Mini's homage to a '50s racing legend

The Mini was first created as a revolutionary design in 1959. That same year, a car constructed by John Cooper won the Formula One world championship.

Fifty years on Mini, now owned by BMW, has released the Mini John Cooper World Championship 50 by way of celebration. Each bears the signature "John Cooper", signed by Cooper's son John Michael.

The car is fundamentally based on the classic John Cooper model. Its 1.6 litre four-cylinder engine provides 511 horse power, and the car has been fine-tuned aerodynamically to reflect its racing pedigree.

The Mini Cooper and Mini Cooper S proved themselves repeatedly through the 1960s, while the Mini itself became seen as a classically British brand - thanks in no small part to hit British film The Italian Job.

The two racing versions triumphed in both rally and track racing, with the overall highlight being three wins in four years at Monte Carlo from 1964.

The limited edition is designed to live up to this history, reaching 260 Newton metres of torque when revved up and a speed of 0-100kmph of 6.5 seconds, rising to a maximum of 238 kmph in a straight line.

The unique, limited car is already sought-after among collectors. And now New Zealand automobile buffs can get in on the act, as two have been shipped out to the country and offer to Kiwi buyers.

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