1966 MORRIS Mini Cooper CooperView vehicle description
The Mini needs no introduction. One of only a few genuinely ground-breaking cars, the Alec Issigonis-designed Mini is rightly praised for its innovative engineering, handsome looks, surprisingly spacious interior, and giant-killing handling.
In family life it provided transport for millions who might not otherwise have been able to afford to run a modern car, and in competition it slew all who were daft enough to compete against it. It won praise from private owners, professional rally drivers, vanquished competitors, pundits and spectators, all of whom keep it close to their heart, even now more than sixty years after its introduction.
Introduced in 1959 as cheap, stripped-to-the-bones family transport to beat the oil crisis, it started life with an 850cc engine fitted transversely above the gearbox. Front-wheel-drive, the Mini’s original rubber cone suspension freed up yet more interior space – and endowed the diminutive British car with unholy roadholding and handling.
Originally marketed as the Austin Seven and Morris Mini Minor, it was given the Mini moniker in 1969. It evolved in true Darwinian fashion over the years mechanically too, gaining engine capacity and performance at an almost exponential rate.
It lost its rubber cone suspension in 1964 in favour of a very clever Hydrolastic arrangement; this change improved the ride a little – the somewhat bouncy ride had been one of the original car’s few weak points - while retaining its prodigious grip.
However, no matter what engine was fitted, whether the original 850cc unit or the later 1275cc, the power and torque outputs were always relatively – and deliberately – modest. But then the engine only had only to haul 686kgs, which means that the Mini is surprisingly quick, both in acceleration and braking. Cheap to run too, whether in fuel, insurance, or maintenance and repair.
But the real reason for the Mini’s success at the hands of folk like Paddy Hopkirk was that most corners could be taken completely flat, something generations of learner drivers discovered to their glee…
Still much sought after, a whole new generation of collectors and enthusiasts is flocking to the mighty Mini, especially the Cooper and Cooper S models, classics that will always draw an appreciative crowd.
Presented in Almond Green with an Old English White roof, this incredible Morris Mini Cooper MKI 998 was owned by the same chap from new in April 1966 until September 2013. With its build specification and matching numbers confirmed via a British Motor Industry Heritage Certificate, Kennings Limited of Harrogate sold it to the original owner in 1966.
The current owner had this lovely Mini Cooper professionally restored shortly after he bought it in 2014. The final tally for the restoration was, he estimates, around £15,000, which still seems like fine value to us given how the car looks and goes almost a decade later.
A true enthusiast, he recognizes the market has softened a little recently, so is happy to offer it with the low starting guide shown above.
On the Outside
Bought from eBay while he was eating in an Italian restaurant in London (heh, we’ve all been there, right?) he spent a long time thinking about what he wanted to achieve, and how. Mini Sport was the obvious place to go for help, and he decided that instead of re-shelling the Mini (which would have been the cheapest way to sort the corrosion out) he wanted to maintain the car’s integrity as far as possible.
This meant restoring what they could and replacing the wings, bonnet, boot, floor pan, and the rear subframe with new items before respraying it in its original colours. As the work was completed almost ten years ago, you could be forgiven for expecting it to be showing its age by now.
The reality is that nothing could be further from the truth because it still looks absolutely gorgeous. Sure, it’s picked up the odd stonechip and mark here and there but that’s inevitable and in no way detracts from its good looks.
Take a look at the panels, which are straight and free of ripples and dinks. Or the Almond Green and Old English White paintwork, which still shines and gleams. Or the chromework, which is lustrous and clean.
The attention to detail we all look for is there, like the John Cooper twin fuel filler caps for the twin fuel tanks. There are plenty of new seals and rubber too, another reliable indicator of a job done properly.
Speaking of which, a set of Dunlop Aquajet SP Sport Tyres 165/70 SR10 are fitted to painted steel wheels. As we will never tire of explaining, our experience shows that matching high-quality tyres are an infallible sign of a caring and mechanically sympathetic owner who is prepared to spend the appropriate amount in maintaining their car properly. Their presence does not, of course, preclude the need for a thorough inspection - something the vendor would welcome, by the way – but it does perhaps give you a shortcut into their attitude towards maintenance.
It sits four-square with a purposeful stance; no-one could mistake this for anything other than the phenomenally successful rally weapon it was designed to be.
Faults? Well, there is some bubbling on the lower edge of the nearside door (#202 and #203) and the nearside rear window seal has seen better days (#204).
The fussy among you might want to change the fuel filler cap body seal at some point, and a couple of the lamp surrounds would benefit from being replaced when you get around to it too, but this is nitpicking rather than a real problem.
On the Inside
The interior restoration was just as comprehensive. A John Cooper Mota-Lita leather-rimmed steering wheel (which cost the owner almost £500 back in the day) connects the driver to the steering, and both front occupants enjoy Newton Commercial refurbished front seats, that set the owner back a four-figure sum in 2014. This is not a car that’s been skimped on.
The Dove Grey and Porcelain Green upholstery is to the original specification and looks stunning. The carpets are grey, and they’re protected by a set of Mini Sport overmats.
