If one starts digging into the history of the Mini, the month of January was a very important one; especially, on the international scene.
Anyone even remotely connected with automobile history has heard of the Mini’s success in 4 straight Monte Carlo rallys, even if they know little more than that about the car. And the years 1964 through 1967 have overshadowed very good showings in the bookend years of 1963 and 1968. So, call it six good years at the January event…and we’ll ignore the travesty of the 1966 disqualification.
In 1963, Aaltonen drove an appropriately registered 997 ARX, 997cc Cooper to 3rd overall and 1st in class. Hopkirk was 2nd (407 ARK) and Mayman 4th (737 ABL) in the same class (both also in 997 Coopers), and Morrison was 1st in a slower class with a 4th 997 (477 BBL).
The 1964 event finished on January 23rd with Hopkirk not only 1st in class, but 1st overall driving 33 EJB, a 1071cc Cooper S. Makinen was 4th overall, second in class and Aaltonen was 3rd in class and 7th overall. Both were in 1071s, as well – 570 FMO and 569 FMO.
The next year is not remembered as well as the first overall win in 1964, but the drive Makinen did in AJB 44B to take the overall win in 1965 (on scratch time…no handicaps) is still considered one of the best drives ever made in the Monte, or any other international rally. Dig around and find a copy of Browning’s, The Works Minis, and read the story. And read about the ignition points issue and you’ll understand that not only was the skill of the drive amazing, but that Lady Luck played a little part, too. Makinen was in a 1275cc Cooper S for the overall win. Hopkirk and Morley, also in 1275 Cooper S Minis (CRX 91B and CRX 90B), took 1st and 2nd in a slower class.
The 1966 Monte resulted in the highest highs and the lowest lows. Makinen, Aaltonen and Hopkirk, all driving 1275 Cooper S Minis finished overall, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, in GRX 555D, GRX 55D, and GRX5D, respectively, only to be disqualified in a manner that caused an uproar bringing more good publicity to the Mini than the actual sweep of the first three positions!
January of 1967 saw the Minis get their revenge when Aaltonen finished 1st overall in 1275cc LBL 6D for the last, Monte, overall victory. Hopkirk, in LBL666D, finished 6th overall, with Fall 10th overall in LBL 606D. The handwriting was on the wall in 1968, and in spite of acquitting themselves very well, there was to be no overall victory in the last year the Works Minis competed in the Monte Carlo Rally. Aaltonen, Fall and Hopkirk finished 3rd, 4th and 5th overall, and in the first three places in their category, with ORX 7F, ORX 707F and ORX 777F, all 1275cc Mk II Cooper S Minis.
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