Up Front Fun With The Original Mini Cooper S | Speedhunters

23 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Up Front Fun With The Original Mini Cooper S | Speedhunters

was a very practical reason: it the majority of the floor to be used for the compartment, which was important space was so limited, and the transverse used minimum space up This layout also had a in an unexpected direction…

The Mini’s performance was a complete the insanely light weight, low of gravity and kart-like handling was picked up as having motorsport by both the BMC competition department and The original 850cc-engined Mini 1959 tackled a number of and the success of Minis run by Downton and F1 team Cooper Cars led to the of the first officially tuned the Cooper, in 1961.

It was an improvement, but it was of a marketing exercise compared to was to follow. 1963 saw the launch of the hot Cooper S, an example of one of the first homologation specials. 2,500 models were required to period racing regulations and BMC to unleash the Cooper S on the unsuspecting

Never had owners of expensive been more frustrated by minnow competition.

This the changes weren’t just (although it did feature things this metal detailing the edges): proper engineering into making the S a serious on the road.

Bigger servo-assisted brakes were added, as stiffer wheels and improved – though it still used independent suspension. The rubber compressed at a variable rate on the load, and took up far less than conventional springs. The delivered sharp, precise at the expense of comfort.

The iron four-cylinder engine gained ‘S’ upgrade parts, like a tensile steel crankshaft, a bore, stronger valve and forged rockers, and the block was enlarged to 1,071cc – likely the they could get out of the original It revved to unbelievable levels: a screamer, only exceeded by the introduction of the 970S to get the Mini the under one-litre racing

The power went up as well: and that magic 90mph top (near 100mph was achievable), was incredible for such a small, cheap car.

Just 4,000 Cooper S models built, and it wasn’t just a on track. Selling new for £695 on the it made almost 50 percent profit than a standard seriously aiding BMC’s line. This was not a typical for compact cars: several companies were brought to knees trying to produce a (such as Hillman) and even the Ford decided that couldn’t make the concept financially.

So there’s the history lesson. about this particular Well, 732 HOP isn’t just any old S: the second Cooper S to roll off the production line in Birmingham – and the survivor, as 731 HOP is long gone.

It was part of BMC’s press fleet, and even features in an in the August 1963 edition of magazine, where the closing read thus: ‘ For the man who runs a Aston Martin or similar performance car, this make an ideal and worthy mate. For the dashing young man who can but one car, this must be the answer at £695 and 90mph-plus ‘. The tuned Mini had truly

This Cooper S is an Austin: the and Morris motor companies had up to form BMC, with produced in the Longbridge, Birmingham, badged as Austins and those Cowley in Oxford (now modern BMW Minis) with a badge. It’s a similar as today with the GT86 and underneath it was exactly the same

John Pick of Arden is the proud owner of this S, and no Cooper-come-lately: the car has been in his family 1976, when his sister the car to use in rallying. Still at school, acted as navigator in the then-red which had been stage-prepared Perspex windows and fibreglass and bought without knowledge of its history. It seems like it had some serious use during its 10 years, converted to rally by an unknown previous owner and first yellow and then

Unreliability meant that the was passed to John to see if he could fix up: problems were traced to the of incorrect valve springs and a Jaguar fuel pump, and competed in 732 HOP for some years an accident bent the front-left of the At the time it was actually cheaper to buy a new shell complete with like wind-up windows, so stripped the competition parts off and them onto a new shell.

The original shell was consigned to the in 1983, but then in the mid-’90s a recognised the number plate as special. A call to BMC’s successor, British Motor confirmed the background of the Mini, to John realising he needed to stop abusing the car so much! The car was a bit of a case at that stage: of the bits were in the wrong and weren’t original, and there was no or any interior fittings. Some would be required to make it like this picture…

The director of BMH subsequently got in touch and a joint project: they to start building continuation MkI and to launch the programme suggested 732 HOP. With an incredibly lead time – and the decision to stage a live rebuild three days at the 1997 Classica show in Essen – the was repaired and repainted in double-quick and a bill of parts and assembly put together.

The project was a success, and 732 HOP away from Techno looking as it had done when it had off the Longbridge production line 34 earlier.

