Before MINI, there was Minki.
You’re probably never heard of it, and nor had I until comparatively recently. Minki was a Rover K-Series engined Mini re-engineered with interconnected hydragas suspension, much like that of Dr Alex Moulton’s own modified Mini – and a hatchback. Built to suggest a possible developmental direction for the ageing original, time ran out for the concept, given Mini’s possible sales volumes versus the costs involved.
Nevertheless, following BMW’s purchase of Rover in 1995, Minki was resurrected, forming a significant part of the creative basis for the R50 project culminating in 2000’s new MINI. Austin Memories hosts this fascinating story of a developmental cul de sac. While it’s tempting to see the millennial rebooting of new MINI as primarily BMW-inspired, it’s clear a small but significant group of Rover engineers not only endorsed this view, but in fact originated it.