Minis and the Month of March; March was a busy month for Minis!
XC/9003 Testing Continues
1957. March. After the first official test run of the prototype Mini (XC/9003) on February 22nd, testing continued on through March.
“Test” Production Models Built
1958. March. Five, preproduction cars were assembled using similar-to-production methods.
621 AOK Built
1959. March. The Morris Mini Minor later to be known as the first one built (621 AOK) came off the production line on the 30th. There is still some debate about which car was really the first one built. The pros and cons make interesting reading.
First Production Woody Built
1960. March. The first of the production Woodies, an Austin Countryman, was built. Countryman (Austin) and Traveller (Morris) Estate cars (with wood) didn’t go on sale until September. They used the same “long” wheelbase and length as the Van. Unlike the Morris Minor Traveller, the Mini’s wood was non-structural. Because of trim levels, the Estates weighed over 120 pounds more than the Van (and over 160 pounds more than the saloon). Initially, the gas tank was located inside the car in roughly the same position as a saloon tank (although it was of a different shape and used a filler cap unlike any other Minis).
1961. March. The Pickup (one of three long wheel based Minis made) makes its debut at the Geneva Motor Show after initial production started in January. The Pick-up gained the honor of being the longest Mini produced…by 5/8”. It weighted 34 pounds more than a saloon and 8 pounds less than the Van.
Wood Trimmed From Specification
1961. March. Estates, sans wood, were announced at the Geneva Motor Show, but not available in the U.K. until October 1962. Export markets got them first. The wood-sided version continued.
Australia Joins the Mini Family
1961. March. The Australian Morris 850 goes on sale for $1,550AUS.
First Morris 1071 Built
1963. March. The first 1071 Morris Cooper S was built on the 7th. (The first Austin was built in January of the same year.)
Cooper S Goes on Sale. Let the Fun Begin!
1963. March. The Cooper S goes on sale in 1071cc form. Horsepower from the first of the “big bore” engines was up from the 997 Cooper’s 55 to 70. The engine was strengthened in a number of ways and the brakes (now with servo) went to 7.5” diameter and were thicker. Optional wheels at 4.5” wide were offered. Externally, there were very few clues to differentiate the new Cooper S from the Cooper, and not many internally, either. The difference was definitely felt when the Go and Stop pedals were pushed, however.