A supplementary Smiths rev counter lets the driver know what the tuned engine is up to, and the green-tipped indicator stalk is a lovely little Easter egg.
The boot is clean and solid and home to a spare wheel that is, of course, fitted with a matching Dunlop tyre. There is even a small set of spares included which have never been required, together with a plug-in battery trickle charger for longer term storage.
A Tracker is fitted along with a distributor supply lead interrupter with a transponder tag.
Work to do is minor. The headlining is a bit grubby and worn in places (#217), the central switch panel (#59) and door latching mechanism cover (#247) aren’t up to the same high standards as the rest of the car, and the choke knob needs a wooden clothes peg to hold it out. Mind you, the latter was a problem from new, so you could call it a period modification if that helps?
The Cooper’s mechanical specification is impressive. As an engineer, the present owner derives as much pleasure from the doing as the driving, and he planned the work meticulously.
To maintain the car’s matching numbers, he opted to rebuild and tune the original engine to Stage 1 including a lead-free cylinder head, a Swiftune higher lift camshaft, and a free-flowing Maniflow stainless exhaust system. Upgraded auxiliaries include a Swiftune electronic distributor and a gold sports coil. Twin fuel tanks and a new fuel pump supply new carburettors. The bottom line was a rolling road-certified 48.2bhp.
The gearbox was restored and upgraded to a four-speed synchromesh gearbox during its re-build and the Hydrolastic suspension replaced by dry cone to increase its reliability. He was keen to ensure it stopped as well as it possibly could because his children, who would be driving the car, were more used to driving modern, ABS-equipped cars than classics like the Mini. To this end a remote Cooper S servo was fitted, along with 7.5” front disc brakes and stainless-steel brake hoses.
Charging is done via a £450 Dynalite alternator; again, as an engineer he wanted to keep the look of the dynamo while enjoying the benefits of an alternator. These benefits include a reduction in weight of 2kgs and an increase in charging capacity from 18 amps to 40. The battery, while still the same physical size as the original, has a much larger capacity for extra cold-cranking power.
Cooling is taken care of via a new high capacity "multi-core" radiator and new waterpump. A halogen headlamps upgrade gives the driver a fighting chance of seeing where they’re going at night.
Further extensive fettling work was undertaken by P&L Minis in 2019 at a cost of £2,600: slides 358 and 359 refer.
As you can see, it starts promptly (there is a technique to start it as part of its built-in anti-theft measures) and settles into a very un-Mini-like gruff tickover. It revs as well as you’d imagine and has a lovely induction rasp and exhaust note to boot.
Of course, it’s got good oil pressure too, but then that’s not a surprise by now, is it?
The underside is as good as it gets on a non-concours car, which is high praise indeed. In fact, the only work to do is to seal the seam above the rear subframe if you intend to use the Mini in torrential rain as it can seep a little under extreme conditions.
Incredibly, this gorgeous little Morris Mini Cooper has had just three owners from new: Nathan Smyrk from the 20th of May 1966 until the 1st of May 2013; Mark Hepworth from the 1st of May 2013 until the 21st of February 2014; and the vendor from then until now. Remarkable, huh?
Further proof of the owner’s diligence comes in the form of an MOT certificate, valid until March 2023, despite being exempt.
It’s also got a British Motor Industry Heritage Trust certificate and a thick wad of old bills and invoices.
What We Think
Good cars are bought from good people, and the vendor is one of the best. Few engineers will countenance bodgery, so the fact he was willing to spend such a significant sum to get his Mini Cooper just so isn’t too much of a surprise. Nor is the fact that he says he’s enjoyed tinkering with it over the years as much as he has driving it, something that’s kept it in fine fettle.
No, what is unusual is the level of investment that has been made to restore this vehicle to the mechanical and cosmetic condition it is now. The winning bidder will be acquiring a lovely car that never fails to start a conversation wherever they go in it, from down to the local shops, or down to the annual Mini Cooper Register get together at Beaulieu. It seems everyone has owned a classic Mini and wants to recount their ownership stories. The restorative work and light "Stage 1 Tuning" has produced a car that can keep up with modern day traffic.
We expect this car to comfortably reach £15,000 - £20,000 given the restoration time, effort and money invested in it.
Not least because it’s so fuel efficient; in these days of £100-top-ups, the pain you feel at the petrol pumps is a pain you feel every single time the gauge drops, so a fuel-supping sporting icon like this Stage-1-tuned Mini Cooper is going to be a rewarding experience every single time you use it.
It’s ironic that the Mini started life as a way to beat the oil crisis and we have come full circle; with prices now at such a high, the demand for cars like this is sure to rise, which might make this a canny investment faster than you think…
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- Location: The Market HQ, Abingdon, United Kingdom
- Seller Type: Private
- Odometer Reading: Unknown
- Chassis Number: K-A2S4/884774
- Engine: 998
- Gearbox: manual
- Steering position: RHD
- Colour: Almond Green / Old English White
- Interior: Porcelain Green / Dove Grey Vinyl
- Estimated Price: £15,000 - £20,000