After the introduction of the Mini in 1959 and the Mini Cooper in 1961, a more powerful Mini Cooper, dubbed the "S", was developed and released in 1963.
Featuring a 1071 cc engine with a 70.61 mm bore and nitrided steel crankshaft and strengthened bottom end to allow further tuning; and larger servo-assisted disc brakes, 4,030 Cooper S cars were produced and sold until the model was updated in August 1964.
Cooper also produced two S models specifically for circuit racing in the under 1,000 cc and under 1,300 cc classes respectively, rated at 970 cc (59 cu in) and a 1,275 cc (77.8 cu in), both had a 70.61 mm (2.780 in) bore and both of which were also offered to the public. The smaller-engine model was not well received, and only 963 had been built when the model was discontinued in 1965. The 1,275 cc Cooper S models continued in production until 1971.
Sales of the Mini Cooper were as follows: 64,000 Mark I Coopers with 997 cc or 998 cc engines; 19,000 Mark I Cooper S with 970 cc, 1,071 cc or 1,275 cc engines; 16,000 Mark II Coopers with 998 cc engines; 6,300 Mark II Cooper S with 1,275 cc engines. There were no Mark III Coopers and just 1,570 Mark III Cooper S.
BMC Australia assembled their own Mini Coopers, the most famous of these being the Cooper 1275S. This was only assembled in the Mark 1 body but featured wind-down windows with quarter-lights in the front from the Innocenti Mini. Australia had their own versions of most BMC cars made from bits and pieces of other countries kits. It was superceded by the Australian Clubman 1275GT.
In 1971, the Mini Cooper design was licensed in Italy by Innocenti and in 1973 to Spain by Authi (Automoviles de Turismo Hispano-Ingleses), which began to produce the Innocenti Mini Cooper 1300 and the Authi Mini Cooper 1300, respectively. The Cooper name disappeared from the UK Mini range at this time, as British Leyland (as it was by then) supposedly did not want to pay John Cooper royalties for the use of his name, so it was not seen again on Minis for nearly 20 years.
A new Mini Cooper named the RSP (Rover Special Products) was briefly relaunched in 1990–1991, with slightly lower performance than the 1960s Cooper. It proved so popular that the new Rover Cooper-marked Mini went into full production in late 1991. From 1992, Coopers were fitted with a fuel-injected version of the 1,275 cc engine, and in 1997 a multi-point fuel injected engine was introduced, along with a front-mounted radiator and various safety improvements. Production was stopped in September 2000 by the new owners BMW who purchased the Rover Group in 1994 but sold off everything except the Mini.
In 2001 the new generation MINI Cooper was introduced and it was clear that highly advanced chassis technology would be needed in order to set the pace in driving fun all over again. The MINI Cooper rose to the challenge in some style, thanks to MacPherson spring struts at the front axle, axle shafts equal in length, a multi-link rear axle unique in the small car segment, disc brakes on all four wheels, and DSC (Dynamic Stability Control).
The latest-generation MINI Cooper S also features Electric Power Steering with Servotronic function and a DSC system including DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) and an electronic locking function for the front axle differential. Known as Electronic Differential Lock Control (EDLC), this system gives the MINI a crucial edge through the tight bends of Alpine passes, for example, by braking a spinning wheel as required to enhance drive out of corners as well as the car’s steering properties. Added to which, pressing the standard Sport Button in the MINI Cooper S makes the steering even more direct and stirs up a particularly sporty soundtrack from the engine.
All of this was unimaginable 50 years ago, of course, but you get the impression John Cooper would have wholeheartedly approved.