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His famous surname is instantly recognisable, and has proudly adorned the backs of cars since 1961 when his grandfather – John Cooper – struck a deal with the British Motor Corporation to turn Alex Issigonis’s Mini into something of a performance car.

The resultant Mini Cooper and subsequently more powerful Mini Cooper S have become icons in the Pantheon of automotive greatness, arguably the proto-hot hatches that inspired future generations of hot hatches.

It’s a legacy Charlie Cooper wears with pride in his role today as an ambassador for the MINI brand, a role that brought him to Australia recently as part of Mini’s 60th anniversary celebrations.

Today, the Cooper name lives on in the world of modern BMW-owned MINI, with Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works variants across the range.

CarAdvice caught up with Charlie Cooper to talk about his family’s legacy, which spans not just the Mini, but also the world of motorsport where his grandfather revolutionised the sport, changing it – irreversibly – for ever.

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