Feb. 11, 2004 — While I still have the first car I ever owned — my ’64 Chevrolet El Camino I bought in ’73 — the first Mini I ever owned is this ’66 Austin Cooper S. It was Island Blue with an Old English White top, but it looks darker in this pic, which was taken the day I bought it. I tried to drive it home from Long Beach, where it lived with its owner the previous 10 years. The former owner’s partner in the restaurant business, Tony Swizler, is well known in the Mini community. Tony owned this “S” for 20 years before that. If I recall correctly, Tony said he drove this Mini to the first-ever(?) Mini Meet in Lake Tahoe, or somewhere up that way.
When I got it, it was essentially a vintage race car that had been somewhat converted back to street use. Basically, the things that could be done to the engine to make it go faster — had been done to it. And everything to make it corner better, had been done.
Consequently, it was a blast to drive — but not very practical as a daily driver. I literally took to wearing earplugs if I took a drive of any length!
That’s why, when someone calls me today asking about a Mini, one of the first things I’ll ask is, “How do you plan to use your Mini?” For me, this particular Mini was not practical for commuting, and driving every day — and that’s what I intended to use it for.
Why is my Mini on the tow truck? Well, I blew a tire, and — of course — there was no jack, and no spare!
This car now lives in Oregon. Anyone seen it lately? I’d love to hear updates about my “first love”…