Legendary Mini Cars
The Mini is the living classic, its production still going strong after more than thirty years. When launched in 1959 it was bristling with innovations such as the transversely mounted engine to name but one, and was quite revolutionary in its concept. The first Minis were available as an Austin or a Morris, the official titles being "Austin 7" or "Morris Mini Minor", Differences between the two were slight and were mainly confined to cosmetics. These first Minis set the standard for years to come with outstanding fuel economy, returning in excess of 40mpg.
Mini Cooper MkI
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 Mk 1 Cooper 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 a more balanced proportion and this led to an improvement in torque and tractability.
The estate version of the Mini arrived in October 1960. It was based on the van but had side windows and saloon car furnishings and featured a wooden frame glued onto the outside of the bodywork behind the front door line. Similar in appearance to the popular Morris Minor Traveller, the Mini's traditional framework was purely cosmetic, unlike the Morris Minor's, which actually supported the body panels. It was insisted upon by BMC's Sales Department at the time who reasoned that a Mini estate without woodwork would look too much like a van fitted with windows. The Morris version was called the Mini Traveller and the Austin version adopted the marque's traditional Countryman title. Price when new was £623 including Purchase Tax.
Mini Cooper S MkII
In 1967 the Cooper and Cooper S along with all other cars in the range received the heavier Mk II body-shell. Changes were light, at the front the grille was redesigned with the top chrome strip being attached to the bonnet at the sides reshaped to give the car a more pleasing look. At the rear the body-shell incorporated a lighter light cluster and a two-inch wider rear window. In addition, the Mk 2 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 into a static belt it was difficult to reach the switches on the centre facia. Mk2 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.
Works Mini Cooper S
In the years 1964-1967, between them the 1071S and 1275S won the Monte Carlo Rally three times officially and were disqualified (1966) from a fourth win. The 1275S won 23 international rallies for the works between its April 1964 Tulip-winning debut and September 1969's assault on the Tour de France. Among the 1275 S-type's results, it won Monte Carlo (twice); 1000 lakes (three times); Tulip (twice); Circuit of Ireland (three times); RAC (once); Austrian/Alpine (twice); Acropolis (once); Polish (twice); and Czechoslovakia (twice). The 1271S won the June 1963 Alpine and January 1964 Monte.
In 1968 the introduction of the Clubman was an attempt by BL to give the Mini more status. Feeling was that a front end change would make the car look bigger and make the buyer feel he was getting more car for his money. In reality of course, he was not, as the Clubman had no more interior space and more importantly, no improvement in performance when compared to the original Minis of the same specification. The Clubman-fronted 1275GT was a replacement for the Mini Cooper in the early 1970s. For a short while the Cooper S and 1275 GT were produced alongside each other until the Cooper S was deleted in July 1971. The Clubman, in all its forms, continued until 1980 to be outlasted by the original Mini shape.
Mini Cooper S (Police)
In its heyday the Mini was used for a number of different applications not normally associated with the small family car. The use as a Police pursuit car was one of these.
It was known from the beginning that a car with all its vital components at the front had great versatility for derivatives and within five months of the saloon's launch the van was proudly announced. Initially offered with the 848cc engine, the 998cc option became available in 1967, which was the same year the AA dispensed with their motorcycle combinations to go under cover with AA Minivans. The Mini van was the ideal successor and not surprisingly became a regular and welcome sight for many motorists at the time. The Van lacked some of the niceties found on the saloons, such as the decorative grille, which helped in achieving the relatively low purchase price.
Mini City E
There can be few cars as practical and as versatile as the Mini. Its virtues of compactness and economy coupled with its eager engine, snappy gear-change and great manoeuvrability have made it one of the world's best-loved small cars. The ability of the Mini to never look out of date with its surroundings is almost uncanny, especially since its basic shape has remained unchaged since 1959. Sir Alec Issigonis once said, "Stylists are employed to make things obsolescent .. like women's clothes.. I design cars which cannot be obsolescent and there give value for money." The Mini City E was the economy model at the time and epitomised the way Issigonis had envisaged the car 25 years earlier - a utility vehicle capable of getting people from A to B in comfort.