Initially started in 1911 as an adventure that took its attendees on a ride through Europe, the Rally Monte Carlo became a serious sporting event in the 1960s. This decade of the Monte Carlo settled the reputation of the Mini Cooper S as a sports car.
Patrick ‘Paddy’ Hopkirk was the first to win the Rally Monte Carlo on a Mini Cooper S in 1964. In the next years edition, Timo Mäkinen piloted the Mini to its second victory. The 1966 Monte Carlo could have been the pinnacle of the Mini’s fame. They finished on the top three positions, but unfortunately they were controversially disqualified because of the bulbs that were used for the headlights. Rauno Aaltonen returned the Mini in the 1967 edition of the Monte Carlo with a first place in front of a Lancia Fulvia HF and a Porsche 911 S. The era of the Mini Cooper S already drew to an end, but in 1968 Aaltonen was still able to finish on a third place just behind two Porsche 911 T.
Drop the curtain for the 68′ Cooper S
The flick ‘Serpentine’, directed by Loll Willems and Tom Valette, shows a perfect replica of the 1968 Mini Cooper S in its natural environment. Romain Bertrand pushes this car on the snowy winter roads in Haute-Loire in south-central France. I am glad to not only share this video, but I had the chance to talk to Loll Willems. Read the interview and watch the movie.
Sebastian Greshake: What was the impulse to make ‘Serpentine’?
Loll Willems: The purpose of this movie was first to do a nice shot of a Mini with friends. Nothing more. Just friends, a car, and a beautiful landscape.
SG: Tell me a story from the set that characterizes the shot of ‘Serpentine’.
LW: If you ask anyone who worked on this movie he will answer you: “cold, so fucking cold !” We worked two days with our feet in snow, mud, and ice with sub-zero temperatures in more than 1000m height. Not really comfortable to shoot, but it shows how the people were engaged to do this.
SG: Please give me some details of the car that is shown in ‘Serpentine’.
LW: It’s an Austin Mini Cooper S MKII 68 Group 2, a replica of the one that won the Monte Carlo Rally. An old lady, but still nervous and in perfect shape.
SG: What is the background of the tunnel door that opens at about 02:45?
LW: This is a real secret spot we’ve found with our friends during the search for the filming spot. An open road but with a door in front of the tunnel to prevent the wind due to a pressure gradient between the two sides of the mountain. On the east entry of the tunnel there is a door, but not on the west side. The length of the tunnel is more than 2km on a proper straight line.
SG: What is your relation to the classic Mini? Do you drive a Mini presently?
LW: In our team, we are all more or less related to the classic Mini. Personally I’ve got 3. My daily driver was a Clubman Estate 72 and now I still got one in a garage that waits for the time and the budget to start a restoration.
SG: Who are the other guys that helped you to make ‘Serpentine’?
LW: Friends, friends, and buddies! The closest one is Tom Valette, who co-directed and edited the movie. We are friends since 2005 and we’ve worked together on several short movies and video-clips under the ”Venkman Prod” name. The others are friends from the time I was a child. We know each other since the 80’s ! All united by the love to the Mini!
SG: Who drives the Mini in ‘Serpentine’?
LW: This is a very close friend, Romain Bertrand, a truly motorsports passionate. He got a lot of Austins and much more other old English cars. This is our best asset in this movie. Without a great driver, no great shot.
SG: Is there a strong Mini community in France?
LW: Yes! A lot of people love this car and you can see it in the big cities and on the country side. French people love the Mini, for sure!
SG: If you would have to swap a classic Mini for another car, which one would you choose?
LW: Depends for what, but I will keep a classic Mini in my garage. We are used to say “if she starts, she will travel you to the end of the world… if she starts!” To be honest, we are thinking to do a “Serpentine 2” and the great question is “which car?”