A Mini Italian Job Celebration in Cowley
Opening with a filmed message from Sir Michael Caine himself, the Italian Job evening at the MINI plant at Cowley got off to a cracking start. Sir Michael even revealed that he learnt to drive at the locations used during filming.
Another factor that made this evening truly unique and very special was the display of cars alongside the big screen. Assembled together for the first time for 50 years – since the film was made – were the three surviving original cars – the Lamborghini Miura, the Aston Martin DB4 Convertible and the red E-type Roadster.
As this was very much a Mini celebration, remembering that it is also the iconic car's 60th birthday – 'Happy Birthday, Mini,' said Caine in his distinctive Cockney accent – three superb replicas of the red, white and blue Minis sat on the other side of the screen.
Central to the whole evening was one of our latest books, 'The Self Preservation Society – 50 Years of The Italian Job' by Matthew Field. Caine ended his message with the words, 'You gotta buy this book – it's got a foreword by me!'
A distinguished panel, expertly led by Matthew, discussed the film after the showing, and kept the audience of several hundred fascinated and entertained. There was Michael Deeley, the Oscar-winning film Producer; well-known actor Robert Powell; David Salamone who sourced the cars for the movie and, as Dominic, drove the red Mini with Caine as his passenger during the famous escape from Turin and Hazel Collinson, widow of the late Director Peter, who had a cameo role in the film. Like all the others, she had some wonderful and hilarious stories.
From the MINI world, it was splendid to see and chat with the great Paddy Hopkirk, winner of the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally and current President of the British Racing Drivers' Club.
All the amazing media coverage of the book and the film's 50th anniversary celebrations underlines the enduring popularity of the '60s classic, which was voted the best British film of all time.
This MINI celebration staged by BMW was more than a Minor event – it was a major success!