Sir Alexander Arnold Constantine Issigonis, CBE, FRS (18 November 1906–2 October 1988) was a Greek-British designer of cars, now remembered chiefly for the groundbreaking and influential development of the Mini, launched by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) in 1959.
Issigonis was born into the Greek community of Smyrna (now İzmir) in the Ottoman Empire. His grandfather Demosthenis Issigonis migrated to Smyrna from Paros in the 1830s and through the work he did for the British-built Smyrna-Aydın Railway, in the engineering works that he had established, had managed to acquire British nationality. Demosthenis's son (Alec's father) Constantine Issigonis (Κωνσταντίνος Ισηγόνης), was born, with British nationality, in Smyrna in 1872. Constantine studied in England, and later, passed his love of all things English on to his son. Alec's mother, Hulda Prokopp, could trace her origins back to Württemberg (now part of Germany). It was through his mother's kinships that Issigonis was a first cousin once removed to BMW (and more briefly Volkswagen) director Bernd Pischetsrieder.
Because Alec and his parents were British subjects, they were evacuated to Malta by British Royal Marines in September 1922, ahead of the Great Fire of Smyrna and the Turkish re-possession of Smyrna at the end of the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922). Following the death of his father in 1922, Alec and his mother moved to the UK in 1923. Alec studied engineering at Battersea Polytechnic in London. He failed his mathematics exams three times and subsequently called pure mathematics 'the enemy of every creative genius'. After Battersea Polytechnic, Alec decided to enter the University of London External Programme to complete his university education.