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Safety of Austin Mini

Does the size of the Austin Mini Cooper make it difficult for other drivers to see it? Does this make it more prone to collisions?

If you are refering to the Mini Cooper of today, I think it is a lot safer than the Austin 850 and the equivalent Morris 850 which were imported to this country back in 1960. Today’s mini is a lot bigger than the original version.

My dad did a lot of business with our local DeSoto/Plymouth dealer and this dealer picked up the Austin line of cars to sell. I had taken my Dad’s car to the dealer for servicing and was laughing at the size and shape of the Austin 850. The owner of the agency tossed me the keys to the Austin 850 and said, “Let’s take a ride”. This original Mini was a blast to drive. I would have purchased one on the spot except that I was a poor college student and any car was out of the question. I don’t think that the Austin 850 was as difficult for other drivers to see as the Austin Healy Sprite of that time period and I would venture to say that the Mini Cooper of today is more visible to other drivers on the road than a Mazda Miata.

You could also argue that its better handling would allow the driver to avoid accidents. Check out NHTSA crash statistics for more info. It’s better than a motorcycle.


You could also argue that its better handling would allow the driver to avoid accidents.

I had this very thought 50 years ago when I drove an Austin 850. I thought it handled better than any other car I had driven in this time period.

With the exception of motorcycles and bicycles, I have never heard of a problem with a vehicle being difficult to see. Don’t disable the Daytime Running Lights. Pick a visible color (As I recall white was the most visible overall.)

I really don’t believe that is us a real issue. Now if you compare the old Mini’s and todays models in an accident there is no comparison. The modern ones are far safer due to seat belts, air bags, handling, structural design of the body etc.

I Don’t Know About An “Austin” Mini Cooper, But The “New” Mini Cooper Is Shown On The Highway Loss Data Institute’s Site. Take A Look Where The Rubber Meets The Road !

Use the key at the bottom right of the page when you get there.


But, the driver of the Mini must also be paying attention to their surroundings. Not everyone does this. The Excursion driver yakking away on their phone gliding all over the road might not see the driver of the Mini texting on their phone as they roll over top of them.

We don’ need no steenkin’ safety!

Just watch the movie ‘La Dolce Vita’ (1960)
Five people packed in a little convertible, no seatbelts, all puffing away on cigarettes.

An actual Austin Mini Cooper was technologically way ahead of its time, but was extremely unsafe by today’s standards. It was was the first mass-produced vehicle to use a transversely mounted 4-banger with a transaxle and FWD along with using small wheels pushed way out to the corners of the car, both to maximize interior space in a small shell. The designers even put the radiator into the corner of the engine compartment to push the engine & transaxle assembly a bit further forward. But from a safety standpoint it really is nothing but a small metal shell. No crash protection whatsoever.

Wasn’t the Austin Mini Cooper a more expensive model with a bigger engine than the Austin 850 or its twin, the Morris 850?

These were truly remarkable cars for the time period. I remember the sliding windows instead of the conventional roll-up windows. The tires were really small. It seems to me the wheel rims were about 10" in diameter.

Not really.
According to Wikipedia, it was designed as project ADO15 (Austin Drawing Office project number 15), and came about because of a fuel shortage caused by the 1956 Suez Crisis.[