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 cars 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.
The car has been in storage for the last few years but retains much of its patina. The interior boasts bucket seats with race harnesses and a hap-hazard array of rocker switches marked with Dymo tape on a patinated mat black dash to reduce dazzle. In front of the co-driver a Halda Speedpilot sits alongside fuse boxes and brackets for stop watches.
The original carpet on the drivers wheel arch, covers internally routed rear brake pipes in order to protect them from stone damage; a five point roll cage with central rear bar protects the occupants. The rear C-posts feature old rivets that secured a wire loop to retain a loose fuel cap. The bonnet and boot both have leather retaining straps while the front off side wing features an electrical plug and brackets within the grill for mounting extra driving lights.
It’s last UK tax disc before heading to continental Europe is still displayed on the windscreen and is dated March 1977 with the registration number JMO 969D written by hand and stamped at the Torbay licensing office which ties in with the Torbay Motor Club window sticker. The car is on the button and drives well.
850926 is supplied with a copy of the ADAC Motorwelt magazine, various publications that feature the car, including the aforementioned Mini by Rob Golding, The BMC/BL Competitions Department by Bill Price and The Works Minis by Peter Browning as well as original Service Parts List file and many photographs of the car.
It is truly a fantastic example, offered with its UK registration JMO 969D, of the most famous rally car of all time with BMC Works provenance that campaigned in some of the era’s greatest rallies. 850926 is a time warp car and is eligible for a plethora of historic race and rally events across the globe.