At that time, James’ father purchased an original one-owner 1967 Morris Mini 850 with only 60,000 miles on the clock – the car being intended for the use of James and his sister to share as a university runabout. It was not only James’ first car but the first of many Minis he would eventually own. Like many of us, James had fallen in love with Minis. “I decided it had to become my car, so I purchased the Mini off Dad and it became exclusively mine.”
James kept the 850 for a long period of time until his interest in works cars meant that he either had to sell the Mini or start modifying the car to make it more suitable. Putting originality aside, James opted for the latter choice and it was decided that the 850 should be reborn as a works replica. Modifying it mechanically was the first step, and the intention was to paint the car red with the iconic white roof eventually. The car now has Cooper S disc brakes, a 1275cc engine, correct speedo, Cooper interior trim, a John Alley roll-cage, Lucas reversing light, straps on the bonnet and boot, enamel Union Jacks on the guards, among many other mods. Although the car has had some significant changes it is still James’ first car and will remain in the stable for quite some time.
Following an award-winning restoration of a 998 Cooper that James thought he was going to keep forever, a chance meeting gave him the option of purchasing a 1964 970cc Cooper S homologation car. “It was the ultimate, and so rare I just had to have it,” James explains. “They built just under 1000 of these so they could compete in the 1000cc racing class against Fiat Abarth, etc. The 1275cc was such a great road car – I think they made about 40,000.”
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