Six major milestones in Mini’s history which have corresponded with significant events in Malaysia
The Mini is 60. Ahead of celebrations for Mini’s anniversary, BMW Malaysia takes a look back at 60 years of Malaysia’s historical timeline in relation to Mini’s own and the events that have shaped contemporary culture.
The year in which the very first Mini was built and became an icon in the automotive world. Amid post-war austerity and fuel shortage, Sir Alec Issigonis turned a crisis into an opportunity through the creative use of space in a small car. Since then, Mini has revolutionised the idea of what an automobile could be. To this day, MINIacs still rave about the go-kart feeling when driving a MINI thanks to its innovative suspension system.
That same year, Malaysia, fresh from her independence held its first General Election, established Bank Negara, its first Central Bank and competed in the first edition of the inaugural Southeast Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games held in Bangkok, Thailand. The Malaysian team returned victorious with 8 gold medals, 15 silver medals and 11 bronze medals, while securing an overall ranking of third place.
Additionally, His Majesty Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, the current and 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong was born that year as well, so was Malay Pop Singer and bad boy, Jamal Abdillah.
1959 also saw the first Barbie doll go on display during the American Toy Fair in New York City. Barbie was the first mass-produced toy doll in the United States with adult features. It was modelled after a German comic strip character, Lilli whose rights was bought over by Mattel and renamed Barbara – after the founder’s own daughter.
But 1959 will also be remembered for other landmark milestones such as the first Xerox copier, the first Grammy Awards, the first weather station in space and the first photos of the Earth from space, which is essentially the first selfie!
Focusing on substance and qualitative excellence while refreshing its iconic design, the BMW Group reintroduced MINI as a premium brand in 2001. From the quintessential MINI 3-door Hatch to the ultra-sociable MINI 5-door Hatch, five cars subsequently evolved from the original iconic Mini – each tailored to suit increasingly flexible demands and changing driving habits.
For Malaysia in 2001, a B777 Malaysian Airlines airplane, a twin-engine commercial aircraft became the first Asian airline in the world to fly over the North Pole. Meanwhile, Putrajaya, the federal administrative centre of Malaysia also became a Federal Territory that year.
A revolutionary step towards the future of music consumption, Apple introduced the iPod for the first time in October 2001 worldwide. It consisted of a 5GB hard drive capable of storing a thousand MP3-encoded songs, giving the iPod its first slogan: “1,000 songs in your pocket”. Incidentally, Wikipedia, the source of all this information also went online that year.
A momentous period for MINI, the introduction of the MINI John Cooper Works and the MINI John Cooper Works Clubman came as a result of the BMW Group’s successful acquisition of John Cooper Works (JCW) in 2008. It is not only the engines of the MINI John Cooper Works brand name that provides genuine racing feeling and pedigree. The models are created from the ground up with performance and racing in its DNA and character.
That year, Malaysia saw the opening of The Eye on Malaysia Ferris wheel in Taman Kota Laksamana, located nearby the Malacca River. It has since enabled visitors to experience a 360-degree panoramic view of the historical city and over 20 kilometres (12 mi) of its surroundings. Malacca Town and George Town in Penang were also added to UNESCO World Heritage List.
In a ground-breaking moment of change across the globe, Barack Obama was elected President of the United States of America – making him the first African American president in the nation’s history.
For the first time ever, MINI debuted the MINI Countryman – the first model in its range with four doors and a wide opening rear lid. The MINI Countryman is a genuine crossover that bridges the gap between the classic concept of the MINI and a modern Sports Activity Vehicle, available with the optional MINI ALL4 all-wheel drive.
2010 also marked the year the first Malaysia Day was celebrated on the 16th of September as a public holiday.
Worldwide, Apple introduced the first iPad, whereas a small Finnish company called Rovio created the biggest gaming App with a few Angry Birds that became the best-selling iPhone app of 2010. The same year, iconic actress and comedian Betty White took over American pop culture with her appearance in the Super Bowl Snickers commercial, leading fans to launch a petition for her to host an episode of Saturday Night Live (SNL). On May 8, at the age of 88, she became the oldest person to host SNL.
The hallmark MINI driving fun entered a whole new dimension in Malaysia with the first-ever MINI Countryman Plug-In Hybrid, expanding BMW Group Malaysia’s Mobility of the Future portfolio. Since then, it has been taking the conversation on sustainable mobility to a new level, demonstrating MINI’s expertise in working with the newest technologies for the premium automotive industry.
With a moment in time as significant as Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration, the then-opposition party, Pakatan Harapan won the 14th General Election of Malaysia, overthrowing the 60-year long rule of the Barisan Nasional party. Reprising his role as Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad reclaimed ruling power after almost 40 years and making him the oldest Prime Minister in sitting.
Globally, Black Panther set various box office records such as the highest-grossing solo superhero film with many considering it to be one of the best films set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It received a nod for its cultural significance and was applauded for its majority African American cast, signalling progress towards better representation of African Americans in Hollywood.
Barely halfway through 2019, and it has proven to be an extraordinary year for MINI and the world of Pop Culture. For the first time ever, a team of scientists – including a Malaysian – captured the world’s first image of a Black Hole using a network of eight telescopes, which was then rendered by Dr Katie Bouman’s ground-breaking algorithm.
This year, MINI celebrates six decades of raising the bar in terms of driving fun, striking design and individuality. Across multiple generations, the unrivalled go-kart feeling and space-optimising interior continues to attract an ever-growing fanbase. To mark its 60th year anniversary, MINI presents a new iconic 60th Anniversary celebrations design, highlighting both its British origins and its MINI character looking towards the future. Deeply rooted in its tradition, yet contemporary. MINI Malaysia will be celebrating the 60th birthday of MINI in July.