There is no Mini story without mentioning motorsport. On the international front, the Cooper S with twin SU carburettors, a closer-ratio gearbox and front disc brakes went rallying and racing. Victory on the Monte Carlo went the way of Mini Cooper S in 1964, ’65 and ’67 (with Paddy Hopkirk, Timo Mäkinen and Rauno Aaltonen at the wheel respectively). In 1966 the first-placed Mini was disqualified after the event when the car’s headlights were controversially deemed to be illegal. On the track, Rhodesian (Zimbabwean) ace John Love became the first non-British racing driver to win the British Saloon Car Championship driving a Mini Cooper in 1962.
On the home front, the first works-entered race Mini was Peter White’s 848cc Austin Mini that drove to 6th overall in the 1960 East London Winter Motor Race. Verster reports that the first Mini to enter a rally was driven by Tom Baker, with Willem van Heerden calling the notes, in the 1960 Transvaal Trial. Thereafter, Minis of all forms were a fixture in the various saloon car events with names like Tony Woodley, Roddy Turner, Giv Giovannoni, George Armstong, Brian Ferreira and Andy Terlouw just some of the regular protagonists.
Blackheath kept updating the Mini to suit the ever-changing motoring public’s demands, as well as meeting the local content requirement (calculated by weight percentage) stipulated by the South African government. The purpose of this programme, implemented by means of greater tariff protection for car parts made in SA, progressive rebates of excise duty on cars and the offer of bonus import permits, was put in place to promote the development of the South African economy.