1963 Austin MINI Cooper

The birth of the Mini came about due to the fuel shortage caused by the 1956 Suez Crisis. In the United Kingdom, petrol was rationed and sales of large family cars slumped. However, the market for German made 'bubble' cars skyrocketed. Leonard Lord, the head of BMC, disliked these German cars so he worked hard to remove them from the U.K. streets and replaced by a 'proper miniature car.' Thus, the Project ADO15 (Austin Drawing Office project number 15), was born. By October 1957, they had designed and built the original prototype, which was dubbed 'The Orange Box' due to its colour. Sales were initially slow, but soon the Mark I sales strengthened in the 1960s, and production totaled over 1 million. Part of the popularity was its low price, simplicity, and well-publicized purchased by film and music stars. Although sales ended up being strong, the Mini made very little money for BMC as they were sold at a price that was almost below what it cost to produce.

Racing car manufacturer John Cooper was given a test drive in a prototype Mini. This ride convinced him of the car's competition potential. Revising an A-Series engine, along with enlarging its displacement to 997cc, it easily met its 55 horsepower target. This extra horsepower gave the Mini Cooper a near-100 mph top speed. Lockheed developed special 7-inch diameter disc brakes for the front wheels to help cope with the increase in performance. Introduced in September of 1961, the Mini Cooper soon became a true sporting British icon.


By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2017

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Three generations of driving fun: The MINI Cooper and MINI Cooper S through the years.

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For three generations and over 50 years, the Cooper name has identified a MINI offering even more in the way of driving fun. The idea, hatched by brilliant Formula One designer John Cooper, to fuel the agile small car with an extra hit of performance and turn it into a sporting machine for the road and track has lost none of its appeal. But the Cooper has never been about horsepower, as a comparison....
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