1969 Morris Mini Cooper S MkI
The Mini was born from the major fuel shortages in the UK due to the Suez Crisis in the mid to late 1950’s. Petrol was rationed and as a result the demand for large imported cars slumped. At the same time the demand for small, fuel efficient cars skyrocketed.
In 1955 BMC had recruited Alec Issigonis from Alvis. His task was to design a range of technically advanced family cars in the same innovative spirit as the Morris Minor (that he had previously designed). Leonard Lord was the head of the British Motor Company (BMC) and he laid down the basic requirements for his small car. It should have 2 doors, be able to seat 4 people and be contained in a box measuring 10 x 4 x 4 feet (or 3.0 x 1.2 x 1.2 meters). The plan was also to use an existing BMC engine to save on development cost.
By July 1957 BMC had built the first prototype that was code named XC9003. Leonard Lord approved the car for production on the 19th July 1957. Prototype XC9003 became project ADO15.
ADO15 was to use an existing BMC A series four-cylinder water cooled engine of 948cc capacity. However, contrary to most cars this engine was mounted transversely in the car to create more space for the driver and passengers. Interestingly, testing showed this engine would give the car a top speed of over 90mph which was deemed unnecessary and the engine capacity was reduced to 848cc.
The production version was first demonstrated to the press in April 1959 and it was officially announced to the public on 26th August 1959. The Mini as it was now called was marketed using the two main BMC brand names, Austin and Morris. In the UK the Morris version was known as the Morris Mini Minor and the Austin version was known as the Austin Seven, named after the popular Austin from the 1920’s and 1930’s.
In Australia the car was introduced as the Morris 850. It was officially launched in March 1961, though it is understood cars were sold in this country prior to that. Interestingly, the Mini was never officially sold as an Austin in Australia.
Initial sales of the Mini were slower than expected, however, by the early 1960’s the Mini had found its niche and BMC produced over 200,000 cars in 1962. As they say, the rest is history and the Mini went on to become a motoring icon and when production finally ended in October 2000, around 5.3 million cars were built. It is understood that BMC built c1.2 million MkI’s from 1959 to 1967 and c400,000 MkII’s from 1967 to 1969. The Mini was of course reborn under BMW’s ownership in 2000.
One of Alec Issigonis’ good friends was John Cooper, the owner and founder of the Cooper Car Company. Cooper immediately saw the potential of the Mini for competition and the Mini Cooper was introduced in September 1961. The standard Mini’s 848cc engine with 34 bhp was replaced by a 997cc engine developing 55 bhp, and front disc brakes were introduced. In 1963 the Cooper was followed by the even more potent Mini Cooper S with a 1071cc engine and a top speed of close to 100mph.
In 1962, Rhodesian John Love became the first non British racing driver to win the British Saloon car Championship in a Mini Cooper. While the standard Mini and the Mini Cooper had already been used in rallying by BMC’s competitions department, the Mini Cooper S became an outstanding rally car. The car won races all over the world, including the prestigious Monte Carlo Rally three times for BMC, in 1964, 1965 and 1967.
In Australia, production of the Morris Mini started in late 1961 and locally built cars began to differ from their British counterparts as local components were used. The Mini Cooper was launched in October 1962 and the Cooper S in September 1965. In Australia, production of the Mini ceased in 1978.
In 1966 a Mini Cooper S driven by Rauno Aaltonen and local hero Bob Holden led a pack of Cooper S’s home to snare the first nine places outright in the Bathurst 500 mile race, a record which still stands today.
In 1999 the Mini was voted the second most influential car of the 20th century, behind the Ford Model T, by the Global Automotive Elections Foundation.
What a legend!
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a genuine, matching numbers, Australian built 1969 Morris Mini Cooper S.
Not much is known about the early days of its life in Australia. It is understood the car was delivered as part of the 02/1969 batch, the second last batch of MK 1’s built in Australia. This car retains its original and correct ID tag which confirms that it retains its original matching numbers engine. The ID tag also notes this car was originally painted in the Special Burgundy 1/SPEC.BURG.RED/3.
