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Mini Cooper S buying guide (1961-1971)

In the anthology of bad decisions, Dick Rowe must take the gold prize; he’s the bloke who told Brian Epstein that Decca wouldn’t sign the Beatles because ‘guitar groups are on the way out’. But the gong could so easily have gone to Alec Issigonis, who took a lot of persuading that drafting in John Cooper to build a hot Mini would be a good idea. To Issigonis, the idea of a souped-up Mini flew in the face of the car’s raison d’Ϊtre – economy above all else.

Thankfully the famously stubborn Issigonis was prepared to listen, and one of the all-time great partnerships was born, that of BMC and John Cooper. The latter was an expert on tuning the A-series engine, and he was acutely aware of the unit’s reliability problems when the wick was turned up. Camshafts, crankshafts and timing gear were lunched on a regular basis, which is why Cooper dispensed with the standard 848cc unit. Instead, just the basic block was used, with the stroke increased to give a 997cc displacement.

Thrown into the mix were an uprated camshaft, bigger inlet valves, twin SU carbs, a three-branch exhaust manifold and domed pistons to increase the compression ratio; performance was transformed, but not at the expense of reliability.

The Mini-Cooper was an instant hit, but development didn’t stop there. From 1963 the 997cc engine was replaced by a 998cc version, based on the Riley Elf and Wolseley Hornet unit. At the same time it was clear that some people wanted an even fruitier Mini, so the Cooper S was devised. During an eight-year lifespan, this used three different versions of the A-series: initially there was a 1071cc unit, succeeded by a short-lived 970cc edition in 1964. By far the most common is the 1275cc variant, current between 1964 and 1971. In the 21st century, the Mini-Cooper is even more desirable than it was when new. As a result, these are some of the most faked cars around – which is surely a measure of just what hot property they are. Believe it or not, nearly 120,000 Coopers of the various types were produced – but that hasn’t stopped many standard Minis being passed off as something they’re not.

That’s why you must ensure you’re buying the real thing. This guide will get you started, but you should join the Mini Cooper Register and obtain a copy of its in-house buying guide if you’re considering purchasing one. It’s also worth investing in a copy of John Parnell’s originality guide; it’s essential reading if you’re not to be duped.

Peter Barratt is chairman of the Mini Cooper Register. He comments: ‘For many years the focus has been on the Cooper S, but recently we’ve seen more interest in the standard Cooper, resulting in increased values for these cheaper cars. But you can still get a decent Cooper for little more than £5000; the S typically carries a 25% premium. ‘The cheapest Cooper S is the 1071, followed by 970cc editions; the 1275 is the one everyone wants and a really superb one of those can fetch as much as £15,000. Restoration projects start at £1800, or £3000 for an S – but check the car is genuine before buying!’

Engine

Mini-Coopers were always bought to be driven hard, although most now enjoy a rather more leisurely life. Whatever their history, there are key issues that can crop up with any Cooper powerplant.

The most likely problems are usually overheating and oil leaks. The former trait isn’t so common on S models, as they featured a larger radiator than the standard cars, but all Cooper engines need to be checked for worn piston rings and bores. These are betrayed by oil being burned, especially upon acceleration after the over-run, while a noisy top end suggests that the rocker gear is worn.

If the engine runs unevenly, it’s probably nothing more than carburettors that are either worn or out of balance. Sorting this is easy and cheap, but fixing a cylinder head that’s cracked between the valve seats isn’t so straightforward. The Cooper featured larger valves than the standard Mini and, if the engine has been allowed to get too hot, such cracks could be evident; you need to check for misfiring as you rev the engine.

Other than this, you need to have your wits about you in ensuring that you’re getting a genuine Cooper powerplant; substitutions are often made. There’s no space here to go through all five Cooper engines and what’s unique to them – which is why you need to get hold of a copy of the Register’s guide (or make use of one of the websites listed at the end of this article). The same goes for all of the following sections, as all have Cooper-specific features.

Transmission

Where the Mini’s transmission is concerned, horror stories abound. The Cooper’s gearbox is under even greater pressure, largely because its lubricant is shared with the engine.

