One day you may need to look twice at your collection of Corgi minis. There are a lot more than you might have realised - and this post only deals with the Mini Coopers!
The story starts in 1962 when a Morris Mini Cooper was issued. This only came in pale blue or an almost white pale primrose. All had white roofs. I have some with white bonnets and some without. I am not sure whether both are original, though. They'll be numbers #1, #3 or #7 but as people can buy the decals and stick them on that's not a definitive guide. The colour should be enough but you'll find that this model had just two headlamp jewels and none in the radiator grill.
Next came 317 in 1964 - the Morris Mini Cooper S Rally Monte Carlo. This is always red with a white roof only and should be #37. It's pretty easy to spot this one! There's a chrome spot light on top. This one has no jewels in the radiator grill and no other minis have the light on top so this is a fairly safe bet identification-wise.
In 1965 things started to get complicated. I guess the mini won a rally and Corgi issued #321 Morris Mini Cooper S Rally Monte Carlo. This red with a white roof - no other colours or combinations, of course, as they're reflecting a real car. It should have #52 on the side and three jewels in the radiator. Look carefully and you will see that it is a different casting with two fog lamps just above the radiator, usually painted silver.
In 1966 I think a mini must have won the Rally again and there is a second version but still model number 321. This one has signatures on the roof (which look a bit strange) and it should have #2 on the side. Again it is only in red with a white roof. There is a second difference, though: surprisingly, this version has just two jewels in the radiator grill! And, unbelievably, it doesn't have the two cast fog lamps, being based on an earlier cast! That's really odd and I have only just spotted it, several months later!
Almost as an aside, there is the 1965 issue of a Mini Cooper with wickerwork panels but that is so different that it doesn't need much explaining! That's model number 249.
As if the 1966 change wasn't enough, there is another. Model 333 comes along - this time as a BMC Mini Cooper S 'RAC International Rally'. This is red with a white roof and should have #21 on the side in a strange-looking decal which has the black digits across a red disc on a white rectangle. Now this model has not two, not three but four jewels in the radiator grill! This is proving elusive so still no photo!
In 1967 model number 339 comes along - another red and white affair - and a repeat of the four jewels in the radiator but luckily this one has a massive roof rack so you'll not have to worry too much identifying that one!
You might have expcted 334 to be a variant of 333 but it is actually a completely different mould. It is still, allegedly, a Mini Cooper but comes with an orange stripey sunroof affair, opening everything and is called a BMC Mini Cooper Manifique. Two colours, a nice metallic blue or this green, and it was available from 1968 until 1970. No extra jewels, no numbers and all have louvred cast wheels.
There are, of course, Whizzwheel versions of the Mini Cooper too.
This is 308 which you can see is really #339! This only appeared in yellow.
This is #208 and is #334 in disguise, with opening bits but no stripey roof. This only appeared in white.
I hope this helps someone! Soon I shall look at the 'normal' Mini.