Did Ferrari have a Mini? No, two

  • 30 January 2021
  • 3 min read
  • 8 images
Did Ferrari have a Mini? No, two image

It’s hard to imagine the effect the Mini Minor had on the world back in 1959 when it was introduced. Tiny, 10-inch wheels, transverse-mounted front engine with built-in gearbox, front-wheel drive, fully independent suspension and a rationality to its design that enabled it to accommodate four people in complete comfort.

1-4-1536x1022 This is what the MINI Cooper 1300 S that once belonged to Enzo Ferrari looks like today. It has lost its original colour, but otherwise it’s perfectly preserved. Immediately recognizable by the added fog lights.

The concept of the car was so revolutionary that anyone who loved cars couldn’t help but be captivated by it. Enzo Ferrari was among them: always intrigued by what the car could offer and attentive to what his new formula 1 rivals were doing, when the Cooper 1100 S model came out he immediately bought one. And he fell in love with it to the point that the brilliant inventor of the Mini, Alec Issigonis along with the management of Austin Morris, thought they would reciprocate the passion of the famous manufacturer from Maranello, with a Mini Cooper 1300S made especially for him.

2-2 Ferrari was immediately attracted by the originality of the tiny MINI. That's why the designer, Alec Issigonis, (pictured in the opening image) gave him a specially-customized Cooper 1300 S.

In addition to having a walnut dashboard and special seats, the car, painted in the same elegant metallic grey used for certain Ferrari models, came with a set of front-mounted fog lights positioned under the normal headlights of the car. Issigonis himself brought the precious gift to Maranello and had lunch with Enzo and his son Piero in the magical private room of the Cavallino restaurant.

3-4-1536x1022 Enzo Ferrari's special MINI Cooper 1300 S complete with walnut dashboard and a rev counter.

From that day, from Piero’s own account, the first Mini 1100S became his and Enzo began to use the very sporty 1300S version, which was also racking up the results in competitions: in Rallies with victories at Monte Carlo, as well as on the track. Two seats from the 250LM were mounted on Piero’s Mini and the engine was swapped for an upgraded 1300S.

4-4-1536x1022 Enzo Ferrari's MINI Cooper as it is today. The Turin license plate belongs to the new owner.

The two cars left the Ferrari family at different times: Piero’s was bought by a friend of his who then sold it, but it was destroyed in an accident and was demolished. Enzo’s, now back in its original red colour - Enzo found it unthinkable that a red car could be anything other than a Ferrari - was sold in 1970 to a man with profound links to Ferrari: Carlo Navone, the son of Giuseppe Navone, the former Ferrari test driver and co-pilot of Clemente Biondetti in the victorious 1948 Mille Miglia in a Ferrari 166S.

5-4-1536x1022 The Cooper version of the classic transversely mounted engine of the Mini that once belonged to Ferrari.

The Mini Cooper S that was once Enzo Ferrari’s is perfectly functional and preserved as illustrated by the photos provided by the monthly magazine, Ruoteclassiche. Only one thing has changed: from metallic grey it is now red, but that’s easily fixed…

6-5 In 1970, as documented by AC Italia, Ferrari sold the car to its current owner.

7-1 Ferrari has always been attracted to small cars, but never wanted to make one under his name. In the same period as the MINI, he worked on the ASA 1000 project (1000 was the engine size) for a industrialist from Lombardy.

8-1 Dino, introduced in 1967, was also too small for Enzo to wear the Ferrari badge.