Modified 1968 Morris Mini Cooper S Mk2
Ian Corkill’s restored Mk2 Cooper S has a 1293cc engine with an Arden 8-port head that he has owned, on and off, since 1973.
1968 Mk2 MINI COOPER S
Restored S with original Arden 8-port head
Rebuilt with cool Arden 8-port cylinder head.
Words: Karen Drury
Photos: Jonathan Burton
Ian Corkill, from the Isle of Man, has been into Minis for as long as he can remember. His dad used to rally them and I an followed him into motorsport, making m any friends in the meantime who, like him, remain Mini-mad to this day.
In 1973 I an bought a very desirable Arden 8-port head, for his autocross racing Mini, fitted to a 1275cc Cooper S engine. The Arden 8-port crossflow cylinder head is made from cast aluminium, was developed by Jim Whitehouse in the 1960s and was used by the Works team. The head was s old via Special Tuning and a slightly different version is still available today from Mini S pares.
“I took a look at the collection I had built up by then and I had about six red cars...”
Ian ran the engine for 15 years and won several championships with it. “The engine and head then sat in ashed for 10 y ears and it was sold to a friend. The friend did nothing with it so I bought it back in the 1990s. A round 10 years ago I had the cylinder head refurbished by Bill Quine, of Manx Racing Developments, when he was on the verge of retiring.
I then sold it a long with the rest of the engine, in bits, to Ken of Ken Colbert Motor Sport in Dungannon, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, for his Mk2 S Works replica.” Ken s old that Mini to someone who w anted a 5-port instead.
“So he put a 5-port in and t hat’s when he rang me and said he had the 8-port engine that was freshly built, bored to 1293cc and had only done about 1 ,000 miles and asked if I wanted it back.
‘Absolutely,’ I said. So that’s how I ended up with it back for the third time.” Ian has been in the motor industry all his life, s tarting as a BMC truck mechanic and working his way up to owning his own motor business, complete with bodyshop. Even though he has owned Minis for around 53 years, a round 12 years ago he started to build up a car collection and, of course, Minis were top of the wish-list.
“I think that the Mk2 was the first Mini I bought for the collection. I was on the look-out for a couple of cars t o restore and this 1968 Mk2 came up locally here in the Isle of Man. It was the first addition to what became a fleet of 12 vehicles.” Was he particularly looking for a Cooper S? “Absolutely, it had to be an S and I was really looking for Mk1s but this one came up from a friend of mine, I an Sims. He also has a small collection over here and it was one that he didn’t wish to restore so it needed a fair bit of work.”
The Tartan Red Mk2 had originally been built on 13 June 1968 and dispatched on 15 June to Kennings Limited, of Shrewsbury, with a registration number issued on 21 January in Burnley, Lancashire. “It must have sat unused in a showroom for six months, between June ‘68 and January ’69.”
Remarkably, the bodywork was in pretty good condition. “There was just some bubbling around the wings. It was that simple really and we painted it at work of course as, until a few years ago, we did bodywork. It wasn’t a particularly difficult restoration. We’ve taken some pretty rusty cars in through the doors and spent an awful lot of time and effort on them but this wasn’t one of those. It was quite a good, strong shell.”
You will see that the Mk2 was not re-painted in its original colour. Ian Chose El Paso Beige with a Snowberry White roof which was a colour option originally available on these models. “I took a look at the collection I had built up by then and I had about six red cars and, although everything else is original, and I knew that this one was going to end up as a semi- competition machine, I wasn’t overly bothered. I always fancied the El Paso Beige so that’s the way we’ve gone.” With the vast majority of Mk2s having black seats it’s easy to change the body colour and not have to change the interior too.
Neither Ian, nor his friend Ian, had realised that the engine was incorrect in the Mini. “Strangely, it had a 1071 which was never fitted to the Mk2. It had come to the island from the south of England as a non-runner. I did try to contact the people that Ian bought it from but I didn’t get a reply. I think it took part in an Italian Job run when it was red.” Back to the 8-port engine, this was fitted into the Mk2 once painted. “We bought that engine with four Amal motorbike carburettors that it’s on now but, for competition, we ran it on twin 40 Webers which gave it that bit more horse power. It did make it a bit rough-running but then, when you are autocrossing, the throttle is either open or it's shut. It really didn’t matter but it’s now a very, very civilised car to drive thanks to Ken and the time that he spent on jetting and getting everything right. He sent it over and we put it in the car but obtaining the correct fuel pressure took days. It was critical to get it right because, when Ken had the car in Northern Ireland, he took it to a show one day and looked underneath the bonnet and saw the thing was on fire and it actually went on fire twice when Ken had it.
“It turned out that the fuel pressure was slightly too high on it. The pressure was building up and, with four separate carburettors, it goes from one to two to three to four and when it gets to four it can’t go anywhere and it was popping through the needle valve and dumping fuel out through the front. Ken is an absolute perfectionist so he developed a return feed on it, like on a diesel car, where it goes through the carburettors and then goes back to the tank again and it’s never been a problem ever since. I was lucky that he found that issue out and not me. It now drives so much better than how I remember it when we raced it. It’s a joy to drive, it really is.”
- Ian Corkill
- Married? Yes, to Roz
- Occupation: Semi-retired garage proprietor
- First road car: 1961 850 Mini
- Most hated Mini task: Changing the clutch in-situ
- Hobbies: My dogs
- Favourite Mini Supplier: Mini Spares
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION Modified 1968 Mk2 Morris Mini Cooper S
- Engine: 1275cc A-series, rebored 0.020” to 1293cc. Arden 8-port aluminium crossflow cylinder head, gas-flowed, ported, polished, rebuilt by Bill Quine of Manx Racing Developments. Amal motorbike carbs. AEA649 camshaft. Arden rockers. Arden/SU inlet manifold. Lucas coil. Lucas distributor. negative earth. NOS SU carburettor. mechanical fan. single silencer, single side-exit tailpipe. 13-row oil cooler.
- Gearbox: Three-synchro, four-speed ‘333’ straight-cut box. remote gearshift. 3.7:1 OE diff… lightened clutch, flywheel.
- Suspension: Hydrolastic. additional front dampers.
- Brakes: Servo-assisted. Cooper S servo. 7.5” S front disc brakes. single-circuit system. drums at rear.
- Wheels/Tyres: 4.5x10” Cooper S option steel wheels. Dunlop SP Sport Aquajet radial tyres.
- Interior: Newton Commercial seat covers, door cards. OE Smiths gauges.
- Exterior: Mk2 S bodyshell. replacement wings. painted El Paso Beige (BG17)/Snowberry White (WT4) roof
It's the incredibly cool Arden 8-port that makes this stunning Mk2 Cooper S extra special.
If you haven't driven a Mini on the Isle of Man yet then
Originally Tartan Red with a black roof. Ian chose
El Paso Beige with a Snowberry White roof.
The replacement black vinyl seat covers for the
Mini were sourced from Newton Commercial.
The rebuilt 8-port head sits atop the 1293cc motor which is fuelled by Amal carburettors.ww.visitisleofman.com