Mini Cooper at the Monte Carlo Rally: 50th anniversary

Can you believe it is more than 50 years since the Mini Cooper won the Monte Carlo Rally? Here's a gallery for your enjoyment

Almost 50 years ago to the day, the classic Mini won the Monte Carlo Rally for the first time. Driven by Northern Ireland’s Patrick ‘Paddy’ Hopkirk and co-driven by Henry Liddon, the little British city car astounded onlookers as it defeated the odds and darted through the mountain passes and winding country roads, covering ground over ice and snow to defeat cars with significantly more power. Winning the rally on 21 January 1964, the number 37  Mini became the founding father for over a decade’s worth of David and Goliath style motoring battles against far more powerful rivals, with Hopkirk’s teammates, Finland’s Timo Mäkinen and Rauno Aaltonen bringing two more wins to the stable in 1965 and 1967.

Half a century on, an 80 year old Paddy Hopkirk is just as proud of his winning Mini as he was in 1964. ‘Although the Mini was only a little family saloon, technically it had a lot of advantages. Its front-wheel drive and front-mounted transverse engine were a great advantage, and the fact the car was smaller and the roads were ploughed, they were quite narrow, so I suppose that was an advantage. We were very lucky – the car was right, everything happened at the right time and came together at the right moment.’

Subscribe to evo magazine

evo is 21 and to celebrate, we're returning to 1998 prices! Subscribe now to SAVE 39% on the shop price and get evo for its original cover price of £3.00 an issue, plus get a FREE gift worth £25!

The Mini’s advantages weren’t developed for the rally stage however. Its clever packaging and compact shape were developed to provide a practical, affordable solution to urban transportation. It just so happened that this design meant that a car based on a 34hp engine was all that was needed to fight off bigger rivals. The car to contest in the rally was unsurprisingly a Cooper S version, prepared by the BMC works team and featuring a tuned 90hp engine, but it still possessed the same basic structure and attributes found on the road-going city car.

It’s true the motoring world has moved on drastically, so cars producing less than 100bhp and featuring two-wheel drive would find it near impossible to compete in the premier class of Monte Carlo’s rally, but in that classic era of the swinging 60s, the original car became one of the most memorable icons. An icon for a decade, and of course, an icon for Britain.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/classic-cars/201733/mini-remastered-launches-hot-oselli-edition
classic cars

Mini Remastered launches hot Oselli Edition

10 Sep 2019
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/sports-cars/202115/porsche-ditches-four-cylinder-for-flat-six-in-cayman-and-boxster-gts
sports cars

Porsche ditches four-cylinder for flat-six in Cayman and Boxster GTS

New models eschew turbos with detuned 4-litre from the Spyder and GT4
15 Jan 2020
Visit/aston-martin/dbx-suv/15413/aston-martin-dbx-prototype-review-the-best-suv-yet
Aston Martin DBX SUV

Aston Martin DBX prototype review

It might be late to the party, but has Aston Martin’s first ever SUV nailed the brief?
15 Jan 2020
Visit/used-cars/19675/used-car-deals-of-the-week
used cars

Best used cars for sale this week

We’ve delved into the classifieds and chosen our favourite cars for sale this week
15 Jan 2020
Visit/hyundai/i30-n-hatchback/201775/hyundai-i30-n-versus-hyundai-i30-tcr
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 N versus Hyundai i30 TCR

Can Dickie Meaden beat Steve Sutcliffe in a straight(ish) race? We sent them to the Circuit Nuvolari with a pair of Hyundai i30 Ns to find out.
20 Sep 2019