Innocenti Mini- Mi­nor

Mini Magazine - - Innocenti Mini- Minor -

Innocenti was pro­duc­ing the suc­cess­ful Lam­bretta scooter and was a panel press­ing company, but sales dropped when Fiat in­tro­duced its 500 model in the sum­mer of 1957. In re­sponse, Innocenti made an agree­ment to pro­duce var­i­ous cur­rent BMC mod­els un­der li­cence in CKD ( com­pletely knocked down) form, us­ing a mix of Bri­tish and Ital­ian parts.

The Innocenti A40 was the first car to be pro­duced in 1960, fol­lowed by the 950 Spi­der in 1962, which was a ver­sion of the Austin Healey Sprite re- bod­ied by Ghia. In 1963 Innocenti built its own ver­sion of the Mor­ris 1100, known as the IM3. It was restyled to suit the Ital­ian mar­ket but re­tained UK- sup­plied me­chan­i­cals.

As time pro­gressed the A40 be­came dated, and both BMC and Innocenti were keen for the Mini to be put into Ital­ian pro­duc­tion in­stead. The MkI Innocenti Mini- Mi­nor duly made its de­but at the Turin Mo­tor Show in 1965, with the first ex­am­ples com­ing off the assem­bly lines in Septem­ber.

This was ba­si­cally an Ital­ian- as­sem­bled CKD Bri­tish Mini at first, be­cause Innocenti’s own body presses and tooling were not ready in time. Ap­par­ently, there may have been over 270 ex­am­ples built in this way ac­cord­ing to chas­sis num­bers. When Innocenti was ready to pro­duce its own pan­els, changes in­cluded a unique bootlid to cater for the square Ital­ian num­ber­plates, plus changes to the roof and var­i­ous other pan­els. The stan­dard front Ital­ian li­cence plate was too small to fit the brack­ets on the Bri­tish front panel, so an adapter plate was also made. At launch, it was priced at 87,000 Ital­ian Lire.

Dur­ing the MkI’s pro­duc­tion span, var­i­ous changes and im­prove­ments were made. In 1966 th­ese in­cluded re- po­si­tioned door pulls, fuel cap and rear open­ing side win­dow catches, a ribbed in­ner skin on the bootlid, im­proved seat ma­te­ri­als, steer­ing al­ter­ations and mod­i­fi­ca­tions to en­gine breath­ing. 1967 saw en­gine power boosted from 37.5 to 41.5 CV( SAE) thanks to a tweaked cylin­der head and in­let man­i­fold, plus a larger SU car­bu­ret­tor. Fur­ther im­prove­ments be­tween ‘ 67 and ‘ 68 in­cluded a new steer­ing rack, new brake master cylin­der and a change to the re­mote- type gear se­lec­tor.

In Septem­ber 1968, the MkII 848cc Innocenti MiniMin­ior was in­tro­duced. This was re­placed by the Mk3 848cc Mini- Mi­nor in Fe­bru­ary 1970, which gained open­ing quar­ter- light win­dows in Oc­to­ber ‘ 70. As with the first MkIs, Mk3 bodyshells weren’t quite ready, so Bri­tish bodyshells were used un­til Innocenti was ready to pro­duce its own. The Mk3 lasted un­til Jan­uary 1972, when it was re­placed by the 998cc Innocenti Mini 1000 and 1001 mod­els.

It’s just as per­fect inside the boot.

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