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.
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
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.