December 6, 2022

Extra energy, much less weight and even higher to drive, the unique Mini Cooper S GP R53 is already a scorching hatch icon and, as such, values are starting to agency up. Right here’s what to look out for when shopping for and tuning one.

Information from Efficiency Mini. Phrases: Martyn Collins. Pictures: Mini, Jason Dodd, Glenn Kersten

Scorching hatch specials are two a penny lately, with producers considering nothing of junking non-essential commonplace equipment – even the rear seats – to up the efficiency, tighten the dealing with and improve the presence of their fashions at monitor days throughout the nation. However again in 2006, the thought of a numbered, two-seater model of the Mini Cooper S R53, with distinctive suspension and physique equipment, appeared nothing however a hearsay all through first-generation Mini manufacturing. Nevertheless, when the GP was confirmed on the 2006 Mini United occasion in Misano, Italy, all of the UK automobiles shortly offered out. Homeowners appreciated the giant-killing bundle, and in reality, it labored so properly that BMW introduced again the GP for the second-generation Mini in 2012, and extra lately once more in 2020, with the quickest but, based mostly on the present third era F56 hatch (try our F56 JCW purchaser’s information).

A quick historical past of the Mini Cooper S GP R53

Launched in Summer season 2006, only one model of the Mini Cooper S R53 with John Cooper Works (JCW) GP equipment, to present it its full title, was out there. Energy got here courtesy of the Cooper S’ supercharged 1.6-litre Tritec four-cylinder, with JCW elements, together with a faster-spinning supercharger, revised consumption system, uprated injectors and a freer-flowing stainless-steel exhaust. This resulted in 218hp at 6250rpm together with 184lb ft of torque at 4600rpm, and that meant a 0-62mph time of simply 6.5 seconds, together with a 150mph prime pace. Assembled by the legendary Italian coachbuilding and manufacturing firm Bertone, exterior this Cooper S had a brand new and distinctive aerodynamic bundle together with entrance and rear aprons, chunky aspect skirts and the Mini Problem-style rear wing. On prime of this, there’s the one-off Thunder blue exterior color with a Pure silver roof, which shows the automotive’s distinctive quantity on the right-hand aspect, plus Chili pink mirror caps. Lastly, you possibly can’t miss the lightened four-spoke 18” alloy wheels. The inside is equally particular, and the automotive is only a two-seater, with the world the place the again seat was taken up by a lidded storage field. There’s additionally what appears to be like like a rear strut brace over the again suspension, however it provides nothing to the physique shell’s stiffness.

Our decide

There is only one R53 Cooper S GP mannequin, and all 460 UK automobiles are well-equipped, with heated, leather-trimmed Recaro entrance seats, air-conditioning, a three-spoke multi-function steering wheel, distinctive gray devices, and the automotive’s particular person quantity on the dashboard.

Nevertheless, the inside and exterior modifications usually are not the one GP highlights. 50kg lighter than a normal R53 Cooper S, one of many distinctive weight-saving options of the GP is the light-weight aluminium management arms for the rear suspension. Different GP-specific suspension elements embody decrease, stiffer springs and completely different dampers. There’s additionally some floor impact aerodynamics beneath. With the additional energy, fortunately the brakes on the entrance of the GP had been uprated to JCW spec; they are often recognized by the larger calipers completed in pink.


Mini Cooper S GP R53

What to pay

The fortunate 460 unique GP consumers paid £22,000 for his or her automobiles which had been delivered between July and September 2006. Nevertheless, regardless of nonetheless being collectable and sought-after in efficiency automotive circles, values dropped as little as £8,000 within the mid-2000s. That’s now not the case, as costs now begin from £10,000 and stretch to £25,000 and on the time of scripting this, there weren’t many out there to select from. The most cost effective instance was a 90k-mile commonplace, low roof-number automotive, whereas £16,500 will purchase you a normal GP with 50k on the clock. High-priced GPs have the bottom mileage; we noticed one with simply 28,000 miles at a vendor, priced at £25,000. Nevertheless, we’ve seen GPs saved away by collectors with lower than 10,000 miles on sale for significantly greater than this. Many GPs have been modified, though these usually are not value any extra, and be sure you’re proud of the work undertaken.

What to look out for on the Mini Cooper S GP R53

Firstly, pull the dipstick and verify the oil – all R53 Cooper S fashions have a thirst for the black stuff, so anticipate so as to add 250ml each 1000 miles on a wholesome Mini. Begin the engine, then pay attention for any uncommon noises. If you happen to hear a slight rattle on the prime finish, this might equal issues with the hydraulic tappets, or that the timing chain wants tensioning. Nevertheless, if you happen to can hear a noise from the underside finish as you improve the revs, this may very well be as a result of engine being run low on oil in some unspecified time in the future. Cylinder heads are additionally identified to crack if the engine has been allowed to overheat.

The Eaton M45 supercharger may be very dependable, however if you happen to’re taking a look at a GP with over 90,000 miles that’s not had a rebuild service, it’s a superb bargaining level when shopping for. Additionally, be sure you verify the situation of the supercharger tensioner and belt, as they’ll slip and break. If you happen to hear squeaking on start-up this may very well be the explanation. Subsequent, have a look at the situation of the oil-filled round engine mount on the precise of the engine. They’re identified to fail, so verify the entrance crossmember for greasy deposits. On the again, the plastic brake fluid reservoir might be susceptible to leaks.

