The original Mini was manufactured from 1959 to 2000 in largely its original guise. Among the reasons for its phenomenal, 41-year production run was its remarkable, space-saving layout. A longitudinally mounted, 4-cylinder engine, front-wheel drive, and a compact, rubber-cone suspension system, meant that an incredible 80% of the floorpan was available for passenger use.
Right away the Mini established itself as a breakthrough production car. It soon emerged as a breakthrough sports car as well. In 1961 the British Motor Corporation released the Mini Cooper, a version modified and tuned for performance by race car designer and builder John Cooper. By 1963 the Mini's engine displacement had been expanded 50% beyond its original spec (from 848 cc to 1,275 cc) to produce the Mini Cooper S. It was this signature model that out-gunned and out-maneuvered the much more powerful competition in the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally, a feat it pulled off three more years on the trot.
Such giant-killing performance in such a small, humble, inexpensive package, made the Mini Cooper S a legend that’s still highly regarded to this day.