The Mini-Cooper was the brainchild of John Cooper, then proprietor of the successful Cooper Formula 1 team. He saw the racing potential in his friend Issigonis's nimble economy car, the Mini, and after building a prototype, persuaded BMC to build the 1000 cars needed for homologation.
BMC agreed to pay Cooper £2 per car for the use of his prestigious name, and the Austin Seven Cooper (and Morris Mini Cooper) were launched on 20th September 1961. The Austin version officially became the Mini-Cooper in January 1962. BMC worried it wouldn't sell but high profile motor sport success soon meant it became the classless car everyone wanted.