Ian Nicholls delves the archive to recall the 1964 Racing Car Show. Yes, it really is 55 years since this gathering of the brightest minds in and around BMC came together to celebrate arguably the Mini’s greatest success of them all…
Enjoy the trip down memory lane!
1964 Racing Car Show: The great and the greatest
The 1964 Racing Car Show was held in the West Hall at Olympia from 22 January to 21 February. The British Motor Corporation managed to rush 33EJB, the Mini Cooper 1071S that had just won the Monte Carlo Rally with Paddy Hopkirk and Henry Liddon, to the show. The image featuring 33EJB (above) features some prominent BMC backroom staff.
On the extreme left, gripping the rail is Bill Appleby, the Chief Designer of Engines and Gearboxes for BMC. Born in Liverpool in 1901. He worked for Sunbeam, Vauxhall and Standard before joining Austin in 1934. He retired in 1968.
The man at the back behind the little old lady is Daniel Richmond, the owner of Downton Engineering. A BMC consultant, he was heavilly involved in the development of BMC engines, beginning with the MG 1100. He died in 1974, six years after his consultancy was terminated by British Leyland. The next character gripping the rail is John Cooper, whose F1 team were World Champions in 1959 and 1960, and the man who conceived the concept of the Mini Cooper.
Like Daniel Richmond, he was cast aside by British Leyland, but was welcomed back into the Rover fold in the late 1980s. He may have died in December 2000, but Mini and Cooper are now inexplicably linked, thanks to BMW who could see the halo effect the Cooper name had on the MINI brand, something that escaped all the clever people in British Leyland. Next in line is Charles Griffin, then the Chief Engineer, Passenger Cars at BMC. Born in 1918, he had joined the Nuffield organisation in 1940.
It was Griffin’s skill that turned the ADO16 project from an upscaled Mini into the stylish, and bestselling BMC 1100/1300 series. He managed to retain his position on the formation of British Leyland and eventually became the Austin-Morris engineering supremo in 1974. It was in this period that he initiated the ADO88 programme which eventually evolved into the LC8 Metro of 1980. He retired in 1978 and died in October 1999. His son Brian also became an Engineer for BMC and its successors. And finally we have the BMC Technical Director himself, Alec Arnold Constantine Issigonis.
With the exception of Daniel Richmond, these individuals also appear in the other two images with a Mini Cooper, which was entered in the British Saloon Car Championship by the Cooper Car Company on a works-team basis. The bonnet stripes on the Mini were derived from the appearance of the Cooper single-seater racing cars, and became a standard fixture on all Mini Coopers built since 1990.