Rover Cars has celebrated the Mini's 35th birthday by launching a limited-edition run of 1,000 special models of the seminal small car.

This version joins a long line of milestone models - the 20th, 25th and 30th anniversaries were marked with similar one-offs. None of these has acquired blue-chip collectable status, except perhaps in Japan, where Minis enjoy a cult following.

However, the Mini 35 could be different: this is likely to be the last major anniversary the car will enjoy in anything like its current shape.

A combination of tough offset-crash safety standards due to be introduced soon, which the Mini would almost cer-tainly fail, and the desire of BMW, Rover's new parent, to update Sir Alec Issigonis's 1959 design, will force either the model's replacement or, at best, a fundamental re-design.

Though mechanically identical to the Mini Sprite, the pounds 5,695 1.3-litre 35 model is distinguished by its bonnet and steering wheel badges, chrome grille, locks and door handles, Sixties-style interior fabric and decals.

(Photograph omitted)

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