CLASSIC CAR REVIEWS - ROVER MINI COOPER

There are lots of Mini Coopers out there and a mind boggling selection of late Rover Mini models bearing the Cooper name. 

The final 10 years of Mini production had more development cash spent than the previous two decades. Changes in bodyshell allowed Rover and then BMW to keep the car compliant with the latest legislation changes, and offer a little bit more in the way of luxury appointments. Here is a selection of some of the later Rover Mini-Coopers.


RSP Rover Mini Cooper
June-October 1990
UK market ‘RSP’ Coopers were only built between June-October 1990 and used the MkVI bodyshell with revised engine mounting. You can spot them apart from mainstream Coopers because they have no ‘Mini Cooper’ badge on the boot, but a circular ‘Cooper’ decal. The ‘John Cooper’ signature was featured on the bonnet, reversed out of the white stripes. Two-tone paint was standard, but the door mirrors and wheel arches are colour coded to the body. A glass sunroof was a standard fitment and tinted glass was always fitted. Inside the seats have black leather facings with
black ‘lightning’ fabric inserts, and a Cooper logo sewn into the seat uprights. Burgundy red carpets are fitted, along with the triple instrument pack in front of the driver with a 110mph speedo.


Mainstream Rover Mini Cooper
June 1990- September 1991
These more mainstream models ran longer than the RSP Cooper special edition, starting at the same June 1990 date but on the Longbridge lines until September 1991. You can spot a mainstream Cooper by it having no bonnet decals (as standard, remember, many were fitted aftermarket). The door mirrors are colour coded to the roof rather than the body, and the wheel arch extensions are black self-coloured plastic. No driving lights were fitted as standard, whereas RSP Coopers had a pair, and the eagleeyed will observe that mainstream Coopers were only ever fitted with sealed-beam headlamps. Glass is non-tinted and no sunroof was fitted.
Inside, the seats have black vinyl facings with ‘Crayons’ cloth, and the carpets are black. The steering wheel is bound in black leather. 
The engine is the same as the RSP, but has no oil cooler and the electric fan is bolted onto the inner wing, with its wiring harness incorporated into the rest of the loom, unlike the RSP which features a separate harness for the fan. The air intake motif featured the Mini Cooper bonnet badge logo embossed on it, which the RSP does not.


Rover Mini Cooper 1.3i 
from September 1991
The big news for 1991 was the introduction of fuel injection. The 1275 A+ motor was a derivative of the MG Metro unit with ‘SPI’ in Rover parlance, or single point injection with a closedloop 3-way cat. Ignition was electronic, and the car had an oil cooler and twin electric cooling fans. Basically it looked the same as the mainstream Cooper, except it placed the winged chromed Mini Cooper badge on the bootlid and had a chrome 1.3i badge also on the boot. Inside was the same as the RSP Cooper, except the Lightning seat fabric extended to the edge of the chairs, and an R652 stereo radio/cassette player was fitted.


Rover Mini Cooper Si 
from 1995
With the resurgence of the Mini name, and an increased interest on the part of new owner of the brand, BMW in ensuring a healthy future for its still-secret MINI, the new-for-96 Si featured the first sight of the latest bodyshell for the original Mini, the Mk VII. The options list expanded, and the full-width dashboard gained potentially a walnut-style dashboard and cream faced instruments.

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