Displacement: 998 cc
Horsepower: 55 bhp @ 5,800 rpm
Engine Torque: 57 ft lb @ 3,000 rpm
Top Speed: 91 mph
0 - 60 mph: 14.8 seconds
click on image to enlarge
Possibly the most iconic car of the sixties, the Mini was the brainchild of a brilliant, Greek-born, British national, named Alec Issogonis. He had fled Greece with his mother in 1922, ahead of the Turkish invasion and settled in England, where he studied engineering, before going into the automotive industry.
In 1956, just as Britain was starting to get back on its feet, after the War, it was hit again with fuel rationing. This time, it was due to the Suez crisis. This led to a major slump in the sales of large cars and a strong demand for smaller, more economical transportation. This heralded the rise of the microcar, and in particular, the German 'Bubble' cars, the rather peculiar looking, tiny vehicles, often built by the former warplane manufacturers like Messerschmitt and Heinkel. Leonard Lord, the then head of the British Motor Corporation, purportedly, so loathed these 'overgrown motorcycles', that he vowed to build a 'proper miniature car' instead. He determined that this new car should fit in a box measuring 10' x 4' x 4' and that three fifths of its length should be devoted to passenger accommodation. Armed with this very specific brief, he approached Issogonis, who in turn, with a fittingly minute team, came up with the first prototype in October of 1957. It was a miracle of space efficiency, with not one iota wasted. To maximize the interior space, amongst other ingenious features, Issogonis opted for sliding windows in the doors, thereby allowing more elbow room where a regular wind-up window would normally go. This left room for a large storage pocket to run the entire width of the bottom of the door. In uniquely British style, he was said to have based the dimensions for the pocket, on its ability to hold a bottle of Gordon's Gin!
The first production version was demonstrated in April 1959. It was marketed under BMC's two main brand names, both as the Morris Mini Minor and the Austin Se7en (a name that harkened back to Austin's most popular prewar model). They were, of course, a tremendous success, ultimately selling 5,387,862 examples!
Issogonis's long-time friend, the Formula One racecar builder, John Cooper, thought that there was tremendous rally-winning potential in the Mini and so, after negotiating with BMC management, the two men collaborated to create the Mini Cooper. They started by increasing the displacement of the original engine. They then added twin carburetors, a close ratio gearbox and front disc brakes. The results were phenomenal and after being launched to great acclaim, in 1961, Mini Coopers went on to win numerous rallies and other motorsport events around the globe.
Offered here is a one owner from new, matching numbers, black plate California car. Never rusted or wrecked, the body and floors are in exemplary condition. The original red with black roof colour scheme, still gives the car great presence and the retrimmed interior is similarly striking. The original 998cc engine fires right up with no smoke or rattles and has good oil pressure and compression. The transmission shifts well and the car steers and brakes straight.
There cannot be many original owner Mini Coopers left, let alone one that has lived in sunny Southern California all its life, so this is an opportunity not to be missed.