September 26, 2022

Now thought of a contemporary basic, the Mini R50 One and Cooper nonetheless look nice, are properly made, enjoyable to drive, and can by no means be cheaper. Right here’s what you have to know earlier than shopping for one.

Information from Efficiency Mini journal. Phrases: Martyn Collins. Images: Mini, 24seven Images

How do you substitute a automotive that’s been on sale for 4 a long time? That was the headache going through Rover, particularly when BMW took the helm in 1994. Ideas debuting in 1997 saved basic Mini followers guessing, however because it seems, these had been all designs rejected earlier than the ultimate Frank Stephenson-styled mannequin. That mannequin, or the R50 Mini as we now realize it, lastly made its debut on the Frankfurt Motor Present in September of that very same 12 months. Nevertheless, with Rover’s sale to the Phoenix consortium, BMW preserving the Mini model and manufacturing transferring from Longbridge in Birmingham, to Cowley in Oxford, it took an additional 4 years for the brand new Mini R50 to be revealed in manufacturing kind.

Consumers proceed to be attracted by the brand new Mini’s combination of cheeky however sympathetic styling, high quality construct, spectacular security options, low working prices and whether or not you select the One or Cooper, each are nice enjoyable to drive.

Transient historical past of the Mini R50

On July 7, 2001, Mini sellers opened for enterprise inside BMW retailers throughout the UK, with R50 One and Cooper fashions that can be purchased, with Salt, Pepper and Chili packs out there for the One and Pepper and Chili out there for the Cooper. Each Mini R50 fashions are powered by a 1.6-litre,16-valve, Chrysler-supplied Tritec engine. The One produces 90hp at 5500rpm, together with 101lb ft of torque at 3000rpm, and that meant a 0-62 time of 10.6 seconds and a high pace of 112mph. The Cooper is powered by a retuned model of the identical engine delivering 115hp at 6000rpm, together with 110lb ft at 4500 rpm, and that resulted in a 0-62 time of 9.3 seconds and a high pace of 125mph. A five-speed handbook transmission is normal, with Steptronic automated an possibility.

Autumn 2004 noticed the Mini R50 get its mid-life facelift or LCI (Life Cycle Impulse in BMW language), with trim modifications, new colors and extra choices. You’ll spot a facelifted R50 One or Cooper by brighter new entrance and tail lamps, alloy wheels, plus exterior and inside tweaks. Probably the most important change was the fitment of a stronger, extra dependable Getrag five-speed gearbox, changing the earlier, problematic Rover-derived R65 or Midlands five-speed gearbox. Manufacturing of the first-generation Mini R50 finally stopped in 2006, after 130,000 had been bought within the UK alone.

Our Decide

Your decisions come down as to if you need extra energy, the efficiency elements and the long-lasting Cooper title on the boot. Clearly, it’s all about your funds and private choice, however we’d be selecting the most recent Cooper, with essentially the most elective gear we may discover. The Cooper gives the identical degree of practicality because the One, however the sportier seems to be with extra chrome and the (elective) contrasting roof, plus additional efficiency and keener set-up is our favorite.


Mini R50 costs

The most cost effective Mini R50 Ones begin at about £300, with round 150,000 miles, however many have points or are Categorised write-offs, so we’d advise spending a bit extra. £1000 upwards is the place you’ll discover the higher, decrease mileage 2002-2004 Coopers and Ones, however you’ll want a minimum of £1500 for the earliest Y-registration automobiles, particularly the pre-production ‘OBL’ launch automobiles, first owned by Mini, that are actually wanted. £2000-plus is the place you’ll discover the very best 2003 and 2004 Coopers, plus the bottom mileage, lower-spec facelift automobiles. The bottom mileage, highest spec 05, 55, 06 and 56 plate Minis begin at £3000. We’d recommend you purchase on situation, specification and color. Late One, Seven and Cooper Park Lane fashions specifically are price seeking out.

Engine shot in Mini R50 Cooper

What to search for on the Mini R50 – frequent issues

Earlier than you begin any Mini R50, be sure that it’s obtained loads of oil in it – head gasket failure isn’t unparalleled, and the Tritec engine likes a drink. Plus, the principle cooling fan thermostat is a identified failure level, inflicting it to overheat even with the electrical fan slicing in. Oil leaks are all too frequent across the rocker cowl, sump and oil filter surrounds, too.

Begin it up, then pay attention for any odd high or backside rattles. A top-end rattle suggests hydraulic tappet or timing chain tensioner issues. Backside finish noises may recommend the engine has been run low on oil in some unspecified time in the future and will recommend the necessity for a expensive rebuild. Additionally, verify the oil-filled engine mount along with the engine, it’s susceptible to failure, and it will likely be apparent if it has, as oil could have leaked on the entrance chassis leg.

One other large Mini R50 problem is the R65 Midlands five-speed gearbox that’s fitted to the One and Cooper from launch till the facelift in 2004. Derived from the French unit fitted first within the Rover Metro, sadly, it has a status for getting noisy or full failure. Funds round £500 for a reconditioned alternative fitted at a specialist. Facelift fashions are fitted with the extra dependable, Getrag one — nonetheless with 5 speeds. There’s additionally the much less well-liked six-speed Steptronic automated transmission. It’s much less well-liked as a result of it’s additionally a really problematic gearbox, identified to fail at low mileage and isn’t advisable.

