2003 Mini Cooper S

Started on Dec. 15 by drmike

Ride Rating

4

I ordered this car new from MINI of Dallas in February of 2003 after a late January MINI test drive. I had just read about the MINI in Grassroots Motorsports, and after doing some online research, the performance of the car for the price just gripped me. I received the car in July of 2003. I have never, ever thought of selling it. I have driven this car to more than a few autocross wins over the years, as well as a basketful of track days, and even a time trials or two.

This is a "sleeper" MINI, so the outside is mostly just a nice, clean, Indi Blue and white MINI. There are some small changes. The driving lights are removed, and brake ducts have been fitted. I made the brake ducts one Saturday night after half-destroying my old Wilwood brakes at the Streets of Willow racetrack. The front license plate holder was added when I moved to California three years ago (the CHP is pretty hardcore about front plates). The lower rear plastic panels (the faux-mesh black plastic inserts) are removed to make room for the custom wheel rack that I use to carry race tires to the track. Other than that, the car is pretty much simple and clean. Well, except for the new front splitter...

The interior is track-focused, with the two main themes being frugality and neatness. The gauge cluster has been customized with three gauges: oil pressure, boost pressure, and air/fuel ratio (wideband O2). I started with a gauge pod and gauge set I bought on eBay years ago, and I recently added the air/fuel ration gauge using hardware I made myself.

The driver's seat is a Sparco Milano that I also bought on eBay for a song several years ago. I added a stout harness bar and bar mounts that I made myself, and also two sets of 6-point harnesses. The harness bar and shoulder belts are removable both for convenience and for the safety of anyone in the back seat. The passenger seat is stock MINI to allow my daughter to get in the back easily (also it's paid for!).

There's a black rectangle with an orange display in the dash attached to a three-pound metal housing that I'd love to remove to save weight, but my wife likes to attach something called an "eye-pod" to it, so I not allowed to pull it out.

I do all of my own work, and that work includes:

Valeo single-mass flywheel and clutch, Ported cylinder head (ported it myself), Hot street/race camshaft, 15% overspeed supercharger pulley, Cold air intake, Magnaflow exhaust, NGK Iridium IX spark plugs, TSW engine damper, Bosch 550cc injectors, custom Mynes Performance tuning

I've had the car apart more times than I can count. MINI's are a blast to work on!

This car has been through three generations of suspension tuning. The first set-up was a set of H-sport springs and a Madness 22mm rear anti-sway bar. The second set-up included: KMAC camber plates, LEDA coilovers with Hyperco springs, Alta PSRS front lower bushings, 22mm rear bar, and an H-sport adjustable front bar, along with hand-me-down upper and lower rear control arms.

The latest setup includes: TSW/KW Variant 3 coilovers with Swift springs, TSW upper and lower rear trailing arms, Powerflex front lower control arm bushings, H-sport adjustable front swaybar, 19mm rear swaybar, Vorshlag camber plates, and TSW front lower X-brace. All of these parts work together beautifully after a full four-wheel alignment and corner weighting (done, again, by me).

On the car is the TSW BBK big brake kit, with Porterfield R4S pads for the street, and Raybestos ST-43 for the track. The rear rotors are TSW items with R4S pads for the street and R4 pads for the track. I generally run Wilwood EXP 600 brake fluid. I have found it to be just as good as far more expensive fluids, and I like the low viscosity.

Wheels and tires are expensive! Still, somehow, I've managed to go through quite a few of both. My street wheels are currently 16X7 semi-flat black ROTA Slipstreams, and they currently sport 215/40-R16 Nitto NT450 extreme performance summer tires (yes, even in January). In the past, though, I have run anything from Falken Azenis RT615 on down to Pirelli PZero Neros on the street (yes, down, I didn't like them). For the track, I currently run 15X7 Team Dynamics Pro Race 1 wheels with Nitto NT01 tires (225/45-R15). In the past, I've run Toyo Proxes RA-1, Kumho V710, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup, Falken Azenis RT-215, and Kumho MX on the track.

2 comments on this ride

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Comments

Aug 16, 2011 1:45 a.m.
Joshua:
Nice writeup and nice car!
Jan 14, 2012 6:20 p.m.
Lamps3:
Fantastic Write up! You have a car to be proud of. I would Love to see some pictures of your brake air ducting.

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