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1972 Minissima

The Minissima is a small concept city car that was designed by William Towns (as the Townscar) as his idea for a replacement for the Mini in 1972 and displayed by BLMC on their stand at the 1973 London Motor Show after buying the prototype from Towns.[1]

In common with the Mini it was designed around 10" wheels and the BMC A-Series engine. It is 30" (75 cm) shorter than the Mini and designed to park end-on to the curb (like the Smart Fortwo), having only one door - at the rear. It has four seats, two at the front, front facing, and two facing inwards at the rear.[2]

The Minissina design re-emerged a few years later as a prototype car for the disabled, adapted by engineering firm GKN Sankey by ex Ford engineer Fred Hart.[3] During the engineering process, the layout changed to feature a central driving position in which a wheelchair user would enter through the back door using a fold-down rear ramp, and drive off. The styling was simplified by William Towns to suit mass production and won a Design Council award in 1978,[4] it did not gain government support due to high costs and the project was cancelled.

GKN sold the rights to British bicycle manufacturer Elswick, and a small number were manufactured from 1981 to 1987 and were sold as the Elswick Envoy.[5] In 2007, an Elswick Envoy was the subject of a 24-minute short film, Elegy for the Elswick Envoy, which shared the prize for best documentary in the 2008 Aspen Shortsfest film festival.[6]


  1. ^ Motor 1985 volume 167
  2. ^ Adams, Keith. "Minissima". The Unofficial Austin-Rover Web. Retrieved March 8, 2006. 
  3. ^ Telegraph 16 July 2008
  4. ^ The Engineer 1979 volume 248]
  5. ^ "Elswick Envoy road car, United Kingdom, 1986". Science Museum. Retrieved 17 October 2012. 
  6. ^ Adelman, Kim (17 April 2008). "Jury, Audience, and Industry Buzz Agree: Docs Rocked Aspen Shortsfest 2008". IndieWire. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
  • An article about the car written by British motoring journalist, Paul Walton, was printed in the August 2008 edition of Classic & Sportscar magazine