THE MINI MAG. Volume 2 No.6
  June 2000

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From The Production Line.
by NAIRN HINDHAUGH

Nairn worked for BMC in the 60’s. Here is another article from his memorabilia.


MORRIS COOPER S ROAD TEST
Reproduced from the Nov. 1968 edition of “Racing Car News”

You could take the cubic capacity swept by four frantic Mini Cooper S pistons and put it four times into the volume included in the lazy stride of eight Monaro GTS pistons and still have space to spare. Or you could measure out the fuel that would drive the 327 cube “X” miles and treble the distance covered by the 1275 package. Which way you choose to go depends on which maxim you require foremost in your own personal transport. The chemistry of your magic formula includes economy as the major ingredient and rates performance a close second, then you will buy a Cooper S. And you will be completely satisfied, because the Cooper S is a most satisfying car. We took a protracted 1000 mile and two week revisit of the Mini Legend to arrive at that decision, and we made damn sure the car didn’t get its credits easily.

We used the Cooper S in a track tryout of a new autocross course. The S carved out a neat 35 second flying lap of the dicey short circuit, still in only partially graded condition. At a gymkhana on the finished track the time was not approached by a whole flock of eager aces. In fact, on our runs on the track, The Cooper S more or less had to clear its own path. The Dunlop SP44’s fitted to the “Brick” did the rest, although it took some 20 laps to define the circuit for 10/10 approaches to corners.

The fastest way round the track was achieved with alternate flat-foot second gear acceleration bursts and various tugs on the handbrake while applying vast amounts of opposite lock. It was with childish delight that we discovered all over again how to approach dusty 20mph dirt curves at 50mph, then put the car at 90 degrees for the last 20 yards.

We took time off at the end of this titillating sport to check out the car’s condition. There was not a shake or rattle anywhere, from the scuttle to the shock absorbers, despite punishing repetition on the jump-ups, and high speed sideways crab dances. There wasn’t even a scratch on the paint work.

The type of preparation that went into the vehicle reflects the new thought at BMC public relations. The Cooper S road test car was a classic example of the restyled department’s approach, and gave us all the excuses we wanted for revisiting the well matured Mini monster. The car featured a forward battery of high speed lights mounted on a sturdy frame, rear 5in diameter spot reverse lamp that probably saved one of our drivers lives, and the plus 10mph white bonnet stripes.

The auxiliary lights were all controlled from the dash and were well proved during a late night pause at a zebra crossing for a crippled old lady. Ever conscious of the threat from the rear, one of our drivers glimpsed a fast approaching drunk who, after ignoring various signals like flashing brake lights, finally responded to a 1000 candle power white reversing light between the eyes by locking all four and stopping an inch or so from the rear of the Cooper and a terrified pedestrian.

Another useful toy in the cockpit was a Smith’s tachometer, which would have been more useful if it were accurate, but we did get that fixed. The speedo was also an optimist’s dream and we were able to record 124mph within 40 miles of Sydney, which has yet to be bettered by a Falcon GT or a 327 Holden. But on checking the speedo with a stop watch it proved to read 20mph on the high side.

The two week test of the Cooper S was spread over three separate tests and on the second we paced the car’s performance against the watches for both straight line and circuit work. For the occasion BMC swapped the rough country SP44’s for Dunlop SP41 radials, chiefly, we suspect, to avoid scaring the cattle at Oran Park with the tyre scream. We stuffed 54-46 psi in the tyres, which proved inadequate as 10 fast laps quickly peeled one ribbon of tread out of the shoulder of the right front tyre, still without producing a sensational lap time. Our best was a 63 second lap.

The latest late braking for the C.C. hairpin we could manage was 10 yards before the last braking marker, and even that involved a full 45 degree slide for at least the last 15 yards into the apex, where full power in second gear could be applied constantly until 7000 rpm on the optimistic tacho indicated a shift to third for the esses right hander. On entry the front tended to wash-out a little understeer, which was cured simply by a minute hesitation on the throttle. The left hander involved another tail out, power off entry, with a tramp on the throttle as early as you dared to finish a full understeer line right on the white marked circuit verges.

If the track times disappointing, we had previously recorded a 62 second lap, the acceleration times were a contrast. We recorded a 17.4 second standing quarter mile average, and ran a 17.2 into the wind, which we believe is probably the best recorded in the world.

The other figures were equally impressive, and the top speed at better than 105mph is the first time that a road test Cooper S has genuinely broken the ton on a timed run in Australia. To put the track time into perspective, it is worth noting that the best time for a road test Falcon GT on Oran Park was 60 seconds.

We noted most of the old familiar Cooper habits that have marked this type of motoring. The cockpit still suffers from buzz and high frequency vibrations at constant high speeds. Seating is still far from comfortable.

And there are many good features. BMC England still hasn’t caught up with the Australian designed wind-up windows, which are so simple and effective you can’t believe every country in the world does not use them.

The Cooper S, more than 3 years old, is still the ultimate fun car. As a final bonus for potential Mini owners, BMC offers enough beer money back from \$2400 to keep you smashed for 12 months.

There is also the consolation that you won’t be beaten interstate by a great many cars, with the possible exception of an identical car equipped with a siren. Little wonder there is such arrogance among cops in the flying patrols!!

PERFORMANCE
0-30 mph 3.75 secs
0-40 mph 5.9 secs
0-50 mph 8.6 secs
0-60 mph 11.5 secs
0-70 mph 15.2 secs
0-80 mph 20.2 secs
Standing mile 17.2 - 75 mph
Top speed. 105.6 mph.
Price. \$2365