15 Facts About Alec Issigonis


Sir Alexander Arnold Constantine Alec Issigonis was a British-Greek automotive designer.

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Alec Issigonis designed the Mini, launched by the British Motor Corporation in 1959, and voted the second most influential car of the 20th century in 1999.

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Alec Issigonis was born on 18 November 1906 in the Ottoman port city of Smyrna, the only child of Constantine Alec Issigonis and Hulda Prokopp.

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Alec Issigonis's paternal grandfather, Demosthenis, had migrated to Smyrna from the Greek island of Paros in the 1830s and Constantine was a successful and wealthy shipbuilding engineer.

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Alec Issigonis's father died shortly after and Issigonis and his mother moved to the United Kingdom in 1923.

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Alec Issigonis went into the motor industry as an engineer and designer working for Humber and competed successfully in motor racing during the 1930s and 1940s.

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Alec Issigonis usually won, even when entered in the 1100cc class if there was no 750cc category.

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Alec Issigonis worked on various projects for Morris through the war and towards its end started work on an advanced post war car codenamed Mosquito that became the Morris Minor, which was produced from 1948 until 1971.

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Alec Issigonis continued to be responsible for his original XC projects.

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Alec Issigonis considered it to be a vehicle that combined many of the luxuries and conveniences of a good motor car with a price suitable for the working classes – in contrast to the Mini which was a spartan mode of conveyance with everything cut to the bone.

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Alec Issigonis often commented to friends and colleagues that the Austin 1800 was the design he was most proud of, even though it never was as commercially successful as his three preceding designs.

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Alec Issigonis officially retired from the motor industry in 1971, although he continued working until shortly before his death in 1988 at his house in Edgbaston, Birmingham.

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Alec Issigonis was cremated at the Lodge Hill Cemetery in nearby Selly Oak.

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Alec Issigonis was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1964 Birthday Honours and Knight Bachelor in the 1969 Birthday Honours.

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In 1964 Alec Issigonis was appointed a Royal Designer for Industry and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1967.

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