The British Sports Car

                                           1964 Morris Mini Cooper S                                                                               Winner of the 1965 Monte Carlo Rally

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                                           from Classic to Modern

British Racers On The Track

                                            1959 Daimler SP250 Dart                                                                               This 1959-64 2-seater used a 140 bhp, 2.5 litre V8                                                             with a 124 mph top and 0-60 in 8.9 secs. A rare                                                                sight on the track. Seen here at the AC Owners'                                                              Club 2015 Clubman's MSA Sprint Meeting. Nice

                                               1969 Lola T70 Mk 3B                                                                                 The original T70 was an open top Mark 2 version,                                                           which was followed by the Mark 3 coupe variant                                                             and finally the slightly modified Mark 3B. A total                                                                of 100 T70's were built. What beautiful lines.                                                                         Seen here during the 2015 Jefferson 500

                                          1965 Morris Mini Cooper S                                                                                   An impressive example that even retained the                                                                  original bumper over-riders. Seen here, driven                                                                   by Nick Smith, during the testing phase in the                                                                           2015 Goodwood Revival Meeting

The Mini Cooper

     The British sports car. John Cooper, who built Formula One and rally cars, was well aware of the tuning potential of the A-Series engine used in the Mini.

     After extensive discussion and collaboration, the Austin and Morris Mini Cooper sports car made their appearance in 1961.

     The Morris Mini used an 848 cc engine. However, with tuning, and and giving it a longer stroke, the capacity could be increased to 997 cc. Power would increase from 34 bhp to 55 bhp.

     The Mark 1 Mini Cooper had two SU carburettors, a close ratio gearbox, and front wheel disc brakes. 

     In 1964, the original 997 cc engine was replaced, in the Mark 2 Mini Cooper sports car, with one using a shorter stoke and a capacity of 998 cc.

     In 1992, the Rover Mini Cooper used a 1275 cc engine, with fuel injection replacing the SU's.

     Sales of the Mini Cooper were: 64,000 Mark 1 and 16,000 Mark 2. 

Technical data                        Mk1                Mk2                 Rover
Production:                        1961-1964     1964-1969      1992-2000
Engine: cc                                998                 997                  1275
Cylinder, bhp                          4, 55               4, 55                 4, 62
Top Speed mph                         84                   88                     94
0-60 mph, secs                       17.2                13.1                  12.2

                                                   1978 Mini Cooper                                                                                                             Seen at Goodwood 

                                                                                                                                           Full Scree                                                                                                             Full Scree 

The Mini Cooper S

     In 1963, more powerful versions of the basic Mini Cooper made their debut under the name of Austin and Morris. 

     The first was the 1071 cc Mini Cooper S, with a modified crankshaft and stiffened main bearings, to allow for further tuning.

     It had enlarged servo assisted disc brakes, and was designated the Mark 1 Mini Cooper S. It was built for only one year.

     In 1964, the 970 cc Mini Cooper S was launched, designed for racing in the under 1000 cc class.

     However, it was not popular, and was only manufactured for a year. It was designated the Mark 2 Mini Cooper S

     On the other hand, in 1963, the 1275 cc Mini Cooper S was introduced, and was an immediate success, with continuous production until 1971.

     There was a Mark 1, 2 and 3 version. This model was designed for racing in the under 1300 cc class

     Sales of the Mini Cooper S were:      

  • 19,000 Mark 1 (combined 970, 1071 and 1275)
  • 6,300 Mark 2 (1275 only)
  • 1,570 Mark 3 (1275 only)

     A Mini Cooper S sports car won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965 and 1967.

                                          1961 Austin Mini Cooper S 

                                            1963 Austin Mini Cooper S                                                                                      fitted with a 1293c.c. Swiftune Cooper S engine producing 136bhp

                                             1967 Morris Mini Cooper S

                                           1963 Morris Mini Cooper S

                                           1964 Morris Mini Cooper S

                                        1963 Austin Mini 1275 Cooper S

                                                1964 Austin Mini Cooper S 

Technical Data                     970 Mk 2      1071 Mk 1      1275 Mk 1-3
Production:                        1964-1965    1963-1964         1963-1971
Output                                     963                4,030               20,307
Engine cc                                 970                 1071                 1275
Cylinder, bhp                          4, 65                4, 70                 4, 76
Top Speed mph                         90                    92                     97
0-60 mph, secs                      13.0                 13.5                   10.5

                                                      Full Scree                                                                                                                                                              Full Scree 

                                                                                        Full Scree                                                                                                           Full Scree 

The Jensen Healey

     When production of the Austin Healey 3000 sports car ended in 1967, there were discussions between Donald Healey and the carmaker Jensen.

