While I am no longer a MINI owner, the classic Mini remains close to my heart and I hope to one day actual own one—it’s on my bucket list.
Last month a centenary exhibition was opened in the new Visitor Centre at the MINI Plant Oxford by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Harald Krueger, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, to mark this milestone. One hundred years ago to the day, the first ‘Bullnose’ Morris Oxford was built by William Morris just a few hundred meters from where the modern MINI plant stands.
With a weekly production of just 20 vehicles in 1913, the business grew rapidly and over the century 11.65 million cars were produced, bearing 13 different British brands and one Japanese. Almost 500, 000 people have worked at the plant in the past 100 years and in the early 1960s numbers peaked at 28,000. Today, Plant Oxford employs 3,700 associates who manufacture up to 900 MINIs every day.
Over the years an array of famous cars were produced including the Morris Minor, the Mini, Top Gear’s fabled Morris Marina, the Princess, the Austin Maestro and today’s MINI Cooper. At various stages in its history, the plant also built Tiger Moth aircraft, ambulances, parachutes and iron lungs. Today, Plant Oxford is the heart of MINI production with the manufacture of the MINI Hatch, Convertible, Clubman, Clubvan, Roadster and Coupé.
The Oxford plant has a long history of export success and generated many billions of pounds in exports revenues for the UK with Morris products accounting for nearly 30 per cent of the nation’s total exports by the mid 1930s. Plant Oxford’s export record is equally impressive today with no less than 1.7 million MINIs having been exported to over 100 countries since 2001 and the plans for the future are for further expansion.