The London 2012 Olympic Games may be over, and the athletes long departed following an enthralling fortnight of competition, but one highlight of the Games will stay with us for a long time yet.
I’m not talking about a heroic surge to take the lead on the final straight, or the agony of seeing someone just miss out on a medal.
I’m talking about the smallest characters with the biggest personality that stole the show during the track and field events: the mini Minis that were used to ferry back equipment to competitors in javelin, shot put and discus.
These tiny remote controlled cars created a huge buzz when people first realised just what they were, and what they were doing.
The most exciting thing about these cars is, of course, the face that the Mini Cooper is perhaps among the most recognisable icons of Britishness. Conveniently overlooking the fact that they are now owned and produced by BMW, the British and the rest of the world associate the Mini with our green and pleasant land.
In keeping with Olympic regulations, no branding was permitted on the cars as they were used within the Olympic stadium. Despite this, fans and television audiences alike were able to tell a mile off just what type of car it was – with or without the pre-requisite Union Jack roof.
The mini Minis were used to ferry back equipment to competitors in javelin
Whilst stirring the nation in a swell of national pride and sentimentality, the cars themselves are also quite interesting.
• The cars were created to a 1:4 scale, and at a quarter of the full size are 39 inches long.
• Each car cost £9,000 ($14,000).
• A full charge took 80 minutes and allowed the cars to run for 35 minutes.
• On an average day, each car travelled 6,000 metres (3.72 miles).
• The cars could carry up to 8kg of weight: that’s equivalent to a single hammer, discus or shot, or two javelins at once. The heaviest thrown equipment is the men’s shot at 7.2kg.
• Each car had fully-functioning headlights – great for javelin throwing in the dark..!
• To carry each item back to the throwers, the car’s sunroof opened and the items were placed inside.
The cars did attract a level of criticism, mainly about the sponsorship deals that BMW held with the IOC and the fact that they were essentially given free advertising, but the IOC stated that Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter (no logos) was not violated. BMW simply used the iconic appearance of the Mini to their advantage.
If you’ve been inspired by the Olympics and feel all patriotic, you might want to get a Mini of your own. Visit Drive Benfield for great deals on new and used cars.