Autoweek's current issue features an article about driving the MINI and a classic Mini in and around the Monte Carlo rally circuit. It also goes into some details regarding the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally win of Paddy Hopkirk. Here's an excerpt:

“Could a toy car from the British Motor Corp., with a 1071-cc four-cylinder engine, win the Rallye Monte Carlo outright, racing against other cars with much bigger and more powerful engines-up to 4735-cc (289-cid V8) in the American Ford Falcon Futura Sprint? Not bloody likely, you might say. And yet, the No. 37 Morris Mini Cooper S driven by Belfast's Paddy Hopkirk and navigated by Brit Henry Liddon, did win, not just in class, but overall.

At the recent get-together in Monte Carlo to mark the 40th anniversary of that 1964 victory, everyone we spoke with who was there had the same answer, put two ways: It wasn't supposed to happen. It was a huge surprise.

“There were no electronics, just sheets of paper with calculations on them brought back here to headquarters after each stage,” said Hopkirk. “I didn't even know I'd won the rally until I got a phone call at four in the morning the Sunday after [the rally finished on Saturday, Jan. 25] from reporter Bernard Cahier. He said, 'You've won the rally!' I thought he was joking. I had another beer, and went back to sleep.”

Of course, helping the win was John Cooper's work on a new little engine, a 1071-cc in place of the standard Cooper's 998-cc.

Using the original Morris Mini with 848-cc engine and 34 hp borrowed from the Morris Minor, the factory BMC squad first entered the Monte back in 1960, only six months after the car's introduction. There were six team cars and six privateers, the Mini having already been recognized as a great rallying and circuit-racing machine. Results, however, were poor, and were even poorer the next year when none of the three factory cars crossed the finish line.

A quick fix was to hire Finland's Rauno Aaltonen-the original Flying Finn-to lead the team in 1962. That, and the 997-cc engine from Cooper, good for 54 hp. Aaltonen was in second place overall heading into the final stages when he rolled his Mini just a couple of miles from the finish. It burst into flames and Aaltonen and co-driver Geoff Mabbs made it out just in time. In 1963 Aaltonen came in third overall at Monte and won the Group 2 class-the car's first class win at the world's most important rally.

Which brings us to 1964. Cooper and BMC wanted more power from the little beast and so they created the 1071-cc four-cylinder good for 69 hp and a top speed of 99 mph. The two Finns driving for BMC, Aaltonen and Timo Mäkinen, were joined by Hopkirk as designated team leader. Aaltonen started in Oslo, Mäkinen in Paris and Hopkirk in far-off Minsk during the height of Cold War Russia. This was back when people were literally rallied together from different parts of the world.

As Hopkirk told us over lunch on the Col de Turini, “In former times the rally started from various spots. If you can think of Europe as Athens, Lisbon, Glasgow, Oslo, Minsk, Monte Carlo and Paris. There was a getting to a common place before the dash south, and in 1964 it was Reims. They [the Automobile Club de Monaco] selected the various starting points, and our team manager, Stuart Turner, didn't want to start everybody in one basket, so he chose different places. I was offered Minsk; I hadn't been to Russia, and I wanted to see it.

“There were no special stages up to Reims. There were control points on the way in towns like Warsaw, Prague, Frankfurt. Your time was controlled, so you couldn't build up a time advantage based on quickness. You could gain a bit by arriving early and using the time until your next departure for service or fuel or rest. If you arrived late at a checkpoint, you'd lose points. Also, if you had traffic offenses you could lose points. They put coupons in your road book and only in France did they know about them. If the policeman took one of those coupons, you were in big trouble.

“Right out of Reims in the town of Colmar near the Ardennes, this very nasty policeman stopped us and asked for the book because we'd gone the wrong way up a one-way street. I should've said to him, 'Well, we're only going one way,' but I didn't know how to say that in French. Henry Liddon, being a very polite English gentleman, was about to hand him the book and I said, 'No, don't do that.' So I told the policeman, 'We're out of the rally. I'm on my way back to Ireland, my mother's just died.' I said, 'Ma Mary Moore, I remember her so well.' He took his hat off, he felt so sorry for us, and let us go. And as soon as we went around the corner, we went flat-out again.”

You can read the entire article here