If you were to compile a list of the greatest American cars ever, it's unlikely you'd find many gas sippers near the top.
But in Europe, where small cars rule and gas has long been more expensive, some of the continents most iconic cars were also fairly green in their day.
The Mini transformed the automotive landscape in Britain, in much the same way Volkswagen's Beetle and Fiat's 500 did for Germany and Italy respectively.
Post-war, gas was in short supply and wages were relatively low, making small, gas-sipping cars the most effective means of transportation for families.
Despite its tiny size--around ten feet in length--the Mini could comfortably seat four people at the time, thanks to clever packaging that sited the engine transversely and put the gearbox in the oil pan. Passenger space accounted for around two thirds of the vehicle's diminutive length, and minimal interior fittings increased space further.
The original 848cc engine only put out 33 horsepower, but the car's 1,380-lb curb weight ensured performance was respectable for the day. Better still, economy of over 30 miles per gallon made it inexpensive to run. For perspective, that's almost what the latest 2012 MINI Cooper produces today, at 32 mpg combined.
While the modern MINI is quicker, safer, larger and even a little more economical, it's now become more of a fashion accessory than the original ever was--even after it gained its now-iconic status.
And MINI fans will be hoping that a true successor to the original Mini will soon arrive with a production model of the Rocketman concept.
What's your favorite gas-sipping British car ever? Let us know in the comments section below.
(c) 2012, High Gear Media.