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.

Royalty and high-ranking government officials have driven Maseratis throughout the last six decades.

Photo courtesy of Maserati

Italy has been the historical home for luxury performance cars for a century. The Maserati Quattroporte has been around for half that time, serving as a coach for royals and high-ranking government officials since its birth.

The Quattroporte traces its roots back to the Maserati 5000 GT known as The Shah of Persia. Only 34 models of the coupe were produced. The first was delivered to Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the last King of Iran. Other buyers included Karim Aga Khan, the son of Prince Aly Khan; Gianni Angellini, the head of Fiat; and Adolfo López Mateos, the President of Mexico.

Maserati 5000 GT Maserati traces the roots of its Quattroporte back to the 5000 GT.Photo courtesy of Maserati

Series I of the Quattroporte kicked off production in 1964 and ran through 1966 with 230 units produced. It was equipped with a 4.1-liter V8 engine that achieved 260 horsepower and was paired with a five-speed manual transmission. A three-speed Borg Warner automatic transmission was available upon request.

The second iteration of the Quattroporte, Series II, included many upgrades including twin headlights, a leaf-sprung solid axle, and a completely redesigned interior. The dashboard was now trimmed with real wood fascia. The Series II was offered with the 4.1-liter base engine, as well as a new 4.7-liter power plant that delivered 290 horsepower. The Quattroporte 4700 was equipped with the larger engine and had a top speed of 158 mph making it the fastest four-door sedan in the world at the time. Maserati made 776 Series II models by the time the generation ended in 1969.

The second generation of the Maserati Quattroporte debuted at the Paris Motor Show in 1974 and went into production shortly thereafter. The Quattroporte was nearly dead on arrival. Due to a downturn in the economy and the company's financial woes, Maserati produced just 13 Quattroportes between 1974 and 1978.

Maserati Quattroporte third generation 3rd The Maserati Quattroporte Royale was a luxurious take on the new generation of the sedan.Photo courtesy of Maserati

The Quattroporte made a triumphant return to dealership lots in earnest in the late 1970s. In December 1979 the tradition of Quattroportes being owned by the world's elite, continued with the delivery of a Quattroporte to Italian President Sandro Pertini at the Quirinal Palace in Rome.

This version of the sedan featured a more high-end interior than Maserati's had before. It was powered by variants of the engines available in the first generation Quattroporte. The car was on the market until 1990. Maserati sold 2,145 Quattroporte IIs.

In 1982, an order was placed for an armored Quattroporte for the President of Italy, Sandro Pertini, to use. The model, with a Dark Aquamarine paint job featured a beige velvet interior. Its large ashtray featured a pipe holder between the rear seats, a modification to the original design requested by Pertini himself. There was also a bar cabinet, telephone system, and intercom that could address people outside the car. All four windows were electronically controlled, as was the roof.

Maserati Quattroporte third generation 3rd The interior of the third-generation Quattroporte was significantly more upscale than the first and second generation.Photo courtesy of Maserati

In 1986 the "Royale" version of the Quattropporte was launched as one of the most luxurious to date. It had soft leather seats, burr walnut dashboard and door panels, a radio telephone, and a stow-away folding table. Under its hood was a powerful 4.9-liter V8 engine that achieved 300 horsepower. Just 51 Royale models were built.

The car became more closely associated with celebrities in the 1980s. Famous Modenese tenor Luciano Pavarotti was one of them. Today, the list of celebrities who have driven Maseratis is long. Singer Gwen Stefani, soccer star Lionel Messi, Olympic champion Apollo Ohno, comedian Jay Leno, and Academy Award nominee Bradley Cooper make the roster.

Maserati Quattroporte 3rd generation Luciano Pavarotti poses in his third-generation Quattroporte.Photo courtesy of Maserati

The Quattroporte is still the official car of the President of Italy. Current President Sergio Mattarella used a sixth-generation version of the sedan with a Blu Istituzionale paint job and Black Piamo (black lacquered wood) interior that is paired with Pieno Fiore leather. The model was powered by a 530-horsepower, twin-turbocharged V8.

Workers manufacture motorcycles in a Japanese Honda factory.

Photo by Getty Images

Honda kicked off production of the Dream D-Type motorcycle in 1949, marking the brand's first foray into commercial motorcycle production. Seventy years later, the company has made its 400 millionth.