     From the resultant collaboration was born the Jensen Healey sports car.

     At the prototype stage, a number of engines were evaluated from Vauxhall, BMW and Ford. However, none were acceptable.

     Finally, Jensen approached Lotus who had a new, but untested engine which met the requirements. 

     It was a 2-litre, twin overhead cam, 16 valve, aluminium unit called the Lotus 907.

     The result was offered as a two seater convertible or coupe, with front disc brakes and rear drums. It used coil springs at the front, and a rear live axle.

     European export models had two, twin choke carburettors, whilst US models had a single Stromberg, for emission requirements.            

     The Jensen Healey was popular in the US, but less so in the UK. A total of 3,777 were sold.           

     To offset financial difficulties, the Jensen Healey GT was introduced in 1975. It was a 2+2 coupe with a limited rear view. 

     Jensen went into receivership in 1976.   

Technical data                             Jensen Healey                GT
Production:                                    1972-1976           1975-1976
Output                                               10, 498                   509
Engine: cc                                            1973                    1973
Cylinder, bhp                                      4, 144                  4, 140
Top Speed mph                                     119                      120
0-60 mph, in secs                                  8.1                       7.9

                                                1973 Jensen-Healey                                                                           This eye-catching example was spotted at the                                                          2015 Bromley Pageant of Motoring in Kent

                                                1973 Jensen Healey                                                                               This imposing classic was seen during the                                                              2015 London to Brighton Classic Car Run

                                                     Jensen Healey                    Image

                                                   Jensen Healey GT               Image

                                                       Jensen Healey        Image

                                                      Jensen Healey

The Jensen Interceptor

     In 1966, the Jensen Interceptor sports car was launched.

     It was offered as a two door, four seat hatchback, convertible or coupe.

     The Mark 1 version used a 6.3 litre (383 cu in) Chrysler V8 engine, developing 325 bhp.

     It had a distinctive, very large, wrap around rear window that also acted as a tailgate. It had disc brakes on all wheels, independent front suspension, and rear leaf springs.

     In 1969, the Mark 2 was introduced with styling that was slightly revised.

     In 1971, a larger Chrysler 7.2 litre (440 cu in) V8 engine was used with three, twin choke carburettors, developing 330 bhp.

     This version of fuel delivery was called the SP, and was also available on the 6.3 litre engine, developing 385 bhp.

     In 1972, the 7.2 litre engine now used a single 4-barrel carburettor.

     In 1973, the Mark 3 had further minor styling changes.

                                 1954 Jensen Interceptor Convertible                                                                    With its distinctive styling, it used a 3993 cc                                                            straight-6 engine with a top of 95 mph and                                                           0-60 in 17.8 secs. In 1953, renowned driver                                                              Briggs Cunningham raced an Interceptor                                                                              with a Chrysler engine

                                        1973 Jensen Interceptor Mk 3                                                                      This 2+2, 135 mph beauty was powered by a                                                       7.2 litre V8. Its huge fuel consumption during                                                                   the fuel crisis marked its demise

                                            1974 Jensen Interceptor 3 

                                         Jensen Interceptor Convertible

Technical data                         Mark 1/2              SP                 Mark3
Production:                            1966-1969      1971-1973      1971-1976
Engine: cc                                   6276                 6276               7212
Cylinder, bhp                            8, 325               8, 385              8, 330
Top Speed mph                           139                   145                  135
0-60 mph, in secs                        6.5                    6.9                   7.5

                                                                                        Full Scree  

                   Jensen Interceptor        Image

The Jensen 541

                                                   1957 Jensen 541 

                                                      Jensen 541                                                                                   The 1954-59, 109 mph/0-60 in 10.8s, was                                                           powered by a 4l, straight-6, 3 SU carb Austin                                                         engine. Only 226 made. This smart example                                                           was seen at the Chiltern Hills Classic Car Show

Jensen C-V8

                                                 1964 Jensen C-V8                                                                                 The distinctive lines of this unique classic

                                              1963 Jensen CV-8 Mk 1                                                                     This very smart example was spotted at the 2013                                                         Shere Hill Climb near Guildford in Surrey

The Daimler Dart

     By the late 1950's, the luxury carmaker Daimler was in financial difficulties.

