Friday, 6 February 2015

Pictures of Peter Sellers Hooper Mini emerge - but where is it?

A string of unseen (to me) pictures of Peter Sellers' very first coachbuilt Mini - built by Hooper (Motor Servives) Ltd. in late 1962/early '63 - have been posted on the Stilltime pictures website. They give a new insight at the car which cost Sellers £2600 (a standard Cooper came at £679 at the time) and which caused the Mini to become a new coachbuilt favourite for use as a city car for the rich and famous. Sellers supposedly asked dealership HR Owen for the conversion, but HR Owen commissioned Hooper for the job, building what became known as the Mini to start the coachbuilding hype. The later car used by Sellers in the Pink Panther film looked similar, but was in fact another and later car coachbuilt by Radford.

The original Hooper car, registration '6189 PK' came lavishly trimmed inside and out, with Royal Purple paint and a beige Conolly interior - the exact specs can be found in the Autocar article I have attached. Despite the fact that several pictures of the car have been around, even some film footage, I never noticed it had wheel spats and new rear light clusters, possibly cut-down Aston Martin DB4 units. Confusingly, the car is seen wearing another registration number (57 PJ) and a red rather than beige interior in another Autocar clipping, while the film footage shows it with its '6189 PK' number but with red leather, too. Was it the same car converted once more or did Hooper build two of them?

And then there's the question of where it is now. The Radford-built Pink Panther car was famously found back by John Adair in 1994, but what happened to the original Hooper car (or cars)? The last lead dates back to 1994, too, when a snippet in MiniWorld magazine appeared, quoting it survived with a classic car restoration firm in Newtonmore, Scotland. It was said to have been painted pink at one stage because of the supposed link with the Pink Panther movie... The company, as far as I managed to find out, was dissolved in 2002 with no clues to what happened to the car. '57 PJ' is unknown to the DVLA, but '6189 PK' is still in their database as a mauve Morris Mini Cooper with 1152cc engine, but is untaxed since 1979...

Well-known photograph of man and machine - Sellers and his (the) first coachbuilt Mini
Picture courtesy art.com

But this one is new to me. Note wheel spats and unusual rear light treatment
Picture courtesy stilltimecollection.co.uk

Lavish interior with beige Conolly leather seats with 'Reutter reclining system'
Picture courtesy stilltimecollection.co.uk

Yes, the windows were electric on it, as was the aerial and the screen washer
Picture courtesy stilltimecollection.co.uk

Headlights were supposedly Bentley-sourced. Canework by Geoff Francis
Picture courtesy stilltimecollection.co.uk

Note replaced gear lever as in later Minis and even leather on the steering column 
Picture courtesy stilltimecollection.co.uk

The Autocar liked it, too, calling it 'the ultimate in luxury Minis'
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Is this the same car? It wears a different registration and has a red leather interior
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Film footage of Sellers and the car, seen here in its Royal Purple with red leather interior
Picture courtesy youtube.com

Last trace of the car dates back to 1994, when it was in Scotland ...painted pink...
Picture courtesy MiniWorld

6 comments:

  1. Hi Jeroen,

    the car is still in Scotland. restoration almost completed.

    Cheers

    Jens Christian

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very well! Any more information would be much appreciated.

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  2. The car is owned by Ex coachbuilt register Peter. Steve has written 2 articles in cooperworld about the car. She is painted ready for wickerwork, engine built, interior finished, so it shouldn't be to long before she's out and about.

    Cheers
    Nev

    ReplyDelete
  3. I used to have a Hooper Cooper almost exactly like this in British Racing Green with brown leather interior... 904 GYN if I remember ...one of 2 or 3 left on the road I gather from the Science Museum (who have all their records) who got very excited... rather stupidly sold it :(

    ReplyDelete
  4. Can't believe they ruined it and painted it pink in '94!

    ReplyDelete