On this day in 1959, Mini Cooper is launched by Greek car designer Alec Issigonis

Alec Issigonis Mini Morris

Alec Issigonis Mini Morris

On August 26, 1959, the Mini Cooper was officially launched by British Greek motor vehicle designer and genius behind the Mini, Alec Issigonis (Αλέξανδρος Ισιγώνης).

Issigonis was born in Smyrni on November 18, 1906, to father Konstantinos, whose birthplace was on the island of Paros and mother Hilda who was German but of Smyrnian descent.

In 1922 his father passed away and in 1923 he relocated to London with his mother and began studying mechanics. Issigonis failed miserably at mathematics but excelled in design, he was famously quoted as saying “Maths are an enemy to anyone with a creative mind.”

Alec Issigonis

He finished his studies at the University of London and later began working for British motor vehicle companies Humber and Morris Motor Company. In 1948, after World War II he designed the “Moskito”, which was a small and low budget vehicle.

In 1955 the international crisis that led to fuel shortages and gasoline rationing across Europe prompted the need for another small car, that was fuel efficient and cheap- that is when Issigonis really got to work and created the now famous “Mini Cooper” which was launched in August.

The small, affordable car went on to become one of the best-selling British cars in history and still famous all around the world as one of the greatest small vehicles of all time. He also later designed the popular “Morris 1100” and “Austin 1100”, which are also popular vehicles.

In 1961, he was appointed a member of the Board of Directors of Austin Motor Company and two years later he moved to the Board of Directors of BMC. In 1967, he became member of the Royal Society, the most influential research company in Britain and two years later Queen Elizabeth granted him Knighthood and named him Sir, in recognition of his engineering genius in designing the Mini Classic. Even after retirement, Sir Alec Issigonis was appointed advisor of the company, a position he held until 1987. He died one year later, on October 2nd, 1988.