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The Mini

The 997cc Mini Cooper went into production in July 1961 and 24,860 cars were built until November 1963. It was then replaced with the 998cc version. During this time, John Cooper was racing his junior formula cars and Minis on the track but was after more power. The small bore engines fitted to his cars had been developed to their full potential. This meant a new engine had to be developed. A new 1071cc engine was developed and this was fitted to the Mini Cooper. This new high performance Mini was branded the Cooper 'S'. The car had 15 bhp more than the 998cc Cooper and also featured 7.5 inch disc brakes, which were a big improvement over the old set-up. Full production started in April 1963.

The next year was to be busy one for the Mini Cooper. It was to gain two more models and it went on to win the 1964 Monte Carlo rally outright. The two new models were the 970cc and the 1275cc Mini Cooper 'S'. These were developed to compete in the circuit racing in the classes up to 1000cc and 1300cc respectively. The 970cc Cooper was a very successful racing car but due to poor marketing only 963 were ever built from June 1964 - April 1965. The 1275cc was launched in March 1964 and was a great success. Its bigger engine enabling it to get to 60mph in 10.9 seconds and a top speed of 97mph. This might not be outstanding today but in 1964 this was sensational for such a small car. In August 1964 production of the 1071cc Mini Cooper ceased after a total of 4031 cars being made. After the short production life of the 970cc Cooper 'S' finished it left just the 998cc Cooper and 1275cc Cooper 'S'. The replacement for the Mk1 Mini by the Mk2 in September 1967 brought with it plenty of cosmetic changes but not many mechanical ones.

The Mini's competition successes were to keep rolling in. This turned many people into very well known household names. It was in 1968 with the introduction of the Ford Escort that the Mini's successes declined.

Towards the end of 1968, the British Motor Corporation merged with Leyland and major cost cutting was to take place. Production of the 998cc Cooper stopped in November 1969 after 55,760 cars had been made. This was to be the most successful Mini Cooper ever. The 1275cc Cooper 'S' was also to eventually fall foul of the cost reductions but not until it had received the Mk3 body shell. This Mk3 Cooper was now, appearance wise, no different to any other Mini. It was this and the fact it had to compete against the 1275GT Mini that production ceased in June 1971 with 1570 cars having been built.

All was not lost though, the Mini Cooper was to be re-launched in June 1990. A special run of 1000 cars was produced, called RSP Coopers (Rover Special Products). This new Mini Cooper took its engine from the MG Metro and had a top speed of 92mph and 0-60 in 11.3 seconds. Due to tougher environmental regulations production of this Cooper ended in September 1991. It was replaced with the fuel-injected version in October 1991, this had the same engine as before but now had single point fuel injection and an electronic management system. This version was to be replaced in 1997 by the twin-point Mini Cooper. This still has the same engine that was the in the first ever Mini in 1959 but now has been fettled to include twin-point fuel injection, front mounted radiator and lower final drive for better motor way cruising.

The production of the Mini and Mini Cooper is scheduled to cease altogether sometime in 2000/2001. It is to be replaced with an altogether new Mini. Lets hope that this Mini has the legendary handling and performance of all the old ones.