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Minis at the Mint
Page 1

Broadcast dates : 18th September 2005
24th September 2005


One of the great cinematic tragedies of our time is that Mr Bean opted for a Mini as his personal transportation. For the Mini is one of the great heroes of the Age of the Motorcar, way above the station of Rowan Atkinsonís klutzy screen character.
In fact, an international panel of motoring journalists voted the Mini as Car of the Century. 

And the most lion-hearted of all were the Cooper derivatives.

The result is a power output of some 55 horsepower or 41 kiloWatts, some 16 horsepower more than the original Miniís 35 horses which used the British Motor Corporationís old A-series engine.
All the original Mini Coopers in South Africa were painted a sort of olive green, somewhat lighter than traditional British Racing Green.

Other distinguishing marks were Cooper badging, a gold pin stripe around the waste line, a restyled grille and a white roof. The stripes on Patrickís Cooperís bonnet are non-standard, as are the wheels, the original Cooper rims being merely gold-painted pressed steel.
Minis werenít known as Minis when they were first launched in 1959.

There were two derivatives, one called the Austin Seven and the other the Morris Mini Minor. 

Essentially identical cars, they were one of the first examples of badge engineering, as the BMC had amalgamated the Austin and Morris companies.
The drab grey colour scheme and hubcaps with trim rings denote this car as a very early Mini, as does the badging. The Mini Club believes it could be the oldest surviving Mini in South Africa.
This masterful minimalism was the brainchild of Alec Issigonis, later Sir Alec, who also designed the Morris Minor. 

The Mini was Feng Shui on wheels, decades before yuppies began trading their wrought-iron beds for futons.

Turning the motor sideways and mounting the gearbox beneath the engine made for great packaging, nippy performance and handling in an era of really slow cars.

The Mini evolved in many directions during its long lifespan. One of the first derivatives was the station wagon, also known as the Countryman and Traveller, which added the luxury of luggage space to what was a surprisingly roomy interior.

Wind-up windows replaced the original sliding windows, and by the time the Mark-Two version arrived, engine sizes for the standard model increased to one litre and then 1100 ccís.
Mini-mal specification made the car a great canvass for customisers and engine tuners.

This one has a walnut dash as an excellent aftermarket item fitted to a very potent Mini Cooper S, owned by Mini Club chairman, Paul le Roy. And itís one faast Mini!

The wheel arch extensions, or spats, arenít standard Cooper S fair. But they are period accessories, made famous by racing and rally Mini Cooper Sís in the 1960s. The same goes for the delectable Minilite twelve-inch wheels.
Minis and competition success became synonymous when a Cooper S won the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally in the hands of the redoubtable Irishman Paddy Hopkirk.

The Mini Cooper S went on to score three more Monte wins, but the French officials saw fit to disqualify the winning Cooper S in 1966 for having the "incorrect headlamp glass".

By this stage, Minis had become a way of life for devotees.

Go to Minis at the Mint page 2

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