Alec Issigonis (full name Alexander Arnold Constantine Issigonis) was born on November 18, 1906 in Ottoman Turkey
. He was a Greek-British designer of cars, now remembered chiefly for the groundbreaking and influential development of the Mini, launched by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) in 1959.
Biography and Career :
Alec Issigonis' father, Constantine Issigonis, was a Greek born British subject and his mother, Hulda Prokopp, Bavarian. They were banished from their hometown Smyrna (now Izmir) and Alec and his mother came to live in the UK in 1923, his father having died in 1922. Alec studied engineering at Battersea Polytechnic in London, he failed his mathematics exams three times and subsequently called p
ure mathematics 'the enemy of every creative genius'.
He went into the motor industry as an engineer and designer working for Humber, and he also did some motor racing during the 1930s and 1940s. In 1936 Alec Issigonis moved to the Morris company working on an independent front suspension system for the Morris 10 but the war prevented this from going into production but it was later used on the MG Y Type.
Alec Issigonis frequently visited the Midlands and was offered a job in the Humber Drawing Office at Coventry. During this time he lived at a house in Kenilworth with his mother. After two years he met Robert Boyle, Chief Engineer at Morris, who offered him a job at Cowley, where he developed an independent suspension.
In the early 1940s, Issigonis began to work on the design of the car, which was to become the Morris Minor. The entire design team consisted of Alec and two draughtsmen who interpreted his freehand drawings.
By 1942, he had completed a scale model. He was going through an American phase at the time and the design reflected the Packard Clippers of 1941. The first car ran in 1947 and when Lord Nuffield (William Morris) saw his Morris Minor for the first time he was furious, calling it 'a poached egg'.
The public, however, took to the design because within 11 years, one million Morris Minors had been made. After Morris's 1952 merger with Austin, Issigonis resigned, as he always hated mergers, and went to work for Alvis, but the projected car he was to build was not put into production.
Alec Issigonis was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1967 and retired from the motor industry in 1971. In 1988 Alec Issigonis died of Parkinson's Disease.
Alec Issigonis Image : mini30.org
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