Sir Alec Issigones 107th birthday would mark the launch of the third generation MINI with celebrations happening in 3 cities across 3 continents over a 3 day period. London. Los Angeles. Shanghai.
I was lucky enough to get an invite to the press launch in London; thanks to Ian Brooks from Surrey New MINI, which would mean that I would be one of the first few people to see it in the metal. There were around 500 guests at the event that was located at The Sorting Office. For the event I was able to have a plus one and after a lot of thought I decided to take a fellow miniMINImini contributor and good friend, Keith Burton.
Upon arrival, we had to register at the registration desk – obviously! where we were given a blue MINI wristband – which I loved and already had plans to store it away as a keepsake to remember the night with; little did I know that later that night that wristband would surprise me!
The first thing that caught my eye was the large MINI sign and so I ran over to get a photo of it and knew that would be the perfect first shot for Instagram! I must get myself one of these! The first priority for Keith though was to hook onto the free wifi. In his words he ‘needs wifi like he needs oxygen!” I can’t tell you the amount of times I have heard that!
You couldn’t be without food and drink, as there was a large selection on display with waiters and waitress’ circling the space. Of course, there was nothing that I liked because I really am the most fussiest eater you will ever meet; after my sister.
As we waited for the countdown; which was displayed near the stage, I got talking to a couple who had won the competition to attend the press event. It also turned out that they lived not too far from myself actually. They brought their MINI convertible two years ago as they wanted a car to purely have fun in and felt that the MINI was the perfect car. They told me how it is a massive change from their Discovery but are super pleased with their purchase and were excited to see how the look will evolve.
During the last few seconds of the countdown, it dawned on me that I was going to be in a large number of the camera shots as I was towards the side where as everyone else gathered at the front of the stage.
The blue wristband started to light up as the reveal edged ever closer, which fascinated me. Of course, this would be another Instagram shot despite the photo not being too good. Its pulse could be seen throughout the room that was a great sight. As the countdown reached 1, everyone was prepared with their cameras and smartphones at the ready in order to capture that first moment. A short video played on the door that the MINI later drove out from. The video showed links to the Classic Mini and plenty of Alec Issigons shots too. Finally, the door lifted and the MINI was driven out by the presenter Rick Edwards who’s passenger was in fact the designer.
After the speeches and further pictures displaying behind the MINI, we were allowed to get closer to it, including sitting in it to get a real feel of the car.
I’ll openly admit that it took me a long time to adjust to the second generation and to this day I still find a huge difference in the way that they feel when you drive them. Perhaps that is because I am extremely attached to my reliable R50; good ol’ Stripes, and so feel that nothing else can top her and because along with a large number of people, I don’t particularly like change. A number of photographs had been leaked online but of course, none of them were official and so I remained open minded until I saw it in the metal.
The event itself focused on showing the brand as ‘cool’ and ‘hip.’ There was a DJ with Ellie Golding helping out, plenty of top food and drink, British celebrities, designers and of course, the venue itself which all added to this ‘cool’ vibe. To finish off the ‘cool’ factor was an hour-long live session by Fenech Soler. The night before the event I checked them out on iTunes to get a teaser of what was to come. They were fantastic!
This experience was nothing like myself or those who attend Mini shows to be as there were only two MINIs; a red Cooper and a Volcanic Orange – yellow, Cooper S and the focus was more on the event rather than them.
By the end, I was starving, as I didn’t like any of the food inside. Keith and I decided that before heading back to the hotel we would sniff out a McDonalds.
Overall, I am super pleased to have been able to be a part of this event although it was incredibly different to what I have been to before. It was such a great atmosphere and I’m honoured to have been one of the first to see and sit inside the F56. I must also mention Liz for collecting us from the hotel and chauffeuring us to the venue. Thank you!
Check out Sammieee’s gallery of photos here.
Mini Madness is a product of SammieeePhotography and Joe Steel Art and Photography. We bring Mini imaging from a range of Mini and classic car events.