AN original and exceedingly rare 1966 Austin Cooper 998, once ‘breathed on’ by the legendary Daniel Richmond at Downton Engineering, is attracting huge attention from classic Mini fans in the run-up to the Classic Car Auctions sale at the Warwickshire Exhibition Centre, near Leamington Spa, on June 10.
After its purchase the Mini was sent to Downton Engineering in 1967 and fitted with a ‘Touring’ conversion before being shipped out to Australia and, subsequently, New Zealand.
It comes complete with the original Downton invoices and records, accompanied by its original UK licence, service records, buff logbook, letters from the original and subsequent owners, and a Classic Car magazine article featuring the car.
Although the bodywork was sound, the Austin Cooper underwent a restoration in 1997, followed by a very recent full mechanical restoration. The work took over five months and only original type new parts were used to keep its authenticity intact, even to the extent of sourcing the correct close-ratio gearbox cluster in Italy.
The engine, gearbox, driveline, in fact everything from the top of the rocker cover to the bottom of the oil pan, is either new or refurbished to a new equivalent. Even the carpets are of the original type and not the commonly used synthetic replacements.
The car has only completed 70 miles since the rebuild so will need to be carefully run-in by the new owner.
The original Downton ‘Touring’ conversion from 1966 provided a substantial increase over the standard car’s performance. This example features twin SU carbs together with the Downton-modified cylinder head, a polished and matched inlet manifold, and a specially designed three-branch exhaust manifold and matching exhaust system.
“This is a very, very rare original Downton-tuned car and is in excellent condition,” reports consignor Richard Greenhalgh, classic car specialist, Classic Car Auctions. “For 12 of the last 14 years it has lived in a climate-controlled environment with other classic cars. It is a truly remarkable gem of a car and is an important part of Mini history.”
It is expected to make between £35,000 and £40,000.