Old Skool – ’65 Austin Cooper S – Part II

Part II of my old ’65 1275 Austin Cooper S… living with it.

Having been luckily enough to be given my Nan’s ’69 MKII Austin Mini 1000 for my first car, i’d been gripped by the gokart handling and just the general fun of owning a Mini. I suppose in a way it’s probably the same for anyone who’s owned an original Beetle too. And, like a true Mini nut, I modified it’s specifications to include many genuine 60s Cooper parts (head, carbs, exhaust, etc.) which made it faster and even more fun to drive.

But, in the end that just wasn’t enough, and I bought the Holy Grail of Mini’s – a MKI 1275 Austin Cooper S.


Austin,MKII,Mini,1969,White,Cooper,1000cc
Where it all started, Nan’s ’69 MKII Austin Mini 1000

Finding one…
Even back in ’92 the Cooper S was becoming a rare a car, so finding an original one was pretty hard. I’d originally gone out looking for a standard Cooper of which there we’re a few for sale near where I lived at the time. One of them was even a fully restored genuine Radford conversion, which I seriously considered.

Then by chance I passed by a classic car dealer in Bedford who had this car. It was one of those moments after seeing it I thought to myself “I have to have this car”. The noise, its looks and the fact it was a genuine ‘S’ ticked all the right boxes.

My chosen ride
The Mini started it’s life in 1965 as an Old English White/Black MKI 1275 Austin Cooper S that was sold via a BMC dealer in London. From here the owner had it modified by Mini tuners of the time, Downton Engineering. These modifications included twin 1.1/2″ carbs, RC40 exhaust, ST 731 cam, a modified head, a fully balanced/lightened crank and a cc increase to 1310. Basically they created a car that was perfectly capable of cruising at over 100mph back in the 60’s.

Austin,Cooper S,1965,Black,deseemed,Downton,Radford,Castle Combe,Mini World,1275cc

Austin,Cooper S,1965,Black,deseemed,Downton,Radford,Castle Combe,Mini World,1275cc

Austin,Cooper S,1965,Black,deseemed,Downton,Radford,Castle Combe,Mini World,1275cc

Something I could never confirm though, are the interior and exterior modifications that were possibly carried out by Radford coach builders. These included, a fully de-seemed body and a highly modified dash board. The quality of this dash, the body mods, together with the correct badges all pointed the right way, but could never be confirmed. At some point during the early 70s the rear lights and front grill were also changed to the later MKII items, which I understand was the “thing to do” at the time.

Austin,Cooper S,1965,Black,deseemed,Downton,Radford,Castle Combe,Mini World,1275cc

I had the car for around four years and eventually sold it at the latter end of ’96. During which, I’d traced a lot of it’s history, bought many MKI period specialist parts, obtained it’s original registration number, had it featured in Mini World magazine and had many scrapped knuckles from maintaining it.

Hill climbing, sprints, classic rallies, track days, shows…
In keeping with the cars performance and pedigree I didn’t just use it as my daily driver. Come the summer weekends I ran the car to many a Mini owners meet, did a few hill climbs and sprints, competed in the odd classic rally and had a lot of fun tearing up various tracks. It even ended up on a drag strip!

Austin,Cooper S,1965,Black,deseemed,Downton,Radford,Castle Combe,Mini World,1275cc
’96 London-Brighton Mini Run – huge fun with 200+ Minis driving to Brighton

Austin,Cooper S,1965,Black,deseemed,Downton,Radford,Castle Combe,Mini World,1275cc
Waiting to go out on track at one of many track days

Austin,Cooper S,1965,Black,deseemed,Downton,Radford,Castle Combe,Mini World,1275cc

Check out the car in action at one of the first Mini World Action Days at Castle Combe in 1993 here.

Austin,Cooper S,1965,Black,deseemed,Downton,Radford,Castle Combe,Mini World,1275cc

Austin,Cooper S,1965,Black,deseemed,Downton,Radford,Castle Combe,Mini World,1275cc
Yet more fun, doing the classic rally thing

1993 Mini World dyno shootout article

Austin,Cooper S,1965,Black,deseemed,Downton,Radford,Castle Combe,Mini World,1275cc

Just after i’d bought the car I submitted it into this shootout. Basically, Mini World magazine was running a piece to find the Mini with the most hp. Unfortunately, it only managed around 80bhp despite it’s engine specification – apparently due to it needing a good tune and the smaller wrong spec twin 1.1/4″ SUs being fitted, the winner though had 120hp at the wheels! This power did come at a price, it didn’t work well below 2500rpm – so not really a daily driver i’d say.

Anyways after a new set of twin 1.1/2″ SUs and a good session on another rolling road, power was increased to around 100bhp at the wheels. Needless to say, it gave many a ‘hot hatch’ owner of the time a run for their money.

So, the Mini might not of been one of the most ‘original’ of Ss, but it sure was a lot of fun!

If anyone does know of where it is now, i’d love to know

Leigh

Be Sociable, Share!

2 Comments

  1. Chase says:

    Thanks for sharing this helpful info!

  2. Len Horne says:

    Leigh
    Found your web site whilst researching information on an old mini cooper s which I bought in 1998 and put into storage. Low and behold amongst your photos pops up ABH 174C which is the car i was researching!I note you were also unable to verify the Radford modifications which seems to be the biggest unknown with the car. Are you able to throw any more light on this?
    Regards
    Len Horne