Sir Alexander Issigonis was born on November 18, 1906 in the city of Izmir (then Smyrna) in the Ottoman Empire. As part of his grandfather’s efforts, him and his kin were now British citizens. As such, they were taken to Malta in September 1922 due to the repossession of Smyrna by the Turkish that was happening following the conclusion of the Greco-Turkish War that ran from 1919-1922.
Alec returned to England in 1922 when he was barely 16 and enrolled at an engineering school. He later recognized that it wasn’t for him as he kept failing mathematics all the time. In 1936, Sir Alec was then given a steady job at Morris-Motors Ltd as a suspension and steering engineer. As he continually proved his worth to his employer, he was put in charge of a new car model in 1942. Here, he worked hard and produced his new car called the Morris Minor in 1948.
In 1952, Austin Motor Company and Morris Motors merged to form BMC. As Mr Issigonis was opposed to the merger of the companies, he quit and went to Alvis Ltd. Here, he was tasked in building a luxury car which was not what he wanted to develop. However, during the Oil Crisis of 1957, Alec was again recruited back to BMC to create a compact, fuel-efficient vehicle. This is the car that would later become his masterpiece.
The project was dubbed ADO 15 . This car was designed to house four passengers plus their luggage and not surpass ten-feet in length. Creating this car was a true challenge for the designer but after much effort, In August of 1959 the automobile was unveiled and dubbed the Mini Minor. The Minor later became the most sold British automobile in all of history with more than 5.3 million units sold.
As a reward for his engineering prowess, in 1969 Queen Elizabeth awarded him knighthood. Sir Alec later left the motor world in 1971. However, due to his passion for cars, he continued working in his home in Edgsbaton, England until he lost his battle to Parkinson’s disease in 1988.