Dyson on the Mini

By Deane Barker on November 9, 2004

A design classic: This is an interesting little essay by James Dyson — you know, the guy with the oh-so-delicate British accent in the commercials for his neon yellow vacuum cleaner? (These commercials were recently parodied by Saturday Night Live — imagine if Dyson invented a toilet…)

CNN apparently asked him to talk about the original design of the Mini Cooper. He has some interesting observations:

That early sketch, a perspective view, included all the mechanics. To conserve space Issigonis put the engine transversely driving the front wheels, this was a radical design but allowed a very short bonnet and gave more interior space, enough for four adults.

Apparently he’s not spreading bull in his commercials. He really did come up with the idea for cyclonic separation in vacuum cleaners.

(And did you know that “vacuum” is the only word in the English language with two consecutive “u”s? I just remembered that…)



  1. Unfortunately, Mr. Dyson didn’t come up with the use of cyclonic separation in vacuums. As the Wikipedia entry correctly notes, it’s been used in saw mills and available in enthusiast-level woodworking shop vacuum systems for a long time.

    Similarly, transverse engine mounting predates the Mini Cooper design by a very long time. It was certainly used in the mid-1970’s Honda Civics but they might not be the first example.

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