Autosport International Sale 2019

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1964 Austin Mini Cooper 970 'S'

Lot No.: 304

Registration: KUR 605C
Chassis Number: C-A2S7/549862
Engine Number: 9F-SA-X/29773
Number of cylinders: 4
CC: 970
Year of Manufacture: 1964
RHD/LHD: Right Hand Drive
Estimate (£): 40,000 - 50,000
(+buyer's premium of 15% including VAT @ 20%)
  • The short-stroke, 65bhp, 970S was a real 'Homologation Special'
  • Expensive to manufacture, so it was a special-order model with only 963 examples produced
  • Finished in Surf Blue with an Old English White roof and the correct Powder Blue/Gold Brocade Grey vinyl trim
  • Superbly restored to a remarkable standard. Accompanied by a large history/restoration file and a Heritage Certificate 
  • This is one of the rarest versions of the Cooper 'S' making this a highly collectable car
The original Mini - the innovative small car that was also incredibly entertaining to drive.  Cleverly designed and manufactured, it was launched as an affordable mode-of-transport for the masses, but with latent driving potential, it became a true motorsport 'giant-killer' being adept at circuit racing and rallying.

To many, its designer Alec Issigonis included, the notion that the Mini might have a future as anything other than basic transport was an 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 its competition potential.   John Cooper appealed to BMC Management, with Issigonis' concerns being disregarded and the two good friends eventually cooperated in creating what rapidly became and still remains a legendary little motor car - the Mini Cooper.

The more powerful Mini Cooper 'S' appeared in 1963 and quickly established itself as the basis for competition-focused models.  Larger disc brakes, more luxurious upholstery and discrete 'S' badges on the bonnet and boot were subtle upgrades with the real changes made to the adaptable A-series engine.  With competition in mind, in 1964 Cooper produced two 'S' models specifically for circuit racing in the under 1000cc and under 1300cc classes respectively (rated at 970cc and 1275cc).  The road-going 970 'S' was a real 'Homologation Special', specifically produced with the under 1-litre class of the BSCC in mind.  Its specialist short-stroke engine produced 65bhp but was expensive to manufacture, so BMC made it a special-order model, and consequently, very few were sold (with even fewer remaining today).  The 970 'S' was only produced from June 1964 until April 1965, with just 963 examples supplied, making it one of the rarest and most sought-after Mini models.

The car presented here is a right-hand drive, home market-supplied Austin Mini Cooper 970 'S' manufactured on 25th November 1964, originally in Old English White with a Black roof, and sold through 'H.A. Saunders Ltd.' of Hertfordshire (the registration 'KUR 605C' was issued in Hertfordshire).  Being an expensive specialist model, the records suggest it may not have been first registered until the 10th August 1965.  The history file proposes it was subsequently bought by a Mr B.L. Francis of Warminster near Bath, supposedly after he saw it advertised for sale in the Clifton area of Bristol, regularly taking his Mini to watch the racing at nearby Castle Combe circuit.  In the early 1980s, Mr Francis moved to Aldershot, taking his beloved Mini (by now painted Red) with him, only selling it in September/October 2001 to Mr M.R. Brown of Southampton.  By December 2001 it had been acquired by Mr C.P Harris also of Southampton, who was a real Mini enthusiast and set about tracing the car's history and requesting a Heritage Certificate.  A handwritten note on his business headed paper describes him inspecting the car for the first time - "I couldn't believe what I was looking at.  To look at the engine with the rocker cover off revealed an AEG 163 head and forged rockers.  All the numbers checked out, this little gem was a 970 Cooper S!"  He bought the car and set about a thorough restoration of it, and by 2005 the bodywork and paint (now Surf Blue with Old English White roof) were completed, and a new wiring loom fitted.  The restoration took a number of years, with the car passing through a couple of owners, before being bought and enjoyed by Chris Middlehurst - a talented young racing driver and son of Andy Middlehurst, the former British Saloon Car Champion who now participates in the Historic Formula One Championship.  Our vendor wanted the best 970 'S' he could find for his collection and met with Chris and Andy to view their car.  Their classic car enthusiasm and knowledge - they campaign another Mini Cooper together - meant a deal was done and this splendid 970 'S' was bought.

Sadly, unforeseen circumstances mean our vendor must now part with a few of his cars and is keen that they go to like-minded enthusiasts.  This is a super little Mini and would be a credit to any new owner.