In vehicle dynamics, weight is an important consideration. Weight affects a car’s dynamics unlike any other, making its presence known from the purely subjective measure of “driving pleasure” to the cold numbers of fuel economy. With legislation requiring ever more safety equipment, and consumer tastes demanding ever more comfort, space and better fuel economy from their cars, it’s a mad dash to keep vehicle weight in check. Different materials are now being employed towards this end, and aluminum has been working wonders, with early mass-market adopters Jaguar and Audi preaching its weight saving benefits.
Of course, racers have been gracing intricate frames with shapely aluminum bodies, shedding weight without the fatal consequences of setting magnesium alight.
When the Mini started selling in 1959, BMC soon discovered a problem with the car’s sales: there was hardly any profit to be made at the price they were selling it at. To be sure, this was no fault of the car, but of the staff in BMC’s finance office. Perhaps they should have taken a far closer look at the car’s engineering before deciding upon the car’s selling price. Soon though, BMC had no choice: the Mini had become such an icon that they couldn’t afford to not sell it.
In December of 1956, Britain was in quite a fix: a not-insignificant political indiscretion dubbed Operation Musketeer involving the Suez Canal resulted in an embargo on oil shipments to both France and United Kingdom. This prompted the return of fuel rationing to the country and ruined British car sales; overnight, German microcars like the Isetta and Messerschmidt became the cars of choice, being more frugal than anything the British had on hand. BMC (British Motor Company) was particularly concerned, both because they stood to lose a large chunk of market share and because chairman Leonard Lord reportedly took personal offense to the German “bubblecars”.