The story of Dave Hocking’s AUSTIN COOPER ‘S’

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  • 4 March, 2016
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2016-03 MARCH - Mini Cooper 'S'


The first owners of this mark 3, 1275 ‘S’ were British Leyland, Longbridge, Birmingham and it was registered on 23rd April 1971. During their ownership the Mini was abroad for several months but I have been unable to establish exactly to where and for what reason.

It returned to England and, on 10th January 1972, was sold to a Mr George Ian Collier Thomson, Upbrook Mews, London.  He bought the car when it was 9 months old from a dealer near his home in Praed Street, London (as production of the ‘S’ had ceased he had been unable to purchase a new car). At this point the registration was XOP 742J.

Mr Thomson states the registration plate had a yellow border indicating that this vehicle had been part of the Home Delivery Export Scheme (HDES) whereby a new buyer could collect his new British made car in the UK and use it for 3 months before his supplier arranged for its shipping to eventual destination abroad, thus avoiding paying purchase tax. As well as the yellow borders around their registration plates these HDES cars had pink log books instead of buff or green ones.

As British Leyland is recorded in the registration document as the first owner and it was then sold in London at 9 months old, seems strange.

Mr Thomson also stated that back then he could drive the ‘S’ from his home in Praed Street to the City in London, in the days before Oxford Street was closed to traffic, in 9 minutes.

During this time he changed the registration to his personal number SAM 5.

In 1977 Mr Thomson, now living at Kinnaird Village, Perthshire, decided to sell the Cooper ‘S’ and as he retained his personal registration mark the car was issued with its Perthshire plate RES 173J.

The car then passed through various owners in Dundee, Kirriemuir, Carnoustie (Neil Findlay who is a member of our club), Arbroath then Forfar.

I bought this car for the first time on 20th July 1984 and kept it until 9th October 1985 when I sold it to a guy in Meigle. The car later fell into a very poor state and when last seen by me was sitting forlornly in a garden in Meigle.

I had not heard of the Mini for many years until Maurice Cruickshank from Arbroath joined Tayside Classic Car Club and announced he owned a Mini Cooper ‘S’ registered RES 173J. Maurice was responsible for the work in bringing this car back to the condition it is in now and when he announced he was thinking of selling the Cooper ‘S’, I decided it was time it should come back to me so, on 7th October 2011, almost exactly 26 years to the day when I last sold it, my name again appeared on its log book.

During Maurice’s ownership the engine and gearbox was fully overhauled by Mini Speed, Byfleet, Surrey, and features a billet 276 camshaft, lightened flywheel and clutch, stage 3 cylinder head and twin 1½” SU carbs (the standard Cooper ‘S’ had twin 1¼”).

I have recently contacted the 2nd owner George (Ian) Thomson, who now lives in the west of Scotland and was able to fill in some of the gaps in the early history of this car.

I have also learned from the Mini Cooper Register that the registration numbers XOP 1J to XOP 999J were all reserved for HDES cars and there are two other mark 3 ‘S’ recorded with them bearing the XOP numbers, both Glacier White colour same as mine.

Dave Hocking



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