August 18. The British Motor Corporation revealed its
new Mini car, and a cult was born. The little front-wheel drive
car was the brainchild of Alec Issigonis whose solution to carrying
four adults in a car barely nine feet long has never been bettered.
space inside was created by mounting the engine sideways and putting
four tiny 10-inch wheels at the corners. It was basic transport,
on the road for less than £500. The door hinges were exposed
and early models had a floor-mounted start button and wire pulls
instead of door handles.
It had an uncertain start. But before long the Mini's incredible
handling and road-holding were wiping the floor with the competition.
As more powerful Cooper and Cooper S versions came along, the
mighty Mini won the Monte Carlo Rally and won race after race
on the circuits.
But the mini's real success was in becoming a cult vehicle.
Utterly classless, it was owned by lords and labourers alike.
Soon it was to become a symbol of the Swinging Sixties.
February 3. The Day The Music Died. Perhaps a rather
harsh judgment with the Beatles era still a few years away. But
the death of the 22-year-old Buddy Holly in an air crash provoked
a public outpouring of hysteria of a kind which was to punctuate
the next few decades. Holly had thick black glasses and apparently
suffered from bad breath, a combination that made him an unlikely
rock totem. He was the first pop star to compose and arrange his
own hits and his records are still selling today.
April 18. Wolves equalled the post war feats of Portsmouth
and Manchester United by retaining the league championship in
1958-59 overcoming an even worse start to the season than the
previous year. They dropped down to ninth place in the First Division
after losing four of their first 10 games which included a 6-2
hiding by a Jimmy Greaves-inspired Chelsea. Christmas proved to
be the catalyst and they lost only twice in 21 matches after the
festive season. The devastating run included thrashings 7-0 for
Portsmouth, 5-0 for Blackburn and 6-2 for Leeds.
November 17. A significant day for travellers with the
opening of the M1, Britain's first motorway. Also on this day
passengers leaving Prestwick and Renfrew airports became the first
in the country to be allowed to buy duty-free wines and spirits.
Such a service had been commonplace on the continent for years.
June 26. A Swedish boxer whose only previous claim to
fame was a disqualification for "not fighting" became the heavyweight
champion of the world. Ingemar Johansson battered the champion
Floyd Patterson to the canvas before an incredulous crowd at New
York's Yankee Stadium. He was the first Swede to win the title
but he had to put on hold any ideas about getting rich quick:
he was told he would face a re-match before he would be paid for
this bout. Johansson was the first non-American world heavyweight
champion in a quarter of a century.