The MINI brand has become widely known for the driving dynamics of its cars, even though, when Sir Alec Issigonis first designed it, it’s purpose was quite different. With the world recovering from the terrible waste of World War II incurred on the planet, resources were scarce in the 1950s and yet people had needs. Among those needs you’d find mobility, and buying a car would seem like a good solution.
However, for most British citizens, as it was the case in other parts of the world, the cost of buying and running a car could be a bit too high. Furthermore, car makers found it rather hard to source the materials needed to make those cars, as steel and sheet metal had all been used for other purposes not too long ago. Therefore, a need for a small, extremely economical car arose. That’s how the MINI was initially created, to supply the population with an easy and cheap way of getting around.
The thing is, the car was so small and light on its feet that it was only a matter of time until someone realized the kind of potential it had for other purposes as well. And by that I do mean racing. The one who successfully modified some of the first Minis to run faster was John Cooper. He was an auto racing legend, not just because he created a successful rally car out of the Mini but also because he built inexpensive single-seat racers for privateers as well as developing Formula One cars.
The Cooper name lives on, thanks to the MINI brand and his successors. The Cooper name is used on the MINI cars of today, marking higher performance versions up to the John Cooper Works nameplate. His son, Mike Cooper joined BMW in an advisory role after the German company took over the British brand and now his nephew, Charlie, is a pilot racing MINIs around the world. The video below, offers an insight into what he has achieved so far, keeping the Cooper name alive and well in the process.