1966 Morris Mini Cooper

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1966 Morris Mini Cooper
RCR Morris Mini Thumb.jpg
Car Details
Make Morris
Model Mini Cooper
Year 1966
Owner Matt Foose
Episode Details
Episode Link Watch
Season A Return to Form
Air Date June 13, 2016
Credits Nick B

I drove a classic Mini. I know everything about Great British-England now! I know all the U.K. Things. Here are all the facts about Britianengland:

1) UK has one main highway. It is called the A4.

2) If you don't pay your Government TV bill, thugs come to your flat and beat you up.

3) Everyone lives in flats.

4) The BBC can't afford desks for news presenters.

5) Brighton Beach only existed in Quadrophenia.

6) Their paper money has Wi-Fi

7) They like Steve McQueen way more than we do.


Look at me! Oh, look at me! I'm an American, and I just bought a classic Mini. I know everything about the United Kingdom now! Oh, ask me anything, ask me anything. Hey, hold up, hold up, come back, come back. What, you don't wanna- okay I'll tell you. in England, UK there are boobs on late night TV, and school boys never wear long pants. And the whole country is the size of Delaware and that's why cars are so small. Isn't this exciting? I'm going to set my homepage to BBC World and pretend to care about whatever's going on in Budapest. 

Alcoholism in Wales? How droll!

INTRO SONG by THE ROMAN, to the tune of 'Still Crazy After All These Years', Paul Simon
So British after all these years, 
Whoa, still British after all these years.
1966 Morris Mini. At first glance, a classic Mini looks like a four wheeled version of that little bag rich girls keep their dogs in. But then that's kinda the point. These were cars that were privileged for their aesthetic. And thanks to Vaporwave, aesthetic just means "I like it because it sucks." 

It was, and is, fashionable to be seen in these things. Look at it, this car is the exact opposite of what American consumers thought a British car would be in the late fifties and early sixties, and hey, that's on us. America is many things, but it hasn't always been that open about foreign cultures, even if the foreign cultures speak the same language. Americans expect stuffiness from Brits. We-we expect rain-soaked hamlets and fussy wives making meat pies, with arms folded and wearing blank expressions worthy of Buckingham Palace. So the Morris Mini was a reminder that Brits knew their cars and, in some ways, knew cars better than we did. Because from 1964 to 1967, the Morris Mini pulled a Mopar NASCAR on the Monte Carlo Rally, thanks to its efficient 91 horsepower engine and its uncanny tight handling. 

I mean, this is a daily driver for the owner. I've never driven a classic Mini before. I've heard about their handling, but I was unprepared for how good it was. This car is 50 years old, and it handles better than modern cars. Flabbergasted is a good word to describe how I felt driving this. How is it doing this? How is this car faster in a tight corner than a Fiesta ST? And, it was among the most fuel efficient cars of its era, adding to its popularity. It changed the popular perception of what a small car could do, and yet getting to this point required a lot of patience and planning.


In 1952 Nuffield Motors (ughhh... so British, that name... ugh, mmph) and the Austin Motor Company (yes, yes I can smell the tobacco *sniffs* unf, unf, unf, unf, uuunf, uuuunf, unf) merged to become the British Mustache Corporation. It was a partnership neither company wanted, but neither could afford to pass up, since the post-World War II economy was sadder than the 'Futurama' with Fry's dog. Factories were closing left and right, and resources were difficult to come by, and this is without even getting to the fuel shortage. Because THERE IS ALWAYS A FUEL SHORTAGE! 

Of course, the good thing about a fuel shortage is that it forces manufacturers to come up with ways to get better mileage. Ultimately, it was BMC chairman Leonard Lord who hired Sir Alec Issi- aww, man.... *sighs* to craft something that wasn't just fuel efficient but would also would be capable of comfortably seating four, which this car does. Oh, and it had to be affordable, since people were pinching pennies so hard that Lincoln let out a cry from across the pong and beyond the grave. 

