A “Mini” Greek-British History

The British Press (Independent, May 7 & Daily Telegraph, May 12) reports on the life of the Greek-British car designer of the legendary Mini model.  Sir Alexander Issigonis, (1906-1988) is now remembered chiefly for the groundbreaking and influential development of the Mini, launched by the British Motor Corporation in May 8 1959.  Issigonis was born into the Greek community of Smyrna (now İzmir) in the Ottoman Empire. Because Alec and his family were British subjects, they managed to escape the Turkish re-possession of Smyrna in 1922.  Alec studied engineering in London. In 1955, Issigonis was recruited by British Motor Corporation. A year later, following the Suez Crisis, Issigonis was asked to bring to production a small car as quickly as possible.  By early 1957, prototypes were running, and in August 1959 the car was launched as the Morris Mini Minor and the Austin Mini Seven or just Austin Mini. In later years, the car would become known simply as the Mini.