MINI milestone as Cowley marks 10th birthday


  1. From Oxford Mail – 12th July 2011:

    A VERY British icon yesterday celebrated its 10th anniversary, after being reborn in Cowley a decade ago.
    The first New [U]MINI[/U] rolled off the plant in July 2001 after German car firm BMW invested £230m in UK car manufacturing.
    The plant was officially opened by then Chancellor Gordon Brown.
    Ten years later, the plant is about to celebrate the two millionth car coming down the line and Minis are exported to more than 90 countries.
    City councillor for Cowley Bryan Keen said: “Before the Mini, people in Cowley were worried, but those worries disappeared when BMW came along.
    “For the economy of Oxford, this was the greatest thing to have happened. I don't know where the city would be without it.” He added: “On the site of the former car works, we now have shops, a hotel, children's centre and lots more, but still have the industry.
    “There's been such an expansion. Cowley has never looked back.”
    Last year the Mini plant produced 216,302 cars but back in 2001, BMW had estimated production to be no more than 100,000 a year.
    BMW bought the plant in an £800m takeover of MG Rover Group from British Aerospace (BAe) in 1994 and had produced the Rover 75.
    It has since invested more than £1.5bn in its UK operations since 2000, much of it in Cowley.
    The company last month announced it was investing a further £500m and the first Mini Coupe was driven away on Friday.
    Bill Jupp was a shop steward at the Cowley car works between 1952 and 1981.
    The 79-year-old said: “The car industry has some rough times ahead, but the recent investment from BMW secures at least part of the future in Oxford.
    “When I went up to the plant, thought to myself ‘at last, the workers now have a place where they can go and feel proud to work.' “In our day it was like the black hole of Calcutta.”
    His granddaughter Charlotte, 21, works as an apprentice at the plant.
    He added: “I'm very proud of her.
    “Ever since the 1920s when cars came to Cowley, it's been a big part of the economic layout of Oxford.
    “Take that away and you've got a huge hole. It's important the car industry is kept at Cowley, not just for the workforce, but for Oxford's economic future.”
    The plant employs more than 4,000 people.
    Ian Cummings, 59, a training manager in the vehicle assembly area, said: “The Mini has been a huge success and I am really proud to say I have been part of that.”
    Chairman of Blackbird Leys parish council Gordon Roper said: “Ten years of the Mini is superb.
    “It is good for Oxford, good for the workforce and we can all see from the sales how popular the car is.
    “Lets hope we've got 10 more good years ahead.”


  2. According to the book [B]'New MINI' by Graham Robson[/B] the first few pre-production Mini's were built in January 2001 and the first production car on 26th April 2001. The MINI One and Cooper officially went on sale 7th July 2001.

    So does anyone know what happened to the first official production BMW MINI No.1?

    I have seen various spyshots from back in 1999 of some of the disguised new MINI prototypes (registered as Rovers) testing with N & P registrations.
    The DVLA website search gives the following details on these first MINI's :-
    [B]N735 FYB[/B] – Rover Mini – First registered 11 Sep 1998 – 1589cc – White – last taxed until 1 Mar 2000. (see in video below)
    [B]N279 NWS[/B] – Rover – First registered 11 Sep 1998 – 1589cc – Green – last taxed until 1 Sep 2000. (Export)
    [B]N216 FYA[/B] – Rover – First registered 21 Jan 1999 – 1588cc – Grey – last taxed until 28 July 2000.
    [B]N952 OMR[/B] – Rover – First registered 13 Oct 1999 – 1588cc – Black – last taxed until 01 Oct 2000.
    [B]P375 YAE[/B] – Rover – First registered 13 Sep 1999 – 1588cc – Black – last taxed until 01 Jan 2002.
    [B]P489 AHR[/B] – Rover – First registered 15 Nov 1999 – 1588cc – Black – last taxed until 01 Nov 2000.

    This early UK press launch car Y96 OBL was first registered on 8th June 2001 but disappeared from DVLA tax records in Sep 2008:

    Another early car Y286 OBL first registered 23 05 2001 featured in Graham Robson's book but disappeared from DVLA records April 2005.

  3. When i had my Classic S-Works kit fitted at JCG in 2004 i was told by Chris that all prototypes were crushed. They'd had a few of them down there for development purposes. Apparently it's usual practice in the motor industry as they can then reclaim the VAT once they've been destroyed.

    It stands to reason the first ones were registered as Rover's though, after all in 1999 that's what they were.

    As i remember the new mini was launched in July 2001, but like all car launches they'd been building them for several months prior to this. Basically they 'ramp up' production and build a stock pile of cars so when you go and order your car in launch week you don't have to wait months for it.

    The day i collected my own car from Milton Keynes, on the 6th June 2001, i was actually over taken by a, by then BMW mini. It was the first time i'd actually seen one in the metal, when I saw it approaching in the mirror I assumed it was another Classic mini, I mean it had rounded headlamps and red with a white roof, what else could it have been? It wasn't until it drew along side I realised it was a 'new one'. I tried to pull out and give chase but the traffic was just to heavy to change lanes. A week or so later i saw a silver one driving through Tenterden, Obviously in the following months i started to see one or two more of them…..

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