Probably the biggest single revision to the Mini range was the introduction of the Mk III bodyshell. Although the Mk III Mini had been introduced in the autumn of 1969, Mk III S production did not commence until March 1970 and the first cars were not dispatched until the beginning of May. This is allegedly down to legal wrangles because BMC and John Cooper had an agreement for Cooper S’s to be produced for five years from the middle of 1966 and Cooper refused to be bought off by BL when they were trying to dispose of all such agreements in 1969.
One thing that did carry on with the Mk III S was hydrolastic suspension. Standard fitment were ‘silver’ units which were, in effect, competition units. These are considerably stiffer than the standard ‘green’ units found on more mundane models and much reduce the seesaw effect felt under acceleration and braking. It is said that the Mk III S has the best ride and handling of any production Mini.
When the Mk III S did finally appear it was a virtually indistinguishable from a Mini 1000, the only external clues being the twin petrol tanks, wheels and boot badge – all easily missed by the untrained eye. Gone was the different grille, two tone paint and different badging. Internally the main clue was the 130mph speedometer. One thing that was unchanged was the level of performance, despite the lack of an EN40B crankshaft which was dropped on cost grounds, power output was still quoted at 76bhp. This made it an ideal Q car and Liverpool police confirmed their faith in the S by taking delivery of 27 Glacier White cars in early 1971.
Because of the short production run changes were relatively minor, the main one being the fitment of a locking steering column at the end of 1970 and some colour changes. When production ceased at the end of June 1971 only some 1572 Mk III Ss had rolled off the production line which makes it a limited edition by modern standards. That it sold as many cars as it did was a testament to the Cooper name as BL never advertised the car and even the sales brochure was only a retouched version of the Mk II S brochure.
Good original cars are getting harder to find but a surprising number of cars have been with one owner from new. Because of the external similarity between the Mini 1000 and S the Mk III is one of the easier models to recreate and with prices for good cars are still holding up well buyers should always beware. Thanks to co-operation with British Motor Industry Heritage Trust at Gaydon the register has identified virtually all Mk III S cars produced from their chassis numbers. The MCR would always recommend that you check out any car with the relevant registrar before you buy.
Registrar: Simon Wheatcroft
To find out more please contact our MCR Registrar Help Desk, firstname.lastname@example.org. They will then deal with your enquiry either by responding directly or forwarding your enquiry to the appropriate registrar. Alternatively, details can always be found in the monthly club magazine, CooperWorld.