Thursday, 26 January 2017

BMC Mini Cooper: Austin or Morris?

I have been looking a bit more closely at some Mini Coopers recently and I have been getting a bit confused. It seems that there are both Morris and Austin versions of the 333 Sun Rally BMC Mini Cooper and 339 Monte Carlo Mini Cooper.

Here is the real Sun Rally Mini with the Cooper badge on the bonnet. It also has extended front bumper devices.

Corgi dropped the bumper extensions and have both Austin and Morris variations but no Mini Cooper badges. I guess it's understandable that they didn't have a Cooper badge ready but for such a short production run I am surprised that there are both Austin and Morris. If you look at QDT pages you'll find only Austin-badged items! That made me think that Morris might be quite scarce but I have found one or two fairly easily amongst current sales.

Despite its short run, both normal and cast wheels can be seen. I have certainly seen both types of the Austin-badged car but I think the Morris-badged cars have only been with cast wheels. So I cannot be sure but suspect that the Morris-badged 333 with normal wheels is the scarce one.

Now, for the 339. Now this is clearly a Morris Mini Cooper! It seems that the same car was driven with and without both the front bumper extensions and the roof rack with two spare wheels.

Corgi's model is pretty good, although they went a bit over the top with the roof rack. It looks like they used the roof rack from the 485 Austin Countryman issued a couple of years earlier. Unfortunately, this was far too big - the real one being just long enough to hold the two wheels and sat in the centre of the roof with clear space in front and behind. That huge chrome affair on the roof of 339 has always looked odd to me and it is sort of satisfying to discover it was wrong anyway.

Again, this model comes with Austin and Morris badges. Austin-badged models seem mostly to have normal wheels but I have seen them with cast wheels too. However, like the 333 model, the Morris badge seems only to have the later cast wheels. Again, perhaps the Morris badge with normal wheels is the scarce one, if, indeed, it exists at all.

This all started as I was looking for the different types of Mini Van - some have an Austin Countryman type of wavy grill but they are few and far between. Just to show that it can always be worthwhile doing a little research, I think I have found another Morris Mini-Minor in blue with the Morris Mini-Cooper base! That'll be the second in under a year so I'll be able to sell one of them soon. 

Now I have to set about find the missing BMC models and I had better extend the search to other 'BMC' Minis too just in case there are more examples of Austin and Morris badging on the same model.

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