The MINI John Cooper Works badge stands for outstanding dynamics today. But it wouldn’t have even existed if it wasn’t for one brave man who had the guts to think outside the box. This man’s name was John Cooper and, together with his father, Charles Cooper, he founded the Cooper Car Company back in 1946. Their first racing cars were built inside a small garage in Surbiton, England. But little did the two know how their work would change one of the most loved brands in the world, over 70 years later.
Nobody could’ve predicted that the small Mini that John Cooper lined up for the starting grid of the Monte Carlo rally would end up winning. Having developed the car with his own hands and betting his reputation on it, it was more than just a race for the man, it was the fulfilling of a destiny. In the end, the Mini he piloted and enhanced managed to out-sprint much more powerful rivals from Ford, Mercedes and Saab on the twisty roads around Monte Carlo and won the rally three times.
What transformed the classic Mini as the world knew it into a proper giant-slaying racer was Cooper’s boldness. He added a more powerful engine under the hood as well as new brakes and sharper steering, all of which helped coin the first ever Mini Cooper. By 1964, Mini Cooper was a globally renowned marque. It won almost every competition imaginable, including historic wins at the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965 and 1967.
In 2001, BMW took over MINI and wanted to make sure the John Cooper Works division and legacy lives on. Initially, the Cooper S and John Cooper Works editions were only available through special kits that were installed at select dealers starting with 2003. In 2007 BMW acquired the John Cooper Works brand name, engineering and development resources. One year later, the first two new MINI JCW models were launched: the hatch and Clubman. They used 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder engines making 211 HP while a special edition GP version of the hatch took that figure up to 218 HP.