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July 27 , 2010

The Last Works Minis

The end of a legend


The Mini, the car of the 20th Century and still in motorsport in 1997, 35 years after its 1st event. This is it _x0019_s story. In the 60 _x0019_s the BMC works teams using Mini _x0019_s were virtually unstoppable in their quest for recognition in the big world of rallying, they succeeded where others had failed and the BMC works teams were at the time probably the envy of the motorsport world. They introduced to the enthusiast the_x0018_Special Tuning _x0019_ or_x0018_ST _x0019_ as it was later known, a range of tuning products that the public could buy and fit to their own cars thus using the very same parts that the works team were using. Sadly the competition department was wound down and the ST finally went the same way in 1980. Imagine the excitement that hit the media when in the Autumn of 1993 Rover officially announced that they would fund the build of several cars to once again campaign the world famous Rallye Monte Carlo. Although they were not_x0018_works _x0019_ cars, the large contribution of materials and money to the project it was regarded as tantamount to funding a works team, especially when Paddy Hopkirk was named as one of the drivers. It was this that started 4 years of_x0018_Works _x0019_ backed mini _x0019_s to varying degrees, culminating in 1996 to a full works backed team of 2 cars and a full campaign of rallies and races for the three years. Typically the Mini of the 90 _x0019_s, similarly to the Mini of the 60 _x0019_s, carried with it a fair degree of controversy. Over the next four years there was plenty of it, with money being diverted by the sponsor from one team to another, one car even being stolen and top rallying stars carrying out secret test sessions, being just a few examples. All of this using cars that were designed way back in the 50 _x0019_s and even still using the same basic design of engine and gearbox against competitors who were using cars designed over thirty years later with modern engines and transmissions. This book highlights how the use of fuel injection, distributor-less ignition, six speed gearboxes and modern tyres all helped to bring the mighty mini once again to the foreground of modern rallying and racing. In 1996 the_x0018_ST _x0019_ range of competition parts was re-introduced, with the parts coming from the latest 1996 build of_x0018_works _x0019_ cars but once again in mid 1997 the project was pulled amid secrecy, sackings and bitter recriminations that even to this day have prevented the authors from being able to speak to those that were involved behind the scenes at the end of the line for the _x0018_Last Works Minis _x0019_. With many unseen photo _x0019_s of the cars development, copies of Rovers internal documents, copy pages from the road books of top rallies, all of this in colour this book truly brings this previously untold story to life.
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