Launched in March 1963, the 1,071cc Mini Cooper S was the ultimate Mini, at its heart a much higher specification engine than the plain Cooper’s unit, and slightly larger but much more efficient front disc brakes. The increased potential of the S was quickly demonstrated by Rauno Aaltonen’s outright win on the 1963 Alpine Rally, followed by Paddy Hopkirk’s 1st place overall on the Monte Carlo, 3rd on the Tour de France and 4th on the RAC.
Manufactured in 1966, 850926 has the distinction of being a Works Mini Cooper S and campaigned from 1966 through to 1968 in some of the greatest rallies piloted by two of the greatest names in Rallying history.
In 1966, 850926 first Works outing was at the 27th Alpine Rally in early September with Timo Makinen at the wheel and Paul Easter carrying out co-driver duties but due to head gasket issues it was forced into an early retirement. Rally legend Paddy Hopkirk took the wheel for the RAC rally on the 19th November 1966. No fewer than seven works Mini’s lined up for the start and was the biggest entry for the Abingdon team.
Hopkirk was unlucky – he was the leading British driver until he overshot a junction on a stage, reversed back and the transmission broke ending his rally. The following year Timo Makinen piloted the car at the Swedish rally but was forced to drop out on only the second special stage with brake trouble. In 1968 Hopkirk was again behind the wheel for the Circuit of Ireland, Hopkirk set very quick times from the start but was suffering with overheating problems, although not serious he was to retire with a broken differential on the Lough Eske stage.
Later in the year, the car was fitted with an auxiliary radiator to help with the overheating and with Lars Ytterbring who put in a fine performance on the Scottish rally by finishing runner up to Roger Clarks Escort. This was the last time the car was used in anger but was subsequently put to good use as a publicity car with Paddy Hopkirk promoting the use of seatbelt safety with the then Minister of Transport Barbara Castle.
After the car’s time in the limelight it was sold to Mr R Lawrence in late1968 followed by the ownership of Mr Simon and subsequently in 1978 it was exported to Switzerland into the ownership of Mr Fisher before passing into the current owner’s hands that has had the privilege of owning the car for more than 30 years.
During this time the car featured in the August 1984 German magazine ADAC Motorwelt with German rally legend Walter Rohrl driving the Cooper S and comparing it to an Alpine A110 and an Audi Quattro. A copy of Mini by Rob Golding is supplied with the car and features 850926on page 102 which is signed by Rohrl after the magazine photo shoot. 850926 was invited to the 1984 Mini Cooper Club of Great Britain International Cooper day with 850926 getting a particular mention in the August edition of Classic and Sportscar as it came all the way from Switzerland.