Case in point, the BMC shaved costs by requiring Sir Alec to use an existing 950cc four cylinder BMC engine first. Sir Alec got to work innovating by mounting the engine transversely, mounting the transmission beneath the engine to conserve space, and he then design a rubber cone suspension to allow the car's small frame to deal with the weight of four passengers. By the time he was done, BMC requested Sir Alec ditch the 950cc engine  and instead use an 848cc engine. Sure, it would make the Mini slower, but the trade off was that it would be seen as safer  and appeal to some sort of broader sensibility in the market in the UK at the time. Because 950cc is close to a liter, and a liter is the amount of Gordon's dear old dad needed to become sociable at Christmas time. 

Repressed memories. 

Together, the BMC, Nuffield, and Austin Motors were approaching the unknown, and they were doing it with ambition rather than fear, unlike those people who go on the Catfish show instead of using Google like a normal person. 

If you remember nothing from Mini, remember this gear shift. Either this car has synchros or it doesn't and each possibility are equally terrifying. Right, okay, you got your H pattern, you got your H pattern right there. One, two, three, four. H. Four speeds. Mhm? Except, this thing is on a slant, so it feels like you're shifting... when, when the owner told me to shift it feels like you're shifting from one to third, but you're shifting from one. No no, it feels like you're shifting from one to fourth. You're shifting at an angle here, your thrown from first to second is one parallel with the doors. Think about that, every single car you drive, you understand there's four lines inside the cars. There's the line of the doors, the line of the inside of your seat, and then two lines coming from the gear shifter, but they're no there in this car. The gear shifter, the pattern, maybe something was up with it, it felt like it was twisted. it felt like I was shifting on an angle. And you have to force yourself not to shift from first to second in your mind. I'm shifting down where second, where second I think it is, and there's a wall there. Just uh uh, I have to shift sideways. 

It is everything in my ballsack not to revert to old, trite explanations of the classic Mini's handling and grip. I felt the same way driving this car, that I did in the early days of high school and reading 'Catcher in the Rye' for the first time. I get it! It speaks to me! But everything reads true.

Did the UK ever have anything close to the popularity of... is this your Mustang? You had the Cortina, you had the Triumph TR7, but I think of no other car that is as ruthlessly British in the same way the Mustang is American as hell. I could see myself owning one of these things, I could see one of these in my future. Not the immediate future, but I worry if I owned one, i would start referring to that stuff that comes out of a pump... as petrol.. I would have opinions about tweed, but I would be completely uninformed in my choices. Even approaching this car was warm. A Mini is as welcoming as Fred Roger's smile. It's generally sweet and sincere, like The Barenaked Ladies' 'Gordon' album. It's a car that's in on its own joke, but everybody's laughing, including itself. 

But the Mini isn't self conscious about its size in the way smaller car brands tend to be. Confidence is rare, too often you get that guy who's boastful about his size to the point of desperate optimism. You know, asphalt queens. So he buys a condom that's to big and it slides off, so now he has to buy the morning after pill and get tested for ALL THE THINGS. 

The Mini resulted in a breed of sudden elitism that privileged the union of aesthetic and function that this car represented in the sixties. Its type of elitism ignored the history behind the car, why it was necessary, and why it worked. No one thinks about how a big impetus for the Mini was, ya know, the... BMC trying to out-do German engineers int he fuel efficiency department. Lay-people just see a cool car, and boldly claim "They don't make them like this anymore, brrrrr...." It's like the people who think true hip-hop died with Biggie or that rock n' roll hasn't been the same since Lynard Skynard's plane augered into the ground. It's that type of elitism that ignored the past and completely missed the present, because who needs to see the forest when the trees are this pretty?
Hello there, you love me British brood there,
You gave birth to smaller car renowned,
How are you freaking faster, than STs in the city,
You are a Morris Mini, If we want, we'll act super British,
And we'll have Boxing Day with Christmas,
And act like Top Gear isn't on the air, it isn't on the air...