Every Saturday morning is a classroom. I’m surely no automotive expert so listening to ownership experiences and insights into brand histories is exciting and invaluable. The evolution of automotive brands has my mind acting like a half-empty bookcase and I’m adding chapters for 2 hours each week. One brand that holds my – and just about everyone else’s - attention is the Cooper from Mini. How can you resist it? Look at that face. [See photos below.]
Back in the 1950s, Alec Issigonis presented John Cooper with a prototype of the Mini. According to John - “As soon as I drove the Mini, I realized it was the car of the future. [Alec] was the first man to build a car with an east-west engine…family saloon…that handled like a sports car.” Alec never saw it as a sports car, let alone a race car. John Cooper had the vision to turn the tiny car into a giant killer.
From MiniUSA.com – “It was 1961 when the humble little people-mover fell into the hands of British racing legend John Cooper. A more powerful engine, bigger brakes and a few tuning tweaks later, the Classic Mini Cooper 997 was introduced. And a rally demon was born.” While the outside of the Mini wasn’t born from his design, John took a people’s car and made it a driver’s car and later, a race car. The Cooper S won the Monte Carlo Rally in ’64, ’65 and ’67.
“I drive a lot of motorcars, but when I want to have fun, I drive a Mini.” John’s words live on today. Walking around our gathering area on Saturday mornings, I have had the opportunity to meet so many passionate owners of the Mini. The cars and owners span the generations. The bond to the car is so strong and so special. The Mini brand continues to inspire when behind the wheel and when gathering nearby. Don’t overlook the giant killer.
Friday, July 17 marks the birthday of John Newton Cooper. John, thank you for providing a living library. (July 17, 1923 – December 24, 2000)