The Mini is a small economy car produced by the English-based British Motor Corporation (BMC) and its successors from 1959 until 2000. The original is considered an icon of 1960s British popular culture. Its space-saving transverse engine, front-wheel drive layout – allowing 80% of the area of the car's floorpan to be used for passengers and luggage – influenced a generation of car makers. In 1999, the Mini was voted the second-most influential car of the 20th century, behind the Ford Model T, and ahead of the Citroën DS and Volkswagen Beetle.
This distinctive two-door car was designed for BMC by Sir Alec Issigonis. It was manufactured at the Longbridge and Cowley plants in England, the Victoria Park/Zetland British Motor Corporation (Australia) factory in Sydney, Australia, and later also in Spain (Authi), Belgium, Chile, Italy (Innocenti), Malta, Portugal, South Africa, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Yugoslavia. The Mini Mark I had three major UK updates – the Mark II, the Clubman, and the Mark III. Within these was a series of variations, including an estate car, a pick-up truck, a van, and the Mini Moke, a jeep-like buggy.
The performance versions, the Mini Cooper and Cooper "S", were successful as both race and rally cars, winning the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965, and 1967. In 1966, the first-placed Mini (along with nine other cars) was disqualified after the finish, under a controversial decision that the car's headlights were against the rules.
On its introduction in August 1959, the Mini was marketed under the Austin and Morris names, as the Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor. The Austin Seven was renamed Austin Mini in January 1962 and Mini became a marque in its own right in 1969. In 1980, it once again became the Austin Mini, and in 1988, just "Mini" (although the "Rover" badge was applied on some models exported to Japan).
BMW acquired the Rover Group (formerly British Leyland) in 1994, and sold the greater part of it in 2000, but retained the rights to build cars using the MINI name.
The production version of the Mini was demonstrated to the press in April 1959, and by August, several thousand cars had been produced ready for the first sales. The Mini was officially announced to the public on 26 August 1959. Some 2,000 cars had already been sent abroad and were displayed that day in almost 100 countries.
The first example, a Morris Mini-Minor with the registration 621 AOK, is on display at the Heritage Motor Centre in Warwickshire. Another early example from 1959 is on display at the National Motor Museum in Hampshire.
The Mini was marketed under BMC's two main brand names, Austin and Morris, until 1969, when it became a marque in its own right. The Morris version was known to all as "the Mini" or the "Morris Mini-Minor". This seems to have been a play on words: the Morris Minor was a larger, well known, and successful car that continued in production, and minor is Latin for "lesser", so an abbreviation of the Latin word for "least" – minimus – was used for the new even smaller car. One name proposed for the almost identical Austin version was Austin Newmarket, but it was sold as the Austin Seven (sometimes written as SE7EN in early publicity material – with the '7' using the letter V rotated anticlockwise so it approximated the number 7), which recalled the popular small Austin 7 of the 1920s and 1930s.
Until 1962, the cars appeared in North America and France as the Austin 850 and Morris 850, and in Denmark as the Austin Partner (until 1964) and Morris Mascot (until 1981). It was introduced in Australia as Morris 850 only (not "Austin"), and then later as Morris Cooper and Morris Cooper S versions, as well. The Morris name Mini (Mini-Minor) was first used for Austin's version by BMC in 1961 when the Austin Seven was rebranded as the Austin Mini, somewhat to the surprise of the Sharp's Commercials car company (later known as Bond Cars), who had been using the name Minicar for their three-wheeled vehicles since 1949. However, legal action was somehow averted, and BMC used the name "Mini" thereafter.
In 1964, the suspension of the cars was replaced by another Moulton design, the hydrolastic system. The new suspension gave a softer ride, but it also increased weight and production cost. In 1971, the original rubber suspension reappeared and was retained for the remaining life of the Mini.
From October 1965, the option of the unique Automotive Products designed four-speed automatic transmission became available. Cars fitted with this became the Mini-Matic.
