Mini at the 1960s Monte Carlo Rallies

2y ago


1960 Monte Carlo Rally

A mere six months after the Mini had made its debut in the market, 6 minis made their first ever appearance and the Monte Carlo Rally. 6 more were entered by private drivers, the ending result was Riley/Jones finishing 23rd in the fastest Mini.


Rauno Aaltonen, the Flying Finn, entered the spectacular Rally for the first time at the wheel of a Mini Cooper. He closely avoided death when his Mini rolled and caught fire. Only two other works Minis were left in the race, they finished the Rally as No 26 and 77.


This year an Irishman called Paddy Hopkirk, at the wheel of a Mini Cooper, with four works cars entered the famous Rally. The most successful Mini driver at this time was Rauno Aaltonen who achieved victory in his class and finishing third overall. Paddy Hopkirk followed as second in his segment and finished sixth in the overall rating, the two other Mini Coopers raced by the works team finishing 28th and 44th.


The Rally promised to be more exciting than ever this year. Starting out in Minsk, Glasgow, Paris, Frankfurt, Athens, Warsaw, Lisbon, and Monaco, the latter naturally also marking the finish line. BMC alone registering an astounding six ultra-quick and nimble Minis, with 24 more Minis being raced by private teams. Mini drivers Patrick Hopkirk and Henry Liddon set out on the Rally in the Russian city of Minsk together with another Mini team, whilst Rauno Aaltonen and Tony Ambrose start their trip to the south of France. The three other Minis, one of them driven by Timo Mäkinen and Patrick Vanson, start the Rally in Paris, heading for their first interim destination in Reims.

At the end of the race Paddy Hopkirk is the winner with 2,536.2 points, Bo Ljungfeldt finishes second with 2,566.7 points, and Carlsson is third with 2,573.7 points. To round off the Mini Coopers’ triumphant appearance, Mäkinen is fourth with 2,593.8 and Rauno Aaltonen 6th with 2,619.5 points. At the end of the Rally the spectacular and eye-catching style of all three drivers shows everybody that these really must be the Three Musketeers.


In 1965 Timo Mäkinen from Finland continued the Mini Cooper’s story of success together with co-driver Paul Easter, bringing home a supreme victory in the Monte Carlo Rally as the only driver in the entire field to cover thousands of kilometres without one single penalty point despite very difficult snow conditions in the French Alps.


In 1966 the Mini armada went for their hat trick, the four Cooper teams being acknowledged as the favourites in the race and receiving lots of public interest. From the start, the teams lived up to this commitment, Mäkinen, Aaltonen and Hopkirk leaving all the others far behind and finishing first, second and third at the end of the Rally. But then came one of the most questionable decisions in the history of the Monte Carlo Rally, the race commissioners determining in an 8-hour technical inspection after the event that the four additional headlights mounted on the radiator grille of the Mini Coopers failed to comply with French homologation rules. And proceeding from this highly debatable point, the jury disqualified the first three cars.


LBL 6D - The 1967 winner

Notwithstanding this bitter experience, the Mini Coopers were back in the 1967 Monte Carlo Rally, the Three Musketeers Aaltonen, Hopkirk and Mäkinen being joined by Simo Lampinen and Tony Fall. Entering the event with starter number 177, Rauno Aaltonen/Henry Liddon finally ended up in first place, 12 seconds faster than the Lancia finishing second. All other Mini Coopers likewise saw the chequered flag, Hopkirk finishing 6th, Fall 10th, Lampinen 15th, and Mäkinen 41st.


Paddy Hopkirk's 1968 Monte Carlo Rally 5th Place Cooper S

1968 was the last time the works Mini armada set out for Monaco, Aaltonen finishing third in his Cooper S, Tony Fall coming in fourth and Hopkirk finishing fifth, while Mäkinen was No 55 at the finish line. Despite these excellent results scored once again, it was clear at the time that the Mini Cooper S had passed its pinnacle as a rally car. The legend, however, lived on even after the era of the Mini Cooper had come to an end. And to this very day every rally enthusiast knows the meaning of '33 EJB'– the number plate on Paddy Hopkirk’s Mini Cooper S, the winner of the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally.



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