Designed for British Motor Corporation by Sir Alec Issigonis, the Mini was developed in response to a fuel shortage caused by the 1956 Suez Crisis.
Minis were produced by the BMC and its successors from 1959 until 2000. An icon of the 1960s, its revolutionary design influenced a generation of car-makers, and was voted the second only to the Ford Model T. as most influential car of the 20th Century.
The Mini Cooper S went into production in 1961 when Sir Alec’s friend John Cooper, owner of the Cooper Car Company and designer and builder of Formula One and rally cars, saw the potential of the Mini for competition.
The Mini Cooper S earned acclaim with Monte Carlo Rally victories in 1964, 1965 and 1967
Rally great Paddy Hopkirk (1933-) is particularly associated with the golden era of the Cooper. Alongside Henry Liddon he won the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally in a Mini Cooper S , the most recent incidence of an all-British crew winning the event.
Hopkirk also enjoyed some success in Australia.He drove for the BMC Works Team in the annual Bathurst 500 race for standard production cars. He drove at Bathurst in a Morris Cooper S from 1965-1967, obtaining a best result of 6th outright and 3rd in class in the 1965 Armstrong 500.
The Mini’s iconic status owes much to Peter Collinson’s classic movie The Italian Job (1969), in which 3 Mini Cooper Ss provide the escape route for the gold, able to navigating the gridlocked Turin traffic in spectacularly unconventional ways. It could have been a very different story, however, as despite the publicity the film would undoubtedly give to the Mini, the BMC, were reluctant to commit to the project, providing only a token fleet of Minis. The production company had to buy the remaining number needed for filming. Italian manufacturer Fiat, however recognized the commercial potential of the film and offered the production team as many super-charged Fiat cars as they needed, along with several sports cars and a cash lump sum of $50,000. The producers turned down the offer because it would have meant replacing the Minis with Fiats, and the rest, as they say…