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.
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.
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.
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.
Distinctive Cooper badging is hard to miss.