Between 1960 and 1967, BMC exported approximately 10,000 left-hand drive BMC Minis to the United States. Sales were discontinued when stricter federal safety standards were imposed in 1968 and the arrival of the larger and more profitable Austin America. Mini sales fell in the 1967 calendar year and the US importer was expecting the forthcoming Austin America to find a larger market. The America was also withdrawn in 1972 due to slow sales and the introduction of bumper-height standards. Mini sales continued in Canada until 1980. MkIII variants, as with their UK counterparts remained badged as a "Mini" (no distinction between Austin or Morris), and in 1976 with the takeover of British Leyland, became British Leyland Minis (MkIV). Leyland Minis also were subject to stricter government regulation with high bumpers, large turn indicators, warning buzzers and lights for seat belts and also a fitting of air pollution pumps which required a specially designed radiator.
Issigonis designed the Mini with an emphasis on active safety. Asked about the crashworthiness of the Mini, he said: "I make my cars with such good brakes, such good steering, that if people get into a crash it's their own fault" and "I don't design my cars to have accidents".
In July 1965 BMC announced that following "comments by safety experts" about the Mini's external doorhandles, these would be modified on new cars so that the gap between the handle and the door panel would be effectively closed.
Nicholas Faith states in his book that Murray Mackay, one of the UK's leading motor vehicle crash and safety researchers, was critical of the pre-1967 Mini's passive safety features, including the protruding filler cap, the door latch, and the vulnerability of the passenger space to engine intrusion.
The Mini was withdrawn from the American market because it could not meet the 1968 U.S. safety regulations and emission standards, and although often updated, not sufficiently to comply with U.S. regulations. It continued to be sold in Canada until 1980.
The Mini was modified during its production to improve its safety. In 1974 a prototype Mini experimental safety vehicle was built, the Mini Clubman SRV4. It featured a longer crumple zone, a "pedestrian friendly" front-end, run-flat tyres, strengthened door sills, extra internal padding and recessed door handles, the latter having been used earlier on Australian-built Minis owing to local laws. Jack Daniels, one of the original Issigonis team, is stated to have been working on further safety improvements for the Mini when he retired in 1977. Several times it was thought that safety regulations would stop Mini production. Safety improved in 1996, with the introduction of airbags and side-impact bars. The Mini, challenged by increasingly demanding European safety and pollution standards, was planned by British Aerospace to be taken out of production in 1996, but BMW chose to invest to keep the Mini legal until the launch of a new model.
In January 2007 Which? magazine listed the Mini City in its "Ten worst cars for safety (since 1983)" list, alongside other economical, lightweight, fuel-efficient cars like the Hyundai Pony 1.2L, Fiat Panda 900 Super, Suzuki Alto GL, Daihatsu Domino, Citroën AX 11 RE, Yugo 45 and 55, Peugeot 205 GL, and the Citroën 2CV6.
A UK Department for Transport statistics publication, presenting estimates of the risk of driver injury in two-car injury collisions, based on reported road accident data, estimated that the 1990–2000 Mini was one of two small cars (the other being the Hyundai Atoz), which, with an estimated 84% of drivers likely to be injured, presented the greatest risk of driver injury; the average risk for the small car category was 76%.
Several key events marked the 50th anniversary of the Mini in 2009. On 13 January 2009, the Royal Mail released a limited edition of stamps entitled "British Design Classics", featuring an original, egg-shell blue, MK1 Mini, registration XAA 274. On 17 May, a world record parade of 1,450 Minis congregated at Crystal Palace as part of a London to Brighton run. The following week, 10,000 Minis and 25,000 people attended an anniversary party at Silverstone Circuit on the border of Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire.
Between 7 and 10 August 2009 approximately 4000 minis from around the world congregated at Longbridge Birmingham to celebrate the 50th anniversary. On 26 August 2009, smallcarBIGCITY launched in London to provide sightseeing tours of the capital in a fleet of restored Mini Coopers.
The BMC Mini, launched in 1959, is Britain's most influential car ever. It defined a new genre. Other cars used front-wheel drive and transverse engines before, but none in such a small space; this was possible as the engine is mounted on top of the gearbox.
Initial sales were worryingly slow. Then to the rescue came the rich and fashionable ... The Beatles, Princess Margaret with Lord Snowdon, Peter Sellers and Mary Quant, Harry Secombe and Graham Hill were all seen around town in Minis.
It dominated the mini-car market until the arrival of the Hillman Imp in 1963. It outsold the Imp. Competition arrived with the more modern and practical Vauxhall Chevette of 1975, but the Mini continued to sell well until its "replacement"—the Metro—arrived in 1980. By this time, the Mini's design had been overtaken by numerous more modern and practical vehicles.
Although the Metro did not replace the Mini, production figures for the Mini dipped during the 1980s, and interest in the design was not revived until the reintroduction of the Mini Cooper in 1990. This helped sales of the Mini through the 1990s, to the end of production on 4 October 2000.
A total of 1,581,887 Minis were sold in Britain after its launch in 1959. The last new one to be registered was sold in 2004, some four years after the end of productio