Until 1968 there was no first-gear synchromesh and, whichever variant you look at, they only have a quartet of ratios (five-speed conversions are now available though). Many cars have post-1968 ’boxes fitted as they’re easier to use; if 22G1128 is stamped on the transmission casing, a four-synchro’ gearbox is fitted.

The nylon gearchange bush doesn’t last long but it’s easily replaced when it starts getting buzzy. More importantly, the driveshaft rubber couplings frequently disintegrate after getting soaked in leaking engine oil. Post-1966 S models used Hardy-Spicer needle-roller couplings which are much stronger, but all other cars need regular coupling replacement, at £150 a time.

Suspension, steering and brakes

Pre-September 1964 Mini-Coopers featured conventional ‘dry’ suspension, with rubber cones and telescopic dampers. Subsequent cars had Hydrolastic suspension, until 1969 when all Minis reverted to ‘dry’ suspension once more. Conversions from Hydrolastic are common, so if you want a completely original car make sure yours hasn’t been changed; it’s an involved job to convert it back.

The Mini’s rack-and-pinion steering is one of the things that makes it such a delight to drive; any vagueness or stiff spots means a fresh rack is needed – but it’s a cheap and easy task to perform. If the play is in the steering wheel, it’s because the bushes at the top (and maybe the bottom as well) have worn; expect to pay £65 to have them both replaced.

With such tiny wheels, it’s no surprise that the Cooper’s brakes are equally diminutive. If the car is driven hard, they struggle to cope, so worn and scored discs are quite normal. With virtually everything being available to rebuild any Cooper braking system (standard calipers are obsolete), there’s no excuse for poorly anchors and in this case safety should come before originality.

Standard Minis featured drums all round, while the Cooper had seven-inch discs at the front; S discs were half-an-inch greater in diameter. Upgrades to S specification are common, and usually seen as acceptable – but even this may not be enough to rein in a very hard-driven car.

Bodywork, electrics and trim

Minis rust very badly, and the Cooper is no exception. That’s why you need to check everywhere: outer and inner panels, floorpans, bulkhead – leave no stone unturned. Inner and outer front wings are especially rot-prone, especially the metal around the headlamp and all the seams between the various panels.

The rain gutters can rust through and the rear wings are just as likely to have rotted as the front ones. The rear valance could well be history by now and the same goes for the lower edge of the bootlid and the boot floor – which is frequently eaten away by leaking battery acid.

The sills are usually as badly affected as you’d expect on a car of this age; the same goes for the wheelarches and door bottoms. Lacy floorpans and subframes are also par for the course; once the latter has started to corrode significantly, wholesale replacement is the only suitable long-term course of action.

Your final check should be the A-posts, as these are particularly rot-prone and making decent repairs is a tricky job. There are several panel joins and box sections to deal with, so lining everything up and gaining access for a welding torch is a real pain.

Interior trim was varied and extensive, and incorrect parts are common. The various Coopers featured all sorts of different trim and instrumentation combinations and you need to refer to Parnell’s book for the minutiae.

Conclusion

All Coopers are great to drive and unlikely to depreciate, but the pick is the Mk1 1275S, built between April 1964 and September 1967. With a perfect blend of performance, relative availability and charming looks thanks to the Mk1 bodyshell, this is the Cooper that has it all.

As long as you buy a good one, you’re pretty much guaranteed to see your Cooper go up in value. But as soon as you slide behind the wheel, all thoughts of seeing the car as an investment will go out the window.

This really is a car that redefines the joy of driving – and that’s in standard form. Thanks to its iconic status there’s no shortage of specialists willing to sell you bits to make the Cooper even better to drive, and you won’t need to spend a fortune either.

