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.