Celebrations for the Mini

Norfolk Mini owners gathered at Fakenham to celebrate 50 years since the first Mini rolled off the production line.When the revolutionary machine was first unveiled in August 1959 it was billed as a small, affordable four-seat car, great for city driving but with a surprising amount of space for those picnic baskets.

Norfolk Mini owners gathered at Fakenham to celebrate 50 years since the first Mini rolled off the production line.

When the revolutionary machine was first unveiled in August 1959 it was billed as a small, affordable four-seat car, great for city driving but with a surprising amount of space for those picnic baskets.

Its designer, Alec Issigonis, saw it as a car for everybody - all kinds of drivers from all social classes.

It was just 3.3 yards long, had a price tag of �496 and was launched at a time when more and more people were starting to afford to take to the road in their own cars.


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The British Motor Corporation's eye-catching little car took off, and the firm was quick to ride the wave of its success. The more powerful Mini Cooper came along in 1961, followed by the Mini Cooper S.

The Cooper S notched up Monte Carlo Rally wins, and the Mini became an emblem of the Swinging Sixties, as well as being immortalised in the film, The Italian Job.

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There were Mini Minors, Clubmans, vans, travellers and more.

And today, after many changes of style and guise, the Mini remains popular, as the sea of hundreds of them on show at the Norfolk Mini Owners' Club Rally at Fakenham Race-course proved on Sunday.

Proud owners were joining thousands of Mini drivers in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the car.

A Mini United Festival was also being held at Silverstone race circuit from Friday to Sunday.

One Norfolk club member, Frances Graham, 69, has had her 1965 green Mk I Mini from new.

'The car has aged better than me!' she said. At 44 years old it's now reluctant to go out in the rain from its home near Dereham.'

The car spent 16 years in storage while she worked abroad and retains its original looks. 'They are such fun cars,' said Frances. 'People love them. They

are an interesting car because they were so different when they first came out. All the celebrities were driving them.

'The engine and drive system were different, and, despite the smallness of them, you could get quite a lot in.'

Although production of the original Mini series halted in 2000, after more than 5.3 million had been built worldwide, the name was revived by BMW, which had bought the Rover Group, in 2001.

Relaunched, a whole new breed of Minis is still taking to the road and the Mini legend lives on.

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