The Surprising Design Secrets Behind BMW’s Modern Mini Cooper

Inspired by none other than a British bulldog.

byRob Stumpf|
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In a world of beige boxes and SUVs, it's refreshing to see a car on the road that you immediately recognize. One such example is the iconic Mini Cooper, the boxy British hatchback that humbly served as a sports car for everyday drivers looking to stick it to the man. Now, the designer of the modern-day Mini, Frank Stephenson, is kicking off an all-new YouTube series on his timeless vehicle designs and is using the Mini Cooper to tell his first anecdote.

You'll immediately recognize the name Frank Stephenson as the designer behind some of the most iconic cars of the past 20 years. His influence helped to shape some of the most timeless sports cars like the Maserati MC12, Ferrari F430, and McLaren P1. However, Stephenson also designed a number of normal cars like the Fiat 500 and Mini Cooper.

An original Stephenson sketch of the R50 Mini dated October 1997, via Frank Stephenson

Many of Stephenson's cars follow his philosophy of biomimicry, that cars should capture the design of nature. For example, the McLaren MP4-12C's side profile was meant to resemble the curves of a sprinting cheetah and the P1's pivoting doors indicative of an eagle ready to catch its prey.

The Mini Cooper received the same biomimicry treatment around a slightly more old-fashioned British icon: the English Bulldog. The hatchback's notable underbite and broad shoulders are immediately recognizable to the platform, representative of the stocky canine foundation. In fact, if you think back to Mini's original marketing campaign, you'll see just how influential the Bulldog was in the car's underpinnings.

We won't spoil all the fun, as there's something about hearing it straight from the designer's mouth that makes the blueprinting of an icon all that more special.

The Mini was a fantastic start to his series, but we can't help to be excited to see the thought process behind his work with other brands like Ferrari and McLaren.

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