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Mini Cooper Makes A Pit Stop at Yale University



A MINI Lecture at Yale University

Shortly after our arrival, a minibus drove use to the Yale University School of Management for an introduction to the MINI John Cooper Works Press Event.

MINI USA started the presentation with a few words from their Chief Motorer, David Duncan. Mr. Duncan gave us a state of the union and as we’ve reported since the beginning of the year, the MINI brand has performed fairly well in the US. That performance has actually been validated by a number of awards and prizes from the automotive press, and most recently JD Powers.

Following this short introduction, Professor Jeffrey C. Alexander talked about icons, their impact on society, and how this topic relates to MINI. Rather that paraphrasing Pr. Jeffrey, here is an extract of his lecture:

"60 years ago, French semiotician Roland Barthes said that: “Cars today are almost the exact equivalent of the great gothic cathedrals. They are the supreme creation of an era, conceived with passion by unknown artists, and consumed in image if not in usage by a whole population which appropriates them as a purely magical object.”

From the beginning, the automobile was regarded widely as a tremendous technological feat. It provided auto mobility, getting us from A to B a whole lot faster than ever imagined before, cheating time and eating space. From the its very beginning, automobile was not only technology, but also imagination. It worked on our senses and not only on our logic. Cars are designed, not just engineered. They ensue luxury and class, the future and the past, power and lust, and sometimes hipster cool, which is where the MINI comes from.

The Morris Mini was hatched in the midst of the post-war consumer extravagenza of the ’50s and ’60s, in the midst of the Suez crisis in the UK, which drastically cut down fuel, supplies and resulted in a sales crisis for gas guzzlers. It was as the exact same time that Doyle Dane Bernbach, the famous New York adverstising agency, began to make history with the Volkswagen account in the US. Icons are dramatic vehicles, not just technological ones. They are performances, they played roles, often against time.

The Mini was small and homely but kind of cute. Mini played the anti-hero to the matcho cars that were the order of that day. From the swinging 60s to the preposterous 90s, this anti-car stood for common sense, plain speaking, honesty, modesty, vurtue, pre-war not post-war values. No wonder that by the time it was finished, after a run of more than fifty years, it had become the best selling British-made car of all time, and was the second most influential car of the twentieh century after the Model T, but in front of the VW Beetle. Since being produced by BMW, from 2000 MINI has gotten a noze-job and beefed-up, not doubt. But if cars could speak, MINI would still say: ‘I am me.'”

To end the presentation, MINI USA’s Head of Product Strategy Patrick McKenna, emphasized Pr. Jeffrey’s argument by detailing further the origin of MINI. From Alec Issoginis to John Cooper, the goal was to provide us with an overview of MINI’s racing heritage as a preview to driving the F56 John Cooper Works the next day. 

More from the article can be read here