Cody's Car Talk: The Mini Cooper

Michael Caine’s “The Italian Job” Mini Coopers.

BY CODY FACTEAU

"This is the self-preservation society. The self-preservation society." This is the first line from the theme song, "Get a Bloomin' Move On," from one of my favorite movies of all time, the original 1969 version of "The Italian Job," starring Michael Caine and Noel Coward. That's right. The Italian Job has been redone, and although the remake is great, lots of fun with tons of action and suspense, there is just something extra special about the original. That something special is, of course, the cars.

Let's start with all the unique cars that were used to make this movie. The movie starts with a 1967 Lamborghini Miura P400 rolling through the Swedish mountains. There were three fast cars, in case anything was to go wrong and they had to abort the mission. These were: a 1961 Jaguar E-type convertible; a 1962 Jaguar E-type hardtop and a 1962 Aston-Martin DB4. A modified 1965 Land Rover 109" series II station wagon was used to start the heist and served as the workhorse of the operation. And, finally, we come to the three Mini Coopers. To be more precise they were 1967 Austin Mini Cooper S MkI's.

The Mini Cooper was the British icon of the 1960's and it was named for John Cooper, the automotive engineer. Its space-saving, front-wheel drive layout allowed 80 percent of the cars floor plan to be used for passengers and luggage. And, its design inspired a whole generation of car makers. It was small, economical, and voted the second most influential car of the 20th century, behind the Ford Model T. In my personal opinion, it is THE coolest front-wheel drive car out there.

The Mini Cooper has a rally history, which of course, makes it a favorite in my book. During the 1960's the Mini captured the imagination of the world when the tiny car took on the might of the V-8 powered Fords and won what was at the time one of the toughest motorsport events, the 4,000k Monte Carlo Rally. Racing against cars with far more horsepower, the original Mini Cooper S won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965 and 1967. Despite a break off the track, the Mini Cooper came back in 2011 with a supped up Countryman that competed in the World Rally Championship.

BBC's Top Gear, James May raced Amy Williams, the British Olympic gold medalist, down the Lilehammer bobsleigh track using the 2011 Mini Cooper Countryman Rally car. Williams used a skeleton bobsled and despite a stellar performance, finished just slightly behind the Countryman Mini. According to James May, "It's bloody brilliant. Everybody should drive a Mini. Everybody should own a Mini at some point or you are incomplete as a human being." Whereas the original Mini had 70 horsepower, this Rally version has around 300 horsepower and does 0-60 in 3.5 seconds.

The Mini, no matter what shape it's in, the Cooper, the Countryman, the Paceman or the Coupe, its one fantastic little car.

Cody Lerch-Facteau is an 18-year old homeschooler from East Burke. He enjoys anything to do with cars, particularly the Classics. He loves Le Mans racing, his favorite TV shows are Gearz with Stacey David and Top Gear (BBC), and hobbies are Lego's and Xbox 360. Check out Cody's Car Talk on Facebook. Career goals? What else, cars!

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