MR MINI

Tanya Field missed out on one of the last Clas­sic Minis the first time around, so she jumped at own­ing this Cooper Sports, and it’s now a much-loved part of her col­lec­tion.

Mini Magazine - - Contents - Words Martyn Collins Pho­tog­ra­phy Matt Richard­son

Cel­e­brat­ing the Mini’s 60th birth­day, Tanya Field’s 1999 Cooper Sport show­cases the last of the Clas­sic Minis.

The year 2000 was poignant for the Clas­sic Mini, as af­ter 41 years and five mil­lion pro­duced, the un­think­able hap­pened — pro­duc­tion stopped at the Long­bridge plant. The new BMW MINI was wait­ing in the wings, but still seven months away when pro­duc­tion fin­ished and we thought Rover’s fu­ture was safe, with the 75 tak­ing over — lit­tle did we know!

How­ever, the death knell was al­ready sounded six-months ear­lier with the launch of the re­named Mini Clas­sic range in April.

The range started with the Se7en, which was ba­si­cally the same as the 1.3i model it re­placed with a retro makeover, the main dif­fer­ences be­ing the colour­coded dash­board and the seats, which were given two-tone in­te­rior trim mim­ick­ing the iconic orig­i­nal. Buy­ers who went for Old English White also got match­ing body-coloured wheels! Changes for the Clas­sic Cooper broadly fol­lowed those made to the Se7en, with the colour-coded dash­board, half-leather trim and colour-coded wheel arches. While the range-top­per was the Cooper Sport, which was ba­si­cally the Cooper fit­ted with the pre­vi­ously op­tional Sport Pack, al­though now avail­able as a model in its own right. Out­side you’ll spot the Cooper Sport by the sil­ver roof, wing mir­rors and bon­net stripes. The sil­ver theme car­ries on in the in­te­rior with the sil­ver and black leather seat, but the Sport also re­ceived a turned metal dash­board and al­loy door fur­ni­ture. Fi­nally, an­other way of telling the dif­fer­ence be­tween a Mini Clas­sic Cooper, was that the ‘Cooper’ logo cen­tre caps in the wheels and steer­ing wheel were re­placed with green ‘Mini’ ones.

THE FI­NAL 500

I can re­mem­ber Rover boast­ing im­proved lev­els of build qual­ity for these Mini Clas­sic mod­els with BMW in­volved, but a late visit to the Long­bridge pro­duc­tion line con­firmed that the Clas­sic Mini’s mostly hand-built

“Mr Bump had been given his name by Mike’s nieces, who found him bumpy!”

con­struc­tion re­mained the same. I had friends that were own­ers, and I don’t re­mem­ber this claim stop­ping the rot or me­chan­i­cal is­sues that the later TPi Minis still suf­fered from!

How­ever, that wasn’t quite the end of Clas­sic Mini model de­vel­op­ment, as Rover went on to pro­duce an­other fi­nal 500 cars, with the orig­i­nal name the ‘Cooper Sport 500’. Ba­si­cally a Cooper Sport, the changes were min­i­mal with just a plaque in the glove­box, a third rear brake light and an ex­clu­sive bag con­tain­ing Mini mer­chan­dise. This is the same as the last So­lar Red car, that ’60s singer Lulu drove off the Long­bridge pro­duc­tion line, and which now re­sides at the Bri­tish Mo­tor Mu­seum in Gay­don.

With the Clas­sic Mini soon turn­ing 60, it seems fit­ting to look back 18 years at one of the last Clas­sic Minis, and ‘Mr Bump’ – Mini fan Tanya Field’s Cooper Sports – is the per­fect can­di­date.

Tanya’s been a Mini fan for as long as she can re­mem­ber, buy­ing her first – a blue 1979 Mini City – 30 years ago when she was 17. Then, while work­ing for the Rover Group, she bought a new Mini 30 in 1990 with an em­ployee dis­count. “When I had chil­dren, I had to have a fam­ily car, al­though we al­ways had a Mini in the fam­ily as a sec­ond car. In our fam­ily, we now have 10 clas­sic Minis and two mod­ern MINIs, al­though these are 16 and 17 years old,” she ex­plains.

This Cooper Sport, or Mr Bump as he is called, was orig­i­nally owned by Mike Mur­phy, a Rover Group em­ployee based at Cow­ley. He bought him new in 2000 with an em­ployee dis­count and kept him for six-years when he found out he and his part­ner were ex­pect­ing their first

child and needed a fam­ily car. The end re­sult of this was that he sadly needed to sell Mr Bump.

Tanya tells me Mike had looked af­ter Mr Bump ex­tremely well dur­ing his own­er­ship, with this Clas­sic Mini want­ing for noth­ing me­chan­i­cally and even com­ing com­plete with a stack of pa­per­work, in­clud­ing his orig­i­nal bill of sale!

The first per­son Mike con­tacted about sell­ing Mr Bump was Tanya’s hus­band, Ja­son. “Mike knew Ja­son was a Mini

“It had been looked af­ter – this Clas­sic Mini wanted for noth­ing me­chan­i­cally”

en­thu­si­ast and ap­proached him ask­ing if he knew of any­one who would be in­ter­ested in buy­ing his Mini – Ja­son said ‘yes my wife’,” says Tanya. “I had al­ways wanted one of the last clas­sic Minis, but in 2000 I didn’t have the money or time (I had three small chil­dren) to be able to have one. Mr Bump was priced very com­pet­i­tively so we ar­ranged to meet him and Mike at the car park at Cow­ley af­ter work.” She was there ready with her cheque book and af­ter a brief hello, told Mike she wanted Mr Bump and wrote the cheque out there and then.

