MINI Plant Oxford celebrates 100 years of production – Its first car, a Bullnose Morris Oxford, was produced on 28 March 1913 just metres from today’s facility – Total car production to date stands at 11,655,000 and counting – Over 2,250,000 MINIs built so far, plus 602,187 classic Minis manufactured at Plant Oxford – Plant Oxford is the oldest mass-production car plant in the UK and the third oldest in the world, seeing continuous production since 1913 – 13 car brands have been produced at Plant Oxford in 100 years.
The first car built at the factory, a Bullnose Morris Oxford, emerged on 28 March 1913 and has been followed by cars 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 subsidiary occupying the same Cowley 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 history of shipping cars abroad that has resulted in more than1.7 million MINIs going to overseas customers.
There have been eight custodians of Plant Oxford over the past 100 years, beginning with founder William Morris who owned the factory both directly and through Morris Motors until 1952, when Morris merged with arch-rival Austin to form the British Motor Corporation. Morris himself, by this time known as Lord Nuffield, was chairman for six months before retiring. During the early ‘60s the plant had as many as 28,000 employees producing a variety of models.
Today, Plant Oxford is flourishing with the manufacture of the MINI hatchback, Convertible, Clubman, Clubvan, Roadster and Coupé. It is currently undergoing a major investment that includes the installation of a 1000 new robots for both a new body shop and the existing facility. This represents the lion’s share of a £750m investment programme, announced in the last year, which also sees the significant upgrading and installation of new facilities at the company’s Hams Hall engine plant and the Swindon body pressings factory.
Today, Plant Oxford forms the central element of BMW Group’s UK production network, which includes the Hams Hall engine factory in Birmingham and the Swindon pressings plant, formerly a part of Pressed Steel. The network faces a bright future as the next generation MINI family enters production over the coming years amid a trend of rising sales and exports.
‘Bullnose’ Morris Oxford 1913-26
Morris Minor 1928-32
Morris Eight 1935-48
Morris Minor 1948-71
Morris Oxford III 1956-58
BMC Mini 1959-69
BMC 1100/1300 1962-74
Morris Marina 1971-80
Triumph Acclaim 1981-84
Rover 800 1986-9/Honda Legend 1986-8
Rover 75 1999-2000
MINI 2006 to date