From our research it is understood the car spent most of its life in South Australia. It found its way to Townsville in north Queensland at some stage and it was repainted in c2004. The car was painted British racing green with a white roof and apart from the colour change it was reported to be ‘very original’.
This Mini Cooper S was then purchased by its next owner, who lived in the ACT, in 2007. During his ownership the car wasn’t driven much, but it was serviced on a regular basis by local specialist Melba Motors. Some modifications were made to the car, including fitting a steering column with a column ignition barrel, Minilite wheels and wheel arch flares. Lack of use made it’s then owner decide to sell the car in 2018. At that time the odometer was reading 63,175 miles. Interesting an advert on file for the car at that time states that it even still had the optional woodgrain dash in the car.
The car was then sold into Adelaide and its next owner had the intention to refurbish it and bring it back to original and excellent condition. He sourced new original style steel wheels to replace the Minilite wheels, replaced the brake boosters, had the brake system reconditioned, had the front suspension reconditioned, replaced the rear shock absorbers and did some general tidying up. All in all, he spent over $4,000 on the car. Unfortunately, time got away from him and he never quite got to finish the car. A ‘once in a life time opportunity’ presented itself for him, to purchase a pre-war Bentley, so that meant the Mini had to go!
The owner of the Bentley took the Mini as part payment earlier this year and finished the refurbishment work started by the previous owner. The car was repainted and further ‘tidying up’ was completed.
Today this car presents well. The colour scheme is ‘just perfect’ for a Mini Cooper S. The fresh paintwork looks good and it carries a high gloss finish. The glass and the external trim, including the lights/lenses, chrome and stainless-steel parts on the car are all in good condition. This car is fitted with the original steel wheels with hub caps, which is the traditional and we think ‘best look’ for a Cooper S! These are also in good condition. The aftermarket wheel arch flares give the cars an aggressive look, though these could be easily removed by the car’s new owner if required. The interior of this car presents in a good condition. The dash on this Cooper S has been upgraded with a classic Rokee style dashboard and as noted previously we understand this has been in the car since new. It presents well. The seats and door cards are in good condition and the upholstery shows some light patina, but there are no rips or tears. The seats provide ample support and offer a great driving position. The carpets are also in reasonably good condition. The instruments are clean and in working order. At some stage a second tacho has been installed but the original one is present and working.
The engine bay and boot are both clean and well presented. There is spare wheel and jack with the car.
John Cooper saw the vision and these cars are all about the drive! The first thing you notice when you get behind the wheel is just how much space there is inside the cabin for what is a small car. It’s quite brilliant really! The position of the steering wheel immediately gives you that go-kart feeling. The starting procure requires the choke from cold . . . you pull out the knob and lock it, then turn the key and the engine starts as you catch it with a blip of the throttle. Woah yeah . . . it is immediately obvious that one of the previous owners has made some modifications to the engine. It has ‘an edge’ and most likely has a fast road camshaft in it.
You need to let the engine warm up and once up to operating temperature this Morris Cooper S definitely goes. In fact it ‘goes like the clappers’! The engine feels strong and it revs willingly. Bathurst here we come! We’ll maybe not, but you get the idea. This car is a blast! Whilst it goes well in a straight line it is even more fun going around corners. Its low center of gravity means the car has hardly any body roll. It eats corners for breakfast and that go-kart feeling is back in spades. The booster assisted brakes stop the car quickly when required.
We should point out that whilst the car runs and drives well there are a few additional jobs on the ‘to do’ list that would take the car to the next level again. These are relatively minor and can be discussed with any potential purchaser.
This car is now ready for its next owner to use and enjoy.
Today the odometer reads 63,241 miles.
- Australian built, factory right hand drive Morris Mini Cooper S.
- Matching numbers engine, with period correct colour combination.
- A great driving car with an upgraded (original) engine.
- Recently repainted.
- Well presented and a great driver’s car.
- Morris Mini Cooper S MkI
- 63241 miles