But John wasn’t to be stashing the Cooper away in a he was straight back out on stages and competing in the Midlands Hill Challenge and a regular visitor to the Prescott and Shelsley Walsh The reason? Once you drive a Cooper S, you never want to

John: “It’s just fun to drive. You can do things you could do in single seaters. You can’t to back off though, you’re heavily on the tyres and bouncing all the place.

You feel everything: with Mini you feel in contact the road – you feel connected. The is that you do feel every rut and Speed bumps are horrific!”

not what you’d expect such a small car. in no doubt about what the car is You turn the steering wheel a bit and it corners like a go-kart. with a little 1,071cc it still has a phenomenal amount of it just pulls.

You’d expect it to flat-line at 5-6000rpm, but it pulling well past Though you never know what it’s revving to, as no rev counter.”

“It’s surprisingly and it’s actually better if you can go 70 – it’s quieter. Though quiet! You choose a cruising not a cruising speed.”

The engine, its twin 1.25-inch SU carbs up was actually turned around 180 during the design process, and the compartment is a busy place. turn-around put the distributor and other items up front and made prone to water damage, has led to a constant search by Mini for solutions to the problem.

The clutch is a single dry plate unit, by a Lockheed master cylinder, to a four-speed gearbox. There’s no on first gear, which can taking off just that bit more tricky.

There are aesthetic touches, such as of the block and the list of oil suppliers on the cap, and the old nameplates look

The inline-four pushes the ancillaries low, and the oil sump can take a bit of a on roads – it’s those speed bumps again.

Mini Cooper

One thing is that when came to having a replacement plate made, he found out several other 732 HOPs had been registered. Luckily he has the to show that his is the real

The four and a half inch have vent holes, and the require a little weighting to things up. The wheels are now back in however, and the new rims can be purchased.

As is typical of the time, safety were minimal. Seat were optional, and the front were not secured to the floor. To get the back you tip the seat forward – no catch. You just have to about that for a second.

So, in the event of a crash you’re in an ejector seat… John has welded the driver’s seat position for competition.

The rear is spacious – more so than modern compact cars, that maximum use of the car’s dimensions. It’s certainly not bad for a car is only 10 feet long, feet seven inches and just a fraction less than it is wide.

The boot is a decent size: certainly big for a couple of small suitcases, the only intrusion the small tank.

Opening the doors is by pulling on the cord: it wasn’t for the plastic to rub against the sharp at the handle end and sheer, leaving the stranded inside!

The Mini a car that particularly needed a The dash was basic, with oil, speed (going to an 120mph), temperature gauges and a switch for dash illumination…

the main console below is bursting with options. A for heater (with the flow handle below), wipers, and manual choke.

One clear of the times is the fact that it has not not two but three  ashtrays! One up front on top of the and then these luxurious in the side pockets of the rear The fabric would originally been a more golden but John decided that the inlay looked better – a decision I think.

The interior now look very attractive, its colour-coded seats and ornate fabric, but the Mini is about the experience rather than and luxuries.

John: “When you’re up to a corner and you’re braking and the car loose, if the back end is going the way, you say, okay, just let it go and do the Scandinavian flick – and it perfectly around the corner. The Ka is the closest modern equivalent I but it’s got suspension travel. If you had a with suspension travel it be great improvement, but that fundamentally change the dynamics of it.

It wouldn’t be the same. There is a that make a coil-spring which fits where the springs go: I’ve not driven but I can imagine that if you get it right it be good fun.”

The only problem has been related to the of the repaired shell back in damp must have got in the process, and micro-blistering started John finally decided to up the Mini to prevent further but was recently spurred on to undertake a restoration. Again the car was stripped but this time it was E-coated reassembly.

The plating/painting process polarising the body, which the paint into all the seams and and should prevent a recurrence of the

So 732 HOP lives again: its fourth and hopefully in a condition that sustain it on for many years to BMH still haven’t been to kickstart MkI bodyshell production as as the investment in replacement tooling been forthcoming as yet, makes this historic S even more special.

this Cooper S in a sleep village, so many people over to say hello, ask questions and pictures. The majority had stories their own Minis – it’s a car has touched an enormous number of Not only does everyone a Mini, but it’s a car that a smile on their faces, 50 years later.


Many thanks to John at Arden Automotive !

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