The GP was fitted with distinctive, light-weight 18”, four-spoke alloy wheels manufactured by Ronal, initially fitted with Dunlop SP run-flat rubber. These tyres are now not out there, and the run-flat compound makes the journey harsher, so don’t be shocked to seek out different non-run-flat rubber on any GP that you just have a look at. Price range no less than £200 a nook for run-flats and fewer for traditional tyres. The wheels themselves must be completed in matt black with polished edges and spokes. These alloys are susceptible to kerbing, and the lacquer doesn’t arise properly to winter climate, so many can have been refurbed by now.

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Mini Cooper S GP R53

It may need been in-built Italy by Bertone, however the GP feels as stable as some other BMW Mini. The GP, like all Minis, has fairly an upright entrance nostril that’s susceptible to stone chips. If there aren’t any and the automotive has lined severe mileage, then it has most likely been resprayed. Additionally, the GP scoop sticker is susceptible to fading. It’s simply changed, but when it appears to be like newer than the remainder of the paintwork ask why, because the automotive is perhaps hiding extra severe repairs. Then, have a look at the distinctive entrance apron. There have been guarantee issues from launch with flaky paintwork, particularly across the silver-painted, turbine-like fake brake ducts. The GP is decrease than a normal Cooper S, so verify the situation of the entrance splitter for grounding injury. Just like the entrance splitter, the chunky aspect skirts are weak to break, so search for scuffs and stone chips on the underside edge. The rear window glass is exclusive to the GP and has particular cut-outs for the rear wing. The centre part of the rear wing is created from carbon fibre; be sure it’s free of injury.

Inside, the particular inside trim and supportive commonplace Recaro sport seats stand out; be sure they’re all current and proper. Count on some scuffing to the aspect bolsters of the seats – because the leather-based is definitely caught when getting out and in. Nevertheless, injury ought to correspond with the mileage. They’re heated too, so be sure they work.

Mini Cooper S GP R53

Modifying a Mini Cooper S GP R53

The GP was already fitted with the smaller JCW pulley for the supercharger, though this, the revised consumption system, uprated injectors and a freer-flowing stainless-steel exhaust solely added as much as an additional 8hp, over a normal Cooper S JCW. Nevertheless, the GP’s uprated intercooler can deal with the elevated temperatures of a fair smaller supercharger pulley, equivalent to a 17% Alta pulley, so at £130, it is a comparatively straightforward approach of giving your GP extra horses.

With that additional energy coming from the smaller supercharger pulley on the entrance of the engine, it’s value fascinated with how the exhaust gasses are exiting from the again. One answer is to improve the manifold, which is not going to solely launch the exhaust gasses faster however ought to make for keener mid-range acceleration too. A Janspeed 4-1 manifold is priced at £384.

Though the GP is fitted with a limited-slip differential as commonplace, becoming a Quaife Computerized Torque Biasing (ATB) differential alongside any engine modifications is one other worthwhile modification. It improves energy supply all through the rev vary over the usual setup, by giving clean, fixed traction. Priced at £726, it’s additionally beneficial that you just match a brand new clutch and flywheel on the similar time, including to the associated fee.


The GP is fitted with a JCW dealing with pack, equalling extra grippy, managed and much much less bouncy dealing with than a normal R53. However any Mini – together with the GP – advantages from additional suspensions tweaks. Sadly, as a result of GP’s uncommon configuration of suspension elements, not all coilovers will match this MINI. KW Automotive Variant 1 coilovers are beneficial; they’re high-quality and are pre-set on the manufacturing unit to present the perfect steadiness between sporty driving, consolation, and security. KW Automotive V1 coilovers price £974.

The usual JCW brake set-up is respectable, however that hasn’t stopped many house owners upgrading to the later and larger Brembo calipers. It appears an economical improve too, with refurbished pairs of calipers priced between £400-500 on public sale websites. Nevertheless, if you happen to don’t wish to go that far, or maintain the unique calipers, a easy pad improve could make a worthwhile distinction.

With house owners of normal Cooper S fashions attempting to emulate the GP, with its distinctive physique color and physique equipment, it’s exhausting to make this R53 stand out any greater than commonplace – each Mini fanatic is aware of what it’s! Nevertheless, it’s value looking for interval JCW carbon fibre exterior elements, such because the bonnet scoop, wing mirror caps and boot deal with; if you could find them, on-line public sale websites are your pal right here. Or, extra merely simply getting among the exterior chrome trim colour-coded may give a GP a subtly completely different OEM+ look. One other exterior mod that may make any GP stand out is simply becoming an aftermarket light-weight set of alloy wheels.

Inside, there’s not a lot unsuitable with the GP’s inside. Nevertheless, we’ve seen house owners upgrading the already wonderful, commonplace Recaro leather-based sports activities seats for the JCW Sparco bucket seats. Like different OEM first-generation JCW Mini elements, these are getting more durable to seek out, and as such are costlier, with present costs as much as £1500 for a pair in affordable situation.

Mini Cooper S GP R53


With its pointy dealing with and sharp, quick steering, you possibly can actually profit from the bubbling supercharged engine, so the Mini Cooper S GP R53 have to be the last word first-generation automotive. The one actual concern is the shortage of practicality, with this Mini’s lack of rear seats. Nevertheless, you would argue the shortage of rear legroom with them in place makes the rear seats in the usual automotive largely ineffective anyway. Mechanically, the one potential points are frequent with the usual Cooper S and usually are not main ones. So, it’s potential to run a GP on a fairly smart funds, and there are upgrades to enhance this big killer if you happen to really feel the necessity. The Mini Cooper S GP R53 is a superb and accessible efficiency bundle that you just’ll take pleasure in driving. Costs are on the up, plus there appear to be fewer second-hand examples out there, so a GP appears to be a superb funding.