Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Swiss Sauter Special was Mini powered

And now for something completely different... over to Switzerland where one pretty special Mini based special came to life in 1963: the Sauter BMC Special. Sadly it doesn't survive as a Mini derivative, as reader Peter Camping found out. In fact not one but three Sauter Specials were built in 1963. The first one came with DKW 1100cc power, the second with a Fiat Abarth 1000cc and only the third and last with 1000cc sourced from a Mini Cooper. The engine was sharply canted forwards as the picture below shows and used a special inlet manifold to keep the SU carburettors straight. All of the three space framed cars came with independant wheel suspension and fibreglass body and were clearly made with the racing track in mind.

Funnily, the third car appears to be the only surviving Sauter Special now, although the Cooper engine is long gone. A BMW 700cc engine was fitted in 1966 when the car changed owners. That power train made place for a DKW three-cylinder with 850cc and a ZF 4-speed gearbox later. And it was in this shape that the Sauter Spacial was raced untill 1974. As 'Sauter BMC' the car was entered in just three racing events, all in the Summer of 1963. On the 4th of July that years owner Heinz Geissmann took it to the Les Rangiers hill climb in the Swiss Jura region. Later that month in the 'Slalom Rheinfelden, where Geissmann came first in class, and in August that year in Ollon Villars, not far from Montreux. Geissman came 56th overall here and fourth in class. That's almost 50 years ago today. Thanks to Peter Camping for chasing up this great story!

Heinz Geissman in the Mini Cooper powered Sauter Special in the Summer of 1963
Picture courtesy Sauter Engineering

Baby birdcage - extreme in several ways. It has to be even lower than a Landar R6
Picture courtesy Sauter Engineering

The three Sauter Specials under construction in Sauter's workshop. The company exists to this day
Picture courtesy Sauter Engineering

Cooper motorisation. Note engine is canted forwards while inlet manifold keeps carbs straight
Picture courtesy Sauter Engineering


  1. Interesting rear suspension - is the box section along the chassis between the lower wishbone mounting points similar to an indespension unit?


  2. It looks like it, yes. Perhaps a relatively simple way to fabricate indepedant suspension?

  3. for a trailer, yes. not convinced for a racing car though!

  4. Urs Hauenstein25 June 2016 at 14:45

    Good to see the Sauter BMC here. But your action photos show the DKW-engined sister car of Peter Nebel at its first outing, Slalom Payerne 1963. I'll dig a little bit if I can find a picture of the real thing when I am back from holiday.