Happy 60th birthday, Mini! It was on Aug. 26, 1959 that the original Mini made its world debut in Oxford, England.

Although designed as an economical small car, the original Mini, designed by  Sir Alec Issigonis, went on to become a larger-than-life automotive legend. People the world over fell in love with the Mini’s spacious cabin and go-kart-like handling, which were made possible by its revolutionary transversely mounted engine and wide wheel placement.

Mini’s popularity continued to grow with the 1961 introduction of the sportier Cooper S. Modified by John Cooper of the Cooper Car Company, the Cooper S solidified Mini’s position as a driver’s car with victories at the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965, and 1967.

Mini was forced to exit the United States market for the 1968 model year due to new emissions and safety regulations, but the original Cooper would continue to be sold in other world markets through 2000. During that decades-long production run, Mini sold 5.3 million Cooper models.

Mini returned to the market in 2001 under the ownership of BMW. Both Cooper and Cooper S variants were back on the menu, and Mini eventually rolled out high-performance John Cooper Works models. Under the leadership of BMW, Mini released its first convertible model in 2005.

Since then Mini has evolved into a near-full-line automaker with five different model line on offer, including a four-door version of the Cooper and the Countryman SUV. With an eye toward the future, Mini is also betting on plug-in technology. Mini currently offers a plug-in hybrid version of its Countryman utility vehicle, and next year the company will start sales of its Cooper SE pure electric. There are even rumors that Mini could transition into a pure electric vehicle maker

“There are few automobiles in history that were created and developed based on a design philosophy that have gone on to be recognized by so many pioneers, rebels, and racers.” said Steve Ambeau, Department Head, MINI Brand Communications. “Both the Classic Mini and the modern-day Mini have become the centerpiece of passionate owner communities and clubs, while retaining their status as an authentic cultural icon chosen as a daily driver by movie stars, musicians, athletes and automotive enthusiasts around the world.”

Cheers to one of the auto industry’s most iconic brands.