WHEN Greg Hales first laid eyes on his beloved 1961 Mini Cooper V997, he knew he had found something special.

“It was like a time capsule,” he explains.

“Everything, including the carpets and accessories, was original, and the mileage was just 6900. It had only been driven between October 1961 and September 1967, then stayed in storage until I found it in 1985.”

Glasgow Times: The Mini Cooper V997

Greg, now 64, preserved the car in his own collection and during the Covid lockdown, carefully refreshed it to “exacting standards.”

He has only driven it for a further 1100 miles, making the total mileage since new around 8000. Now, he wants to find the smart little blue car a new owner, ideally in its “spiritual home” of Glasgow.

“I spoke to someone who can remember seeing V997 flying around Glasgow in the early 1960s, and he recalls the car made a real stir,” says Greg.

“Most cars were dark-coloured in those days and Glasgow was ‘grey’ with plenty of bomb damage and defunct buildings left over from the war.

“The brightly coloured Mini really stood out, and it was not uncommon for crowds to gather around it. They were quite hard to get and a lot of people dreamed of owning one.”

Greg bought the car from Lain Fraser, who ran well-known Glasgow car firm A&D Fraser, which had its headquarters on Springkell Avenue in Maxwell Park, long since demolished.

Glasgow Times: The car was sold at A&D Fraser's in Glasgow

“The two directors, Lain and Ken Fraser, were legendary motorsports figures in the 1950s – I wonder if any Glasgow Times readers remember them, or A&D Fraser’s?” asks Greg, who lives in Worcester.

“The Frasers were instrumental in establishing saloon car racing during the early years of the sport.

“V997 was the first Mini Cooper to arrive in Scotland and it set the standard for a new generation of aspiring Scottish racing drivers, who would learn their trade in affordable production cars.”

He adds: “The Mini Cooper was a purposely designed ‘souped-up’ saloon car to meet demand for affordable club racing while also being used as regular transport mid-week. The world was a different place in 1961…”

Glasgow Times: The V997 was a popular club car

Lain Fraser, whose friends included racing legends Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart and Rob Walker, was involved in helping to launch the Mini in Scotland.

The history documents of the car, written in association with “D E Bell, technical director of A&D Fraser, retired” which Greg also has in his possession, reveal: “From this very first involvement with the Mini, Lain Fraser was overwhelmed by the car’s design and capabilities that stood it apart from anything comparable at the time.

“After another event, which launched the Mini in Scotland….the potential for further tuning and modification interested Lain Fraser and his team. A programme was started at A&D Fraser with a view to developing the production BMC Mini for motorsport purposes.”

Glasgow Times: The interiors are all original

Greg explains: “Lain was a friend of John Cooper, both had met through the British Racing Drivers Club…Cooper’s famous tartan bunnet was in fact a gift from the Fraser family."

Racing driver John Cooper modified the original Mini to create the Mini Cooper. Greg met John in 1986.

Glasgow Times: Greg with John Cooper in 1986Greg with John Cooper in 1986 (Image: Greg Hales)

Greg’s car is one of the oldest first-batch production Mini Coopers, and it has never been repaired or welded.

“The history file with the car is simply mind boggling,” says Greg. “It even features all of the original invoices.

“V997 was actually the first car ever registered as a Cooper S and was a working test bed for the development of the Mini Cooper ‘S’ edition which was officially released in March 1963.

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“In 1962, Bruce McLaren had input into the car’s preparation and V997 became a well-known club car in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north of England.”

Now that Greg has owned the car for almost 40 years, he is ready to let it go.

“This car is a real survivor,” he says. “I have suffered some poor health, and now I am looking for a new custodian to care for the car, and to preserve its history.

“It is of museum quality, fully working, and is regarded as the finest of its kind in existence. The Mini Cooper was a ground-breaking concept and it is still going strong.

“It all started with the likes of  V997.”

He adds: “My wish would be for the car to find a caring new home in Scotland, where its history was made and its spirit belongs.”

To find out more about Greg’s Mini Cooper V997, or if you have stories to share about A&D Fraser or the Mini in Scotland, email ann.fotheringham@glasgowtimes.co.uk or write to Ann Fotheringham, Glasgow Times, 125 Fullarton Drive, Glasgow G32 8FG.