TIMELINE

Cooper models

Mk1, Oct 1961-Jan 1964: Chassis nos. prefixed C-A2S7 (Austin) or K-A2S4 (Morris), engines prefixed 9F, 55bhp, 54lb ft from 997cc. 24,860 made.
Mk1, Jan 1964-Oct 1967: Chassis nos. as above, engines prefixed 9FA, 55bhp, 57lb ft from 998cc. 64,224 made.
Mk2, Oct 1967-Nov 1969: Chassis nos. prefixed C-A2S8 (Austin) or K-A2S6 (Morris), engines prefixed 9FA, 55bhp, 57lb ft from 998cc. 16,396 made.
1071S, Mar 1963-Aug 1964: Chassis nos. prefixed C-A2S7 (Austin) or K-A2S4 (Morris), engines prefixed 9FSAH, 70bhp, 62lb ft from 1071cc. 4031 made.
970S, Mar 1964-Jan 1965: Chassis nos. as 1071S, engine prefixed 9FSAX, 65bhp, 55lb ft from 970cc. Just 963 made.
1275S, Mar 1964-Jul 1971: Chassis nos. as 1071S until introduction of Mk2 Mini in Oct 1967. From then, prefixes are C-A388 (Austin) and K-A2S6 (Morris); from arrival of Mk3 bodyshell in March 1970, cars carry B-20-D prefix. 1275S engines have 9FSAY prefix, 76bhp, 79lb ft from 1275cc. 14,313 made, with another 6329 Mk2s and 19,511 Mk3s built.
Last updated: 10th Dec 2014
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Mini Cooper cars for sale

15 Search results
Mini Cooper
2995 24950 GBP
  • Mini - Cooper 1000 - 1990

    £3,450 - £4,485 est. £3,450 - £4,485 est.
    Online Auction
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    Catawiki Auctions
  • Mini Mini Cooper 1.6 JCW Look

    £2,995 £2,995

    Details: Black & Red Hide Radio CD with Ipod Connection Cruise Control Navigation John Cooper Works Exterior (Side Skirts, Front & Rear Bumper) Electric Wing Mirrors Air Conditioning Clifford Concept 5 Alarm Rear Privacy Glass White Roof White Wing Mirror Caps 17″ White Alloy Wheels. 01625 590282 hello@christopherjacksonltd.com Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Christopher Jackson Limited, Brook Lane Corner, Knutsford Road, Alderley Edge, Cheshire, SK9 7RX

    • Year: 2003
    • Mileage: 109500 mi
    For sale
  • MINI John Cooper Works COOPER S JCW GP

    £12,750 £12,750

    Vehicle Information MINI COOPER S WORKS JCW GP 2006/56 LIMITED EDITION NO 1589/2000 Registered 21/09/2006 HISTORY: 4 owners. 38014 miles from new. Main dealer service history with 6 stamps. MOT 01/10/16. All Handbooks with some invoices. 2 keys. HPI clear. Last owner bought this GP from a well known Mini GP Specialist 3 years at 34675 miles. SERVICE HISTORY: 07/089/07 Oil Service 10226m 31/03/10 Inspection 1 18465 03/03/10 Brake Fluid 18465 07/11/12 Oil Service 31627 07/11/12 Brake Fluid 31627 22/02/16 Oil Pan Gasket 37934 22/02/16 Drive Belt 37934 16/03/16 Front Pads 37990 22/03/16 Brake Fluid 37998 22/03/16 Air Con Regas 37998 Next Inspection Service due in 9825 miles EXTERIOR: The THUNDER blue with SILVER roof paintwork is in fine well polished condition with no scratches, dents or abrasions. The wheel arches have previously been professionally colour coded and together with the WORKS honeycomb grille and CARBON mirror caps really enhance the look of the car. INTERIOR: GRAVITY black interior with LEATHER RECARO seats and red side panels to the rear. All have been extremely well maintained, together with fitted MINI over mats covering the Grey carpets from new. The remaining trim

    For sale
  • 2008 MINI Cooper convertible

    £8,125 £8,125

    2008 MINI Cooper convertible, S/N WMWRF33518TG18307, Pepper White with black leather, 1.6 litre in-line 4 cylinder engine, Steptronic automatic transmission, Premium Package with chrome line interior, multi-function steering wheel, automatic air conditioning, on-board computer, Harman-Kardon sound system, black bonnet stripes, sport seats, fully electric convertible top, 14,300 miles from new, all original owner’s manuals and spare keys, impeccable throughout.

