Paddy Hopkirk, the man who did so much for the mystique of the original Mini with that memorable 1964 Monte win, has died at the age of 89. His passing late on Thursday night was confirmed in a statement by Mini Sport.
“It is with heavy hearts that we are sharing the news with you that our very dear friend Paddy Hopkirk MBE passed away on Thursday evening… Paddy was a fantastic friend to all of us here at Mini Sport, but so much more than that, he was a part of our Mini family.”
For many enthusiasts it remains impossible to think of the original Cooper S and not picture 33 EJB, the car driven to victory in Monte Carlo almost 60 years ago. That’s the impact Hopkirk’s epic drive, with Henry Liddon on the pace notes, had for the Mini back in 1964. The giant-killing feat is what Minis would go on to be legendary for in the world of motorsport.
But Hopkirk achieved so much more than that in his nine decades. He notably gave up on a sure victory at the 1968 London-Sydney Marathon to help injured fellow competitors, and notched up many more impressive finishes in long distance rallies. Even as late as 1994 he was rallying, and was one of the first four inductees to the rallying hall of fame. Erik Carlsson, Rauno Aaltonen, Timo Makinen and Hopkirk were the original foursome, which is esteemed company to keep. Throughout this time he maintained a relationship with Mini, up to and including the Paddy Hopkirk Limited Edition.
Mini’s statement concluded: "We would like to extend a special thank you to Paddy for everything that he has done throughout his illustrious career, both for Mini Sport & the Mini itself… Paddy achieved the impossible, he cemented the Mini in history and will be forever known as one of the greatest motorsport heroes of all time.
"He will be sorely missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.” The thoughts of all of us at PH are with Hopkirk’s family.
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