"For 70 years, Honda has provided to customers worldwide motorcycles that make life easier and enjoyable," said Takahiro Hachigo, Chief Executive Officer, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. "As a result, we have achieved our 400 million-unit milestone. I am grateful to all of our customers, and everyone involved in development, manufacturing, sales and service of our products. We will continue to do our best to provide attractive products that meet the needs and dreams of our customers worldwide."

Honda Super Cub The Honda Super Cub is the most important motorcycle in Honda's history, selling more than 100 million nationwide since its debut.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Sometimes known as the Type D or Model D, the Dream D-Type was the first in a series of Dream motorcycles that Honda made in its early years. The bike featured an air-cooled two-stroke single-cylinder engine with 98 cc displacement and three horsepower.

Honda unveiled the D-Type's successor, the E-Type, in 1951 and began exporting motorcycles from Japan in 1952. That same decade, in 1958, Honda released its first Super Cub, the Super Cub C100.

The Super Cub is Honda's most successful motorcycle. Its numerous variants accounted for over 60 million total sales by 2008, 87 million by 2014, and 100 million by 2017. It is now the most produced motor vehicle in history.

Honda first entered the motorcycle Grand Prix racing stage in 1959. This decade also the beginning of the production of purpose-built Honda motorcycles for racing that carried the "RC" label. Honda Racing Corporation would eventually form in 1982 and carry on the naming tradition.

1964 Isle of Man TT races British born Rhodesian racing motorcyclist Jim Redman riding a Honda to victory in the Lightweight 250cc event at the Isle of Man TT races, 9th June 1964. Photo by Getty Images

As a way to show the difference between the negative stereotypes that were pervasive in U.S. culture surrounding motorcyclists, Grey Advertising created the slogan "You meet the nicest people on a Honda." The campaign was a resounding success and is still considered a case study in good advertising strategy.

With demand on the rise, Honda expanded production opening a facility in Belgium in 1963 and one in Thailand in 1967. By 1968, the company reached 10 million cumulative motorcycles produced.

Expansion continued with production expanding to Indonesia in 1971 and Italy and Brazil in 1976. It wasn't until 1979 that Honda began producing motorcycles in North America.

Isle of Man Formula One TT 1996 Joey Dunlop of Great Britain and rider of the #3 Honda Britain Honda RC45 chases Shaun Harris on the #1 Britten V1000 during the International Isle of Man Formula One TT (Tourist Trophy) Race on 5 June 1996, Douglas on the Isle of Man, United Kingdom. Photo by Getty Images

Honda continued to have success in the world market though there are mixed opinions regarding the company's lack of competition in the higher-powered motorcycle market in the U.S. Some theorized that it was poor planning on behalf of Honda while others say that it was never Honda's intent to compete.

Honda of America began producing motorcycle engines in Ohio in 1985.

In 1987, as Honda reached the 50 million mark in total motorcycle production in Japan, the company also celebrated the beginning of motorcycle and auto part production at Honda de Mexico. This is the same year that Honda first included an air bag in a car, the Acura Legend.

1992 marked the year that Honda first produced the Honda NR, the first motorcycle that was sold with oval pistons. The shape of the pistons allowed for eight valves per cylinder, generating more power than other setups.

Honda's Marysville, Ohio, Motorcycle Plant produced its 1 millionth vehicle in 1996, a Gold Wing Aspencade.

This City Slicker Super Cub built by Steady Garage for SEMA in 2019 sports chopped and shortened front and rear fenders with a retrofitted front suspension, custom hubs, and a custom two-tone green and off-white paint job.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Motorcyclist magazine named the Honda Interceptor its "Motorcycle of the Year" in 1998. The Interceptor was a notable model because it brought much of the technology of a Honda motorcycle only previously seen on the race track to the street.

Additional production capacity for motorcycles was added with plants in China and Vietnam in the 90s and India in 2001. Bangladesh's Honda factory opened in 2013.

In 2017 India became Honda's largest motorcycle market and the next year the company exceeded 20 million annual motorcycle units produced for the first time.

In 1997, Honda produced its 100 millionth motorcycle, Just 11 years later the company celebrated its 200 millionth and seven years after that the company was at 300 million. Now, just five years later, that total has grown to 400 million.

Honda currently produces a wide range of motorcycles, from 50cc commuters to 1,800cc models, at 35 facilities in 21 countries.