Legendary car designer honoured at Oxford Business Park

4 Jul 2012

Oxford East MP Andrew Smith, Mini fans and classic car enthusiasts gathered for the official unveiling of a the new ‘Alec Issigonis Way’ road sign at Oxford Business park on Monday 18 June.  The sign commemorates Sir Alec Issigonis, the designer behind the iconic Mini and Morris Minor cars, which were manufactured in Oxford in the 1950s.

Joining Andrew Smith MP in leading the ribbon cutting ceremony was John Sheppard, an ex Mini employee who worked alongside Sir Issigonis himself and an active member of The Mini Forum, the group who led the campaign for the road sign. 

Adding to the sense of occasion was the presence of a 1959 Cowley built Mini, a 1950 Morris Minor and a new MINI Roadster, demonstrating the influence of the Issigonis design over the years.

Andrew Smith, MP for Oxford East, said: “This naming is important recognition of a key element of Oxford’s automotive heritage:  the outstanding role of Alec Issigonis in the design of the original Mini, which lives on in the iconic features of today’s MINI.”

 The sign was commissioned by leading property group Goodman, which owns, develops and manages Oxford Business Park.  The road name was chosen as it is located opposite MINI Plant Oxford, where Issigonis’ classic Mini was made and where the new MINI has been produced since 2001.

Wayne Morse, Communications Manager at Plant Oxford, said: “This is a tribute to the legacy of Alec Issigonis and the iconic car he designed. Everyone at the plant is proud to be part of both the heritage and future of MINI.”

James Raven, Development Director, UK Business and Science Parks, said: “We are delighted to have worked with The Mini Forum in delivering this tribute to one of the greatest car designer of all time.  The sign will add to the unique identity of the park as a place that celebrates the local heritage and promotes a strong sense of community.”

The Morris Mini-Minor, the first car to carry the Sir Issigonis design, rolled off the Oxford production line on 8 May 1959.  Plant Oxford continues to make the new MINI, and produced the 2 millionth MINI car last August since production started in 2001.

Alec Issigonis is still highly influential 76 years after he joined Morris Minor.  His original thinking, focus on safety, and commitment to value are all central to current MINI producer BMW’s business ethos.

Tanya Field, member of The Mini Forum, said: “I feel that Sir Alec could not have summed up his cars better himself when he said ‘If you design ladies clothes, they will go out of fashion in a few years, my cars will still be in fashion even when I'm dead’.  His design of the Mini was so good that it remained in production for 41 years and its successor MINI, has taken elements of Minis character and continued forward with them.”