Mini Cooper Cars
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This guide features several classic Mini Coopers.
Mini Cooper MkI 997cc
The Mini Cooper was introduced in 1961 and with a 997cc engine and 55bhp it offered a tremendous improvement in performance over the standard car. The two-tone Cooper was otherwise almost indistinguishable from the 850 model, with just the discreet badging and different grille giving the game away. The first of the fast Minis, it was capable of 85mph and 0-60mph in around 17 seconds. In January 1964 the 997cc Cooper was replaced by the 998cc version. Although only fractionally larger in capacity, the engine had been subtly reworked to more balanced proportion and this led to an improvement in torque and tractability.
Mini Cooper S Mk II 998cc
In 1967 the Cooper and Cooper S along with all other cars in the range received the heavier Mk II bodyshell. Changes were light, at the front the grille was redesigned with the top chrome strip being attached to the bonnet and the sides reshaped to give the car a more pleasing look. At the rear the bodyshell incorporated a larger light cluster and a two inch wider rear window. In addition, the Mk2 solved some of the niggly problems associated with earlier models. The use of seat belts had been growing since legislation made their fitment compulsory, but once strapped in to a static belt it was difficult to reach the switches on the centre facia. Mk 2 modifications brought the switches three-inches nearer to the driver. Other definite improvements at the time were a smaller turning circle and twin leading shoe front brakes.
Cooper Car Co. Works Mini
Cooper ran a Works Team in the sixties with cards in the colours of the F1 team (British Racing Green with Snowberry White longitudinal stripes) with the legendary 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. Towards the end of the 1960s, BMC tightened its belt and took the works-associated teams in-house. Cooper then ran an independent team of Minis in yellow and black racing colours.
Works Mini Cooper S
The Mini Cooper has been extremely successful in motor sport with Coopers and Cooper S enjoying overwhelming success in both racing and rallying - the 1275S won 23 rallies for the works between 1964 and 1969. The victories for the Coopers at Monte Carlo are perhaps the most widely acclaimed. In 1964 Paddy Hopkirk first won the great Monte Carlo, followed by another win in 1965 by Timo Makinen. In 1966 there was a disqualification from 1st place and in 1967 yet another victory was recorded. These were the greatest years for the Mini Cooper in competition and the Mini's standing as a legend in its own lifetime was firmly secured.
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 1000 (plus 650 for Japan) the new model was inevitably closer to the standard Mini specification than the old Mini Coopers had been. The 1.3 litre unit form 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. Finished in a range of two-tone colour schemes, the Commemorative looked remarkably similar to its 1960s brethren and in performance terms was similar to the original 1275cc Cooper S.
Mini Cooper Mk III 1275S
In line with the ordinary Mini Saloons, the Cooper S received the MkIII bodyshell (with concealed door hinges originally introduced i November 1969) in March 1970. The performance and road-holding were still there and it retained hydrolastic suspension, but in terms of appearance the Mini Cooper S was watered down to such an extent that it now looked little different from any other Mini. The two-tone paintwork, a hallmark of the Cooper and Cooper S, had gone and only the obligatory right-hand petrol tank, ventilated wheels and Cooper S badge on the boot lid gave the game away. When the last Mk3 Cooper S rolled off the Longbridge production line in June 1971 it seemed that the Cooper legend was to retire into the history books but dramatically the Cooper was to be re-launched nearly twenty years later by Rover.