When BMW acquired the Rover group in 1994, the resurrection of the iconic Mini was a focal point. While several design concepts were on the drawing board, BMW's vision of a sporty premium car prevailed with the launch of the 2024 Mini Cooper. One prototype that gained notoriety but never saw the light of day was the ACV 30, an ambitious design direction initiated by Rover designers.
Taking Inspiration from a Rally Legend
Rover's design team, captivated by the Mini’s Monte Carlo victories in 1964, 1965, and 1967, sought to follow in the footsteps of Sir Alec Issigonis, the original Mini designer. The ACV 30's design was spearheaded by Adrian van Hooydonk, current Senior Vice President BMW Group Design. Visually, the ACV 30 was a departure from what ultimately became the Mini Cooper. It featured chunky haunches, a sloping rear end, and four auxiliary lights, alongside round headlamps and a hexagonal grille.
Engine Dynamics and Influence
Instead of the Mini's traditional front-engine, front-wheel-drive layout, the ACV 30 prototype was powered by a Rover-made 1.8-liter engine, the same as found in the MG F. The design never made it to production, but its influence was felt in future Mini models like the Mini Countryman, which has strong rally credentials.
What Could Have Been
It's tempting to ponder what the Mini landscape would look like today had the ACV 30 been the chosen direction. However, fans of the prototype can take solace in the fact that the MG F, which shares the ACV 30's engine, has been legally importable in the U.S. since 2020.
The latest 2024 Mini Cooper retains the sporty, premium essence BMW originally envisioned, but the saga of the ACV 30 serves as a fascinating "what-if" in the brand's storied history.