In response to the first post-war fuel supply crisis caused by the 1956 Suez conflict, Alec Issigonis of the British Motor Corporation (BMC) designed a vehicle that revolutionised compact cars, featuring a transverse-mounted 846 cc engine and gearbox with front-wheel drive. About 80 per cent of the car was comprised of driver and passenger space, truly a "miracle of packaging". Alex Moulton designed the rubber compression suspension system and also later designed the Moulton bicycle. Interior room, sporty performance and cheeky styling soon made the Mini a sales success and an iconic design following its UK launch in August 1959. It was originally sold as the Austin 850, Austin Seven or Morris Mini Minor. Other developments of the design included the Riley Elf/ Wolseley Hornet and the Mini Moke.
In Australia, the Mini was built at the BMC (Australia) Pty Ltd factory at Zetland in Sydney from 1961to 1974 and at Enfield from 1974 to 1978 (as the Leyland Mini). The Cooper and Cooper S versions developed by British racing-car builder John Cooper became legendary for their competition success, including wins in the Australian Bathurst 500 race and the Monte Carlo rally in Europe. In 1969 three Minis featured in the classic film 'The Italian Job' starring Michael Caine.
UK production of the original Mini ceased in 2000 after nearly 5.5 million had been produced. BMW revived the Mini in the late 1990s with an entirely new car. The new MINI retained elements of the original styling to give the vehicle 'retro' sales appeal.