Mini’s Oxford assembly plant is the third-oldest mass-production car facility in the world, and this month it celebrates its 100-year anniversary. As one might expect, the plant has a storied history and a long tally of cars produced.
So far, the plant has manufactured more than 2.25 million Minis, including the original Mini that rolled off the line from 1959 to 1969 (another plant in the UK continued production until 2000). In 2001, the Oxford plant began production of the modern Mini Cooper, a project spearheaded by the brand’s new parent company BMW.
For centuries, Oxford has enjoyed international appeal as having one of the world’s best known and highly regarded universities, and draws thousands of visitors from around the globe every year. But many people don’t know that Oxford also has a technical and industrial history: 100 years ago – in 1913 – a young cycling enthusiast, William Morris, made a decision to establish a car plant in the Cowley area of Oxford.
The first car to be produced there was a two-seater Morris Oxford in 1913, assembled on a stationary production line which became known as the “Bullnose Morris”. A number of other Morris-branded vehicles would follow, including the Morris Eight and Morris Minor. The plant has also had a hand in producing cars from brands including Austin Healey, Triumph, Rover, Sterling, and MG. And during the 1980s, Oxford even produced Honda Civics (rebadged as Triumph Acclaim) and the Honda Legend.
In all, the plant has produced more than 11.6 million cars during its 100 years and there are no signs of it slowing down. Mini’s lineup has rapidly expanded in recent years to include the Cooper Clubman, Countryman, Cooper Coupe, and Paceman, and before long we may see a four-door Cooper.