Building the Mini

Initial welding of bodies on the jigs. Turret (roof) is still to be fitted.

Back in Issue 5 we detailed the story of the Morris 850 being released in Australia, the testing that was done, and the changes made for the local version.

However, according to former Experimental Department mechanic David Hill, if Chief Experimental Engineer Bill Sergeantson had his way, the Mini would never have been sold in Australia.

“When I was fi rst in the Experimental Department, in 1960, we had a Mini. It had come out from the UK, and all the department heads had said there was no future in this thing, so they stuck it in the corner with a cover over it. No more was said about it, until the head of department, Bill Sergeantson, was contacted by Alec Issigonis.”

Mini bodies sub-assembly area in SMBD

Apparently, Issigonis was none too pleased that his baby was not being tested, and orders soon came from the UK parent company that the Mini was to be sold in Australia.

Former Administrative Product Engineer, Peter Davis, said the Mini was thrust upon BMC Australia, without consultation.

“Then it started, and we know where the Mini went in Australia, but if Bill Sergeantson had his way the Mini wouldn’t have got on the market”, David Hill recalls.

Three Minis were shown to department heads and dealerships (see Issue 1). It was genrally considered that the Mini would not sell suffi ciently to make it viable, so the desicion was taken to keep the Morris Minor in production while the Mini was introduced - the Minor being phased out in May 1962.

In fact, the Mini and the Minor had their fi nal assembly done on the same line in CAB 2, which made for a few complications - particularly as one was front-wheel-drive and the other rear-wheel-drive.

Hot run testing a Cooper S engine

Initially, apart from a few changes that were deemed necessary for the Mini to be suitable for local conditions, the car was the same as the UK version, and assembled from CKD packs shipped from the UK.

In order for the production of any vehicle design to take place, it is essential that every part, nut and bolt be listed, and every procedure be detailed. In the case of BMC, all components required were listed in a Schedule of Parts. This was then broken down into six groups, being; Body shell complete, Body fi ttings and trim, Chassis components, Electrical components, Power unit, and Options.

Peter Davis, explains that each of these groups was then further broken down into sub-groups. “For example, with Chassis Components, you had Front Suspension, Rear Suspension, Propeller Shaft – which of course didn’t relate to the Mini – and so-on. These sub-groups totalled over 70, though not all were used for every vehicle.”

For vehicles exported as CKD, BMC had a Knock Down Allocation Schedule (KDAS). As changes were made, and more parts and panels were sourced locally, the KDAS needed to change to refl ect this.

If you would like to read the rest of this story, order your copy of Issue 15 of The Mini Experience. <plumshop>21</plumshop> 

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