To many - its designer Alec Issigonis included - the notion that the Mini might have a future as anything other than basic transport was anathema, and the idea of a high-performance version was laughable. One man though, saw it quite differently. Racing car manufacturer John Cooper already knew quite a bit about tuning BMC's A-Series engine - he was running the company's Formula Junior effort at the time - and a test drive in a prototype Mini convinced him of the car's competition potential. The result, launched in September 1961, was the Mini Cooper. Its prodigious roadholding and excellent power-to-weight ratio enabled the Mini Cooper to compete successfully with larger-capacity rivals, and on tight twisting circuits the car was often a candidate for outright victory. Indeed, Warwick Banks won the European Saloon Car Championship outright in 1964 driving Ken Tyrell's Mini Cooper. Spectators everywhere delighted in the spectacular, sideways cornering style adopted by the car's main protagonists, and the Mini's supreme driveability and user-friendliness have kept it in the forefront of historic saloon car racing ever since.
This Mini competition saloon was built from an original 11,000-miles-from-new un-welded example. It was originally constructed with a 1,071cc Cooper S engine to run as an historic saloon but has since been rebuilt and converted to run under Appendix K regulations using a 1,293cc engine. Completed in 2010, this car weighs a remarkable 607kg, making it one of the lightest on the grid. Tested only once, at Silverstone, it is described as 'on the button' and perfect for the St Mary's Trophy. The car is offered with a V5C registration document.