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RACING'S IN OUR DNA.

In 1959, the first Classic Mini was introduced: an unassuming, inexpensive 4-person “saloon” that didn’t use a lot of gas or take up much space. At first, some people didn’t know quite what to make of this quirky little newcomer. But others, like legendary F1 builder John Cooper, began to get big ideas. In 1959, the first Classic Mini was introduced: an unassuming, inexpensive 4-person “saloon” that didn’t use a lot of gas or take up much space. At first, some people didn’t know quite what to make of this quirky little newcomer. But others, like legendary F1 builder John Cooper, began to get big ideas. 


One of the gentlemen most intrigued by the Classic Mini’s racing potential was the legendary F1 car builder, John Cooper. Already famous for his unique and extremely successful rear-engine F1 designs and 16 Grand Prix wins, it was only natural that an auto company bold enough to defy convention by placing its engine differently (sideways) would impress him.One of the gentlemen most intrigued by the Classic Mini’s racing potential was the legendary F1 car builder, John Cooper. Already famous for his unique and extremely successful rear-engine F1 designs and 16 Grand Prix wins, it was only natural that an auto company bold enough to defy convention by placing its engine differently (sideways) would impress him.

 

Cooper immediately recognized that the same features that made the Classic Mini such an innovative people mover – a transverse engine, four wheels pushed out to the corners and minimal size – also gave the car incredible balance, an extremely wide stance and amazing agility. Just the attributes needed to turn it into a small, but ferocious racer. Cooper immediately recognized that the same features that made the Classic Mini such an innovative people mover – a transverse engine, four wheels pushed out to the corners and minimal size – also gave the car incredible balance, an extremely wide stance and amazing agility. Just the attributes needed to turn it into a small, but ferocious racer.


And so, in 1961, with a few tweaks to the engine, a set of slightly bigger brakes, and a new contrasting roof to make it stand out in the pack, the Classic Mini emerged from the Cooper Car Company garages as the Mini Cooper.And so, in 1961, with a few tweaks to the engine, a set of slightly bigger brakes, and a new contrasting roof to make it stand out in the pack, the Classic Mini emerged from the Cooper Car Company garages as the Mini Cooper.


What happened next (much to the dismay of the competition) is that John Cooper’s grand hypothesis was proven correct. The Classic Mini Cooper and Cooper S went on to dominate the 1960’s race scene, winning almost every international competition imaginable, including historic wins at Monte Carlo in 1964, 1965, 1966 and 1967.* And a car for the ages was born.


*In 1966, three Classic Mini Coopers actually took the top three spots, but were disqualified by the hometown French judges on a minor headlight infraction.