By Peter Browning. 206 pp. 8 4/5 in. x 5 3/8 in. (G. T. Foulis & Co. Ltd., 50a, Bell Street, Henley-on-Thames. Oxon. £2.85)
Alex Moulton remarked to us some time ago that the remarkable factory-entered competition BMC Minis deserved a history to themselves. This is it, by an author who was intimately associated with these potent little race and rally-winning cars, and it is the book of the year for all Mini lovers. The account of what these astonishing saloons did in the international competition field, managed by Marcus Chambers, Stuart Turner and Browning himself, is stimulating reading and important historically.
But you get much more. Insights into the drivers’ and crews’ notes on how to drive a hot Mini properly. The sort of instructions, ice notes, etc., doled out to the crews, and a chapter on the mechanics who screwed the cars together before and during events—the “inside story”, in fact.
Very interesting is a chapter about the different Mini varients, with long specification tables, very detailed, for the 850, 997 Cooper; 1071 Cooper-S and 1275 Cooper-S—respective b.h.p. in “works” trim, approximately 42, 10, 92 and 97! This part of the book is essential scanning for those who enjoy delving into Mini mechanicals. Another chapter is about tyres for Minis—in 1967 Dunlop provided 572 tyres for five “works” Minis, in 1968 the number was up to 731, for four cars, in a dozen variants, from 145-10SP3s modified pattern, half-studded to CR70 5.00 L-10 greenspot racers, not forgetting the prolific supply of dry compound SP44s with graded stud protrusion. Very valuable data can be gleaned from just this chapter alone.
Then Chapter 12 gives the anatomy of a Monte Carlo Rally, being a breakdown of the 1965 event and how it was tackled, with travelling arrangements, recce and practice notes, pace notes, ice notes, service schedules, fuel plans for the common run and mountain circuit, tyre supplies, the homebound travel plans, and drivers’ report form—absorbing.
The sad end of the road, when Lord Stokes clamped down on British Leyland’s full-scale rally participation, ends this overdue book. The three Appendices, giving a full history of the “works” Minis from their triple retirement in the 1959 RAC Rally to the final event, the Southern Cross Rally, in October of last year, a full list with registration numbers, engine and chassis numbers, events entered, drivers and results of 69 of the “works” rally cars (the racing Minis get a chapter to themselves) and the homologation form for the Mini-Cooper S. are alone worth the price of this splendid Browning writing task-force! The pictures do it all justice, too.
If you know a chap who has a Mini make him a present of this book. It should keep him out of the hot seat for quite some time!—W. B.