MINI Plant Oxford celebrates 100 years of production. From its first car, a Bullnose Morris Oxford, that was produced on 28th March 1913 - just metres away from the current manufacturing facility.
Total car production to date stands at more than 11,655,000 with over 2,250,000 MINIs (Post BMW takeover) built so far, plus 602,187 classic Minis manufactured at Plant Oxford.
Plant Oxford is the oldest mass-production car plant in the U.K. and the third oldest in the world. It has run continuously from 1913 and over 13 car brands have been produced at Plant Oxford in a century.
Today, Plant Oxford employs 3700 associates who manufacture up to 900 MINIs every day, and has contributed over 2.25 million MINIs to the tally of over 11.65 million cars that the factory has produced since 1913.
From the first car, a Bullnose Morris Oxford that emerged on the 28th March 1913 many others have followed suit from a wide range of famous British brands – and one Japanese - including MG, Wolseley, Riley, Austin, Austin Healey, Mini, Vanden Plas, Princess, Triumph, Rover, Sterling and Honda, besides founding marque Morris and MINI.
The Pressed Steel Company occupying the complex also built bodyshells for Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Jaguar, MG, Standard-Triumph, Ford and Hillman, as well as tooling dies for Alfa Romeo. The plant has a long and impressive history of shipping cars abroad that has resulted in more than 1.7 million MINIs going to overseas customers.
The plant has produced an array of famous cars, including the Bullnose Morris, the Morris Minor, the Mini, India’s Hindustan Ambassador and today’s MINI. It also produced Hondas for a short period in the ‘80s, as well as some slightly notorious models including the early Riley Pathfinder, the Morris Marina, the startling ’70s wedge that was the Princess and in the Austin Maestro one of the world’s earliest ‘talking’ cars.
There have been eight owners for Plant Oxford over the past 100 years, from the founder William Morris until 1952. Morris merged with Austin to form the British Motor Corporation and in 1967 became British Motor Holdings after merging with Jaguar. The following year that group was merged with the Leyland truck company (which also included Triumph and Rover) to form the British Leyland Motor Corporation.
After Nationalising the group in 1974, the group underwent several name changes until it became the Rover Group in 1986. Graham Day was charged with privatising the company during the ‘Iron Lady’ Thatcher’s ruling and was completed in 1988 with the sale to British Aerospace.
The group was then sold to BMW in 1994.
BMW Group invested heavily in Rover, but considerable headwinds, and an unfavourable exchange rate lead to BMW selling Rover to the Phoenix Consortium in 2000 and Land Rover to Ford in 2000. The MINI brand was retained together with Plant Oxford, along with the associated Swindon pressings factory and the new Hams Hall engine plant in Birmingham.
Today, Plant Oxford flourishes with the manufacture of several MINI models. It is currently undergoing a major investment that includes the installation of a 1000 new robots to be used in a new body shop and the existing facility.
The Oxford plant has generated considerable wealth for the nation, as well as for many other countries around the world. It has also provided direct employment for numerous employees either through direct or indirect employment.
Read Part 2 of the story here
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