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Mini Cooper, Cooper S and Seven (1990 - 2000)

Last updated 27 October 2013


Model Timeline

July 1990
The Mini Cooper limited edition was launched

The authorisation for the new generation sporty Mini was given in January 1990, and the limited edition RSP (Rover Special Products) Cooper was a last minute addition to the marketing plan. Mechanical development was farmed out to ERA at Dunstable and the first of the 1990s Mini Coopers was built between 27 April to 3 May 1990.

At this time, Rover was on a roll, with the acclaimed R8 second generation 200, and working flat out to satisfy demand. Graham Day’s vision of turning Rover into a niche manufacturer seemed to be coming true, and the new Mini Cooper was part of that strategy. Featuring a catalysed 1275cc MG Metro engine, the limited run quickly sold out and a mainstream Mini Cooper was introduced the following September. It made a reappearance in a response to the sales of Cooper kits in Japan and also the management’s knowledge that the Mini was now a very real asset to the range which would sell in big numbers, especially overseas.

In 1990 Longbridge produced 46,045 Minis, of which only 10,067 were sold in the UK. Japan took 12,087, France 8977, Germany 4790 and Italy 2680. Even after the original enthusiasm for the Cooper had waned, Japan still took 8508 Minis in 1993. These were major car markets and the Mini could be used to generate showroom traffic for the new generation of Rover cars.

July 1992
The 998cc Mini was phased out

A detuned 1275cc engine provided the car’s motive power from now on. The base model was now called a Sprite, in honour of another past BMC car, while the Mayfair continued as the higher spec model.

October 1996
The final version of the Mini emerged, known as the Mk7

It had a front mounted radiator, airbag, even higher gearing, a long option list and optional 13in wheels. All the Minis now had identical tune 63bhp twin point injection engines.

October 2000
The final Mini drives off the line at Longbridge

The media and various personalities gathered at Longbridge to see the end of the road for Issigonis’s baby. Also attending were surviving members of Alec Issigonis’s team. To the Quincy Jones composed soundtrack of the film The Italian Job, the final Mini was driven off the production line in CAB1 by production line supervisor Geoff Powell with singer Lulu in the passenger seat after a production run of 41 years.

The end of Mini production effectively meant the end of CAB1, for despite all the hopes expressed for the future of Longbridge in 2000, the hoped for demand for MG Rover cars failed to materialise, and the building remained empty. The last of 5,378,776 Minis now resides at the British Motor Heritage museum at Gaydon.

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