Mini Car Classics
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This guide features a motoring legend, the Mini. Since 1959 no other vehicle has captured the imagination quite like the Mini with a diverse range of models to suit any and every purpose.
Monte Carlo Cooper S
These magnificent red and white Mini Coopers dominated international rallying during the mid-sixties, sweeping aside the opposition. There were six international works victories apiece for Timo Makinen and Paddy Hopkirk, while Rauno Aaltonen, "the Flying Finn" managed nine.
Wolseley Hornet and Riley Elf
The Wolseley Hornet and Riley Elf were launched in 1961 to give a luxury end to the Mini phenomenon. They stretched and beautified the original Mini, with boot extensions, plusher grille and smarter interior. BMC sold 59000 of these models during the 1960s, presumably to people who wanted something slightly more refined than the basic box of tricks. Often described unfairly as "badge engineered", the Hornet and Elf were in fact very important in the development of the Mini, having a 998cc engine five years before the standard car and wind-up windows three years before other models.
The Minimoke was an attempt to produce a lightweight military vehicle that could be parachuted into action, but its low ride height meant it wasn't really suitable for rough terrain and instead it headed for an easier life in the leisure market. The Mini-Moke served happily on beaches, golf courses and anywhere hot and with full weather equipment in place provided the brave with some degree of protection from the English weather. Regular appearances in the TV series "The Prisoner" enhanced the Moke's popularity.
Cooper Car Co. Mini
John Cooper ran a works team in the 1960s with cars in the colours of the F1 team (British Racing Green with Snowberry White Longitudinal stripes) with the legend Cooper Car Co on the door tops, and driven by Sir John Whitmore, John Handley, John Rhodes and John Fitzpatrick, amongst others. Competing against other successful teams such as the Alexander and Broadspeed outfits, these thrilling green and white racers were a very familiar sight on the circuits during the 1960s. Later, of course, they were the inspiration for the new generation of Rover Mini Coopers.
Mini Ice Cream Van
Almost from day one the Mini's nature of being very practical in terms of being very practical in terms of parts availability and that it was a cost-effective mode of transport, customised cars based o it chassis started to appear. Many glassfibre bodies were put on the Mini's basic frame and the result was a large array of practical and fun vehicles during the 1960s. Outspan customised a Mini for promotional purposes, the result a giant orange on wheels with a small windscreen at the front! Another ingenious use for the Mini was as a mobile vending vehicle such as an Ice Cream, a once familiar sight around our housing estates and coastal resorts.
Mini Cooper 1071S
The Mini Cooper 1071S was announced in 1963 and offered a charming blend between the Cooper 1275's lugging power and the Cooper 970's high revving capabilities. A fine competition car, it won the Alpine and Monte Carlo rallies and although it may not be so well remembered in the nineties as the 1275S, it was nevertheless a very significant model.
The van version of the world's ultimate small car was a logical move by BMC, coming shortly after the launch of the saloon in 1960. Initially offered with the 848cc engine and later in 1967 with a 998cc option, the Minivan became very popular with enterprises of all sizes, from the one-man business to large organisations such as the Royal Automobile Club ( R.A.C. ), who used them as their Radio Rescue units.
Leyland Mini 1000
The Mini still shows the timeless shape that first appeared in 1959, which even today looks as stylish as ever. The Mini should really have faded into glorious obscurity after the arrival of the Metro in 1980. Sales halved when the Metro was launched but against all forecasts at Austin Rover, they didn't take a nose dive and there was still enough demand to make it worth continuing to build the model, especially as Minis now ran on Metro production lines.
Rover Mini Cooper 1.3i
The idea of bringing back the Mini Cooper came from a series of meetings between Rover and John Cooper and on the 10th July 1990, the Rover Special Products or RSP Commemorative Cooper was launched. Intended as a limited commemorative edition of just 1000 (plus 650 for Japan), the model was inevitably closer to the standard Mini specification than the old Mini Coopers had been. The 1.3 litre unit from the MG Metro was used while the Minilite style wheels were borrowed from the Mini 30 model of 1989 along with most of the interior trim.