interested in the fact that driving – as well as being one of the most complex, everyday tasks – is also one that frees up parts of the brain to think productively," Pearce explained.

Lynne Pearce Porsche Cayenne Pearce says that vehicles allow us to slow down and explore parts of the world we wouldn't normally venture.Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

Daydreaming can safety occur while at the wheel thanks to the brain's central executive, which remains alert throughout and will return our attention to the road when required. This is also the portion of the brain that keeps drivers alert when driving in poor conditions like snow and rain.

"From the exhilaration and euphoria associated with speed, through the day-dreaming and problem solving promoted by cruising, to the intimate communion we can achieve with the natural world when we're driving through a beautiful landscape with the windows down, I discovered that different types of driving inspire and promote different kinds of thought," Pearce said.

"By pre-occupying one part of the brain, driving helps to calm us down and think more calmly about our problems. This is why for many of us, myself included, driving is such a great 'time-out' for problem solving."

Pearce sees electric vehicles as being a key component to relaxation while on the road, serving as an even bigger break from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind.

"I love to use the minor roads close to where I live and driving slowly enables me to bond much more closely with the environment. The silence and sensation of driving in electric mode really enhances this sort of experience and it's interesting that the first users of electric vehicles raved about exactly this at the beginning of the 20th century," Pearce said.

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Subaru Motorsports takes center stage in the newest season of "Launch Control".

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The award-winning "Launch Control" documentary series will return December 2 for its eighth season. The show will air on YouTube and Amazon Prime Video.

Season 8 of "Launch Control" picks up where Season 7 left off. The Subaru team has just won the rally and rallycross championships but the future of the team is uncertain.

The program, which has been chronicling the Subaru Motorsports teams since 2013, documents the challenging 2020 season of the driving sports, which included a new rally driver lineup, a shortened and delayed season due to COVID-19, and the return of ace driver Scott Speed following a season-ending back injury in 2019.

Season 8: "Launch Control"

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

"Launch Control" will also include a two-part sneak peek at the one-off WRX STI build that Subaru worked with Vermont SportsCar to create for the next installment of the "Gymkhana" franchise, where Subaru driving star Travis Pastrana will take over the feature roll from Ken Block.

New episodes documenting the stage rally season will release every other Wednesday through December and January, with the two-part Gymkhana STI build special arriving in February.

"'Launch Control' has always been an unflinching look at the reality of running a top-level motorsports program," said William Stokes, Motorsports Manager for Subaru of America. "This year brought more challenges than anyone expected, but we're a rally team, and in rally we press on regardless. As tough as this season was, we're thrilled to bring the series back—especially for the fans who couldn't come to events in 2020, who we've missed most of all."

The program is a production of Formula Photographic and Bowes Media with the support of Subaru of America.

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