Duckhams history with Alec Issigonis’s motoring masterpiece, the Mini, is a long and happy one. The story begins in 1959 when BMC (British Motor Corporation) launched a groundbreaking ‘Mini’ version of incredibly popular Morris Minor.
The radical Mini Minor was offered to the world at just £500 and in order to enable the small compact design, Alec Issigonis penned the car with BMC’s A-series engine turned through 90 degrees. This placed the transmission beneath the engine crankcase with the gearbox operating within an extension of the sump.
A gearbox that shares oil with the engine presents a number of problems to lubrication. Suddenly, as well as being an engine oil and dealing with all the usual contamination from the combustion process, Duckhams’ oil was now being asked to be a gear oil as well. The greatest of those issues involves the shearing forces applied by the high pressures created by the gears acting on the polymers in the oil. Ordinary oils experienced a significant loss in viscosity, but not Duckhams, who came to the rescue once again with Q20w-50.
Duckhams NOL mono-grade oil had long been the recommended oil but Duckhams new formulation Q20w-50 proved to be in a class of its own not only holding its viscosity mile after mile but also dealing with reducing the number of oil leaks that the Mini had become plagued by during early production.
Fast – forward to 1971 and the Mini had reached record numbers of sales, over three hundred thousand in fact. However, by the late 1970s sales were starting to slump. Furthermore, British Leyland were starting to over hype their potential Mini replacement, the Austin Metro but as financial constraints and industrial action common for the times continued, it became clear that the Metro was still at least two years away from launching. As a result, British Leyland was desperate for a short-term solution to make the Mini brand more appealing and exciting. They had already shut the competitions department for the Mini and the rest of BL Special Tuning were concentrating on the far more modern and powerful Triumph TR7 V8, so a rally programme was out of the question.
The solution was to turn back to British Touring Cars, where the Mini had enjoyed so much success during the 1960s. They persuaded expert Mini racer Richard Longman out of retirement to prepare and tune the car and with the backing of Patrick Motorsport and Duckhams Oil they began their campaign in the 1978 British Touring car season.
That year it entered all 12 races of the season and running standard Duckhams Q20w-50 in the sump, the Mini 1275 GT won its class 11 times, to take the championship in giant killing style!
The following year BL and Patrick Motorsport returned with the Mini 1275 GT again and Richard Longman took the 1979 championship title as well with 12 victories at legendary circuits including Snetterton, Silverstone, Oulton Park, Thruxton, Donington Park, Mallory Park and Brands Hatch.
The result was that the Mini 1275 GT, although never quite reaching the same perceived racing pedigree of the Cooper badged cars, gave the Mini brand a new lease of life and re-positioned the car as a hot, fast sporting car for the everyday motorist. Alongside them ensuring the victory was easy was of course, Duckhams Oils at every step.
The combined experience of all the successes in our long and rich history ensures that our classic car oils range is the best on the market. You can browse our lubricant products for historic cars here: https://www.duckhams.com/range/
The original car was packed away for 30 years until Richard Longman once gain appeared driving it at the BRDC track day in 2009.
Today, this legendary Mini is still in action and is due to appear at the GRRC Members Meeting at Goodwood, March 2018 in the Gerry Marshall trophy. It raced in the same event last year as the glorious video above shows. The keen eyed will also spot a Duckhams and Patrick Motorsport Rover SD1 also competing, but that is another story.
These photographs were taken at the Autosport Show 2018 held at the NEC Birmingham, where the car appeared on the Kent Cams stand.