What were they thinking?

Mini fuel pump.
Mini fuel pump.

Bosch invented the intermittent windscreen wipers, but Lucas went one better, inventing the intermittent headlights. Poor old Lucas (AKA The Prince of Darkness) has had a dreadful name in the car industry, but Lucas hasn’t always been the culprit in electrical malfunctions.

Take, for example the Mini fuel pump. I am talking here about the original Mini which had two doors and sliding windows, not the German one with five doors, electric windows and a huge middle aged spread. The early Mini was noted for stopping in the rain, and if it wasn’t the distributor cowering naked behind the grille, it was the electric fuel pump. But this time, Joseph Lucas was not to blame. Sir Alec Issigonis, after a nightmare, designed the petrol pump for the Mini to sit under the floor at the rear of the car. Now that might have been fine in dry places like Smyrna, where he came from, but you would never describe the British climate as “dry”. So every time it rained, the poor old pump worked like a bilge pump on a submarine, and as every 4th grade student knows, water and electricity do not make good bed-fellows. Eventually a sort of condom was made to fit over the pump, but it did not last forever.

The dizzy was easier to fix with a metal shield behind the grille and a can of WD40.

However, as well as designing a vehicle which changed the design of cars for the next 50 years, Sir Alec also left us some wonderful and insightful quotes.

“A camel is a horse designed by a committee.”

“An expert is someone who tells you why you can’t do something.”

“I feel very, very proud that so many people have copied me.”

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