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Monte's The Mini Cooper Monte Carlo

I got into Mini's from the age of 17 or so (about 22 years ago). I've had four in all but Monte is my pride and joy and the only one left. We bought him in September 1994, about a week before we got married, with the money we set aside for our honeymoon and used him as our wedding car. It has given me the Mini bug and I'm now spending far too much time Mini-ing.

Press cuttings from 1994 about the release of the Monte Carlo

After the launch of the 35th birthday specials, Rover announced that a sporty looking Mini Cooper Monte Carlo would be winging its way into the showrooms. Only 200 cars will ever be built.

So what's the spec. Well the car is largely based on the production Cooper, but has the addition of a number of new parts. Among other changes, it has special versions of the familiar alloy wheel with a Mini Cooper logo in the centre, as well as a set of chunky 165x12 tyres. The interior too has been reworked and features a neat set of white and red leather-look seats.

Although the car had only recently been announced, it had already attracted the interest of a rather famous American racing driver. Richard Petty, or simply The King to hoards of NASCAR racing fans, has put in his order for the number 43 - the number he races under in the USA.

MiniWorldSeptember 1994

Anyone who has travelled in a rally car will need no reminding of just how loud and generally unpleasant driving on the road is. Trouble is, that rally look is mighty impressive and the car does tend to go like a rocket (providing you keep the engine revving within millimetres of the red line). The new Mini Cooper Monte Carlo limited edition is a more than acceptable compromise between rally looks and sparky performance.

Special versions of the Cooper have been a bit thin on the ground since the cars re-launch back in 1991, mainly because its healthy sales figures needed little boosting. The recent return of the Mini to the world rally scene earlier this year (1995) however, sparked Monte mania, and this is the showroom result.

Under the bonnet is the now familiar single point fuel-injected 1275cc, 63bhp A+ Series motor linked to the even more familiar four speed gearbox. Four auxiliary lamps dominate the front of the car, while the body-colour wheel arch extensions deceive the eye and make the car look that little bit wider than it is. Specially finished alloy wheels covered with Dunlop 165 tyres add to the sporty look, while a set of special Monte Carlo decals complete the effect. While the exterior of the car has been influenced by the Monte Carlo rally cars, the interior is a world apart from the spartan cockpit of its competition brethren. The red and white colouring found on the outside of the car is carried through the inside with the seats boasting red side rolls with patterned white facings. On the walnut dashboard, a set of ivory white dials add a sporty twist, while an extra switch on the dashboard controls the two fog lamps. Other tweaks include a red leather-covered gear knob and steering wheel and a set of red seat belts.

How do you vastly improve the handling of the standard Cooper with just one change of specification? Answer: Put a set of decent tyres on it. It still comes as something of a surprise in the Miniworld office that the new Coopers are rolling out of Longbridge on those dreadful Pirelli 145x12 tyres, but the Dunlop Sport 165x12 covers fitted to the Monte Carlo are a huge improvement. The grip is a good deal better with the Dunnies, and although the road noise is increased, it's a price well worth paying for a sweet-handling car. Other than the improvement in road holding, there's little difference between driving the Monte Carlo and the standard Cooper in the day-time, although I can guarantee that you'll get noticed a helluva lot more!

For the real difference, the car must be driven at night, preferably down a road without streetlights. A quick flick on the light stalk to engage main beam makes for instant daylight as the twin spot and fog lamps (provided they're turned on) kick in. The light offered by the six beams is mighty impressive, and more than enough to assist fairly rapid progress through country lanes.

Okay, so the Col de Turini may be a far cry from a trip to Tesco, but with the Monte Carlo, you and Paddy Hopkirk have at least got the car in common! The Monte Carlo offers a number of goodies we'd love to have on our Cooper, in particular a set of those tyres. Its overall appearance is a real eye-catcher, and with only 200 being made, the Monte Carlo is bound to become a real collectors item.

MiniWorldNovember 1994

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