BradLTL SuperDork
11/25/18 8:03 p.m.

After my last misfire project car, I took my time sharing this one with you.  This one is in my possession, paperwork has been signed, has been registered, has insurance... so I guess it's real now.

While my search for a SVT Focus was unsuccessfully progressing, my dad and I discussed opening up the options of cars.  I agreed, and made the assumption that it would progress about as well as trying to find a good SVT.  Well, it only took like 3 weeks and a very nice looking Cooper S showed up.  Even better it was driving distance from my dad, so we could put eyes on it and even drive it.  Dad's report after looking the car was that it was a really good car.  Not just a good buy, but a good car.  I like the pictures, and agreed to buy it.  Cashiers check was sent and the car was ours.  The plan was for my Dad to drive it from California all the way to Alabama for me.  So, a 2300 mile shake down run.  The car made the drive without a hitch and now is home, just waiting on the title in the mail.

It's a 2003 Mini Cooper S (R53) in British Racing Green, just under 100k miles, no sunroof car.  With as many options as exist with Mini's, this is actually the spec that I would have chosen.  I'm pretty happy with it.

Ok, what's wrong with it: it's missing a small plastic trim piece from the dash, has a faded taillight, the clear bra needs to be replaced, the front seats have covers on them (I've not braved to look under), the switch cluster is loose, and that's about it. Pretty ok considering that my purchase price was sub $2,000.  That's right Challenge folks, it's under budget.  Although, FMV is probably well above the limit.

This was purchased purely for fun, autocross, track days, club drives, etc.  That means there will be projects to come.  More on that list later, but here is some eye candy.

Slippery SuperDork
11/25/18 9:23 p.m.

 Beautiful looking car! And you stole it. 

Robbie UltimaDork
11/25/18 10:57 p.m.

Yeah, nice buy!


SVreX MegaDork
11/26/18 5:11 a.m.

Nice car!  I miss mine- hope to have one again someday. 

Why does FMV matter?

BradLTL SuperDork
1/11/19 8:39 p.m.

So, I’ve now owned my 2003 Mini Cooper S (R53) for just about 7 weeks. With the holidays, travel, family, etc. I haven’t really been able to spend much time with it. Last weekend, I took my oldest out for his first ride in it and he immediately feel in love (granted, his frame of reference is a minivan). After that ride, we left his booster seat in the back and have been taking the “Mini-mini-vroom-vroom” everywhere.

I stole this car. It’s in great condition, and the price I paid was peanuts. But, that said, it’s not perfect. Let’s take a look at everything (that I know of) that is wrong with the car:

First, the control console (windows, door locks, etc.) is loose. Not too bad, but just enough that you have to mess with it to roll down the windows. I haven’t really looked at what it is going to take to repair it, my guess is some double sided tape.

The next thing is a small piece of trim off the dash on the passenger side. Vent cover, or air flow directer thing. It’s just not there. I suspect it will be harder to figure out the name of the piece so I can order one that it will be to actual replace it.

The third item on my list is a real annoyance. It appears that a tail light was replaced at some point. That doesn’t bother me too much, except they replaced it with one off a 2005 Mini and the cover has this terrible milky complexion.

Forth is a question. The seats. I don’t know. The car came with some really nice leather and suede seat covers. I’m not sure if under them are pristine factory seats, or a scene out of a crime drama. Long term plan is to put in some racing/street style seats, so I’m not hugely worried about them either way.


The remaining list is stuff you would expect:

  • Standard Mini squeaks and rattles
  • The clear bra is old and needs to be replaced
  • The clutch is on the last half of its life and will need to be replaced in a year or so (depending on my driving)
  • A little curb rash on a couple of the wheels

That’s about it. I lucked out on this car. No one believes me when I tell them it is a 2003.

Now, it’s time to get it ready for the racing season.

BradLTL SuperDork
1/19/19 2:03 p.m.

The car has starting doing something new over the last week or so, I have an idea as to what it might be but I'm not certain. 

On colder days (<45 degrees F), when releasing the clutch in 1st gear there is a whine or squeal.  It almost sounds like a noisy brake.  It only happens the first little bit of driving, and it goes away.  There isn't anything noticeable from clutch engagement, or slippage.

Any thoughts?  My guess is throwout bearing.

DeadSkunk PowerDork
1/19/19 2:07 p.m.

The Chewbacca noise( you can look it up on MINI sites by  that name). It's a common issue, my R53 has done it for 10 years. It's caused by the dual mass flywheel somehow. Nothing to worry about, it just keeps on making a noise.

BradLTL SuperDork
1/19/19 2:09 p.m.
DeadSkunk said:

The Chewbacca noise( you can look it up on MINI sites by  that name). It's a common issue, my R53 does it. It's caused by the dual mass flywheel somehow. Nothing to worry about, itjust keeps on making a noise.

I guess that is reassuring.  

ToySnakePMC New Reader
1/20/19 7:06 p.m.

Any preventative maintenance plans for this little supercharged wonder?  

I bought the wifey a used 2008 S convertible, 60K, (final year for the first gen - and best - MINIs), researched what I thought would help make it bulletproof, and spent considerable amount of $ on cooling system updates, gaskets, sensors, belts, hoses, ignition wires, etc.  put it in service mode (ie: remove bumper and crash bar), went to town on said parts.  Also, replaced the 2.1 oz of stinky Eaton supercharger fluid with new.  Something to think about.

Fun fact - the supercharger drives the water pump on these!  New water pump below...


BradLTL SuperDork
1/20/19 7:20 p.m.

Well, first on the list (in fact I loaded up the online cart yesterday) is a replacement/change of all the vital fluids: oil, brakes, power steering, transmission, gears; and new plugs and wires. 

I’m interested in the supercharger oil, did you do it yourself? Everyone makes it seem like it’s a significant effort.

Next up will be chassis reinforcement and likely a set of Koni yellows. 

PMRacing SuperDork
1/20/19 7:37 p.m.

I know Wheeler Dealer (season 15 episode 3) did an episode on this car.  They supercharger oil looks tedious but not too difficult. Just a lot of stuff in the way.  

ToySnakePMC New Reader
1/20/19 7:43 p.m.

Yes, I did the Eaton fluid change.  It wasn’t hard by any means - I just followed others’ on-line tutorials step by step.   What I did NOT do, sad to say, is replace the serpentine belt’s tensioner.  WTF.  It’s been a couple of years, but I think it involved unbolting motor mounts and selling your soul to the devil.  Never figured it out, and threw it on the shelf after tossing the new belt on the old tensioner. 

BradLTL SuperDork
2/16/19 10:11 a.m.

So, about to get in over my head on this car. On the docket for this weekend is the 100k service, plus supercharger oil refresh, plus new pulleys and ignition. 

Any Birmingham locals want to come help?


DeadSkunk PowerDork
2/16/19 10:51 a.m.

In reply to BradLTL :

Rather than Koni yellows I'd recommend the Koni FSD shocks. I have a set on my R53 and they tightened up the handling and improved the ride nicely.

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