Mini Coin is a Maxi Collectible
In an international competition in 1999, the Mini was voted the second most influential Car of the Century, behind the Ford Model T; the Volkswagen Bug came in fourth. Ans so it is not surprising that Great Britain is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Mini with limited edition commemorative coins. Only a handful of automobiles have ever appeared on coins—since the valuable “Automobile Dollar” was issued in the Chinese province of Kweichow in 1928.
The Mini came about because of a fuel shortage in the United Kingdom caused by the 1956 Suez Crisis. Leonard Lord, the head of BMC, was determined to “designing a proper miniature car,” and so he specified that the car should be contained within a box that measured 10 × 4 × 4 ft. The production version of the Mini, designed by Sir Alec Issigonis, was first demonstrated to the press in April 1959. Six years later, the millionth Mini rolled off the assembly line.
Issigonis' friend John Cooper, owner of the Cooper Car Company and designer and builder of Formula One and rally cars, saw the potential of the Mini for competition--so the two men collaborated to create the Mini Cooper, a nimble, economical and inexpensive car that debuted in 1961.
The Mini Cooper S earned acclaim with Monte Carlo Rally victories in 1964, 1965 and 1967. Minis were initially placed first, second and third in the 1966 rally as well, but were disqualified after a controversial decision by the French judges for a minor infraction involving the headlamps dimming circuit.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the British market enjoyed numerous "special editions" of the Mini, which shifted the car from a mass-market item into a fashionable icon. It was this image that perhaps helped the Mini become such an asset for BMW, which later took control of the Rover Group, which included the Mini. The new Mini is larger than the classic Mini--it is around 22 in. longer, 12 in. wider, and weighs 2,315 lb. rather than 1,433 lb. On April 3, 2007, the one millionth Mini rolled out of the Oxford Plant after six years of production.
The Royal Mint has produced several versions of legal tender coins--for the British Crown dependency of Alderney--celebrating the venerable Mini’s 50th anniversary. Least expensive is the silver dollar-size Brilliant Uncirculated £5 cupro-nickel denomination, housed in a full color presentation folder, limited to 100,000 pieces, priced at $19.95. The similarly designed limited edition (only 5,000 authorized) sterling silver version is gem proof quality, and features a colorful British flag on the roof of the Mini; it comes in an elegant presentation case with an informative Certificate of Authenticity, and is priced at $85. These Mini coins are expected to be sought after by coin collectors as well as enthusiastic Mini owners. They are available from official distributor Panda America, 3460 Torrance Blvd., Suite 100, Torrance, CA 90503; credit card orders can be placed by calling (800) 472-6327. Add $5 per order for shipping and handling.