Lesezeit 9 Min
Wirtschaft

A truly British icon

German car manufacturer BMW saved the British cult brand Mini. The threat of Brexit now raises thorny questions – and could jeopardise the success story.

GERAINT LEWIS / DER SPIEGEL
von
Simon Hage
Lesezeit 9 Min
Wirtschaft

Lesen Sie hier die deutsche Version: Ikone von der Insel

At best, the factory exudes industrial romanticism. Robots weld together sheets of metal, and a new vehicle rolls off the assembly line every 68 seconds. For many Brits, though, the significance of these factory halls goes far beyond the compact cars produced here – it’s about a brand that is intrinsically linked to their national identity. Around 15,000 visitors a year flock to Cowley, an industrial district on the outskirts of Oxford, the selfproclaimed “heart of the Mini”.

They aren’t just motorists either – they’re fans, people like the elegant English woman who stepped onto the shop floor in midMay. She was over 90 years old, could still drive and was a Mini enthusiast. She had recently purchased a Mini, the sporty John Cooper Works model, and now she had come to visit the car’s birthplace, with her fingernails painted red, silver and black to match the colours of her new vehicle. For one particularly brandloyal visitor, guest attendants at the plant even decorated a car with flowers and ribbons. He wanted to propose to his girlfriend inside.

First produced in 1959, the Mini has developed a certain aura over the years. The Beatles, Mr Bean and allegedly even the Queen have driven one. It is a British icon that survived decades of mismanagement by former owners. Not…

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