Henny Helps Celebrate MINI 50th With A Long Test Run In 2013 Cooper S
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.
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.
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
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.
"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
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.
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 ‘
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’.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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