The 1963-1971 BMC Mini Cooper S was an inspired "homologation special" based on British Motor Corporation's front-drive minicar designed by Alex Issigonis. The main differences between this production hot rod and the more basic Minis were higher Cooper-tuned versions of the BMC A-series four, beefed-up driveline components, front disc brakes, and discreet exterior emblems.
The 1963-1971 BMC Mini Cooper S was offered initially in 1,071cc form, a modified version of the Formula Junior engine provided to Cooper. There were also 970cc and 1,275cc versions listed from 1964 aimed at 1.0- and 1.3-liter racing classes. They retained the regular Mini's wheel-at-each-corner box-body and were only 120 inches long with full four-seat accommodation.
Coopers had slightly better instrumentation and a more businesslike interior. The Mini, but not the Cooper, was in production for more than 40 years and due for replacement in 2001. With the right equipment, the little engine could pump out at least 50 percent more power.
The Cooper S carried BMC's rally colors in the early '60s and did quite well against larger, more powerful opposition. Minis of any kind were never sold widely in the U.S., and the advent of federal emissions and safety standards banned the Cooper S from our market after 1967. Some were sold in Canada until the new Leyland regime dropped the model in 1971.
Pluses of the 1963-1971 BMC Mini Cooper S:
- Cheeky charm unmatched by other cars
- Still rare in North America
- Wonderfully nimble front-drive handling
- Many nonmechanical parts still available
- Not expensive
Minuses of the 1963-1971 BMC Mini Cooper S:
- Engine parts in short supply
- Undercarriage (especially subframe) rust-prone
- No match for Detroit iron in traffic
- Make sure you fit
Production of the 1963-1971 BMC Mini Cooper S:
Specifications of the 1963-1971 BMC Mini
Wheelbase, inches: 80.0
Length, inches: 120.2
Weight, pounds: 1,440
Price, new: NA
Engines for the 1963-1971 BMC Mini Cooper S:
Type Size Horsepower Years ohv I-4 970 cc (59 cid) 65 1964-1965 ohv I-4 1,071
cc (65 cid) 70 1963-1964 ohv I-4 1,275 cc (78
cid) 76 1964-1971
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