    • Year: 2008
    • Mileage: 14300 mi
    For sale
  • 2012 MINI Cooper

    £10,920 £10,920

    2012 MINI Cooper, S/N WMWSU3C56CT256715, Midnight Black metallic with carbon black leatherette, 1.6 litre normally aspirated in-line 4 cylinder engine, Steptronic automatic transmission, cold weather package with heated front seats, heated and power folding mirrors, power panoramic sunroof, automatic climate control, Sirius sat-radio, factory I-pod connection, owner’s manuals, spare keys, original window sticker, one owner from new with ultra-low mileage and showing a few marks here and there from use as a city errand car.

    • Year: 2012
    • Mileage: 18500 mi
    For sale
  • Mini Works Cooper John Cooper Works 2.0 Auto

    £24,950 £24,950

    Carbon Black leather/Cross Punch trim roof and mirror caps in red John Cooper Works sports seats height adjustable driver/passenger seats Digital Climate Control Chilli Pack Media Pack XL Mini DVD Satellite Navigation System Bluetooth Telephone USB Audio Interface Mini Connected XL Voice Control 18in JCW alloy wheels run-flat tyres John Cooper Works Exterior Package John Cooper Works Aerodynamic kit John Cooper Works roof spoiler Sport Automatic gearbox paddle-shift controls sports suspension Interior trim Piano Black Park Distance Control front and rear Engine Start/Stop button Sport/ECO and Normal Drive Control electric windows electric heated/folding door mirrors auto-dim interior mirror heated windscreen/washer jets remote central locking and alarm Immobiliser ABS with Brake Energy Regeneration front/rear and side airbags passenger airbag de-activation JCW leather sport steering wheel multi-function steering wheel Anthracite headlining MINI Excitment pack Dynamic Traction Control trip computer LED Headlamps LED Daytime Running Lights Auto-Headlamp function LED front fog lamps extended interior light pack rain sensor front centre armrest TLC Service Pack one owner from new 'JCW'

    • Year: 2015
    • Mileage: 3000 mi
    For sale
  • Mini COOPER S 1.6 MANUAL

    £12,995 £12,995

    A marvelous marriage of British character and German know-how, the Mini Cooper S is stylish and fun to drive. Especially this, turbocharged S model with sportscar like acceleration and handling. This example comes in Midnight Black with Carbon Black Interior, and a long list of extras which include: Automatic Start/Stop Function, 17'' Conical Spoke Alloys, Front Sport seats, Multi Function Steering wheel controls, Thatcham 1 Alarm system, Heated mirrors and washer Jets, Sport Button, Sports steering wheel, Colour Coded Mirrors, Extended Storage, Foglights, Xenon headlights, Auto Aircon, On-Board Computer, Extended Interior light package, BOOST CD Radio, Bluetooth with USB, DAB Digital radio, CHILI pack, Dynamic Stability Control and more. See more details below. Disclaimer - Whilst every effort is made to represent details accurately on our Web Site, variations or errors may occur and so the information contained herewith does not constitute an offer for sale of any particular vehicle.

    • Year: 2011
    • Mileage: 19000 mi
    For sale
  • Mini Cooper S

    £15,995 £15,995

    A punchy engine, crisp transmission and lively acceleration make the MINI John Cooper Works an all-round star. With cutting edge suspension, low ground clearance and precise go-kart handling, you're garanteed as much fun as mechanically possible. This example comes in Chilli Red with a black leather interior and red leather panelling, Sunroofs, heated seats, satnav and much much more. See more details below. Disclaimer - Whilst every effort is made to represent details accurately on our Web Site, variations or errors may occur and so the information contained herewith does not constitute an offer for sale of any particular vehicle.

