Mini Cooper RSP (Rover Special Products),
Mainstream & SPI Mini Cooper: 1990-1995
By 1989 Rover had assumed responsibility for Mini production and was producing sporty looking versions named the Flame Red, Racing Green & Checkmate (black) running with 998cc engines. The Mini looked domed but the Cooper brand re-ignited interest for the Mini.
In September 1990 the Mini Cooper RSP was introduced. The RSP was the first Cooper in 19 years, and the first Mini with a 1,275 cc engine in 10. It was to this point the only non works mini fitted with an oil cooler as standard. It stole many parts from other limited editions such as the Mini 30 at the time. Its main features were the Chrome Cooper Grille (as Mk2 & 3), body-coloured door mirrors and wheel arches, Cooper decals and white bonnet stripes with John Cooper signatures. The Interior had Black leather seat inserts, a red leather steering wheel and red carpets. Fitted also to the exterior a Webasto Sunroof, twin driving lamps, tinted glass and 12” Minilite style wheels. The production of 1,050 for the UK was nowhere near enough. It was an instant success and sold out even before cars began to appear in showrooms, this prompted Rover to put a Cooper in full-time production.
The Mainstream Cooper was introduced removing some of the items on the RSP such as the bonnet stripes, oil cooler, sun roof, tinted glass and leather seats. This continued as a short run.
The single point fuel injected (SPI) car which came out later in 1991 was introduced to meet overseas emissions laws. Many of the nice touches on the RSP were added back in, notably the half leather seats, bonnet stripes and spot lights. An internal bonnet release was fitted from 1992.
An ‘S’ version was available as a conversion from John Coopers Garages, Worthing for all these models.
Other limited editions include, the Mini Cooper Monte Carlo in 1994 Based on: Mini Cooper 1.3i, Exterior colour was Flame Red or Black with John Cooper signature decals and a coachline with Monte Carlo decals. Production was only 200 cars. The 1994 Monte Carlo was released to celebrate Paddy Hopkirk’s return to the Monte Carlo Rally, 30 years after his original win. Also the Mini Cooper Grand Prix with GP decals added, leather inside trims for doors, leather steering wheel and upholstery, glovebox-mounted plaque, walnut 6-gauge dash and door cappings.
Engine modifications were big-valve, ported, balanced and flowed cylinder head, special cam and valve rocker assemblies, catalyzed Janspeed exhaust, revised air filter and oil cooler. Production run was only 35. Only two of the Grand Prix cars were made in a left-hand-drive configuration. The engine produced 86 hp.
MPI Sportpack Mini Cooper: 1996–2000
The MPI was the final version, twin point injection with a front mounted radiator. Full-width dashboards replaced the original shelf. An airbag was introduced on driver’s side. The main noticeable difference, from the outside on many MPI models are the 13” alloys and wider wheel arches. Many examples have these along with full leather seats ordered as a factory option. The lights were moved to the indicator stalk and a headlight height adjuster fitted.
It was available mainly in limited editions. Most covered below.
Mini Cooper 35 – 1996 (May) Exterior colour: Almond Green with Diamond White roof. Exterior trim: Body-coloured door mirrors and wheel arches. Decals/badges: Coachlines with “Mini Cooper 1961-1996 Anniversary Edition” decals on sides and bootlid. Interior: Porcelain Green leather seats with Cooper logos; matching leather steering wheel and gear knob; “Anniversary” badge on steering wheel; wooden dash with cream-faced dials Equipment: Gunmetal grey Minilite-style 12-inch alloy wheels, four spotlamps. Production: 200 (5 of which received John Cooper Garages S specification). The John Cooper S specification Cooper 35 produced 86 hp.
Mini Cooper Sports LE – 1998 (May) Colour: Brooklands Green or Black with White roof. The interior a Walnut dashboard; dark green leather interior & green carpets. Special exterior decals fitted. Production: 100 (50 of each colour); there is some doubt that the production colour split was not even and that more green than black cars were produced. Built to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Cooper’s victory in four Saloon Car Championship races in 1968.
Mini Cooper S Touring – 1999 (March) Colour: All. Exterior trim: Stainless steel sill covers, alloy fuel flap, Cooper valve caps. Decals/badges: “Cooper S Touring” side decals, “Si” boot badge, John Cooper chassis plate under front seat. Interior: Leather steering wheel, walnut dashboard and door cappings, alloy door handles. Equipment: On the Cooper S Touring, the Jack Knight 5-speed gearbox was available as an optional extra.
Mini Cooper S Sport 5 – 1999 (March) Colour: All. Exterior trim: Chrome bumpers and grille with Cooper S Sport 5 decals. Equipment included 13×6-inch Rover Sportspack alloy wheels, Sportspack wheel arches, 2 auxiliary driving lamps. Options: Leather interior and Electric sunroof. The Sport 5 was very similar to the Cooper S Touring except that it was offered with the five-speed Jack Knight gearbox as standard.
Mini Cooper S Works – 1999 (March) Colour: Brooklands Green & roof in Old English White. Decals/badges: Coachlines with “S works” decals. Special red-winged badges front and back. Interior: Alloy dashboard, door cappings, door furniture, and foot pedals; leather steering wheel and gear knob. Equipment: CD player, 12-inch alloy wheels. Production: 250. Options: Jack Knight 5-speed gearbox and Sportspack. With 90 hp output from its big-valve high-compression engine, the S Works is said to be the most powerful Cooper ever made.
Mini John Cooper – 1999 (August) Colour: Brooklands Green & roof in Old English White. Interior: Grenadine red leather upholstery (with black piping for seats) on dash top, red carpeting; black leather steering wheel, handbrake grip and gear knob and an alloy dashboard. Equipment: 13-inch Sportspack alloy wheels, Sportspack arches, two spotlamps. Production: 300.
Mini Cooper Sport 500 – 2000 Exterior colours: Tahiti Blue, Anthracite, Solar Red or British Racing Green with a silver roof. Exterior boasted silver bonnet stripes and interior black and silver leather and a special alloy gear knob. Equipment: Four spotlamps, 13-inch alloy wheels, certificate signed by John Cooper, plaque inside glovebox and high level brake light at the rear. Production: 500 – Last ever to classic Issigonis design.
Registrar: John Parnell