13 June 2015

Cars | Tour of the MINI Oxford plant

I Love my Mini CooperD and I can't believe I didn't know it was possible to do a factory tour... If you haven't driven a mini before you may not find this post at all interesting but I am on my 6th and will no doubt ever buy anything else.

My brother told me the tour was possible as he did it earlier in the year with some work colleagues. The company is based Oxford which turns out is a 4 hour drive from where I live so Mr P and I decided to book our place on a Friday afternoon tour and make a weekend of it.

We drove my Mini back to its homeland in green mode (diesel saving) we did the full trip there and back on one tank so I was pretty chuffed. 

My Mini wearing its delivery coat from when it left the plant to my local Mini garage - July 2014

Picked up and ready to GO! - July 2014
We parked up at the plant which was full of Mini's and BMW's belonging to staff and it was great to see so many in one place. We then made our way to the visitors centre to meet our tour guide and pay the tour fee of £17 each. 

We were welcomed by Terry our amazing and very knowledgable tour guide who had worked at the factory for over 50 years. Terry carried out the tour totally from memory and knew answers to any question asked and you could tell he LOVED the product. 


We had to wear black branded dust / anti static coats, safety glasses and an ear piece so we looked the part and could hear the tour clearly even in the noisy factory. 

We were ready to go...

Miss K in the 'uniform'
There was 14 of us who piled onto a bus to the first stop which was entirely machine controlled - This was so strange as I had no idea how the robots could work together so seamlessly with very little monitoring considering how expensive the product is and are trusted to make without supervision. 

They apparently have a 30 year work life however they have a large initial cost but will never take a day sick as they all have 1 spare part kept on site incase there is a breakdown. 

They did all the welding and bolting as part of the process plus handed the finished piece onto the next 'worker'.

Found via google
Found via google
Once the structure of the vehicle was made it is then painted but we were unable to go to this part of the plant as only a few staff get to go inside to keep it a very lint free environment. 

The last stop the bus to took us to was where the production line of interiors, doors and final checks are made. This part was probably the most interesting as you start to see shapes you are familiar with. There was at least 1 human working on each mini at one time so this is where the robots took the back seat.

I assumed it would be batches of the same colour or same type that would be bunched together with only the added extras being different. But I was wrong there was no order at all with different colours and models rotating around the factory including left and right hand drive, special edition John Cooper works, convertible models. 

The cars never stop the whole time in this final part of the process with the staff working on a moving floor with the doors stored safely and re added at the end once all the interiors are fitted, then once car has completed all tests it is driven off and either parked outside for pick up or sometimes driven straight onto a train waiting to be shipped abroad.. yes it had its own train line.

The tour took approx 2.5 hours, then there was an opportunity to visit the small museum where there were special editions that had been created or ones used in movies that were safely returned.

Miss K with the 7th Million Mini!

This one was my favourite - hard to maintain out on the road

Michael Caine special for his daughter

Special edition used in Austin Powers
Charlize Theron's car from Italian Job with dual steering wheels and a few dents
Hope you enjoyed this overview - sorry its not the normal post you would see here, back to normal on Monday with a bag review :-)

Love Miss K xx
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