A Brief History Of The Rover Mini Cooper Sport 500

On October 4th 2000, after 41 memorable years and 5,387,862 produced, production of the most famous car ever, namely, the Mini, came to an end. Rover decided to end it with great celebrations and also build a Special Edition, which would mark the Final Classic Mini.

Rover decided to produce a whole new range for the last Minis. They released the ‘Mini Classic’ range, which included the Classic Mini Seven, Classic Mini Cooper, and Classic Mini Cooper Sport. There was also another model released for Europe, which was the Classic Mini Knightsbridge.

The English bunch I will write more about. The Classic Sevens were a throw back to the Classic Mini of the Sixties, with its stylish retro trim and colour schemes, and rode on classic 12” Alloy Pepper Pot wheels. The Cooper was a smart, practical more traditional Classic Mini, and came with half leather trim, 12’’ Minilite wheels and handled more like the original Mini Coopers. Then the daddy was The Classic Mini Cooper Sport, a modern car in a classic Mini. This edition was full of luxury and came with full leather trim, alloy dash panel, huge masculine Sport Pack arches and 13’’ alloys.

The UK Classic Edition was limited to 2500. I’m still trying to confirm the exact figures from Rover - investigating the matter, it seems it would be broken down in the following manner; there would be less of the Seven, a wee bit more of the Cooper and the majority would have been the Cooper Sports.

On travelling in Europe and stopping at a Belgium Rover Dealer, I was given the tale of the Europe specs for Belgium. They got the following, which I thought was worth putting in this article for future reference. They received the following, Classic Mini Sevens only in Solar Red and limited to 50, then the Knightsbridge in Gold, British Racing Green, Black and Limited to 70, then the Cooper Sports in Tahiti Blue, Solar Red, and Anthracite and Limited to 100. They never received the Classic Cooper.

This above information supports the theory on the UK editions, and along with this the amount of the Classic Editions seen on the road also supports the theory as there are far more Cooper Sports then the Sevens.

The above final Classic Editions limited 2500 mention nothing of the rare and much sought after, Classic Cooper Sport 500. These where made at the end of the line, and are a separate batch of 500 that see in the end of the Mini’s production. There is much confusion of these Minis with the Classic Cooper Sports, (Non 500s), which have the same body spec, trim spec, and were also available in the same colours. The 500s however, were only ever made in the sports pack version with Platinum Silver roofs. There are many other tell tale signs if you own a 500 or looking for one. All genuine 500s came with a rear high-level brake light in the rear window. However, this doesn’t mean that all cars with these are 500s. The lights were fitted to all Minis towards the end of production as the law changed, but there are non 500s and others without them and are a quick external check for owners or buyers of true 500s. The other identifiable item fitted only to 500s is a dash plaque that is mounted within the glove box compartment. This plaque states ’’THIS MINI IS ONE OF THE LAST 500 BUILT TO THE ORIGINAL SIR ALEC ISSIGONIS DESIGN’’. These plaques should only be fitted to the Cooper Sport 500s. However. there are plaques around that were excess stock (why make more than 500 plaques?!) or eBay fakes. Failing that fall back on the chassis number. The 500s came in 4 colours: Solar Red, Tahiti Blue, British Racing Green and Anthracite. There is much debate about these final Limited Editions. Many say, it’s not unlike Rover to build more then 500. That has been denied by Rover, and we have been given a list of the 500’s chassis numbers to help confirm them and to prove that there are only 500. Then there is debate that 500/500 is not the last, it’s the last number in the chassis list. Some people say that it wasn’t the last to roll off the line, there may have been others but this is the final chassis number and was taken early off the line to be hand finished knowing it was set to be a Museum piece.

The Classic Cooper Sport 500s are the Final Chapter in the Mini’s 41 year production history, and we believe that these are the ones we should begin to track and record. I have set up a register for them as I wouldn’t like to see these fall into the same fate as the Sixties Cooper ‘S’, which there are more of today then ever built and many replicas.

The 500 is Rover’s last Mini built and reflects well on the Mini’s life. It has the Classic shape, style and character of the 60’s Mini with the luxury of the modern 2000 car with its full leather trim in the best hides, the larger wheels which give a nice modern look, the Platinum Silver roof and stripes add a modern touch of class, and the alloy dash which is a wonderful tribute to John Cooper’s part in the Mini’s history.

The Cooper Sport 500s also received special gifts with the purchase of the car, the owners received a Cooper Sport 500 shoulder bag full of many Mini branded accessories including: a mini Cap, a T-shirt, and a fleece. The only other important item is a certificate that states the car is a genuine Cooper Sport 500 and on this, it states the chassis number and is signed by John Cooper and Kevin Howe.

I have researched for many years into these cars, but like anyone I would not say I’m an expert. I would appreciate if any members have any more information on any of these cars that they would like to add, please let me know. Or, if you feel I have made a mistake then also let me know. The best people would be the line workers on the production line at the end - I’m still looking for one of them. In November 2005 a Cooper Sport 500 went for Auction at BCA, follow the link to see the document they created for it detailing an example :- 500 Auction Description                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 With thanks to Melanie, who has a letter from Rover detailing the colour breakdown of the 500s, and Andy for getting hold of the info, these are how the last 500 Minis are made up colour wise:-

Anthracite = 108

Solar Red = 110

Tahiti Blue = 128

British Racing Green = 154