Mini turns 60, and SA owners join in the celebrations
The Diamond jubilee gathering of the iconic car took place in Cullinan
Not only was the Mini a real game-changing car but golly, there’s been a heap of them in different shapes, sizes and state of tune since 1959.
Take the Cooper 60th Edition "Bini" — a witty nickname given to Minis made under BMW — in its distinctive British Racing Green that the company loaned to me to drive to the celebration in Cullinan, a rather apt choice of venue to celebrate a diamond jubilee.
My particular Mini specification could be viewed as clever harking back to simpler times, 60 years ago, when the brand was under British Leyland ownership. It showcases the premium suite of bespoke features and detailing such as the 60 Years themed puddle lights on the ground, daytime driving LEDs and hands-free telephony among more pioneered in the BMW era.
It could also have been powered by the ferocious S unit but instead it uses a 100kW/220Nm three-cylinder turbo 1.5l, and it’s also being offered in five-door guise to drive home the added practicality championed by its newer German owners.
Decals proudly display the 60th milestone on the bonnet and scuff plates.
Many can be accused of having a slightly stale image and a misunderstanding of the legend when they encounter a lone, miniscule Mini from Leyland. It’s when they are converged on a field in great numbers, with owners and fans mingling, that the mythology unveils.
I chatted to a few of the owners about the clever space designs of the cars and the life and times of Mini ownership when fried economies, fuel rations and little disposable income were the order of the day.
Conversations also touched on the impact of Mini in different motorsport disciplines both on tarmac and gravel and it became clear, very quickly, that it was the right car at the right time for many applications.
And the Mocsa (Mini Owners Club SA) is never going to let any milestone go by without a celebration. For the 60th, a variety of Minis of different vintage descended upon the mining town of Cullinan with its row of eateries along the road leading up to the still operational diamond mine, with a few of its closely linked Morris Minor cousins in tow.
There were hatches, new and old, Travellers, Countrymans, a rare 30th Anniversary Edition and a section showcasing the rarer Mini Moke — a vehicle built from similar bones as Sir Alec Issigonis’ Mini but designed as a light cargo hauler.
“The Moke found traction in other markets and in the British army as an open — air shuttle for high-ranking military officials across Her Majesty’s military bases,” says Mini Moke owner and Mocsa chairman Gary Johnson-Barke.
The club has its calendar full of events. Many breakfast runs that span the rest of the year are still to be held but this recent meeting was truly special for club members and private owners alike. BMW SA will also host a live music concert this weekend to celebrate 60 years of Mini.
As for the special 60th "Bini", it’s available for purchase with anniversary-specific appointments and can be had in three or five-door shape with a choice of two engines, the 1.5l three-cylinder or 2.0l four-cylinder S guise. It’s available for a limited time only.
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