- SPECIAL REPORTS
Today, the plant where BMW assembles the Mini is celebrating its 100th birthday. The first motor car to emerge from the factory in Oxford, England, on March 28, 1913, was a Bullnose Morris Oxford. It featured a four-cylinder engine and was called the Bullnose because of its distinctive, rounded brass radiator cowling.
At the same time that car rolled off the line in the famous college town 50 miles west of London, Ford engineers in Detroit were putting the finishing touches on the world’s first moving assembly line, which would begin operating just four days later.
Over the decades, the Oxford factory has built almost 12 million cars, including famous British brands such as Austin, MG, Riley, Rover, Triumph and Wolseley. In fact, almost 12 million cars have been produced at the Oxford factory.
During its heyday in the early 1960s, the sprawling plant employed 28,000 people and produced a variety of sportscars, sedans and trucks. The first classic Mini rolled off the Oxford production line on May 8, 1959. Over the next decade, the plant assembled more than 602,000 of the iconic vehicles.
BMW acquired the historic plant in 1994. Today, it is the home of the next-generation Mini and most of the original Morris plant is long gone. The plant is currently undergoing a major renovation that includes a stae-of-the-art body shop and the installation of 1,000 new robots.
My hat’s off to all the lads and lasses who have assembled vehicles in Oxford over the last century. That’s quite a remarkable run.
Does anyone know of an older automotive assembly plant that’s still in operation? And, while we’re on the topic of longevity, what is the oldest aircraft factory in the world? What about the oldest refrigerator plant or the oldest tractor plant?