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Issigonis: The Official Biography by Gillian Bardsley
Amazon.com: Issigonis: The Official Biography: Books: Gillian Bardsley

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the Mini since my father was a Mini fanatic - I came home from the hospital after my birth in a "tuned" Cooper S. Dad's also an Italian car fanatic too so that's where they Alfa came in.

Anyway, Dad gave me this book and at first I thought I would only read the Mini sections but I found the entire book to be fascinating on many levels.

For those of you who don't know, Sir Alec Issigonis was the engineer who designed the BMC Mini (aka Morris Mini-Minor, Austin Se7en, Wolseley Hornet, Riley Elf, Innocenti Mini, etc.). The Mini is an automotive landmark in (at least) two ways: first, it was a small, cheap "people's" car so brilliant in it's design that it dominated rallying and small displacement tin-top circuit racing in the late '60s. More importantly, it's transverse-engined FWD layout would eventually become the standard for the majority of mass-produced cars worldwide. This includes both the Alfa Romeo 164 and most of Alfa's current lineup.

Issigonis was the one and only true star of the British car industry and personal friends with such luminaries as Princess Margaret, Mike Parkes, Paddy Hopkirk, Battista Farina, Sergio Pininfarina and Enzo Ferrari. He has the distinction of designing the first British car to sell a million units (Morris Minor), the first to sell two million units (Mini) as well as the best selling British car of all time (again, the Mini).

Issigonis lead a fascinating life and Gillian Bardsley's writing makes it a very personal and interesting read.

Chris
 
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