If ever a car is associated with British motoring it is the famous Mini.  The car has of course reached cult hero status in both the UK and the United States since its introduction in 1959.

Designed by Alec Issigonis, who was later knighted for his work, the Mini was in many ways a revolutionary vehicle and its space saving design influenced many later car designers and manufacturers.

Here we are looking at the Austin Mini Cooper S which, as its letter suggests, was the sports version of the standard mini.  Introduced in 1963 the racing version was a major success in rallying including winning the Monte Carlo race four times from 1964 to 1967 (it was subsequently and controversially disqualified in 1966 but that was just the French being silly).

1963 Austin Mini Cooper S – Photo by Ahmednayyer and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

As vintage performance cars go of course the Mini isn’t in the rocket class but nevertheless the S version could reach speeds of 95mph and with a turning circle of just 31 feet maneuverability wasn’t an issue.  The car famously featured in the classic British movie The Italian Job.  It was also in the Hollywood remake of course but we’ll gloss over that one.

It was its deft handling and ability to get through the smallest gaps that first captured the British motoring publics attention and the ease with which you could cut through the London traffic was a massive selling point.

Although I have been slightly unkind about its performance the S type could fly across a standing quarter mile in just over 18 seconds so it wasn’t a slouch.  Its acceleration was so good because of its performance in the lower gears;  55mph in second isn’t to be sneezed at.

Vintage Performance Cars Specification – Austin Mini Cooper S

Costs – £695 ($1117)

Engine – Four cylinders 70.6×68.26mm.  Push rod operated overhead valves.  9 to 1 compression ratio.  68bhp at 5750rpm.  Twin SU carburettors. Lucas coil and distributor.

Transmission – Four speed manual gearbox, single dry plate clutch.  Final drive to front wheels via helical spur gears.  Drive casing in unit with engine and gearbox.

Chassis – All steel construction.  Independent front suspension by wishbones and rubber cones.  Independent rear suspension by trailing arms with rubber cones and telescopic dampers.  Rack and pinion steering.  Bolt on disc wheels with Lockheed hydraulic brakes.

Equipment – Twelve volt lighting and starting.  Speedometer.  Temperature, oil pressure and fuel gauges.  Windscreen washers and wipers.  Heating and demising.  Flashing direction indicators.

Dimensions – Wheelbase 6’8″.  Overall length 10′.  Width 4’7″. Weight 12.5 cwt.

Performance – Maximum speed 95mph.  Speeds in gears; 1st – 33mph, 2nd – 55mph, 3rd – 78mph.  Standing quarter mile 18.7 seconds.  Acceleration – 0-30mph 3.2 seconds, 0-50mph 8.1 seconds, 0-60mph 12.25 seconds, 0-80mph 23 seconds.

Fuel consumption – 27.5 mpg.

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