The Man Behind John Cooper Works

Most of us are familiar with the automotive brand: Mini. We at North Bay Bavarian bet many of you are also familiar with the Mini Cooper. A narrower group may opine after the John Cooper Works series of vehicles which is a subset of Mini Coopers. Who is the man, the myth, and legend behind the Cooper name?


Mini Cooper

The 1960s was a groundbreaking time in automotive racing history. Few people believed that a small family vehicle brand, the Mini, could ever be a racing force to be reckoned with. All that changed when John Cooper saw the potential of the Mini.

John Cooper was many things, but, first and foremost, he was a racing man. His focus was not just on the finish line, but also on the future of professional automotive racing.

Charles Cooper, John’s father, was a mechanic for the great land speed record holder – Kaye Don.

John Cooper and his school friend, Eric Brandon, decided to get into moto racing and to build themselves a racecar. Their first project was a 500cc Formula 3 race car with a motorcycle engine. John’s father was not originally keen on the idea of his son producing the car, but after the signature vehicle gained acclaim, John partnered with his son to create the Cooper Car Co. The company started by exclusively manufacturing the signature 500cc Formula 3 racing vehicle.

During the early 1950’s, the father and son duo broke away from the original vehicle design that brought them their initial success. In 1955 they began using the water-cooled 4-cylinder Coventry Climax engine initially in a sports car.

The company hit a breakthrough in 1957 during the Formula 1 race in Monaco. It marked the first time that a rear-engined car competed in the Monaco Grand Prix.  Jack Brabham, an employee and friend of John Cooper, took six place in the Cooper Car Co.’s vehicle – the Formula 1 Cooper. This monumental event triggered a shift in the racing community from front-engined cars to rear-engined cars.


Mini Cooper

Cooper’s involvement in Formula 1 racing declined at the end of the 50’s and the company sought to break into other racing styles. The British Motor Company debuted the Mini Minor in 1959. John Cooper saw the potential of the vehicle’s compact style and full independent suspension. The drawbacks behind the Mini Minor were its lack of braking power and lack of power period. Those drawbacks would soon be addressed with the input of John Cooper.

John collaborated with the British Motor Company to create the Mini Cooper, a vehicle that had the look of the original Mini but with enhanced power and braking capabilities. BMC manufactured the vehicle and all John asked in return was 2 pound per vehicle. Before too long, BMC had sold over 150,000 Mini Coopers.

Next up was the Mini Cooper S which boasted a performance package previously not seen in other compact vehicles. The ability of drivers to throw this model around corners made it an especially attractive rally vehicle.

The Mini Cooper was manufactured from 1961 to 1971 and then again from 1990 to 2000.

The success of the Mini Cooper brand ultimately led to the John Cooper Works Mini series of vehicles. This series built upon the many accomplishments of the Mini Cooper. The John Cooper Works series always includes special features such as better sounds, more horsepower, and better handling. The cars can be pushed to the limit with go-kart handling or driven about town with ease. The roots of the original Mini remain apparent.

In 2000, BMW acquired the Mini brand and continues to produce the vehicles today.


North Bay Bavarian specializes in Mini Inspection Service, Mini Engine Repair, Mini Oil Changes, and Mini Transmission Service. Regardless of the MINI model you love to drive, we can service and repair it.

We at North Bay Bavarian employ service specialists that will keep your Mini Cooper in optimal condition.

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