In 1968 the Mini's received a makeover, the standard Mini Mk.2 retaining the 848cc engine, but featuring a smaller turning circle, lighter brakes, combined horn/headlamp/indicator stalk, wider back window, self-parking wipers, improved instruments, new horn, tail lamps and grille.
The Super De Luxe had all that and more, boasting the larger 998cc engine, remote control gearchange, re-positioned switch-gear and re-styled seats. The fitment of an automatic gearbox was available across the entire range, excluding the Cooper S, which instead gained the benefit of having an all syncro gearbox.
At the time the Mini had been on sale for eight years. Unquestionably the little brick had carved a completely new niche market for itself, and during this time it literally had no competitors. Even by the standards of the day, the fact that BMC did not need to "make over" the Mini for 8 years was testament to the little cars enduring Issigonis design.
Other models had also joined the Mini lineup, the range growing to include the Standard, Super DeLuxe, Cooper, Cooper S, Van, Pick Up, Countryman, Traveller and Moke
The 998cc engine was first used in the Wolseley Hornet and Riley Elf Mk.III, and produced 38 bhp at 5,250rpm compared to 34 bhp at 5,500rpm for the 848cc unit.
The engineers also bumped up the final drive ratio to give the car a more comfortable cruising speed, and while the compression ratio was kept at 8.3:1 for those fitted with a manual, it was increased to 9.0:1 for those fitted with an automatic.
Addressing a common complaint of Mini owners, that being the switch-gear being too remote to the driver, all but the Standard had these moved some 3 inches closer to the driver, while a crushable roll was added to the edge of the parcel shelf to provide added safety.
The slave cylinders were increased in size to improve braking efficiency, although the actual lining area was not increased. Doing so increased the hydraulic magnification of the pedal push, meaning it took less effort to achieve the same amount of decceleration.
Theoretically this should have meant greater pedal travel, however the BMC engineers were able to overcome this by using a lower line pressure, which decreased the expansion of lines and hoses and in effect cancelled out any detectable increase in brake pedal travel.
It was this brake modification that many believed to be the most important change since the Mini's release. Others cited the decrease in turning circle, down from 32 feet to a mere 28. To do this, the engineers cut the rack with 25 teeth instead of its predecessors 15. The steering arms effective length was slightly increased, and there was a slight degree of offset which allowed the tie rods connecting steering arms to the end of the rack to clear the back of the sub-frame.
There was enough room in the outboard universal joints and in the wheel arches to accomodate the extra wheel angular movement if the assembly of the steering was more carefully controlled than before. By drilling a hole in the rack housing which lined up with another in the rack itself when it was in the dead-ahead position, the degree of control needed was gained.
BMC Mini Commercials (3 Tracks)
There were a number of smaller differences in the car's electrical equipment, the previous floor-mounted dip switch being combined with the headlights flasher and indicator in one convenient stalk set-up, the wipers were self parking and a warning light fitted to the end of the column stalk illuminated when the indicators were engaged.
The horn now made a more penetrating sound, and the 32 amp hour battery was changed to the manifold-filling type. The speedo with oil pressure gauge (a temperature gauge was also standard on the Super De Luxe) now included metric markings, all three instruments having rounded bezels to cut down the risk of injury in a crash.
The seats on all but the Standard were re-styled, and were better sculpted thus offering more support, particularly when cornering. On the outside, the rear tail-lights grew in size, so much so that the tubular rails on the end of the previous De Luxe models bumpers had to be deleted from production. Arguably uglier than its predecessors, the larger lamps were in fact designed to ensure ccmpliance with foreign safety requirements.
Out back, the back window was increased by 1 inch, offering better rearward visability. Up front, the grille was given a more angular shape, a different motif was fitted, and of course badge work to identify if the 998cc engine was fitted. These minor differences can be difficult to spot, so if you find yourself at a Mini show, and want to easily identify if a car is fitted with the 998cc engine, look simply for the plastic bladed fan.