There’s a scene in spoof ‘rockumentary’ Spinal Tap where the band’s chief protagonists, David St Hubbins and Nigel Tufnel, are explaining how they started playing together.

After spells in different skiffle groups, in 1964 the pair got together and formed The Originals.

“We had to change our name actually,” explains St Hubbins.

Tufnel adds: “Well there was another group in the East End called The Originals and we had to rename ourselves. [We became] The New Originals and then, uh, they became...

St Hubbins: “They changed their name back to The Regulars and we thought well, we could go back to The Originals but what’s the point?”

I recalled the skit with a smile at Monday afternoon’s launch of the third-generation Mini, which was accompanied with a slogan declaring it: ‘The New Original’.

The challenge of tapping into the heritage of the original Mini but creating a progressive, fresh and innovative car is a considerable one. It’s particularly interesting to follow how the company’s German owners make it work.

Yesterday’s event at Mini Plant Oxford wasn’t your typical car launch. For starters, it starred a bulldog named Spike, who will feature in Mini’s forthcoming advertising campaign for the new vehicle.

Spike’s presence was one of several pieces of British imagery that punctuated the presentation of the new car.

We also had Mr Bean’s Mini, modern examples bedecked with Union flag liveries, a mock-up of a 1970s lounge, a booming soundtrack featuring ‘London Calling’ by The Clash, and even a comparison between the Mini and Dr Who, another British-based expert at regeneration. 

As Minis old and new exited the stage, they drove through a horseshoe-shaped yellow metal jig that had previously seen service on the production line. It also struck me as an oblique homage to the tunnel scene in the The Italian Job, although by then I might have been overdosing on my cultural reference points.

I didn’t spot a Beefeater, or a red telephone box, or jellied eels – maybe they are being saved for an appearance at the mid-life refresh.