Tuesday, 7 May 2013

A MINI miracle in Oxford!

Nicky Godding interviews Frank Bachmann, Managing Director at the Oxford MINI Plant, as Oxford celebrates 100 years of car manufacturing.

In 1913 the first Bullnose Morris Oxford was built at Morris Motors Limited, Cowley. Forty years later, in the mid 1950s, a young engineer called Alec Issigonis (British, but of Greek descent) who had joined Morris Motors in 1936, designed a car the like of which had never been seen before. Launched by Morris in 1959 the Mini was an almost instant hit.

One hundred years later and cars are still rolling off the production line, which is now dedicated solely to producing a new generation of Minis.

Alec Issigonis was knighted for his achievements. William Morris, the founder of Morris Motors
Ltd (not to be confused with the other William Morris of textile and wallpaper fame) went on to become Lord Nuffield, and is also remembered as a great philanthropist and founder of the Nuffield Foundation and Nuffield College, Oxford. His legacy, the Oxford plant is still, over fifty years’ later the heart of Mini production, though since 1994 it has been owned by BMW which knows a thing or two about great cars. Today, the almost 4000 Oxford employees produce five models on the same flexible manufacturing line: The Hatch, Clubman, Convertible, Coupe and Roadster. While the 172-acre Oxford plant is where the bodies are put together and painted, and final assembly takes place, it’s part of a ‘production triangle’ where the new Mini engines are made at Hams Hall in Birmingham and the body pressings and sub assemblies in Swindon. Read More...