Rare Mini 1071 Cooper S is Scruffy But Superb

Bring a Trailer/rdhancox

The original Mini—and its giant-slaying Cooper/Cooper S variants—hardly need an intro. The Mini revolutionized economy car design but also became a cultural icon that transcended class and status, while the Cooper S was a proto-hot-hatch that filled race grids, won international rallies, and introduced thousands of enthusiasts to the joys of driving quickly.

But the Mini didn’t make much of a splash in the United States. Officially, it only sold here until 1967 (many others have been imported on an individual basis). An original U.S.-market car is somewhat rare, then. A genuine Cooper or Cooper S (both easy to clone) is even rarer.

Rarer still is the one sold online this week, which stood out to me for a couple of reasons. First, it’s a first-year Cooper S with the short-lived 1071cc engine, rather than the later, much more common 1275. You almost never see 1071 cars, for sale or otherwise. Second, my dad had a 1071 S. He said it was, all things considered, his favorite car he ever owned, perhaps tied with his ’89 Honda CRX Si. He sold the Mini sometime in the early ’90s for a little north of 5 grand. The 1071 this week, on the other hand, sold for $47,250. Despite being a non-running project and despite a few potential red flags early on in the auction, it brought twice its condition #4 (“fair”) value in the Hagerty Price Guide.

1071 Cooper S Mini front
Bring a Trailer/rdhancox

Designed by Alec Issigonis, the original 1959 Mini pioneered the transverse-mounted engine, front-wheel drive layout that came to dominate economy cars. In addition to placing the four-cylinder engine sideways in front of the driver, the Mini also saved space by relocating the 4-speed gearbox into the engine sump and utilizing monocoque construction. Its tiny footprint belied its ample interior space, while its low price and stellar fuel economy made it immediately popular with the buying public in Britain and its cute-factor made it popular with everyone else.

British Motor Corporation (BMC) never intended for the Mini to be a performance car, but in 1961 John Cooper—fresh from two Formula One World Championships in 1959 and ’60—approached the company envisioning a Mini with a larger-displacement tuned engine, better brakes, and of course his name slapped on the back. BMC, acknowledging the marketing potential of partnering with an F1 winner, agreed. In the summer of ’61, the first Mini Cooper arrived with a 997cc engine (up from 848 thanks to a longer stroke), front disc brakes (instead of drums), and closer gear ratios.

Cooper’s experience in Formula Junior racing, where the BMC A-Series engine was a popular choice, allowed them to develop the Mini further, and in 1963 the first Cooper “S” arrived. Its 1071cc engine featured a specially cast block, a nitrided steel crankshaft, and dual SU carburetors for 70bhp and 62 lb-ft of torque. It doesn’t sound like much, but it was more than twice the power of the base 848cc Mini, and it only had about 1400 pounds worth of car to pull around. Classic Mini Coopers have played out countless David vs. Goliath battles on track with much larger and more powerful cars.

Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

It was the 1071 S that brought Mini its first two (of three) victories at the Monte Carlo Rally, in 1964 and ’65, but it was short-lived in the showroom. After 1964 and a production run of about 4000 cars (including both Austin- and Morris-badged versions), a new 1275cc unit arrived. It made a bit more power, but the 1071’s shorter stroke made it a bit more eager to rev. Some drivers even prefer the 1071, and its rarity makes it generally more valuable than the 1275 Cooper S. After 1967, with changing federal safety and emissions rules, the Mini stopped selling in the U.S.

The 1071 that transacted this week sold from the son of the car’s third owner, who bought it in 1980 after it had been set up for club racing with a roll bar. It also has a heater and single fuel tank (dual tanks were optional). He said it had been parked two years ago, and honestly represented it as a non-running project missing bits like the carpets and the grille. Despite being definitely rough around the edges, it looked like a reasonably solid project with good floors and body shell (rust is a Mini’s number one enemy).

Given how rare a 1071 is, some Mini nerds swarmed the comment section on the listing with questions, and some concerns. The car doesn’t have a BMIHT (British Motor Industry Heritage Trust) certificate, which references build records from BMC and other manufacturers and is a common selling point for old English automobiles. There were also some concerns about the front valance, which in some photos looked to be from a later Mini. Major body work isn’t uncommon on these rust-prone cars, but it can significantly affect value. Some engine information was also missing from the listing initially, while the engine itself was painted red (instead of the correct green), and instead of the correct dual carbs under an oval filter assembly there was an odd single-carb setup fed by what looks like the tip of a shop vac. It was unclear at first that the engine even was a 1071. Eventually, though, the seller addressed all concerns with additional photos, confirming the 1071 engine, the original body, and the mostly original paint. It was determined that the car was legit, and bidding picked up.

Its final price would buy you a brand new, well-optioned 2024 Mini Cooper JCW that has over triple the horsepower, nearly four times the torque, and will actually start and drive. But that’s missing the point. This is an exceedingly rare car with good bones and most of its original bits. Classic Minis, which were cheap for most of their lives, easily modified and susceptible to rot, are rarely this well-preserved if they haven’t gotten serious work. And the desirable 1071 model is one of those cars you can’t really shop around for—you have to wait for them. Bring a Trailer has only sold one other one, but it was another project car in far worse condition than this, so it brought a much lower $27,563. So even though this car looks scruffy, it’s a diamond in the rough that got the attention it deserved.

1071 Cooper S Mini rear
Bring a Trailer/rdhancox


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    They are cute cars but the prices here are more than I am willing to spend for the kind of car it is.

    first one I ever saw,was purcahsed by a man that traded in one of the very first Camaro Z28’s in 67 that had been modded for autocross and road racing,for a BMW 2002 that was also modded straight away,with some Alpina bits by the dealership my dad worked at…and although the owner said the 02 was a vast improvement,the cooper S was his favorite of all 3…

    I have owned 4 Mini’s and currently have a ’72 Mk 2, which Hagerty value at $35,000. It is all original except for the engine which is a 1080cc. Built by a very clever New Zealand engine guy who specialized in building ‘A’ series engines for Super 7 racing Mini’s. My Mini called ‘Bugspray’ is about to come out of his storage and get ready for a summer of fun. In the past I owned a 1275 S Cooper, Mk 2 which was all original with a blue printed engine. Had a first released 998 Mini Deluxe, with wind up windows. They are great little cars, fun to drive and cheap on gas.

    The article fails to mention the Cooper S with the 970cc engine. These were popular in the 1000cc touring car classes in Europe. They had an even shorter stroke and would therefore rev much higher than the 1071 or 1275. in the 70s we had at least 5 Minis, mostly 850cc, in Florida. The last one was a ’68 1275 Cooper S Mark 2, which was most likely from Canada and therefore illegally imported. It was a wonderful car and could carry four adults easily and swiftly, as long as it was not a long trip. In the 80s we even had a Sports Racing Landar, which was made in England and built around a Mini Cooper engine and gearbox mounted in the rear which we raced in SCCA.

    I currently own a 1967 Mk 1 1275 Austin Cooper S. I bought a used 1965 Cooper S in 1966 and drove it in autocrosses on three wheels as well as daily driving on four, before I sold it in 1967. After years of longing and looking, I bought the same color, Almond Green and Old English White mini ten years ago. The following for these cars is caused by the fact that they were FIA Homologation cars for probably the winningest British Rally Team in the Sixties making them a race car that you could drive out of the showroom. In 1967 only 636 Austin 1275 Cooper S cars were exported world wide which has caused the value to increase. Most importantly, I have never met a person who could drive one without a smile on his/her face.

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