Our feature car
car pictured here is an Australian-built 1966 Morris Cooper S that belongs to long-time Mini aficionado Fred Burley. It is one of a number of Coopers that the Sydney-based Burley family has owned over the years, as Fred explains.
“I’ve grown up with Morrises. Pre-war cars like a 1929 Cowley and an Eight, plus a few Coopers when I was a kid. My first car was a Mini and Dad and I have owned lots of Minis. I even raced one in Group N back in the 1990s.”
Father (Fred senior) and son finished restoring a 1970 MkII Cooper S in Crystal White over Jet Red last year and turned their attention to our Cooper S, finished in the rare combination of Toga White over Seamist Green.
“Seamist Green was a popular colour on Morris 1100s and Austin 1800s. I’ve never seen another Cooper S in my combination, but I understand that the first batch of (solid) Seamist Green Cooper S cars were delivered to the Tenterfield Police and used as unmarked highway patrol cars.”
“We bought our ‘66 Cooper S from the estate of the popular, late Group N racer Bob Asher (the Burleys also have his ex-Group N Mini as well) in 2007. It was stored under the house, complete but in boxes. Bob bought it from a guy in Batemans Bay in 1991. We believe it may have been used as a rally car.”
The rest of the car’s history is unknown, though it was delivered by well-known Sydney BMC dealer Larke Hoskins – it has a metal tag in the engine bay to prove it!
Fred’s approach to the car’s rebuild has been to bring it back to original condition but not concours. The body was taken back to bare metal but was finished with acrylic paint. As many original parts as possible were used. Old bolts were cleaned but not plated. The original Porcelain Green vinyl seats were recoloured and the original headlining was used. The engine was rebuilt to standard specification and painted in correct metallic green. Even the standard tin rocker cover and 1¼” SU HS2 carburettors were used.
Fred plans to put his Seamist Green Cooper S onto club plates. He is looking forward to using the Cooper S as its maker intended – driven enthusiastically on a winding road!
AMC would like to thank leading Cooper S authority Stephen Dalton for his assistance, The Mini Experience magazine for its series of features on the Police Cooper S and Building Cars in Australia – Morris, Austin, BMC and Leyland (1950-1975) produced by the BMCLeyland Australia Heritage Group and published by Halstead Press.