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The BBC's Max Foster reports
"Mini fanatics are split as to whether they like the new car."
 real 56k

Friday, 6 July, 2001, 09:02 GMT 10:02 UK
New Mini goes on sale
New BMW mini
BMW is producing the new minis in Oxford
By BBC business reporter Max Foster

Mini fanatics are arguably the most fanatic fanatics in the motoring world. This is not just a fun car to drive, they argue.

It is not just an adorable shape. This is the car that helped liberate Britain forty years ago by offering affordable motoring to all.

The Mini was to 1960s Britain, what the VW Beetle was to post-war Germany.

The Mini did away with class distinctions as everyone from schoolteachers to pop-stars to miniskirt-clad fashion models, were seen zipping around town in the small car designed by the now legendary Alec Issigonis.

Mini rally - Kemora 1999
Dealers say they have had a lot of interest in the new models.

The mini carried a variety of names over the years from Mini Minor to Mini Clubman to, most notably, Mini Cooper.

As the marques changed, fans of this small run-about multiplied, but they always agreed on one thing, this was one car deserving nothing less than iconic status.

But go to Mini rallies or pop your head into your local Mini Owner's Club meeting (there is bound to be one) and you will notice that a split has developed in this fanatical world.

The new Mini goes on sale in Britain on Saturday, but not all purists will be queuing up to buy it.

There is little doubt that the new Mini is a good car, but there is a lot of doubt about whether it can justifiably be called a Mini.

Mini has had several owners over the years, but few strayed far from that basic Issigoni's design.

Exploitation?

Now, BMW - the latest owners - have produced a new model which has elements of the old Mini, but with a radical reshaping.

It is nothing more than a new car with Mini written on it, according to the anti-new-Mini camp.

BMW, they say is simply exploiting a name with a rich heritage because they know it will sell. An outrage! A travesty! An insult!, they shout. Bring back the Minis we know and love!

But ask another mini fanatic and you may get a completely different view.

Some readily accept that the old mini was never particularly well made, a point you can not say about the new Mini.

Pro-new-Mini-ists also argue that at least BMW is keeping the Mini name alive, rather than relegating it to scrap-heaps and rallies.

They also argue that drive the new mini, and you cannot fail to be convinced that this may be a new car, but it is one worthy of such an iconic label.

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See also:

22 May 01 | Business
Picture Gallery: The new Mini
22 May 01 | Business
A new life for the Mini
28 Sep 00 | Business
The Mini finally grows
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