Promise makes debt, and then debt is fun, very fun. Because there has been an appointment at Hofman Leek for some time to take a closer look at several classics from the extensive stock. This is how we end up on a cold, but bright day in the beautiful hinterland of Leek. With the Mini 1275 GT that is in Hofman's sales collection.
You read it right. The car pictured is a Mini 1275 GT. The purists will immediately catch on. “Not a real one, because he has the round nose”. The reason for this possible reaction is clear. The 1275 GT - successor to the legendary Cooper S - was released in 1969 and also received the new Clubman body. The curves of the Mini were accompanied by the angular and extended front in this version. So: the car on the page can never be a real 1275 GT, right? It is. We explain how that works in the magazine report in AMK 2-2023. And now we share an extensive impression of the Mini we drove.
Hofman Leek offers this beautiful and multiple special Mini. This classic has just over 90.000 km of life experience. The car spent a large part of its life in Spain and is cosmetically in a beautiful, original and rust-free condition.
The makers attached great importance to the detailing of the car. You can see that both on the inside and on the outside. The whole thing looks appetizing and gets under the skin. Within the interior you see some adjustments, such as a few rally handles and a map reading lamp. That is also why we do not rule out that the Mini has sometimes been used for a nice and active rally.
This Mini 1275 GT has a surprise under the hood, because it shows 1300 Cooper specifications. When you open it (with the pull button in the dashboard), you see 2 SU HS2 carburettors in the packed engine compartment. That already indicates more power than the specified factory number of 53 DIN horsepower. You also see a brake servo and a number of other adjustments, such as a beautiful valve cover and a ditto radiator, which is still nicely posted on the side here. Anyway: the specifications promise extra driving pleasure in advance.
And that comes true. Because it's a party to drive this peppery classic Mini. And what is remarkable: even with a length of 1.95 meters you will find a good place behind that beautiful wooden steering wheel with three shiny spokes and the beautiful steering wheel hub cap. The entrance is not easy with long legs, but it works. And then you find a position that is far from crazy. Yes, it is a bit of a compromise, but in practice you can live with that. Yes, A Mini fits everyone.
The front seats are fixed, the pedals are positioned close to each other and towards the centre. In practice you will not experience any hindrance from this. This also applies to the operation of the fairly flat steering wheel. It handles well and is easy to operate. Braking (powered installation with discs at the front and drums at the rear) is easy, the stoppers are easy to dose. You notice what you are doing, and the delay is proportional to the way you have thought it out. The same applies to linking. The clutch works lightly, and with a short travel. But you feel what is happening. The four synchronized gears are less easy to insert, a change of resistance feels rubbery, which is certainly a bit of a search at first. The longer you are on the road, you get used to that phenomenon. Then, thanks to the warmed-up oil, shifting is also smoother. But the fact is that it is best to operate the poker with a firm hand.
Every classic Mini is known for its wonderful cornering behavior. You can easily steer the Mini around the corner, which is very direct and smooth. The beautiful and sophisticated "1300" gearbox ratios also ensure that after downshifting (from three to two, or from four to three) the speed remains fairly high, so that you can accelerate out of the corner nicely. And that works fine anyway with the 1275 cc engine, which in this car has a fuel supply with two SU gas factories and generates 60 DIN horsepower.
In combination with the car weight, accelerating is a piece of cake. Especially when you all the way applied, that acceleration is very nice and can be used with feeling. The acceleration is accompanied by that nice sounding hum that the 1275 cc engine produces. Because Drive by Noise was still written tiny in the Mini stars in 1972, those sounds prominently penetrate the barely insulated interior. And that increases the fun of driving this car, it adds a Spartan and rally-like touch to this classic Mini.
The Mini and its technology are the best at communicating anyway. This version also has an undercarriage with the Hydrolastic suspension system on board. Very simply put: the front and rear wheel on each side of the car are connected to each other via a fluid pipe. The suspension and damping are controlled by pressure action on an incompressible hydraulic fluid. When the road is uneven, one wheel in the opposite direction compensates for the height of the other wheel. The system also ensures that the car hardly leans over, even during tighter corners.
There is no doubt that the Hydrolastic feature adds to the naturally excellent handling of a classic Mini. Yes, thanks to the compact dimensions of the car you can feel what is happening below you, but the whole thing is always accompanied by a soft and short final touch. We do not notice anything in this Mini of sloping movements when accelerating and dives during braking actions. This is a very stable jack-of-all-trades that drives amazingly well and actively. The Mini offers pure fun, and shows in everything why it did so well in the big rallies.
Is there nothing to criticize about this Mini 1275 GT? No, except for the fact that we have to say goodbye to this great evergreen. You want to take this special Mini home with you immediately. Because it is ideal for beautiful rallies. Or simply, for a nice game of steering on beautiful, winding and idyllic country roads. In any case, it offers tons of driving pleasure. And continuously reveals the secret of its historical and contemporary popularity. You want to take another turn. Or bring the Mini up to speed. Again, again, and again.
Many thanks to Hofman Classic and Sportscars, Leek
Note to the photos: the car has not yet been registered. The photos on which the Mini does not carry a license plate were taken on private property, and not on public roads.