Three Minis used by Paramount Pictures to promote the 1969 film The Italian Job have taken up temporary residence in the Museum of London
s City Gallery, downstairs in the new Galleries of Modern London.
The Minis will remain here until 14 November. They temporarily replace the Lord Mayors state coach, the Museum of Londons most priceless of treasures, which will take centre stage in the 13 November Lord Mayors show. The show is organised annually by the Corporation of the City of London and the coach will return on 16 November.
Although no Minis survived the making of the actual film (no surprise to anyone who has seen it) all three of these wonderful cars are original Mini Coopers, built between1965-1969.
The temporary display, which is free of charge, honours South London-born Sir Michael Caine who in May this year, opened our £23m Galleries of Modern London, with his wife Shakira.
Three Mini Coopers
The Mini was designed for the British Motor Corporation by Sir Alec Issigonis. It remains an icon of the Swinging Sixties but was actually in continuous production between 1959 and 2000. The Mini Cooper and Cooper S were sportier versions of this much-loved car. The Coopers were successful competition cars, winning the Monte Carlo Rally from 1964 through to 1967 and turning rally drivers like Paddy Hopkirk and Timo Mäkinen into household names.
The Austin and Morris Mini-Cooper 'S' 1275cc cars were produced in Mark 1 and Mark 2 versions. They were built between 1964 1970 and had similar specification to existing Mini Cooper 'S' models but with a 130mph central speedometer and one single paint colour later in production. Each car had 4 ½ wheel rims as standard. Hydrolastic suspension was available from 1964. Twin fuel tanks also became standard specification from 1966. The Cooper had a 1275cc engine and the original cost of the car was £778.
The Minis on display in the Museum of London are on loan from theItalianjobminis.com
They have been lovingly restored by Gareth Davies and his two brothers and can be hired out for functions across the UK.
The Italian Job
The 1969 film is the ultimate in cliff hangers as a gang of cockney crooks set off to pull-of the biggest bullion heist the world has never known. They plan to steal a massive Chinese gold shipment in Turin, destined for the Italian government.
Michael Caine plays career criminal and gang leader Charlie Crooker. His plan is bankrolled by patriotic criminal mastermind Mr Bridger played by Sir Noël Coward in one of his very last film roles. Providing sterling support are a cast of British character actors and comedians including John Le Mesurier, Robert Powell, Irene Handl and Benny Hill.
But perhaps its the cars themselves, three Mini Coopers in patriotic red, white and blue, which really star. The film was made in a variety of locations most notably Turin and on the high passes of the Italian Alps, where the gang part company with their trusty Minis.
But the London of the swinging 60s also features prominently in the film. We watch as Charlie leaves prison in Wormwood Scrubs, Shepherds Bush. Charlies flat is just up the road pre-gentrified Notting Hill. He enjoys a night of passion in Queensway by Hyde Park - and a ride home on a milk float after a night on the tiles along London Wall. This is opposite where the Museum of Londons City Gallery now stands and where the Minis are currently displayed.
And, for the record, the practice attempt to blow the doors off a bullion film, which lead to the films most famous one-liner was filmed in south London at the Crystal Palace Sports Centre. You can see the Crystal Palace Transmitter clearly in the background of the shot.
For die-hard fans, we recommend reading The Making of the Italian Job by Matthew Field. RRP 15.99. Museum of London visitors can buy the book for the special price of £12.99 plus 1.50 P&P available from: 23 Teasel Way, West Moors, Ferndown, Dorset. BH22 0PQ
We were thrilled to see the Minis arriving at the Museum in true Italian Job style with lights ablaze and their drivers resplendent in their retro overalls and crash helmets. In a happy break with tradition, London drivers showed remarkable patience as we stopped the traffic to allow the press photographers to get the pictures they needed. I guess everyone just loves a Mini.