The late Sir Alexander Arnold Constantine Issigonis, Alec Issignonis to his Internet friends, designed a car that was sold as the Morris Mini-Minor, the Austin Seven and later the Austin Mini. Go to the Mini USA website and check out the models, though, and every one of them is called a Cooper of some sort, e.g., Mini Cooper Paceman or Mini Cooper S Roadster. So who is Cooper?
Let's just go ahead and say it: a sports car is not really, truly a sports car until it has set a time on the Nürburgring. Until then, it's just seats on wheels. The Mini John Cooper Works GP edition has, however, earned its car stripes: just 2,000 of the fancy Minis are headed for production, and one of them has lapped the 'Ring in 8:23.
The Mini faithful fondly remember the John Cooper Works GP (pictured above). Launched at the Geneva Motor Show in 2006, the GP edition was the fastest version of the first-gen Mini hatchback. It packed 218 horsepower, 180 pound-feet of torque, a beefier suspension and – thanks to the removal of the back seats and air-conditioning – 88 fewer pounds to motivate. The result was a 6.5-second sprint to 60 and a 146-mph top speed. Only 444 examples were made available shortly before the se