Conversion Records at John Cooper Garages

General Chat with an emphasis on BMC Minis & Other iconic cars of the 1960's. Includes information on MK1 Action days.
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mab01uk
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Conversion Records at John Cooper Garages

Post by mab01uk »

Whenever I read articles about the history of the 1990's Rover Mini Coopers it amazes me that in such recent times, someone thought it was a good idea to throw all the records of the John Cooper conversions carried out by JCG over the previous decade in a skip. In a recent article by John Parnell (Rover Cooper Register) in the January 2021 issue of 'CooperWorld' magazine, John has written an interesting article about the numbers built, model descriptions, details of the different John Cooper Conversions offered/fitted at either Rover Dealers or the John Cooper Garage workshops in Ferring and East Preston, West Sussex, plus the various numbering systems used on each unique conversion ID plate fitted to these Rover Cooper Mini's over the years. Michael Cooper is now Honorary President of the 'Mini Cooper Register' and I believe sold the 'John Cooper Works' brand to BMW when he closed the 'John Cooper Garage' in 2006 but not sure why the records from his fathers business were allowed to go in a skip at that time. Maybe I will write to him via the MCR and try to find out how or why that happened....

Quote from John Parnell's article - Conversion Records at John Cooper Garages
"Having spent more than a decade designing, manufacturing, testing, marketing and fitting an extraordinary range of very successful Mini engine conversions, let alone the creation of the internationally recognised John Cooper and 'S works' brands, it is tragic that the very records chronicling the cars, on which this phenomenal business was built, ended up being thrown into a disposal skip when the business closed its doors for the last time in 2006"
John Cooper Works garage closes doors (2006) :-
https://www.autoblog.com/2006/07/13/joh ... ses-doors/
Supersonic
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Re: Conversion Records at John Cooper Garages

Post by Supersonic »

Martin,

Thank you for posting that interesting information. It just beggars belief that all the John Cooper Garages conversion records were dumped in the skip. You couldn’t make that up, unbelievable. Given the interest there was in the earlier Coopers, surely anyone with two grey cells to rub together would have figured out these would become important documents. Rover Coopers have now become very collectable and are heading upwards and catching the older Coopers for desirability and prices. :o :shock:

Alan
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mk1
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Re: Conversion Records at John Cooper Garages

Post by mk1 »

I totally agree that it is an absolute tragedy that records like these have been lost. I can't say that this is actually any great surprise.

The same thing has happened again & again.

If I had a pound every time someone asked me about who keeps the Downton records, I'd be a rich man by now.

The truth is that when people are involved in the day to day graft of running a business, no one has even half an eye on posterity. They are far too involved in making a living. Whilst this is all too understandable in the case of Downton where the closing of the works & destruction of all the companies records was a very sad & emotionally traumatic experience involving the death of Daniel, the collapse of what was previously a very successful "empire" & which finally lead to the suicide of Mrs Richmond. It is less understandable or excusable in the case of Cooper Garages as Mr Cooper MUST have appreciated that these records would be of some historical value or at least interest. TBH, I am greatly surprised that he wasn't approached by the MCR with a view to preserving these records for future study.

Sadly, the only reasonable assumption that can be made is that although people within Cooper's garage did appreciate the significance of these records it was simply easier & cheaper to chuck them in a skip than offer them to a third party for preservation.
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Pandora
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Re: Conversion Records at John Cooper Garages

Post by Pandora »

In the winding up of such a business, it's hard to see why they were not considered an asset with a value?

But perhaps in the closing down they were missed, or overlooked and those tasked with clearing the premises didn't either know what they were, or mistook them in some way and howfed them into the skip with other 'administrative paperwork', the loss not being realised 'till later / too late?

If you've ever seen a demolition or house clearance labourer at work, there is no sentimentality in getting a building cleared (unless it is copper, obviously! :lol: )

Who knows, but certainly there would have been people / organisations happy to secure it's future as a resource and archive, had it been a choice between that and the skip.

Al
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Re: Conversion Records at John Cooper Garages

Post by colinmac1330 »

Maybe it is just me, but surely by the year 2006 all of these would have been kept digitally?
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Re: Conversion Records at John Cooper Garages

Post by Supersonic »

The honest truth is that 20 years ago the MCR club showed hostility towards Rover Coopers and wanted nothing to do with them. I remember well in 1995 a big wig in the club telling me that the only pedigree Mini Cooper was the 1071cc S type. He told me Rover Coopers would never be collectable and said they were rubbish. Perhaps that type of attitude by the MCR at the time convinced the company that there would never be any historical interest in these cars and they were simple getting rid of rubbish. :(

Alan
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Re: Conversion Records at John Cooper Garages

Post by snoopy64 »

I think its fair to say a fair few people took these conversions to be a bit of a gimmick at the time and an expensive one too, after all collecting a mini from a Honda dealership might have seemed a bit odd.... and when you've got a business to run and wind up then these things easily get forgotten especially when you know you can always fall back on your name in the end. It wasn't mainstream business for them I guess so no surprise that some of the serialisation seems to have been a bit adhoc!

Interesting all the same for those that still have genuine conversions though that haven't been subsequently modified which a lot seem to have been. i remember going to look at one of the few Mini 30 and Cooper 35 that were converted and in the end shied away because I thought they looked like trouble!! We've all been there I suppose :oops:
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mab01uk
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Re: Conversion Records at John Cooper Garages

Post by mab01uk »

colinmac1330 wrote: Tue Jan 12, 2021 5:39 pm Maybe it is just me, but surely by the year 2006 all of these would have been kept digitally?
Interesting point....perhaps it was the Cooper company computers that were thrown in the skip or recycled or hard drives erased? Whatever I have read has always made it sound like it was paper document records that were chucked. Maybe another question to ask Michael Cooper or some of the ex-members of staff who may remember, like Tony Franks of Mini Motorsport in Shoreham-on-Sea?
(Tony Franks worked for John Cooper Garages for 25 years and I believe was involved in the John Cooper Works engineering for the BMW MINI with Mike Cooper).
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mab01uk
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Re: Conversion Records at John Cooper Garages

Post by mab01uk »

Supersonic wrote: Tue Jan 12, 2021 5:51 pm The honest truth is that 20 years ago the MCR club showed hostility towards Rover Coopers and wanted nothing to do with them. I remember well in 1995 a big wig in the club telling me that the only pedigree Mini Cooper was the 1071cc S type. He told me Rover Coopers would never be collectable and said they were rubbish. Perhaps that type of attitude by the MCR at the time convinced the company that there would never be any historical interest in these cars and they were simple getting rid of rubbish. :(

Alan
I also remember that era, especially the look on some diehards faces when brand new just out the showroom Rover Coopers were being parked up as entrants in the Beaulieu Cooper concours! :lol: Some members had only just reluctantly acknowledged the Mk3 Cooper S with winding windows was a proper example of the marque. In the end the bad feeling forced a vote of all club members on whether the Rover Cooper owners should be admitted to the club. Similar things happened when the first R50/R53 MINI Coopers turned up at Beaulieu in 2001....
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Re: Conversion Records at John Cooper Garages

Post by hanlminiman »

We are now in a digital age, agreed. Sadly when a company is taken over the acquirer is not really interested in the company's history or past documents etc. Didn't a lot of Longbridge contents & records end up in a skip? Back to digitalistion, modern "digitalis" operatives have no concept of history; unless it is controversial. Hey ho. I remember 16 column analysis pads and working it out with a pencil! (Joke for any Accountants on the Forum.) :D :lol: Don't just knock the MCR the Mini Cooper Club was worse in 2000/2001.
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