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Tim's Forza History Class

1965 Mini Cooper S

By Tim DeLong- 06-03-2015

By 1965 The Mini had already been around, and relatively unchanged, for a decade. Designed by Alec Issigonis, the idea behind the original Mini was to build a small, efficient car that could carry four adults and their luggage and be highly economical. I have a personal theory that Issigonis got ahold of Timelord technology. If you’ve ever been in an original Mini, they are somehow bigger on the inside, both in room and performance.

A little backstory on the Mini. The first Mini’s were introduced in 1959 by The British Motor Corporation. BMC was an amalgamation of Austin and Nuffield Motors, which consisted of Morris Garage, Wolseley, and Riley. At one time all of these companies had seen success independently before WWII, but after the war many companies began to merge to survive. When Issigonis was given the project of designing a small car, he used his experience in automotive suspension design to come up with a rubber cone based suspension that would prove to be one of the best features of the Mini. The first engine that was used in the original Mini was an 848cc BMC unit that produced a mere 34 hp.

John Cooper was a highly successful Formula car designer. He and his father are credited with designing some of the first successful rear engined formula cars and revolutionizing the sport by doing so. Fresh off of a Formula 1 championship, Cooper approached BMC about developing a Mini with his 1000cc Formula Junior engine under the bonnett. The project got the green light and in 1961 the first Mini Cooper rolled of the production line. The First Mini Cooper was powered by a 997cc engine with 55 horsepower on tap.

For the 1963 model year Mini debuted their Cooper S. The S had sport suspension upgrades and a 1275cc engine available that bumped the output up to 76 horsepower. The Mini Cooper S had gained quite a following just as John Cooper had envisioned. Weekend racers both on and off road were winning against much larger cars. The Mini factory rally team was a prime example, winning major rallies, such as Monte Carlo, outright with a comparatively tiny, 91hp car.

The Cooper S had so much going for it in the mid 1960’s and into the ‘70’s that the demand was high. The Mini Cooper S was fun, economical, and became a cult classic for auto enthusiasts of all economic backgrounds. The original Mini design was produced, with different badging or grills at times, from 1959 to 2000. An amazing production run that produced over 5 million cars.

[All photos in this installment are courtesy of Mike Seddon. Find his gallery on flickr.]


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