Now Rover is trying to track down an example of every variant in time for the Mini's 40th birthday next month. But the company has a problem: 53 Minis are missing. The Rover Group museum in Warwickshire gave the Independent On Sunday unprecedented access to its archive in the hope that the photographs might help flush out the missing models. Below we print two lists: the 80 Rover already have; and the errant 53, numbered with their Rover codes.
Mini-owning readers thus have an opportunity to participate in a Mini hall of fame. The cars will be exhibited at a Mini rally at Silverstone race track on 22-23 August.
The 80 models so far located have been lent by owners from as far away as the US and Japan.
Since Sir Alec Issigonis sketched out the Mini's classic lines on a napkin, this most English of cars has been subjected to endless variations: stretched into a shooting brake, scooped into a pick-up truck, even converted into a minuscule motor home.
Brigitte Bardot, Clint Eastwood and Peter Sellers all drove Minis. James Hunt's first racing car was a Mini, and Ringo Starr had his converted into one of the first hatchbacks in order to accommodate a drum kit.
Among the missing models are the 1959 standard saloon, which had cloth seats and rubber mats instead of carpets, many of the vans and pick-up trucks, and the 1976 Mini 1000 Special, the first limited edition model, which has brown and orange striped seats.
"The missing cars are out there," said Anders Clausanger, the Mini archivist. "We just need the owners to get in touch."
If you own a "missing" Mini, write to: The Editor, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL.