1968 Morris Mini 'Cooper S Mk1 Replica' Saloon
|Engine||In-line 4-cylinder, 1275cc|
If Alec Issigonis’ revolutionary Mini introduced the world to a new genre of small cars in 1959, John Cooper created what was arguably the grandfather of today’s hot hatches. With its front-wheel drive layout and Hydrolastic suspension, the Mini was endowed with handling that put it ahead of many established sports cars and was soon tearing up the racetrack as drivers put these abilities to good use. With so much potential for tuning, a high performance derivative was inevitable and it was Cooper’s garage that supplied the necessary ingredients to properly exploit the inherent abilities of the Mini’s chassis. Blessed with more power and better braking thanks to discs up front, the Mini Cooper embarked on a stellar motor sport career that culminated in outright victories in the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965 and 1967. The Cooper S, announced in September 1964, employed twin SU carburettors, two-inch big-end bearings and a Nitride-hardened crankshaft to allow the motor to rev more freely. Minis were assembled in Australia at BMC’s local facility at Zetland in Sydney, including the original 997 and 998 Coopers between 1962 and 1964, although the first ‘S’ variants (in both 970 and 1071 guises) to arrive here were all privately imported. BMC Australia launched a locally-assembled Cooper S here from September 1965, with a 75 bhp engine and a number of features unique to our Antipodean version, including the laminated windscreen, twin fuel tanks and three-point seat belts, plus revised floor pressings to protect the Hydrolastic suspension on our harsh roads. A facelifted Mark 2 model was introduced in the UK in October 1967, but Australian Minis continued without the new grille design and larger rear window, although wind-up windows were already part of the specification. In total just 4,986 Mark 1 Cooper S were assembled in Australia between 1965 and 1968, with surviving examples now regarded as highly desirable collector’s cars.