Greatest rally car
It was as aerodynamic as a barn door, a box on wheels, and the object of more than the occasional aside. But 10 years after Alex Issigonis’ Mini went into production, it had earned a place in the motorsport history books and rewritten the rally chapter
A low cost, post-war people’s car, the Mini’s humble beginnings were soon forgotten when Grand Prix car constructor John Cooper got to work. Thy Mini had all the ingredients of a successful competition machine and it was Cooper who recognised it’s potential. Around the chassis, he added bigger wheels, tiny disc brakes and, most importantly, a succession of ever more tuned engines. Two years after the first 850cc Mini left the production line in 1959, the Mini Cooper was born.
On rallying’s world stage the car became a true icon. By 1964, Paddy Hopkirk’s 1071S had won the Monte Carlo. Its 1275cc successor would win the classic twice more. A whole generation of Fyling Finns made their names behind its wheel; their left foot braking ideally suited to the understeering front-driver.
By the end of the Swinging Sixties, the Mini Cooper S had given its best, overtaken in the race for more horsepower. But it had already won nearly 30 international events and changed the face of its sport. The Mini was in so many ways a trend setter and none more so than a rallying Cooper S.
FACTS & FIGURES: 1071 cc and 1275cc; normally aspirated transversefour cylinder engines producing 100 and 125bhp; triple Monte Carlo winner (plus one disqualification from top spot), 28 international wins between 1964-69.