Final Encore

Of the 73 registration numbers used on Minis that were prepared at Abingdon, all but four were on round-nose Cooper or Cooper S Minis. The remaining four were used on Mini Clubman 1275GT models, and only two of those are listed in Peter Browning’s Books on the Works Minis.

The last two Minis prepared at Abingdon were completed just before the October 1970 closure of the Competitions Department, so were never used on any event by the Works team. As a result, they are often neglected in the histories of the Works team.

But they were Works Minis in every detail and only failed to join the ranks of their many stable mates through the disbandment of the team.

These Clubman Minis were a far cry from standard cars, being built to Group 6 specification, which was basically for prototype vehicles. This meant a great deal of latitude for modification, as car makers used this category for trying out many new ideas.

As such, the Minis had aluminium doors and boot lid, fiberglass bonnet, Perspex side and rear windows, wider Minilite wheels and wider plastic wheel arch extensions.

But it was under the bonnet that the car was truly something special, with the engine dominated by a cross-flow, eight-port cylinder head with twin Weber 45DCOE carburettors at the front.

The engine also featured a 637 camshaft and was dry-decked; meaning coolant didn’t flow directly between the head and the block. Instead, coolant flowed from the block to an auxiliary radiator, mounted in front of the engine, then into the head, supposedly giving superior cooling of the engine.

The engine produced a reputed 130bhp and drove a Limited Slip Differential through a close-ratio, straight-cut gearbox.

Inside the car would look familiar to anyone with a knowledge of Works Minis, with the usual fare of switches, gauges, Halda trip meter and Heuer rally clocks, but clearly having benefitted from the experience gained from years of rallying.

High-back adjustable rally bucket seats provided plenty of comfort for driver and passenger, while Britax four-point harnesses kept the occupants where they belonged. A Mota-Lita sports steering wheel and Tudor plastic windscreen washer bottle completed the driving compartment.

The rear parcel shelf held two wheel braces, while the rear seat was removed and in its place hung the typical large BMC Works tool roll.

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The BMC Experience Issue 16. Jan-Mar 2016 Magazine

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