Jim Babcock’s 1967 MINI MK 1
By Jim McGowan
The last MINI to be legally imported into the U.S. had to beat an in-country deadline of December 31, 1967. This ’67 Austin Cooper “S” MK I was a high school graduation present for its original and current owner, Jim Babcock. Jim first experienced MINI wonderment in 1965 while attending a race in Hanford, California. From then on he was hooked.
When you checked the option box for the “S” (or SUPER) package, you received the big 1275cc 75-horsepower engine with twin SU carburetors, high compression head, rally cam, oil cooler, 3-row radiator for extra cooling, and a 3.44 final drive. In stock form the “S” would top out at approximately 110 mph. The package also included front disc brakes with larger rear drums (useful at 110), performance suspension, twin fuel tanks, extra bright work and 4.5×10-inch tires and wheels. This MINI is basically a factory race version retuned for the street! Jim raced the “S” in several vintage races in the late ’70s at Willow Springs, as well as at the Moss Motors Extravaganza at Buttonwillow Raceway.
This car was ordered by Jim’s parents from Foreign Motor Sales in Fresno, California, and delivered in July of 1967. Currently it has over 100,000 miles on the clock, including two major engine overhauls and one minor refresh. Since the engine oil also lubricates the transmission, the factory advised that the oil and filter be changed every 1000 miles. Jim’s wife Linda affectionately named their MINI Herman, or “Hermi” for short. They are current members of the Valley British Auto Club of Fresno, California and drive the car regularly.
Jim began a two-year restoration of the potent “S” in 2002, and after finishing the car in 2004, he entered it in a Concours show at Fresno State University where it won its class. The restoration total is six times what the vehicle originally cost. The total dealer price, including tax and license in ’67, was about $2,600, so the Babcocks think of their restoration as a worthwhile investment. Moss Motors supplied many of the mechanical parts for Jim’s award-winning restoration.
The cosmetic resto included a complete repaint, powder coated sub-frames, and a complete new interior featuring a MotoLita steering wheel and walnut dash to brighten up the interior. Mechanical changes include a Longman head with mild VP7 street cam by APT. The exhaust is 2-inch stainless steel with a Super-Trap muffler. The estimated output is between 90 and 100 hp at 7000 rpm. Jim also added 5.5-inch Minilite Magnesium rims and beefier tires. Other than the painting and plating, Jim performed almost all of the other work at home. The “S” package also features either a black or white top to contrast with the choice of body color. Over 100 hours went into the stripping and painting chores alone. Obviously a labor of love.
During the early ’70s, personalities like Steve McQueen and James Garner also drove modified MINIs around Hollywood, so Mr. Babcock is in good performance company. The Babcocks have become regular attendees at the yearly Moss Motors British Extravaganza, which is where we found this excellent example of rare breed, especially considering its original owner status. Check it out in person next year!