・Highly original and desirable Cooper Sport 500
・One of the last ever original Minis
・Some cosmetic work required
After a glorious production run that spanned 41 years and over five million examples the Issigonis Mini finally bowed out in 2000, shortly before the now BMW-owned brand would unleash an entirely new sort of Mini on the buying public. To celebrate the original’s milestone achievement Rover launched a series of special edition cars towards the end of its production run and the most exclusive of these are the Mini Cooper Sport 500 models.
They were the last 500 cars to roll off the production line and were based on the Cooper Sport models but featured some special detailing as well as a production plaque and a certificate of authenticity. Fitted with the fuel injected 1,275cc four-cylinder engine they were sprightly performers and today are becoming coveted by collectors.
The Cooper Sport 500 was available in four different colours – Anthracite, Solar Red, Tahiti Blue and British Racing green – and all featured a contrasting Platinum Silver roof and bonnet stripes. The example we have here is finished in Solar Red and according to the Mini Cooper Sport 500 Register is the 477th example produced making this the 24th last classic Mini ever made.
This Mini is believed to have been built on 27th September 2000 and was first registered at the end of March 2001. In total it’s had seven owners although exactly where the car was located during the early part of its life is not known. It was evidently enjoyed though as by the time it reached its fifth birthday in 2006 it had covered nigh on 50,000 miles.
Information garnered from old V5s suggests the car was purchased by a Mr Fox from Stoke-on-Trent in 2007 and was then sold to a Mr Saunders in 2010 who lived in Edinburgh. The current keeper purchased the Mini from marque specialists G C Motors in Swanley in April 2018 when the mileage recorded on its MoT certificate was 62,554 miles. In the ensuing three years he has used the car for local trips and the occasional longer journey and covered just under 8,000 miles and loved every minute. It’s now surplus to requirements though and while he’d love to keep it as a fun car for occasional use he acknowledges that without a garage to keep it in it’s time for the Mini to be loved by its next owner.
Accompanying the Cooper Sport 500 is the original certificate of authenticity bearing the car’s chassis number and the signatures of John Cooper and Kevin Howe, the Rover Chief Executive when the car was new. All Sport 500s also came with a ‘goody bag’ when new which contained various items of Mini memorabilia. Their contents varied depending on each selling dealer and this car has the goody bag along with a 40 years of Mini T-shirt and cap along with a Mini vanity mirror and a portable razor set that are thought to have been the contents of this car’s original goody bag.
There’s no history or receipts prior to the current owner’s time with the car but there are MoTs and invoices from his ownership showing that servicing and repairs that have been necessary have been carried out. Other miscellaneous paperwork includes information from the Mini Cooper Sport 500 Register confirming its build date and production number along with some handbooks and sales receipt from when the current owner purchased the car. There is a V5C in the owner’s name.
Overall the interior of the Mini presents well and is in virtually original standard condition with the only variations from standard being an adaptor to play music from a phone through the original stereo and a ‘lights on’ warning alarm. The standard alloy dash is in good order and inside the glovebox you’ll find the original plaque that was fitted to all Cooper Sport 500s declaring ‘This Mini is one of the last 500 built to the original Sir Alec Issigonis design’.
All the switchgear on the dash appears to be in good order and this example is fitted with an original Mini-branded Radio/CD player which is believed to be rare as most were fitted with a cassette player. The dials are in good condition as are the door trim panels, with just slight scuffing from 20-year’s worth of drivers getting in and out of the car. The alloy door furniture is in good order, too.
The original black and grey two-tone seats are in good condition with no rips or tears that could be seen with just the normal patination you’d expect to see commensurate with 20 years of use. The two-tone leather steering wheel is original and is showing a fair degree of wear. The headlining is in good order.
The Mini’s Solar Red paintwork presents in generally good order although the owner does acknowledge that there are several areas on the car that require some cosmetic remedial work. The owner says the underside appears to be solid.
The bonnet striping is beginning to show its age as is the pin striping down the Minis sides. The lights appear to be in good condition although some of the indicator units do show some signs of condensation. The exterior brightwork is in generally good order and the front and rear bumpers present well with no unsightly dents while the wheel arch extensions are also in sound order. The Mini-branded alloy wheels are in generally good condition with a small amount of light scuffing evident. They are fitted with Continental tyres at the rear and Nankang tyres at the front. All tyres have a fair amount of tread remaining.
The Mini starts first time and would seem to run well, idling smoothly and evenly. During the current owner’s time with the car regular maintenance has been carried out on the car mechanically including services in 2018 at 64,674 miles and in 2019 at 66,323 miles.
Additional repairs have included a new expansion tank, the fitment of a large bore stainless steel silencer, a new clutch slave cylinder and replacement front ball joints. The owner reports that the Mini is exceedingly enjoyable to drive.
There’s no doubting the Mini’s place in history as a motoring icon and this example is one of the very last made and presents in desirable virtually original condition. Its interior is in very good condition and while the bodywork could do with a little bit of rejuvenation here and there it should be a great little car once completed.
With relatively low mileage – just 3,500 a year – and excellent provenance these Minis are becoming increasingly rare and desirable and this example should delight its next owner in the same way it’s been enjoyed by its current custodian. A piece of British motoring history that’s not to be missed.
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