Henny Helps Celebrate MINI 50th With A Long Test Run In 2013 Cooper S Clubman

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Mini celebrating 50th anniversary of Cooper S, and a long run in the Cooper S Clubman

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

AMSTERDAM, July 17, 2013. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Cooper S, Mini organized two days packed with festivities at the Brands Hatch circuit, south-east of London. The legendary sports model that was unveiled in the spring of 1963 was the center of attention during the yearly MINI Festival, at the famous ex-Formula 1 race track.

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After its debut in 1959, John Cooper, owner of the Cooper Car Company and constructor of F1 and rally cars, soon noticed that the small car had great potential as a sports car and increased the output from 34 to 55 hp. The Austin Mini Cooper and Morris Mini Cooper debuted in 1961, not being completely satisfied; John Cooper developed a faster model, along with Sir Alec Issigonis, the creator of the Mini. It was introduced In 1963 The 1,071 cc engine had a maximum output of 70 hp.
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The little car made waves in the 1962 Monte Carlo Rally, with Pat Moss and Ann Wisdom winning the Ladies’ Award. A year later Rauno Aaltonen and Tony Ambrose took the podium with a third place and in 1964 Paddy Hopkirk/Henry Liddon won the Rally. Timo Mäkinen,and Rauno Aaltonen celebrated a first again in respectively 1965 and 1967, While Aaltonen, Tony Fall and Hopkirk finished 3rd, 4th and 5th in 1968.

Over the years the Cooper S maintained its performance nature. After BMW sold the Rover Group, it retained the Mini brand and came up with a new model in 2001. Since then, different models have been introduced, almost all available as Cooper S.

The one and only

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For a handful European colleagues and myself, the event started in Amsterdam, with a visit to the Mini Brand Store. Even though I had passed the store, that has a 5 star location at Leidseplein, close to the Rijksmuseum, I had never been inside That in itself was a revelation. In the nearly two hours that we spent there, the store had many visitors from all over the world. There were locals who found themselves small presents such as pens, magnets, or Mini scale models. I saw a German couple buying a Mini baby racer for their grandson. As well as a young men from Rio de Janeiro who bought a book about the Mini history and got his girlfriend a trendy yellow weekend bag. Customers may find it hard to make a choice from the many Mini branded goodies in the 3,230 sq. feet store that opened in December 2011.

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"It is a huge success," says Carolijn Goes, Mini spokeswomen in The Netherlands, who does not release any sales figures. She can say though, that Mini iPad cases and iPhone holders are extremely popular, as well as Mini Amsterdam t-shirts, sneakers, flashy colored weekend bags and Spike the bulldog mascot, of which world wide more than 70,000 have been sold..

The Amsterdam retail shop is the one and only Mini Brand Store in the world. Other stores, like those n Paris and Antwerp, may look like it but they are in fact dealers. There are always three cars on display in the store. This time, on of those is a Countryman with a sticker at the rear window saying ‘I will be born in The Netherlands’. Indeed, the former Mercedes-Mitsubishi plant in the Dutch city of Born, is being prepared for the production of an all new Mini, that will be introduced in 2014.

Minis visit a mini city

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From the brand store, the group drove to The Hague in six Mini Cooper S models, including a 1967 classic Mini. There we visited Madurodam, a miniature city that even has its own mayor, a Dutch youngster. There, you walk through streets with small scale copies of famous Dutch buildings and attractions, such as the cheese market in Alkmaar, the port of Rotterdam, Schiphol airport, the Royal Palace on the Dam, the House of Parliament, and the Heineken brewery in Amsterdam. The tiny city has real trees and plants which are trimmed to scale and maintained daily by 3 gardeners.

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After our private tour, we drove to the port of Hoek of Holland, where we boarded the Stena Line ferry for the crossing to Harwich during the night. Both in The Netherlands, on the ship and in England, our convoy got quite some thumps up.

Imagine to be an actor

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The next morning after arrival in the Hoxton Hotel in east London, we got a ride in Classic Mini’s. The driver/guides of Small Car Big City Tours took us through the narrow roads in the eastern part of the city. It was easy to imagine how it would have felt to be an actor driving a Mini’s in the famous movie ‘The Italian Job’. “.

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At midday our drivers took us to the race track to join the Mini Festival Brands Hatch. There, thousands of fans of classic and modern Mini ‘s were gathered in the paddock, on the stands and in the fields along the racetrack to be treated to live music and demonstrations, such as a Mini lapping the complete track on two wheels.
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But what everybody did not want to miss were to see the races. We had missed the qualifying in the morning, but as from mid day, there were seven races, packed with competitors, most of the times 30 or more. We saw Mighty Minis , the 10th heat of the MINI Challenge, Mini Miglias and the Pre ’66 Mini Anglo French Battle. At the end of the day the Mini’s we took from Holland across the North Sea were waiting for us to be driven back to London.

Suits the City and the Autobahn

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On Sunday, my colleagues hopped on a plane back to Germany, the Mini crew drove five cars back to Munich while the Mini Festival Brands Hatch offered more stunts and races plus an air show of the Red Devils. The one left was the Mini Cooper S Clubman I had especially chosen it, not only to drive it out of London, to friends in Buckinghamshire, but also to take parts for a classic British sports car back to The Netherlands.

The 3-door station wagon exactly suited my needs: with its the rear seats folded down, and the two doors in the back opening wide, loading was absolutely simple. But there were more advantages. During the nearly eight hours for the drive from The Hague to its home base in Munich, the Clubman became a trustworthy friend. This Cooper S is not only quick, but felt very stable and safe, even at its maximum speed of nearly 150 mph, which is still allowed on several long stretches of Autobahn in Germany.

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I also had some fun, by noticing that there were some drivers in BMWs, Mercedes or Audi’s that showed frustration being passed by the little car doing at top speed. But the Clubman offered another benefit. On the long run, it felt more comfortable and less nervous than the nearly 3 two door models would have, due its nearly 3 inches longer wheel base. May be, because of its longer stance, the Clubman is not the first choice for people who want a fast Cooper S model, but for my trip it suited me just fine. But also if you regularly have to haul goods, or want to be on the road without a load and have extra fun, the Clubman Cooper S is worth while considering. That is, when you want a car that is just under 13 feet long…

Technical details Mini Cooper S Clubman

Engine 1.6-liter 4-cylinder, twin scroll turbo, 184 hp, 177 lb-ft of torque, 6-speed manual Getrax transmission, or 6-speed automatic w/paddle shifters

Fuel efficiency hwy/cty/com. 35/26/29 mpg (automatic 34/26/29 mpg)

L/w/h 155.9/66.3/56.4 inches

Wheel base 110.3 inches

MSRP $ 25,100

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