Rethinking an icon of Sixties Britain: The Mini and its place in the post-war motor revolution

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The Mini was launched in 1959 during Britain’s motor revolution. This iconic car has long been analogized with the popular iconography of the Sixties, but I argue here that this association only scratches the surface of its more complex meanings. Rather, the Mini embodied the tension arising from a motor revolution that was transformative yet limited. By looking at how the Mini was marketed, perceived, and used (and by whom), I suggest that it was a conduit through which Englishness and national decline were mediated against the backdrop of mass motorization. It also reflected the motor-car’s growing importance as a public and private space. I draw on a number of historical sources to make this argument, including automotive advertising, a source that is currently underutilized by historians. In doing so, I seek to overcome the normative tendency in academic history to overlook the car’s cultural significance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523–546
Number of pages24
JournalTwentieth Century British History
Issue number4
Early online date29 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

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