The current trend in cars in 2019, in case you haven’t heard—I’m kidding, it’s practically all you hear about—is hugeness. Buyers are flocking to crossovers, SUVs and pickup trucks to the point where it’s being considered a permanent shift away from tiny cars. But we all know good things come in small packages, and despite the SUV boom, 2019’s also a big year for two tiny heroes. This year marks two important car anniversaries: the 60th birthday of the original Mini, and the 30th birthday of the Mazda Miata. Both of them soldier on today in fun ways—one quite different than its original version, the other remarkably faithful to its own—and some cool stuff is on tap in 2019 to celebrate. The Mini is largely known as a premium, sporty compact today, but we often forget it started life in 1959 as a humble city car aimed at working families. Crafted by legendary designer Alec Issigonis for the British Motor Corporation, the first Mini was a packaging miracle that put a wheel at each corner to maximize interior volume. It, along with a few early Citroëns, was also an early pioneer of front-wheel drive, and could easily be seen as a precursor to the kinds of small hatchbacks that would dominate many car markets decades later. Simple, fun and iconic—and with an impressive racing record to boot—it was in production until 2000 when BMW took over the company and took the brand in a different, heavier, larger, more leather-y direction…. [Read full story]
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