HMP 729G, GPF 146G and LGW 809G

The stars of The Italian Job were three Mk1 Austin Mini Cooper S's, in red, white and blue of course. The distinct characteristics are their unique 'Moustache' grill trim, sliding windows, external door hinges, early type boot locks, hinged number plates and hook-type door handles.

At the hands of L'Equipe Remy Julienne's stunt drivers they became legends. Surprisingly not many modifications were made to the cars for their jaw dropping stunts. It's normal for 'movie' cars to be heavily modified to cope with the strains of stunt driving, but because the Coopers were race bred, they were incredibly tough in all the right areas, as well as being extremely lightweight. The only real problem that the Coopers posed the stunt drivers was the low ground clearance.

HMP 729G

GPF 146G

LGW 809G

All the Minis featured three-point rollcages and had the back seats removed. Anyone who believes that Minis are not 'Rigid' enough should take a good look at the cars which are thrown out of the bus at the end as they roll down the mountain. If anything they are too rigid for modern crash standards, and don't crumple readily enough.

Michael Caine has gone on record as saying that BMC refused to help with the production. However, several people who were working for BMC at the time have gone on record as saying at least one Mini was specially prepared for the film, being equipped with the BMC 1800cc B-series engine and gearbox from the BMC 1800 'Landcrab', as the Coopers lacked sufficient torque to climb stairs.

No-one really knows what happened to the fleet of surviving Minis that were used on the set. As far as figures go, the production crew bought 6 Coopers and an extra 25 Mini's from Switzerland, but it's unsure how many of these were Coopers or regular Mini's. Approximately sixteen Cooper S's were used during filming. The Cooper's that were thrown out of the coach were in fact regular Mini's dressed up like Coopers. Ken Morris, one of the last of the production crew members to leave after filming in Turin stated that there were six surviving Mini's and 30 sets of mag wheels in the lock up garage that they were using. He said that he locked up and headed for the UK, and as far as he was aware neither Paramount or production company Oakhurst returned to collect them!


Practice Coopers
During the training for the job, Charlie gets his Mini drivers to practice entering the coach, using a ramp and a brick wall. Two Coopers were used in this scene, a red one, registration OEG 103G, and a blue one, registration WGH 415G. In the below mid-left photo, you can see the black E-Type Jaguar - in fact all the fast cars were parked up there.

You're meant to use...

...your brakes Chris...

S....So..Sorry Charlie!

Sir Alec Issigonis by a 1959 Mini

Mini... a brief history
BMC wanted a vehicle to compete with the German bubble cars, which had been born out of the 1950's fuel crisis. BMC's top designer (Sir) Alec Issigonis was set to work. Issigonis, was a genius, the Mini was entirely his work and not the work of a entire design team. He designed the Mini to be a small, cheap, economical car with safe handling... he even designed the engineering tools that made the Mini.

He had great visualisation skills and the Mini was designed as it was being prototyped. An engineer asked him what size to make the wheels, Issigonis held his hands apart and said "this big"...the engineer measured the distance between his hands - 10 inches - and made the wheels exactly that size! Casual sketches made my Issigonis could almost be used as blueprints by the engineers assembling the first prototypes. He preferred to be hands-on rather than paper-based, and called himself "The Ironmonger".

The Mini was revolutionary, with front wheel drive, the gears mounted in the engine's sump and a transverse engine. The entire engine and transmission unit was contained on subframes and fitted compactly under the Mini's tiny bonnet.It was also VERY small - just over 10 feet long - which made it all the more incredible that it could take 4 people and (some) of their luggage.

The press loved the Mini on it's launch in 1959, but sales were unimpressive. It was only after well known celebrities such as Paul McCartney and Twiggy became owners that the sales went through the roof - in 'swinging' London it quickly became the coolest car to be seen in.

Rauno Aaltonen, 1967 Monte Carlo Rally Winner

The Iconic Cooper S
The famous Grand Prix team, John Cooper Racing realised how superbly the Mini handled and quickly got involved. Motor racing driver John Cooper quickly developed a souped-up version of the Mini in 1961 and it soon became a racing legend and produced a succession of performance models.
The Mini Cooper's pin-sharp handling and superior power-to-weight ratio made it a force to be reckoned with and could compete with much bigger and more powerful machinery. The Cooper went on to many successes in rallying, most notably the Monte Carlo Rally (won in 1964, 65 & 67) as well as various road circuits.

John Cooper persuaded the Mini's creator, Sir Alec Issigonis, to let him produce a high-performance version of the car even though Sir Alec did not believe it would sell. But the car was an immediate success and the more powerful Cooper S, which followed in 1963, was an even bigger hit.
Even in 1999 Mini Coopers still accounted for half of all Minis which left the forecourts - about 10,000 cars a year.

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