Interior shot on Mini R50

Minis had been fitted with normal run-flat tyres, which make the journey arduous, particularly with the sports activities suspension. By now, house owners could have eliminated them, however verify the situation of the anti-roll bar hyperlinks, bushes and shock absorbers. Count on inside trim rattles on early automobiles, particularly from the sprint high, doorways and entrance seats, though these had been improved all through the lifetime of the automotive, notably after the 2004 facelift. Inside plastics additionally differ in high quality, some scratching and marking simply.

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One other large downside space of the R50 is the electrics. Is the carpet damp? Whether it is, there may very well be a leak from the A-pillar – that is severe because the physique management module lives right here and if water has been getting in for some time, count on a variety of wierd electrical faults. Due to the fee, solely second-hand physique management models are viable and are priced from £40 upwards on public sale websites, however you’ll have to recode it to the automotive, and that may very well be costly. Additionally, when turning the ignition on, look ahead to the airbag warning gentle. An MoT failure, it’s often the results of cables being pulled when the seats are moved. Ensure you additionally verify for blown stereo audio system, sluggish electrical window motors and failing central locking. These are all simple fixes, with inexpensive and available second-hand elements.

The usual seats within the Mini R50 lack help, and the sports activities seats are preferable however count on put on to the aspect bolsters from the dearth of rear area, plus getting out and in. Speaking of the entrance seats, there was an early recall for the entrance seat mechanism, which may jam within the folding place, so it’s price checking the entrance seats fold simply on any potential buy. There have additionally been circumstances of the roof lining turning right into a tent as the unique material offers up.

Outdoors, though the construct high quality and paint are as much as BMW normal, the newest R50s are actually 15 years outdated, so look ahead to lacquer peel on all panels, plus stone chips on the bonnet and windscreen. The doorways and rear quarters are most susceptible to parking injury, so look there subsequent. Additionally, verify for rust on the bottoms of the doorways, across the boot deal with and the underside of the tail lamps.

Aftermarket wheels on Mini R50

Modifying a Mini R50

Whether or not you select a One or Cooper, even the Cooper’s efficiency is heat fairly than scorching. The best method to give a One the efficiency of a Cooper is through a easy remap, like the favored Superchips Bluefin, which on the One can add 33hp for £441. You possibly can go additional with the efficiency of a One and Cooper by including efficiency spark plugs and an air filter, with the Cooper’s efficiency leaping to 130hp. With higher sparks and respiration, the subsequent efficiency improve to contemplate is enhancing exhaust gasoline stream. A efficiency manifold and sports activities cat are an excellent combo, however this isn’t an affordable possibility at £825 for the Ragazzon one. Customary R50 cat-back exhausts are susceptible to rot, so even in the event you don’t go for the efficiency manifold and cat, an improve is an easy possibility to enhance the noise and mid-range torque, and a Milltek Sport alternative prices £442.

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The R53 Cooper S’s six-speed handbook Getrag gearbox is far stronger than the weak Midlands five-speeder fitted to the Cooper, and is a logical alternative and improve, plus you may match a short-shift equipment just like the Coolerworx one, too. The R50’s exact steering and entertaining dealing with, greater than make up for the dearth of efficiency when in comparison with the R53 Cooper S, the results of MacPherson struts, coil springs, an anti-roll bar and naturally, the rear Z-axle.

Nevertheless, the dealing with will be additional improved, and uprating the suspension is well-liked, not stunning when low-cost reducing springs will be purchased for lower than £100. If you wish to go additional, a set of coilovers is the place you have to spend your money, and an honest set will set you again round £800.

Lastly, though stiff, the Mini R50 physique shell will be made stiffer with a strut brace and thus make the already wonderful dealing with even sharper. An OMP strut brace prices simply £125.

The usual all-around vented disc brake setup is greater than a match for an R50’s efficiency, however even an improve to a set of efficiency brake pads could make a distinction. Elsewhere, a wheel and tyre improve can actually change the look of an R50, however watch out what OEM wheels you select in the event you go down that route as some are heavy.

As for physique styling, small modifications similar to becoming a Cooper S rear spoiler, or aspect skirts can subtly change the look of an R50. Mini’s personal physique equipment – the Aero equipment – seems to be good too, if yow will discover one which’s in good situation and never extortionately costly. When you’re going for an Aero equipment, an R53 Cooper S bonnet with the letterbox vent offers welcome additional respiration. Bringing issues bang updated, an Orranje G-Wing all the time seems to be good on the again of any first-generation Mini, together with a wide-arch equipment.

Mini R50 rear shot


With the earliest Mini R50 costs on the up, due to their collectors standing, we will’t think about the very best R50 Minis will keep as low-cost as they’re for the time being, so there’s by no means been a greater time to purchase. Be cautious of the issues listed above, however all are simply repaired and are usually not too expensive. A plentiful provide of second-hand elements and breakers means you may maintain your R50 Mini working for a small outlay. There are many upgrades for the mechanicals and suspension, too, and even the smallest modifications make a distinction to the drive. When you’re searching for a nonetheless trendy hatch, that’s nice to drive and inexpensive, a Mini R50 is a automotive you’ll take pleasure in proudly owning, modified or not.

Mini R50 pictures