Had the privilege of a trip around the Mini factory at Oxford yesterday, where a cornucopia of these desirable runabouts was being created - in a surprisingly quiet atmosphere for a car factory.

Some 70 per cent of them are exported, this former Rover/Austin Rover/British Leyland/BMC/Morris factory not seeing success on this scale since the heyday of the original Mini and the Morris 1100 in the mid-1960s. Our tour of the paint shop revealed the intriguing fact that in 1998 it was re-equipped and modernised to accommodate models as large as the Range Rover.

The first new model to go through it was the Rover 75 - which was moved to Longbridge post-BMW -   but BMW’s plan was to integrate the Oxford plant (or Cowley, as it used to be known), Longbridge (originally to have built the new Mini) and Solihull so that the outputs of each could be managed against the rise and fall of each model’s lifecycle in the least profit-damaging way.