Two of the most famous names in the history of the British car industry, Mini and Rolls-Royce, achieved record sales last year for their German owner BMW.

They contributed to a 9.2 per cent rise in global sales in 2007, according to figures from Munich yesterday.

They also helped BMW to re-establish its ascend-ancy over its close German rival, Mercedes-Benz in the premium car sector.

Worldwide sales of Mini, which was relaunched by BMW in 2000 and built on the site of the old Rover plant at Oxford, rocketed by just under 50 per cent to 20,800 units in December alone.

For 2007 as a whole, sales hit 222,875, an increase of 18.5 per cent over 2006.

Meanwhile, Rolls-Royce sales broke through the four figure barrier for the first time in 2007, rising by 25.5 per cent to 1,010.

The success of Mini is important for the West Midlands industrial sector because all the four cylinder petrol engines for the marque are made at BMW's engines plant at Hams Hall in North Warwickshire.

BMW has invested some £150 million on improving and expanding the Oxford assembly plant - Mini body panels come from a factory at Swindon, the third element of BMW's UK "manufacturing triangle" - and is raising output from 200,000 to 260,000 units a year.

Oxford makes four Mini variants, Mini One, the Mini Cooper, the Cooper S and the recently-introduced Clubman.

Manufacturing constraints mean, however, that a planned fifth Mini, a Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) variant due out in 2012 will be built by Magna Steyr in Austria, which already builds the X3 for BMW.

It will be the first time that a British brand of motor car has been built abroad but is indicative of the increasingly global nature of the industry.

Andy Hearn, general manager of the Mini in the UK, the marque's biggest single market, said the model had established five record sales in 2007, March, April, September, November and December.

"The Hatch range of models is now complete and the UK launch of the Clubman has undoubtedly contributed to this fantastic achievement," Mr Hearn said.

"Low carbon emissions and increased fuel efficiency, provided by technologies based on the Efficient Dynamics systems applied to BMW products, now feature in all Hatch and Clubman cars and these models are proving very popular with the British public."

Rolls-Royce said its record sales were based on "exceptional demand" for its new Phantom Drophead Coupe, prices of which start at £325,000.

The Goodwood-based luxury car-maker said the figures represented the fourth successive increase since the company was launched as a unit of BMW in 2003. North America remained the biggest single market for Rolls-Royce in 2007, accounting for 40 per cent of sales and showing growth of 22 per cent, the company said in a statement.

Strong demand was also seen in the United Arab Emirates and in China, which grew by around 70 per cent and 50 per cent respectively.

The company intends to launch a two-door coupe model, based on the Phantom, in the summer.

"This result confirms Rolls-Royce as the most desirable brand in the super luxury market," the company said.

BMW in Munich said that in total, it delivered 1,500,678 vehicles to its customers last year, a 9.2 per cent increase over 2006's figure of 1,373,970.

Sales of core BMW brand models rose by 7.7 per cent to 1,185,088.

Stefan Krause, head of group sales and marketing, said: "We have completely reached our sales target for 2007 - growth in the higher single-digit percentage range.

"Overall, the BMW Group is once again the world's leading supplier in the premium automobile segment in terms of volume sales.

"We are optimistic that we will reach this top position again in 2008."