The third edition of the legendary Mini United Festival was held this year from May 22 24 in glorious sunshine at the Silverstone Formula One track in England. Some 25000 fans from more than 40 countries made the pilgrimage to the world's premier gather of its kind. They arrived in over 10,000 Minis, most of them lovingly individualized.
Numerous German fan clubs made their way to the venue, mostly setting out by car on the long journey to the UK. Even for participants from as far afield as Russia, the USA and South Africa, no effort or cost was too great to ensure they paid tribute to the British classic on its 50th birthday. Likewise, determined not to miss out on this winning mix of racing action, music festival and lifestyle spectacular were a whole raft of celebrities.
As part of the world premiere for the new Mayfair and Camden special models, the now 75-year old Mary Quant - British style icon and inventor of the mini-skirt - disclosed a long-guarded secret: the designation "mini-skirt" is not derived from the celebrated brevity of the garment; it was her much-loved car that inspired her to choose the name.
To mark the 50th anniversary, Mini also took the wraps off a reinterpretation of George Harrison's flamboyant model. This one-off, presented to his wife, Olivia Harrison on Saturday night, fully met the precise design brief of the Beatles' widow. She accepted the Mini on behalf of the Material World Charitable Foundation, a charity George Harrison founded in 1973. The car will be auctioned this year to raise funds for the foundation. "George was a huge Mini fan and he would have enjoyed this new version. The fact the 50th anniversary celebrations for Mini will also benefit our foundation has made it an enjoyable as well as meaningful collaboration," said Olivia Harrison. But there were plenty more unique models to get pulses racing. British fashion designer Paul Smith again presented the model created by him, while the designs by David Bowie, Kate Moss, Missoni and the acclaimed illustrator and graphic designer Alan Aldridge were also on display. Similarly drawing approving looks were the original cars from films like "The Italian Job" and "Austin Powers."
The highlight of the Mini United Festival was the appearance of "modfather" Paul Weller, former frontman of two legendary bands The Jam and The Style Council, and now a long-standing and highly successful solo artist. "As I've been driving Minis all my life, I was delighted to be able to join the 50th birthday celebrations," said Weller. As a tribute to the British artist, the band Twisted Wheel performed a cover version at the festival of one of his classic numbers, "That's Entertainment." The track will be exclusively available from the website www.minispace.com although US residents won't be able to do so for some legal reason.