Sir Alec Constantine Issigonis: The Greek designer of the famous Mini Cooper

alec issigonis mini cooper Sir Alexander Constantine Issigonis

Sir Alec Constantine Issigonis, born in Smyrna, Ottoman Empire on November 18, 1906, is famous for designing the beloved Mini Cooper motor car.

His father Constantine Issigonis was a successful shipbuilding engineer, whose own father was from Paros. His mother Hulda Prokopp was of Bavarian descent and it was through his mother's kinships that Issigonis was a first cousin once removed to BMW and Volkswagen director Bernd Pischetsrieder

His grandfather Dimosthenis Issigonis had migrated to Smyrna from Paros in the 1830's and acquired British citizenship through the work he did for the British-built Smyrna-Aydin Railway.

Since they held a British passport, the Issigonis family were evacuated from Smyrna (Izmir) just before the Great Fire in September 1922 along with other British subjects. The family were evacuated to Malta but his father died not long after.

The following year, Issigonis and his mother arrived in Britain.

Issigonis designed the Mini in 1959. The car remains in production today in fundamentally unchanged form. The car was voted the second most influential car of the 20th century.

alec issigonis mini cooper

He was nicknamed "the Greek god" by his contemporaries.

Whilst he is most famous for his creation of the Mini, he was most proud of his participation in the design of the Morris Minor.

He considered it to be a vehicle that combined many of the luxuries and conveniences of a good motor car with a price suitable for the working classes – in contrast to the Mini which was a spartan mode of conveyance with everything cut to the bone.

alec issigonis mini cooper Sir Alec Constantine Issigonis

Issigonis often commented to friends and colleagues that the Austin 1800 (ADO17) was the design he was most proud of, even though it never was as commercially successful as his three preceding designs.

He officially retired from the motor industry in 1971, although he continued working until shortly before his death in 1988 at his house in Edgbaston, Birmingham and was cremated at the Lodge Hill Cemetery in nearby Selly Oak.

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