Lot 253 - 1986 Austin Mini Mayfair (John Cooper Prototype)
|Odometer reading||2,747 miles|
|Estimate||£16,000 - £22,000|
|Result||Sold - £19,040|
From its peak in 1971, Mini production had dwindled to just under 35,000 units per year by the end of 1985. The only market where there appeared to still be growth potential was Japan. With this in mind, the President of Austin Rover Japan approached John Cooper in early 1986 and asked if it was possible to put an MG Metro engine into a standard 998cc Mini to produce a sports version. An MG Metro-engined Mini was soon on its way to Japan for evaluation. That car was C734 SWV.
The management at Rover Japan showed great enthusiasm for the idea but a request for a limited production of 1,000 units was turned down by Austin Rover's CEO, Harold Musgrove, who was planning to end Mini production altogether in March 1987. John Cooper however, had already been approached by other Japanese interests to produce conversion kits for 998cc Mini models and this, coupled with a change in management at Austin Rover in late 1986, proved the turning point. C734 SWV once again came back into its own in 1988 when a formal presentation was made to Austin Rover in July of that year. The role of this car in re-establishing the now famous 'Mini Cooper' in 1989, maintaining its desirability and driver appeal throughout the 1990's right up to the end of production in October 2000, cannot be understated. C734 SWV is the forerunner of the engine conversions that John and Michael Cooper would eventually offer customers from 1991 onwards. The DVLA paperwork with this car shows a 998cc Austin Mini Mayfair being purchased by John Cooper Garages in April 1987 and at its next documented sale in March 1989 with the cylinder capacity already changed to 1275cc. Whilst being shown at the International Mini Meeting in 2014, the current owner was approached by Michael Cooper (John Cooper's son) who regaled him of various memories of converting the car, including the installation of a Cooper badge to the rocker cover which is intact to this day.
The car is owned by Michael Standring of Wood & Pickett and forms part of his personal collection. It is immaculate both inside and out, having seen very little use over the years. The car is to be the subject of a detailed upcoming feature in Mini World Magazine by the well-known classic car journalist, John Parnell. It is finished in Targa Red paint with white roof, bonnet stripes and distinctive original Cooper rear quarter decals. The technical specification features a ported and gas-flowed cylinder head fitted with enlarged valves, 35mm inlet and 29mm exhaust, an increased compression ratio, twin 1.5" HS4 carburettors with K&N air filters and a special three-branch exhaust manifold. Stopping power is aided by the addition of a Type six brake servo while a high efficiency radiator, coupled with an oil cooler, allowed the engine to cope with the demanding summer temperatures in Japan. The interior of the car remains original to the Mini Mayfair, the only clue of its sporting underpinnings being the Cooper-badged Moto-Lita steering wheel.
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