BY 1963 the BMC Competition department knew what they wanted to do with the Mini. Their efforts culminated in the 1963 Austin Cooper S and Morris Cooper S. Besides a host of upgrades, the primary difference was a specially cast engine block and cylinder head that was more suitable for racing.
The first Cooper S models used a 1071 cc engine with a special nitrided steel crankshaft. In 1964 a range of displacements was offered including 971 cc and a 1275 cc.
For extended trips and rally racing, a second fuel tank was fitted. Other factory upgrades included larger front disc brakes, a vacuum-assisted brake booster and offset steel wheels which were widened to 4½ inches by 1964.
Despite only having around 75 bhp on tap, the Minis were very successful in Group 2 Rally racing, winning the Monte Carlo Rally outright.
Originally the brainchild of race car builder John Cooper, the Austin Mini Cooper was designed by Alec Issigonis. Issigonis thought that the Mini should be a “people’s car” rather than a performance machine and the did not like the idea of a souped-up Mini. He persuaded British Motor Corporation to do just that and agreed to a trial run of just 1,000 cars in order to meet the homologation rules of Group 2 rally racing. It was a great decision.
The Mini Cooper was one of Britain’s great sports car legends that became the definitive rally car of the ’60s. Its small size, maneuverability, and front-wheel drive allowed it to dance around bigger, more unwieldy cars to gain victories.
The Mini was a perfect blend of pin-sharp steering and terrific handling balance. The Mini Cooper, a nimble, economical and inexpensive car has a low center of gravity and a wheel at each extreme corner – the perfect credentials for solid handling.
The Mini Cooper, dubbed the “S”, was developed in tandem and released in 1963. The Mini Cooper S earned acclaim with Monte Carlo Rally victories in 1964, 1965 and 1967.
Now we wonder how many MINI Cooper automobiles were sold thanks to the movie, the original “The Italian Job”. We saw Lamborghinis, Alfa Romeos, Jaguars, and Aston Martins being raced in the movie but the real stars were the three Mini Cooper S models used during the gold heist hauling three tons of gold in these tiny cars.
1965 Austin Mini Cooper 1275 “S” – sold for $52,250 One of 2,384 “true” Mini Cooper 1275 ‘S’ and 1,324 LHD models produced. Single-family ownership from 1965-2003. Highly documented, accompanied by FIA papers and ready to race. Completely matching numbers from new and still fitted with the original documented accident- and rust-free shell. Auction Source: 2011 Monterey Auction by RM
This Mini Cooper S was sold new in Belgium and is currently in the hands of only its third owner since 1964. Originally supplied with the 970cc engine (included in the sale) it is currently fitted with a 1,275cc unit prepared to competition specification by Mini Sport UK. Fully prepared for historic rallying, the car boasts straight-cut gearbox pinions, adjustable competition shock absorbers front and rear, interior roll cage, Sparco seats, multi-point harnesses, Tripmaster and chronometer, automatic fire extinguisher and an ignition cut out switch. Four road wheels/tyres, four dirt wheels/tyres and a single spare wheel come with it. A regular participant in the Legend Boucles de Spa (2008-2010) this potentially most competitive historic rally car is offered with British Motor Industry Heritage Trust certificate and current FIA and FIVA papers.