“Mike was con­cerned that I didn’t want to thor­oughly in­spect him or take him for a test drive. I thought both were fairly point­less as I was go­ing to buy him any­way,” Tanya smiles. All of Tanya’s Minis and MINIs have names, so when she buys a car, she al­ways asks if it has a name, as Tanya wouldn’t want to con­fuse

it by giv­ing it a name when it al­ready has one! This Cooper Sport had al­ready been given the name Mr Bump, so it stuck! It turned out that Mr Bump had been given his name by Mike’s nieces, who used to sit in the back of the car and found him bumpy. It was also be­cause his colours re­minded them of Roger Har­g­reaves’ Mr Bump char­ac­ter from the Mr Men chil­dren’s books.

THE RESTORA­TION

That was back in 2006 and since then, a doors-for­ward re­furb was car­ried out at Somer­ford Mini in 2010, which in­volved re­plac­ing all pan­els from the doors for­ward in­clud­ing new door skins at a cost of around £7,000. He was then fully re­painted in orig­i­nal Tahiti Blue, al­though Tanya’s not sure if they did the Plat­inum Sil­ver roof. Some me­chan­i­cal work was car­ried out, in line with what you would ex­pect with a 10-year-old car that had cov­ered about 50,000 miles but had been cared for. Oth­er­wise, Mr Bump re­mains stan­dard and un­mod­i­fied.

De­spite its im­por­tance in Clas­sic Mini his­tory, this hasn’t stopped Tanya, or rather hus­band Ja­son us­ing this spe­cial Cooper. From 2006 to 2016, Ja­son –

who works at Plant Ox­ford mak­ing New MINIs – used him as his daily driver for work. He’s since been re­placed by Flash, their early ‘OBL’ R50 Cooper. “We live just three miles from the Plant and in win­ter months, to save the older Minis, BMW only al­lows man­agers to park ‘ brand’ cars in the car park on site, which meant that Mr Bump could park in the Plant,” says Tanya.

With such a choice of Clas­sic Minis in her and Ja­son’s fleet, what does Tanya like most about Mr Bump? “I love the colour scheme and I know I’m a bit sad, but I think it’s re­ally cool that his log­book records his colour as mul­ti­coloured. I also like the way he looks, but while those 13-inch wheels might look smart, they do spoil the way he han­dles. I feel that later Clas­sic Minis slightly lost the ‘Mini feel’ to drive, which is some­thing that BMW re­cap­tured with the first New MINI, the R50.”

Tanya’s also a fan of his in­te­rior, but like me, she thinks that with the big­ger seats and that larger airbag-filled steer­ing wheel, ear­lier Minis have more space - Mr Bump is rather cramped!

PART OF THE FLEET

Asked if she’s had any prob­lems with Mr Bump, Tanya tells me noth­ing par­tic­u­larly out of the norm, “just rust, rust and more rust”! Other than that, the only other main­te­nance is that Mr Bump’s airbag should be re­placed ev­ery

10 years, but she hasn’t been able to do that, as ap­par­ently you can no longer get them! Plus, like ev­ery other Mini fit­ted with the Sport Pack, I’m told Mr Bump -eats wheel bear­ings at a fairly rapid rate!

Asked if Tanya’s got any fu­ture plans for Mr Bump, she tells me: “Just to re­main part of our fleet, which spans 1960 to 2002.” That fleet is quite im­pres­sive and in­cludes a 1960 Austin Seven Deluxe, a 1970 1275GT, a 1980 Club­man Es­tate, and a 1990 Cooper RSP (which they have owned from new). As thus, they are in the for­tu­nate po­si­tion of hav­ing a Mini from each decade of pro­duc­tion. They also have a 1971 MkIII Cooper S and a 1991 Cooper RSP S. Now re­tired from daily du­ties, as those have been taken on by the early 2001 Cooper, Mr Bump will be used for var­i­ous Mini her­itage events and will, at some­time, join the reg­u­lar Mini dis­play that Tanya puts on ev­ery Fe­bru­ary half term in the shop­ping cen­tre built for Cow­ley work­ers over 50 years ago, which is just a mile away from the Plant Ox­ford.

THANKS TO:

Andy Mynott, The Cooper Sport 500 Reg­is­ter and the 2000 Mini Reg­is­ter.

“I love the colour scheme and that the log­book records him as multi-coloured”

Sil­ver trim matches the Plat­inum Sil­ver roof.

Cooper cen­tre logo re­placed with MINI one. Chunky seats fill the in­te­rior space.

Un­usual turned alu­minium dash­board re­placed the wood on these cars.

Mag­no­lia coloured in­stru­ments through­out.

Mr Bump was fully re­painted in orig­i­nal Tahiti Blue with Plat­inum Sil­ver roof.

Colour scheme rem­i­nis­cent of Roger Har­g­reaves’ Mr Men char­ac­ter...

Chrome gear knob.

Bon­net stripes were a distin­guish­ing mark of the Cooper Sport.

Sil­ver high­lights con­tinue on the out­side with the wing mir­rors.

MINI badge a distin­guish­ing fea­ture of the car.

Stan­dard 1275 MPi engine has been well main­tained over the years.

Tanya with Mr Bump, who is just one part of her in­cred­i­ble Mini fleet.

Orig­i­nal head­lights and grille.

The Mini bon­net badge.

Ev­ery­thing for­ward of the doors was re­placed in the re­furb.

13-inch wheels with Mini (not Cooper) cen­tre caps.

In hon­our of the car’s name...

A lit­tle piece of Mini his­tory...

Sport Pack arches and 13-inch wheels were pop­u­lar.

Chromed Cooper Sport badge.

Rear lights.

Dis­tinc­tive Cooper badg­ing is hard to miss.

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