     As a result, the company decided to enter the US sports market with their own model. 

     Hence, the Daimler Dart, later known as the Daimler SP250, was born. The "SP" referred to Sports, and the "250" to its 2.5 litre engine.

     Launched at the New York Auto Show in 1959, it was well received.

     It was described as a 2+2 sports car, with a fibreglass body on a steel chassis.

     Its engine was an all new 2.5 litre, hemispheric combustion chambered, overhead valve, V8 unit, with two SU carburettors.

     The chassis in the original A-spec sports car had a tendency to flex on hard cornering, causing the doors to open.

     However, this was rectified in 1960 with the introduction of the B-spec car. 

     In 1963, the C-spec version appeared, with luxurious extras as standard.

     Daimler was acquired by jaguar in 1960 and, sadly, since the Daimler Dart had to compete with the E-Type, it wan't given the attention it deserved, which had an adverse affect on sales.

Technical data
Production:                                      1959-1964
Output:                                                2,645
Engine: cc                                             2547
Cylinder, bhp                                       8, 140
Speed mph                                            124
0-60 in secs                                           8.9

                                            1960 Daimler SP250 Dart                                                                      A tasty close up shot of this emotive sports car

                                                 Daimler SP250 Dart                                                                          Presented in its full glory amongst other classics

                                                     Daimler Dart                      Image

                                                       Daimler Dart                    Image

                                                  Daimler Dart SP250                 Image

                                             1962 Daimler SP250 Dart

                                                                                                                                                     Full Scree  

The McLaren F1

     In 1988, a simple drawing of a three seater sports car formed the basis for creating the ultimate sports car. Hence was born the F1.

     In 1992, the McLaren F1 was presented at The Sporting Club in Monaco.

     It used a glass fibre monocoque chassis. 

     It was decided that the engine should be normally aspirated since turbochargers and superchargers added a degree of complexity which might affect the drivers' level of engine control  .

     The final choice of engine was a BMW 6.1 litre, V12. It used an aluminium block and cylinder head, four overhead camshafts, and variable valve timing.

     The road version had a compression ratio of 11.1.

     In 1998, the McLaren F1 was the world's fastest road car, reaching 231 mph, with its revs limited, and 243 mph when able to rev freely.

     Only 106 F1's were manufactured:

  • 64 of the standard street version (F1)
  • 5 were tuned versions (LM's), referring to Le Mans
  • 3 were road cars (GT)
  • 5 were prototypes (XP)
  • 28 were race cars (GTR)
  • 1 was an LM prototype

Technical data
Production:                                          1992-1996
Output:                                                      106
Engine: cc                                                 6064
Cylinder, bhp                                          12, 618
Top Speed mph                                          243
0-60 mph, in secs                                      3.2
0-100 mph, in secs                                    6.3
0-150 mph, in secs                                  12.8
0-200 mph, in secs                                    28

                                            McLaren F1 GTR Longtail                                                                        This striking shot of the 197 mph/BMW 6 litre                                                          V12 racer was taken at the 2014 Goodwood                                                                                 Festival of Speed

                                                McLaren F1 Longtail                                                                              Seen at the opening of McLarens Stockholm showroom

                                               1996 McLaren F1 GTR

                                                    McLaren F1 GTR                    Image

                                                                                         Full Scree                                                                                                            Full Scree 

Other McLaren Racers

                                                1969 McLaren M12 GT                                                                            Prior to his death in 1970, Bruce McLaren intended                                                         this to be the world's fastest road car. It used a 370                                                           bhp. 5.7 litre Chevrolet V8 with a 180 mph top and                                                        0-60 in 4.2 secs. Seen here at Goodwood. A real looker

                                                   McLaren P1 GTR                                                                              This excellent shot was taken at the Goodwood                                                                         Festival of Speed 2015

                                                  McLaren 650S GT3                                                                          Action shot taken at the Firestone Grand Prix                                                                             in St. Petersburg 2015

                                                  McLaren MP4-12C

                                                   McLaren MP4 12C

                  Above is a small selection of some classic British sports cars


                                                 see All My Reviews

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