THE MINI MAG. Volume 2 No.6
  June 2000

Vol.2 Home Page | Index Page

Collectively Coopers.
With Stephen Dalton.
Literally Minis.

Mini’s have a distinctive feature that tends to allure people to them… first comes one Mini, then another. Then quite often another family member buys one and before you know it, Mini’s have taken over the household and you get classified as Mini enthusiasts. Sound familiar? Of course - it’s a world wide Mini phenomena…

Problem is, so often that’s not where it ends because you start collecting memorabilia that relates to the Mini, that’s when you’re not just a Mini enthusiast - you’re a Mini addict. Trust me, I’ve been there. But you can get therapy occasionally. It normally comes in the form of another purchase to add to the collection. Over the past almost 20 years I’ve been messing with Mini Coopers - they’ve been a passion I guess. First came a tired but genuine Marine blue Mk1 S at the age of 16 - it still sits buried in the shed waiting for a fairly significant restoration. As it was a very original, but rusty Shadow blue & Nurburg white 997 Cooper at the age of 18 that led me astray to spend copious amounts of first, second, third and fourth year apprentice wages restoring this 1963 classic (a few more years worth since I suspect too). Problem was the classic Mini market was yet to blossom, but that wasn’t any problem for me because I was out scrounging that new old stock in their BMC packaging before everybody else decided to join in.

To go with this I started collecting original BMC sales literature. The stuff dealers would give away. Problem was it was a good few years since 997 Cooper brochures were being handed out by BMC salesman. Mainly because neither still existed. They had become a rare breed and you actually had to pay money to purchase the brochures when you could find one. And this is where this article is heading - Mini sales literature. There are collectors the world over who collect brochures given away by the motoring manufacturers. But usually pay or often swap material to add to their collection. I should know I’ve purchased literature off Nairn Hindhaugh and his predecessor, Eric North at the odd Bendigo Swap meet or such like occasionally. Many collectors have their chosen marque - be it say Mini, Porsche or Volkswagen that they concentrate on.

To me it really was the early Mini sales literature (and it’s derivatives) that spurred me on. Some of the artwork, actually a lot of the artwork from the early years between 1959 and say 1965 is very well done. The later sixties are still interesting, but I guess it is the Leyland era that things get a little stodgy (surprise, surprise). Then it gets back to being very well done when Rover decided it wanted to re-invent the Mini brand back around 1989 with the Mini 30 brochure.

I well remember my first piece of Mini sales literature, it was the ‘For the fast lane’ 997 Morris Cooper item that started the collection and it has since snowballed. Last count, well actually I have never bothered to do a proper count as I can’t count that high, must be approaching some 200 pieces though. Because, well there has been a lot of literature published by the Nuffield Press and its associates since the Mini’s inception back in August 1959. I dare not add up how much I would have spent on this addiction over the years, because I may well scare myself. Mind you I could well have been spending that same hard earned on beer, dirty women and cigarettes but where would I be. Broke? You bet! But no I chose Mini memorabilia… and still broke? You bet! Who had more fun? No contest, the beer drinking, womanising, 2 pack a day bloke hands down! I’ll try that one in my next life!

Favourite piece of the collection? I’ve never really had a particular favourite, but I have too admit the rarer the piece the better. And most of that never even came from the Nuffield Press. As many of you reading will be more than aware the Mini created an industry of its own in the 1960’s that to a degree still exists today.

So during my 1997 trip to England and the subsequent scrounging around all the motoring literature dealers to come home with excess baggage full of Crayford Mini Sprint, Unipower GT, Radford, Broadspeed, Ogle, Marcos - all Mini related items was good. Mind you the Poms know how to charge.

The problem can also be you get a bit bored collecting just Mini literature, so as is the case for myself I started looking for Cooper Car Company literature. Now that is the proverbial hens teeth material. But if you are prepared for the hunt, which is often where the fun lay, quite a collection of this material can be unearthed from 1940s 500cc Cooper through to the Jackie Stewart F2 / F3 Cooper period of the mid-sixties. Then the problems really start, firstly it is far from cheap and secondly, you start wanting to collect contemporary Cooper rivals - such as BRM & Vanwall. But that’s another story…

Yes! beer, dirty women and cigarettes would have been cheaper.

Stephen Dalton.