Four Mk2 Cooper S works cars were sent to Australia, UK Reg numbers LRX828E, LRX829E, YMO881H and RJB327F.
LRX828E has been restored by Graeme Urch in Melbourne.
LRX829E was found in a dry creek bed in South Australia and is currently under restoration.
RJB327F was registered in Australia as BLA532, came to NZ for the 1971 Heatway International Rally of New Zealand . It was left in NZ, found in a shed at the Lyttleton Wharf and bought by Brian Houston in Dunedin. He sold the car two years ago and its now back in the UK.
YMO881H was registered in Australia as BLA523. It was crashed, maybe in NZ. It was rebuilt into the Australian Clubman GT shell as shown in the picture below of Evan Green driving it in the Southern Cross Rally in 1971.
They were all works round-nosed Minis, not Clubmans. Australian Reg plate numbers BLA532 and BLA523 were used in the Southern Cross rallies.
BLA523 and BLE532, both came to NZ for the 1971 Heatway International Rally of NZ and were driven by Evan Green/Peter Brown and Andrew Cowan/unknown. The third team car was a Kimberley driven by Ken Tubman/unknown. The team manager was Gus Staunton and the service chief was Terry Douglas. Johnny Seabrook first got his interest here as he caused NZMC to supply logistical assistance which resulted in Peter Levet going with Terry in one of the infamous NZMC 1800 utes. This was Levet’s first experience of top line rallying and it was Terry and himself who rebuilt Cowan's engine in Napier after it had run it's bearings.
Photo of BLA523. You can just make out the English plate YMO88 on the left side of the bonnet. Note sliding windows and external door hinges.
Photo of BLA23 in its Clubman GT shell on 1971 Southern Cross Rally. The copyright of this picture is acknowledged.
The GT is the only car not accounted for, maybe it still lives out there somewhere, lying forgotten in a shed waiting to be found by a Mini enthusiast!
This was taken during the 1971 Heatway International Rally of New Zealand, with Andrew Cowan at the wheel. They were plagued with mechanical problems; they had to rebuild the motor during testing prior to the rally proper starting. They had to rebuild it again during the rally. Also the car had gearbox problems and the final straw was the steering rack on the final stage leg to Wellington. Even so, Cowan won more stages than anyone else, so was the most successful non-finisher. The rally was taken out but an Australian driver Brett Hodgson in a Lotus Cortina.
Article researched by Greg Wenzlick and information provided by Cam Luke and Peter Levet, 2007.
The Heatway International Rally of New Zealand.
In 1971 the Heatway International Rally of New Zealand saw New Zealand achieve international rally status. There were 15 entries from outside NZ, and several local Dealer supported “manufacturer” teams. The NZ Motor Corporation had a team of Minis, with their lead driver Scotsman Andrew Cowan, while Todd Motors used works Hillman Avengers, and there were plenty of Ford’s, Skoda’s and Holden’s. Australian pairing Bruce Hodgson and Mike Mitchell driving their MKII Lotus Cortina were the winners from Kiwi pairing Ralph Emson and Wayne Jones in a Holden Torana GTR-XU1. The event covered 3000km with 48 special stages, and ran from Auckland to Wellington over 6 days.
For the Heatway Rally of 1972, Andrew Cowan was back vowing to make amends from his poor performance the year before. He duly won in the nimble Mini Clubman 1275 GT, with NZ’er Jim Scott co-driving.