Alec Issigonis

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Letterhead from the Issigonis engineering works

Sir Alec Issigonis , actually Alexander Arnold Constantine Issigonis (born November 18, 1906 in Smyrna , Ottoman Empire , today İzmir , Turkey ; † October 2, 1988 in Edgbaston , Birmingham ) was a British engineer of Greek origin. He became famous as the developer of the Morris Minor (1948–1971) and Austin Mini (1959–2000) cars .


Alec Issigonis with the first Austin Mini (right) and the Morris Mini Minor Deluxe, 1965.

The Issigonis family came from the Greek island of Paros and settled in Smyrna (now İzmir ), where they ran a machine factory. Alec Issigonis was born the son of Konstantin Issigonis (Κωνσταντίνος Ισηγόνης), a Greek, and his Bavarian wife Hulda Prokopp. When the Greeks were expelled from Smyrna in September 1922, he and his parents fled to England on a British ship. Issigonis' father did not survive the escape and died on the crossing.

Issigonis discovered his talent for technical matters early on, and he decided to become an automobile designer. After studying for three years at the Battersea Polytechnic School in London, which he did not graduate, he worked in various drawing and design offices and was finally accepted into the design department of Morris.

At Morris (later merged with Austin to form the BMC ) Issigonis had great success with the development of the Morris Minor . After a three-year stint at the noble English car brand Alvis , for which he developed the Alvis TA 350 , which was ultimately not mass-produced , he returned to BMC. After the Suez Crisis , he developed the mini reduced to the bare minimum , with which the era of transverse front engines began at BMC . The compact BMC ADO16 (1100, 1300) and the upscale BMC ADO17 (1800, 2200) were created based on this model, but with hydraulically assisted suspension ( Hydrolastic ). In recognition of his achievements in automobile construction, Issigonis was raised to the nobility in 1969 as a Knight Bachelor . In 1971 he was removed from his position as technical director by the then BMC Chairman Donald Stokes and deported to a minor honorary position, which in fact meant his retirement. However, he continued to work on technical developments until his death in 1988.

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