From a collector’s standpoint, they were just plain cheap from concept to completion, and they built a ton of them
Chassis number: CA257662044
Engine number: 9FSAY34709
Belying its small size and apparent fragility, the Mini Cooper developed into the most successful Works rally car of the 1960s. One of its most famous victories was Paddy Hopkirk’s headline-grabbing win in the 1964 “Monte.” The Mini Cooper family’s ultimate expression — the 1,275-cc S — won first time out in 1964 and became the Works’ frontline car from 1965 onward, winning eight international rallies outright that same year, a quite outstanding achievement.
According to the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, this now Morris-badged (though originally Austin) Mini Cooper 1,275-cc s/n CA2S7662044, was built at Longbridge on November 26, 1964. Following subsequent preparation by the Abingdon-based Competitions Department, initially as an Austin for export market reasons, it took part in the 1965 Swedish and Acropolis Rallies before finishing 13th in class on the Alpine and (as a Morris) winning the RAC Rally of GB in the legendary Rauno Aaltonen’s hands.
Having been driven to victory by Tony Fall on the Scottish Rally the following season, DJB93B rolled into retirement from Abingdon Competitions Department service during the 1966 Gulf London Rally and was not seen again until 1986. By 1991, ownership had transferred from clubman Jeff Wilson to Mini Machine of Darlington, from whom the project was taken on in 1996 by the highly respected and very successful Works Rally co-driver and subsequent World Rally Team Manager Phil Short, who commissioned a total restoration to original Works specification.
most impressive history file contains signed and dated BMIHT Heritage Certificates pre- and post-rebuild that confirm manufacturing, registration and competition history. The file contains Abingdon “Build Sheets” for 1964 RAC Rally, BMC Homologation Forms from period, FIA Historic Vehicle Identity Form, current MSA Competition Car Logbook, MoT Test Certificates 1986 to July 2007, two folders of original invoices, and current Swansea V5C registration document.
This is one of the most correctly specified and detailed ex-Works Minis around.
Since completion in 1998, the car has been maintained regardless of cost (as confirmed by bills on file) and always garaged in a heated and dehumidified motor house. Apart from regular exercise on various historic rally fun runs as part of the Slowly Sideways Group, DJB93B has also been successfully hill-climbed and sprinted with a win in the 2001 Midland Speed Classic Championship. The car was purchased at Bonhams’ Race Retro sale at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, in March 2007 (Lot 306). Since then, it has been invited to the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where it was driven again by Rauno Aaltonen in 2010.
|Vehicle:||1964 Mini Cooper Works Race Car|
|Number Produced:||Mk 1 Mini: 1,190,000 Mk 1 Cooper S: 19,000|
|Original List Price:||$2,181|
|Chassis Number Location:||Riveted to radiator shroud|
|Engine Number Location:||Below thermostat housing|
|Club Info:||Mini Cooper Register|
This car, Lot 214, sold for $127,386, including buyer’s premium, at Bonhams’ Goodwood Revival auction on September 16, 2011.
Zowie! $127k for a Mini? That pretty much has to make it the world’s most expensive Mini, doesn’t it? Well, yeah, it does, but the more important fact is that this same car sold in March 2007 for effectively $200,000 (SCM, July 2007, p. 54), so the value of the world’s most expensive, most collectible Mini took a 35% hit between then and now.
By comparison, the Dow Jones lost 22% in the same time period. “Hang on, you may think, I thought collector cars were doing better than the stock market. What gives?” The answer is both yes and no, and therein lies the topic of today’s missive.
A Mini solution
Minis were originally designed to be a British alternative to the German “bubble cars” of the late ’50s, and the criteria given to designer Alec Issigonis included that the finished car must fit in a ten-foot-by-four-foot-by-four-foot box, that the passenger compartment must have six feet of the length, and that it use an existing BMC engine. Oh, yeah, it also had to be cheap.
Issigonis’ solution to the problem was nothing short of masterful. In setting the engine transversely over a transmission driving the front wheels, he created the model for a design that would encompass the majority of automobiles built over at least 50 years. History has found the design to be iconic. A few years ago, the Mini was voted the second most important design in automotive history, after the Ford Model T.
Tiny car, huge impact
Although we have become accustomed to them during the past 50 years, it is useful to remember just how shockingly tiny and innovative Minis were at the time, particularly in the U.S.
My first car was a bone-stock 850 Mini purchased new in January 1962 (for $1,100 out the door) and I can assure you that Cedar Falls, Iowa, had never seen anything like it (I can also attest that two strong people can pick up the back of the car with me in it, and that it was possible to get five football players and myself into one for a short drive, but I digress).
From a collector’s standpoint, it is important to add that they were just plain cheap from concept to completion and that they built a ton of them (almost 1.2 million), neither of which bodes well for high collector value.
A cheap winner
John Cooper, however, provided the basis for a collectible variant. He recognized the competition potential of a properly modified Mini and talked BMC into allowing him to exploit it.
The Mini Coopers were immensely successful, both in rallying and circuit racing, catching the public’s imagination as little terriers nipping at the heels of the lumbering Jaguars and Fords, then jumping into the lead with some impossible move to take the win. Even when they dominated, they were the underdog.
Of all the Mini competition images that came out of the era, by far the most enduring and iconic have been of the factory rally cars, bristling with accessory lights and chunky tires with two helmeted faces peering out of the windscreen, storming through the snow drifts of the Monte Carlo and other winter rallies. Appropriately, these have become the collectible examples.
Rally cars drop in value
They are at best minor collectibles, however (see cheap and high production, above), and this has led to an interesting anomaly. While the best vintage racing examples of Mini Coopers have generally been increasing in value during the past five years or so (and are now worth $50k–$70k in Europe), the more collectible rally versions have taken a substantial hit.
I suggest several reasons for this. First, the value of pure circuit-racing cars is driven by both how much fun you can have with them and by what it costs to run at the front. There are many European circuit racing series right now where the Mini is the perfect (or only) weapon, which has stimulated demand for those cars, and the cost of being faster than the competition has continued to go up. These have conspired to make the value of top-line racing Minis increase.
The collectible rally cars, on the other hand, have more limited and sedate competition venues, so eventdriven market demand or preparation costs have placed little upward pressure on market value.
A minor problem
As a minor collectible, Minis also have a problem. In my business over the past several years, I have noticed that the mid-range collectibles — cars that “you need permission from your wife or your banker to buy” — have been very hard to sell and have lost value. The investment-grade cars have at worst held value and often have increased substantially, and the user-grade cars at the bottom of the range have remained relatively stable. However, the middle range — the minor collectibles — have struggled to hold value.
This makes a certain intuitive sense. In a difficult economy, the rich always have money to invest, and the upper-income players have enough money to go play with things, but there is not much market for entry-level investment cars. Unfortunately, I do not see this changing anytime soon, so the current market realities will be with us for a while. I’d say that today’s subject car was fairly bought in light of a weak market for this type of collectible. ?
(Introductory description courtesy of Bonhams.)