ALEC ISSIGONIS was born in 1906 in Izmir, Turkey. His mother was German and his father was Greek with British citizenship. Issigonis didn’t go to school. He was taught by a private teacher at home. After the First World War, the family moved to Britain, and Issigonis studied engineering. He was already a good designer but he couldn’t do maths. He failed his maths exam three times at technical college! He worked for a number of car manufacturers before joining Morris in 1936. After the Second World War he design the Morris Minor, the first British car to sell over a million. In 1956 he joined the British Motor Corporation. In that year the Suez Crisis caused petrol shortages in Europe, so everyone wanted cars that did not use much petrol. Issigonis was asked to design a small economical car that could take four passengers. The result was the Mini. Issigonis had complete control over the design of the Mini. He was an arrogant man who did not like to listen to other people. For example, he was told that all modern cars should have radios and seat belts. But he did not listen to the radio himself or wear seat belts, so he refused to put them in the first Minis. Later he changed his mind and seat belts and radios were added. He saw himself as an artist rather than a scientist. He once said, ‘Mathematics is the enemy of every truly creative man.’ Issigonis always followed his instincts. Luckily, they were usually right! About MINI. First of all he decided that the Mini should be three meters long, half a meter shorter than most small cars. Next, the wheels were made much smaller, with independent suspension. And they were put right at the four corners of the car. Then, the engine was turned sideways, and the gearbox was put underneath. Most space was saved by having front-wheel drive. And there was still room for four passengers. In 1959 this design was revolutionary. Today nearly every small car is based on the design of Mini.
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