    • Year: 2010
    • Mileage: 31000 mi
    For sale
  • Mini Cooper Countryman ALL4 1.6 Automatic

    £17,995 £17,995

    The 2014 MINI Cooper Countryman is the maximum MINI, the largest car in a surprisingly numerous lineup of variations on the modern iteration of the classic rollerskate-on-wheels minicar. But the Countryman isn't a small hatchback; it's a five-door compact crossover utility vehicle, the only one in the lineup with optional all-wheel drive, and perhaps the furthest form the brand's origins. That said, the MINI Cooper Countryman in its many forms, including S, ALL4, and John Cooper Works cuts a unique figure. Sure to stand out from the crossover crowd in any office parking lot, the aggressive front-end, wide grille, flared fenders, and trim dimensions combine to give a sense of fun and athleticism not often found in the segment. This like-new condition example comes in Light White with black half leather interior and a benefit of manufacturer's warranty till 2017. Disclaimer - Whilst every effort is made to represent details accurately on our Web Site, variations or errors may occur and so the information contained herewith does not constitute an offer for sale of any particular vehicle.

    • Year: 2014
    • Mileage: 9500 mi
    For sale
  • MINI John Cooper Works Cooper S JCW GP

    £15,950 £15,950

    A fantastic example of this much loved special edition Mini. Just 2000 examples were produced, of which this is number 1936. it has full Mini service history, the most recent being a major Inspection II done at 13,900 miles in December 2014. It comes with full John Cooper Works GP spec as follows: JCW ENGINE KIT (INCL BRAKES AND LSD) / JCW SPORTS SUSPENSION / CARBON FIBRE REAR WING / HEATED RECARO SPORTS SEATS IN LEATHER / REAR STRUT BRACE / WHITE INDICATORS / 18" ALLOYS / AERODYNAMIC BODYKIT / ANTHRACITE ROOF LINING / DARKENED GLASS IN REAR WINDOWS AND REAR SCREEN / RADIO BOOST WITH CD / MANUAL AIR CON / ON BOARD COMPUTER / DYNAMIC STABILITY CONTROL. The car has had just 3 owners from new and is in superb original condition. There cannot be many better or lower mileage examples in existence. For more information or to arrange a viewing, please call or email. If you would like to know more about this vehicle, please contact us

    • Year: 2006
    • Mileage: 15000 mi
    For sale
  • Mini Works Cooper

    POA POA

    Mini Cooper S 1.6 John Cooper Works Convertible 6 Speed Manual registered August 2008 finished in Eclipse Grey with Black Stripe Detail and Silver 17 inch Cross Spoke Challenge Light Alloys with New Continental Tyres All-Round, Mini TLC XL Pack so no Servicing Costs for the Next Three Years or 30,000 Miles, Black Part-Leather Front Sports Seats, Sports Button, Bluetooth, USB, Mini Boost CD, CHILI Pack, Carbon Fibre Leather and Alcantara Steering Wheel, Carbon Fibre JCW Gearstick, Carbon Fibre Handbrake Lever, Bi-Xenon Headlamps with Washers, Auto Climate Control, Electric Heated Door Mirrors, Electric Windows, Run Flat Indicator, JCW Bonnet Stripes, Thatcham 1 Alarm, JCW Floor Mats, Rear Parking Distance Control, Driving Stability Control, Dynamic Traction Control, Full Service History at 16,038 on 15/06/11; 36,681 on 03/07/13; 42,736 on 17/06/14; Chandlers BMW 61,207 on 16/07/15. Finance available on request - subject to status and terms. Ask about our Company Directors packages. Fully Valeted; UK Wide Delivery Available; Part Exchange Welcome. Follow us on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

    • Year: 2009
    For sale
  • Mini Cooper S BVA 184ch

    POA POA

    Features : 1st Main, Mirabeau, book a day Comment : Red hot chili pack, panoramic sunroof, automatic transmission, piano black finish, parking sensors, stereo Harman Kardon system, heated seats, alloy 17, bi-xenon, automatic air conditioning, bluetooth, gis, audio interface iPod, mp3, multifunction steering wheel .

    • Year: 2009
    • Mileage: 20199 mi
    For sale
  • Mini Cooper S Cabriolet JCW BVA

    POA POA

    Features : 1st Main, Mirabeau, Manufacturer Warranty Comment : John Cooper Works Pack black piano, parking sensors front and rear wheels 18 , GPS, automatic air conditioning, automatic transmission , xenon headlights black , harman kardon stereo system audio interface Iphone , Ipod, bluetooth, cruise control, pack hot spice .

    • Year: 2009
    • Mileage: 4972 mi
    For sale
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