BMW has released a new version of the Mini Cooper, a car with an almost cult status for Euro car fans. The new Mini Cooper keeps in touch with its roots, but adds new technology and distinctive 21st century styling to an old Euro favorite.
John Cooper started building F3, F2, and F1 racing cars in the BMC garage in Surbinton, England, from the 1940’s through 1960, winning championships along the way. With the blessings of Sir Alec Issigonis, the original Mini was built for rally and saloon car racing. The car proved as worthy as it’s F1 cousins, winning the European Rally Championships as well as the Monte Carlo Rally three times. During this time, the production Mini’s were also selling like mad, in the process becoming a symbol of the swinging 60’s in England. 150,000 units of the quirky little car were produced through 1971, and used models can still be seen and bought in Europe and the United States.
By the 1980’s, John Cooper Garages were providing aftermarket conversion kits to the U.S. and Japanese markets. The success of these kits led Cooper to redesign the engine and relaunch the Mini in the 1980’s, again with immediate success. Further enhancements and redesigns led to no fewer than nine different Mini Cooper variants being sold worldwide through 2000. In July 2001, BMW started producing the latest variant of the Mini Cooper, but John Cooper Works continues to sell aftermarket parts and conversion kits for classic Mini Coopers.
In 2001, BMW undertook a redesign of the classic Mini Cooper, introducing modern technology while retaining the distinctive style and flavor of the European favorite. Under the hood, a new 1.6 liter 16 valve motor powers the 3.5 m car with up to 115 hp, and the car itself features air conditioning, ABS, electronic stability control, as well as modern safety features such as front and side airbags, crumple zones, and side impact protection.
The Revell 1:24 Mini Cooper reflects the BMW redesign of the Mini, and is molded by Revell AG. Four white plastic sprues and one clear sprue are separately bagged, with two sprues of chromed pieces left loose in the box. Four rubber tires are also bagged when the box is open. The kit is a curbside, and the detail on the chassis is limited due to the modern covered nature of German motors, as in the new Audi and VW engines.
The molding is very good, thoroughly modern and typical of Revell and Revell AG standards. The body of the car consists of six parts – the aforementioned chassis, the interior floor pan, the body itself, front grill, the clear windows (front and rear windshields and side windows are molded as one part), and a separate roof. While the separation of the roof from the body of the car is unusual and may seem to complicate the fitting of the roof properly, the dry fit is very nice and seems to present no immediate problems. The color scheme depicted on the box front of a red body with white roof is very easily handled using this engineering (i.e. no masking).
The interior floor pan is very simple, with positive locators for the front seats and molded in rear seats. There are also positive locators to attach the floor pan to the chassis. The chassis includes partial molded front suspension and a molded exhaustsystem. The exhaust system is separated in places from the chassis itself, so while painting the exhaust is made easier, painting the underside of the floor pan before assembly is necessary. Separate interior door panels are also provided, as is a detailed five-piece dash assembly
The front suspension is partially molded into the chassis, but a three-piece suspension assembly is provided for both front and rear suspensions. There is no brake detail given, with a three-piece wheel assembly consisting of an inner wheel, the outer chrome rim, and rubber tire completing that assembly. The chrome pieces on my kit were hit and miss – one sprue was fine, while the second sprue (consisting of the dash and wheel rims) were spotty and unsatisfactory. Stripping the chrome and replating those pieces will be the most difficult part of this assembly.
The eight page instructions are rather complete and well made for a kit of this low complexity. A small decal sheet is also provided with dash and body decals, as well as two sets of Euro-style license plates reading “Mini Cooper”.
The kit is a must-have for Mini Cooper fans, as well as for car modelers looking for something different and relatively quick to add to their collections. Estimates of an out of the box build-up of this kit range from 10 to 20 hours, dependant mostly on body prep and paint cure times. The simple chassis and interior designs help speed the build time without compromising detail or quality. The chrome plating leaves something to be desired, but isn’t unfixable. This cute and quirky car is sure to attain cult status just as it’s predecessor did, and the model is sure to attract attention and second-glances as frequently as the real car does.