Slow at the outset, Mark I sales strengthened across most of the model lines in the 1960s, and production totalled 1,190,000. Ford purchased a Mini and dismantled it to see if they could offer an alternative. Ford determined that the BMC must have been losing around £30 per car, so decided to produce a larger car – the Cortina, launched in 1962 – as its competitor in the budget market. BMC insisted that the way company overheads were shared out, the Mini always made money. Larger profits came from the popular De Luxe models and from optional extras such as seat belts, door mirrors, a heater, and a radio, which would be considered necessities on modern cars, as well as the various Cooper and Cooper S models.
The Mini entered into popular culture in the 1960s with well-publicised purchases by film and music stars.
The Cooper S version was also used by some British police departments as a plainclothes car.
Harrods is a department store located on Brompton Road in Knightsbridge, London, England. It is owned by the state of Qatar via its sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority. The Harrods brand also applies to other enterprises undertaken by the Harrods group of companies including Harrods Estates, Harrods Aviation and Air Harrods, and to Harrods Buenos Aires, sold by Harrods in 1922 and closed as of 2011.
The store occupies a 5-acre (20,000 m2) site and has 330 departments covering 1.1 million square feet (102,193.344 m2) of retail space. It is the largest department store in Europe and lays claim to having its own unique postcode, SW1X 7XL.
In 1824, at the age of 25, Charles Henry Harrod established a business at 228 Borough High Street in Southwark. He ran this business, variously listed as a draper, mercer, and a haberdasher, until at least 1831. During 1825, the business was listed as 'Harrod and Wicking, Linen Drapers, Retail', but this partnership was dissolved at the end of that year. His first grocery business appears to be as 'Harrod & Co. Grocers' at 163 Upper Whitecross Street, Clerkenwell, E.C.1., in 1832.
In 1834, in London's East End, he established a wholesale grocery in Stepney at 4 Cable Street with a special interest in tea. In 1849, to escape the vice of the inner city and to capitalise on trade to the Great Exhibition of 1851 in nearby Hyde Park, Harrod took over a small shop in the district of Brompton, on the site of the current store. Beginning in a single room employing two assistants and a messenger boy, Harrod's son Charles Digby Harrod built the business into a thriving retail operation selling medicines, perfumes, stationery, fruits and vegetables. Harrods rapidly expanded, acquired the adjoining buildings, and employed one hundred people by 1881.
However, the store's booming fortunes were reversed in early December 1883, when it burnt to the ground. Remarkably, Charles Harrod fulfilled all of his commitments to his customers to make Christmas deliveries that year—and made a record profit in the process. In short order, a new building was built on the same site, and soon Harrods extended credit for the first time to its best customers, among them Oscar Wilde, Lillie Langtry, Ellen Terry, Charlie Chaplin, Noël Coward, Gertrude Lawrence, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, Sigmund Freud, A. A. Milne, and many members of the British Royal Family.
A chance meeting in London with businessman, Edgar Cohen, eventually led to Charles Harrod selling his interest in the store for £120,000 via a stock market flotation in 1889. The new company was called Harrod's Stores Limited. Sir Alfred James Newton became chairman and Richard Burbidge managing director. Financier William Mendel was appointed to the board in 1891 and he raised funding for many of the business expansion plans. Richard Burbidge was succeed in 1917 by his son Woodman Burbidge and he in turn by his son Richard in 1935.
On 16 November 1898, Harrods debuted England's first "moving staircase" (escalator) in their Brompton Road stores; the device was actually a woven leather conveyor belt-like unit with a mahogany and "silver plate-glass" balustrade. Nervous customers were offered brandy at the top to revive them after their 'ordeal'.
The department store was acquired by House of Fraser in 1959, which in turn was purchased by the Fayed brothers in 1985. In 1994, Harrods was moved out of the House of Fraser Group to remain a private company prior to the group's relisting on the London Stock Exchange.