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The Performance Mini: a brief history

Article by: Hannah in General - 23 July

At Fiennes Performance we know Minis. We are steeped in experience with all kinds of Mini engines, we know every trick in the book, and a few more, for extracting the maximum performance from them. But how did an engine designed to be a model of the simple and the reliable end up as a byword in performance?

It took the vision of Formula One legend John Cooper. Cooper started out building racing cars in his father’s small garage in Surbiton, and his company went on to win both the Formula One World Championship and the Constructors’ Championship. But John wasn’t content building his own cars. In 1959 he became fascinated by the potential of the newly launched Mini, designed by his friend Alec Issigonis. Seeing it as a champion racer in waiting, he worked with Issigonis to improve the engine, increasing the horsepower from 34 to 55 bhp, fitted front disc brakes, sharpened up the steering and gave it a close-ratio gearbox. The result, in 1961, was the Mini Cooper.

In just a few short years Mini Cooper won almost every major race around the world, including the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, ‘65 and ‘67. Throughout the 60s the Mini Cooper model was further improved and developed, and it is no exaggeration to say that the car became a legend.

Numerous companies have developed their own upgraded versions of the Mini engine, all taking their lead from Cooper. At Fiennes Performance, which now includes Rob Walker Engineering, a performance version can be created with a supplied donor engine, or we can source one if required. Our process includes detailed inspections of every component, all of which are then given a complete chemical clean.

The whole process is highly detailed and precise, and we will deliver to you a fully-reconditioned cylinder block and crankshaft, uprated shell bearings, individually-balanced con-rods, top quality Nural pistons, high performance camshaft and followers, high capacity oil pump, uprated gasket, refaced flywheel, and dynamically balanced crankshaft and flywheel assembly.

Our team collectively has over 70 years of engineering expertise delivering high quality engine machining services. Our people are not only skilled engineers but also drivers, so they know precisely how to get the most out of an engine and they understand that what happens in the workshop affects performance on the road or track. Whatever you want from your Mini, we have the expertise and the technology to deliver it.