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50 of MINI’s Greatest Hits in The World of Pop Culture, Music and Art

Paul McCartney of The Beatles with his Mini Cooper

This article was produced in collaboration with MINI Australia

Our most recent issue celebrating the 50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time featured a collaboration with MINI to include a double page spread of 50 facts about the iconic and stylish car manufacturer. From David Bowie’s involvement for a signature Mini design, to Beach Boys helping take the car across the globe when they posed in front of a Mini Moke as part of their international tour in 1966, these facts show the breadth and impact of MINI on music, pop culture and art.

The Beach Boys posing with five matching Mini Mokes

The Beach Boys posing with five matching Mini Mokes

#41-50

41. Don’t try this at home: French daredevil Guerlain Chicherit was the first person to ever backflip a MINI in snow.

42. An original works Mini that won RAC rally UK in 1965 and the Scottish Rally in 1966 was lost to the world for 20 years. The barn find then surfaced in 1986, and by the time the car was restored to full original glory, it was worth a staggering $200,000!

43. The Mini ute is an actual thing – in 2014, MINI posted pictures of a Paceman Adventure, jacked-up with beefy tyres, a light bar on the roof and a tiny cargo bed at the back! The car was a one-off design study created by students and instructors at BMW plants Munich and Dingolfing.

44. The Mini panel van was another unique and practical body style of the classic favourite, released to the public for sale in 1960. Because it was to be used for commercial purposes, it was cheaper than the car! More than 500,000 over these Mini panel vans were eventually sold, taking on all sorts of roles, from breadvans, tradesmen transports, to even an AA rescue vehicle!

45. Defying labels with authenticity – Instead of paying millions for celebrity endorsement, MINI simply sought out stars that already owned MINIs, recruiting superstar owners like actor Harvey Keitel, tennis legend Serena Williams and rapper T-pain to speak authentically about the brand. The resultant Superbowl ad message was powerful – that the marque defied labels, and was instead a car of choice for people who defined themselves.

46. Alfred, to the Mini! British actor Michael Caine, who famously plays Alfred in Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, also enjoyed screen time in a Mini in the 1971 British classic Get Carter.

47. The King of Cool – American actor Steve McQueen, nicknamed “The King Of Cool” also owned a Mini until the 1970s, one that he’d bought himself from the Mini co-creator John Cooper. It’s now believed to belong to his friend Lee Brown. “Back in the 1960s, if you didn’t have a Ferrari and a Mini Cooper, you just weren’t a movie star,” said Brown. “Well, Steve McQueen already had his Ferrari Lusso and spotted this Mini over at Hollywood Sports Cars… He called me up and said: ‘I bought it. Go over and pick it up, and I’ll come to the shop and we’ll figure out what to do with it’.”

48. Neal Pogue, who was an audio engineer on the seminal Outkast album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, released in 2003, remembers the role that the Mini played in creating one of the most defining records of the era, and he recalled driving with Andre 3000 and the musician playing him demos. “I just remember we were driving. It might have been on cassette because I remember us driving over Laurel Canyon in a little Mini Cooper and listening to all the demos for that album.”

49. In 2003 Madonna referenced the Mini in her song “American Life”, and she used her Mini Cooper S constantly during her time living in London.

50. Bruno Mars drove a Mini in the video for Travie McCoy’s global smash hit “Billionaire”, and Britney Spears included a pink convertible Mini in her 2011 Femme Fatale tour.