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Britain votes original Mini as best car of all time

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Call it obsolete but the classic Mini is still the best British car in history.

To celebrate the flourishing car industry in Britain, the Autocar magazine conducted a poll about Britain's best cars of all time. Among the 100 automobiles, it was the original Mini that won the hearts of the readers.

The Mini, which was first launched in August 1959, gained worldwide fame as Britain's "classless car" of the Swinging Sixties-a period of booming of pop culture that stirs up memories of the Beatles, Twiggy and the one-stop fashion hub Carnaby Street.

Deemed as classless, yet the Mini dwarfed high-performance sports cars in the list such as McLaren F1 that landed in second place and Jaguar E-type, which placed third. Other British-made automobiles that made the cut are the Range Rover (fourth), Yamaha Motiv.E (fifth), McLaren P1 (sixth), Jaguar XJ220 (seventh), Aston Martin DB5 (eighth), TVR Griffith (ninth) and Ford Escort Mexico (tenth).

"It comes as little surprise that the original Mini has topped the list of all-time British greats," said Chas Hallett, Autocar magazine's brand editor. "It's such an iconic vehicle and represents so much more than the British car industry. The Mini is associated with Great Britain around the world and, in many ways, it was ahead of its time."

The magazine's poll also declared Norfolk-based Lotus as Britain's most popular car manufacturer of all time, with seven designs entering the top 100 list. Jaguar and Ford followed through with six cars each and Aston Martin with five.

Invented by Sir Alec Issigonis, the original Mini started off as the Morris Mini Minor and the Austin Seven. It was then renamed as Austin Mini in 1961 and eight years later, Mini became "a marque in its own right." Along the way it went through quite a number of changes, from its name and the engine to its exterior design, but Mini retained its character and layout.

The British car then became a hit, especially when it entered the motorsport scene in 1967 during the Monte Carlo Rally. With over 5.3 million cars sold, Mini was the chart-topping British car in history.

Last November, BMW unveiled a bigger and a better Mini in line with 107th birthday of its original inventor. The all-new Mini, which is anticipated to go on sale in spring this year, is 77cm longer than the original Mini and 4cm wider and a wee 7mm taller than the latest Mini also developed by BMW.

To date, the Mini has evolved into different designs such as convertible, pick-up, coupe, roadster and Countryman among others, but it still keeps its quaint petite shape.

"Many a former owner will undoubtedly be wishing they had held on to theirs, as good examples are now worth tens of thousands of pounds," Hallett quipped.

Indeed, big things do come in small packages.

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