September 26, 2022

With over 300hp on faucet, this turbo-swapped R53 Cooper S is one full-on modified Mini.

Function from Efficiency Mini journal. Phrases: Elizabeth de Latour. Pictures: Wealthy Pearce.

Choosing pressured induction with the Cooper S R53 (try our R53 purchaser’s information) was a big-brain play by Mini. It meant a small engine may output a good quantity of energy with out having to be a high-revving unit, together with loads of torque, and selecting supercharging over a turbo made it a novel providing amongst its rivals. Naturally, manufacturing facility pressured induction additionally meant that when it got here to extracting extra efficiency from the 1.6-litre four-pot, choices have been plentiful, and good points have been spectacular. Nevertheless, whereas superchargers are nice at delivering lag-free energy and the Mini’s optimistic displacement setup serves up a stunning unfold of torque, for those who’re trying to find actually huge numbers then turbos rule the roost. That’s why, whenever you elevate the bonnet of Oliver Aitken’s R53 you will see that a snail instead of a supercharger, and this homebrew construct is serving up some critical increase.

“I’ve been fascinated by Minis for about 5 years,” Oli begins as we chat, which is, funnily sufficient, how lengthy he’s owned his Cooper S. “I’ve all the time been significantly within the R50/R53 first technology of BMW Minis as my dad and mom had one from new. I solely actually observed them when a few mates of mine had some and after I realised the R53s have been very low-cost, I noticed my alternative to personal one and received this one for £1300,” he smiles. “I made a decision to get one as a result of I type of knew the R53 was a novel and stable platform for an pleasant scorching hatch. It wasn’t till I received one which I realised its true potential,” Oli grins. “The fashions have aged very effectively and nonetheless get up contemplating some are 20 years previous now. The engine is over-engineered and may simply push double its manufacturing facility output with the appropriate mods. The automobile handles very effectively when customary, too,” he provides, and people are simply among the the reason why we love Minis.

Whereas Oli has owned and modded a collection of automobiles earlier than buying his Cooper S (his first automobile was a Polo that he dropped on some coilovers) when he picked up his discount R53 he actually had no concept that it was going to turn out to be a critical challenge. “I didn’t actually have any plans, simply coilovers and wheels I assume – I undoubtedly didn’t assume it will find yourself this far,” he laughs, however that’s all a part of the modding journey.

Oli wasted no time in getting caught into the mods, choosing a set of BC Racing coilovers for his or her adjustable damping and trip peak and becoming them on his first night time with the automobile, after which he received into the efficiency upgrades. “Firstly, again when it was supercharged, I did all of the bolt-on mods, beginning with a 17% pulley. I knew the simplest technique to enhance efficiency out of my R53 was to scale back the ’charger pulley and wished to see what all of the hype was about. I did that, and the automobile didn’t appear to be any higher. After a little bit of head-scratching I realised the bypass valve was damaged and caught broad open,” he laughs. “I fitted a brand new one from 1320 Mini and, wow, what a distinction! The following addition was an Airtec top-mount intercooler and a Newman Part 2 camshaft. This cam was chosen for its top-end punch, which was nice for a drop-in cam,” Oli enthuses.


Engine shot on modified mini cooper s R53

“After this was the Professional-werx ported and polished cylinder head as I knew the exhaust ports have been very restrictive on this engine, after which the sooner gearbox was swapped for a BKL facelift gearbox for the limited-slip differential with shorter ratios (effectively well worth the cash). Lastly got here tuning at 1320 Mini together with some Bosch 550cc injectors, and the automobile left with 230hp,” says Oli, and that’s a wholesome quantity, however he’d received a style for energy, and he wished extra. “Regardless of the 230hp I nonetheless wished extra grunt, and after seeing all of the turbo R53s I knew that was the one technique to go if I wished some huge energy and critical efficiency…,” he grins, and so Oli and his dad received caught into the turbo construct, which might take them a yr to finish.

“I purchased a supposed ‘turbo equipment’ off Fb and pieced collectively all the lacking objects. The equipment I purchased consisted of a Garrett GT2871R turbo, 3” downpipe, top-mount ABF manifold, GRS intercooler and pipework and a few ins and outs, the fundamentals,” says Oli. “The engine got here out, I bought all of the supercharger elements after which started becoming the manifold, turbo and auxiliaries. It may have stayed in however was simpler for among the extra tough jobs,” he explains. “Fortunately, I had somebody who lived shut by that might do some alloy welding for the sump oil return, oil feed and inlet throttle physique plate. Certainly one of my good mates refreshed all the underside finish bearings and fitted the APR rod bolts on the engine whereas I used to be at work. High bloke,” he grins. “I used the Cooper water pump, alternator tensioner and belt system for reliability, and as soon as the engine was again in and beginning on the important thing, I opted for a full Airtec front-mount intercooler and rad bundle that fitted properly and was an important addition to the construct,” Oli says.

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Turbocharger on modified mini cooper s R53

“When it got here to mapping, I used to be set on getting the Cooper S tuned again to 1320 Mini, however I realised St Neots was simply too far and costly to get the automobile trailered there, so I began trying round for someplace just a little nearer to house. I observed an organization in Somerset referred to as PV Engineering that had a compound ’charged R53, which appeared like insanity, so I figured they have been the appropriate individuals for the job,” Oli smiles.

“Speaking to the fellows at PV Engineering It was determined I ought to go for a Hyperlink G4 ECU because the inventory ECU would begin to wrestle and restrict energy, and a MAC 3 bar map sensor was used for increase management. The automobile left PV Engineering with 307hp and 251lb ft of torque, with the outputs capped for security as a result of 550cc injectors. Hopefully, I’ll be again subsequent yr for some 1000ccs and 340hp+. However for now, it’s lots!” he laughs. “The drive house was immense, contemplating I had been driving a 50hp Skoda for the previous yr! The automobile has been utterly reworked and makes all the appropriate noises,” grins Oli, and we completely get the place that grin is coming from. A number of work has gone into this conversion, and numerous time too, however the finish end result was completely well worth the wait, and even when it’s not reached its full potential simply but, Oli is over the moon together with his turbocharged Mini monster.

Whereas the engine dominates this construct, Oli has not uncared for the remainder of his Cooper S, and that is very a lot a whole construct. The BC Racing coilovers have sorted out the dealing with and the stance, however with Oli lower than impressed with the inventory brakes, these have been upgraded with a set of R56 JCW Brembo entrance calipers together with Ferodo discs and pads plus braided strains. The Advanti Racing wheels weren’t actually chosen, Oli discovered them for £100 on Fb Market and deemed them an excessive amount of of a discount to cross up. That they go well with the look of the construct completely is a bonus, however what issues is that he’s wrapped them in Toyo R888R rubber.

Interior of modified mini cooper s R53

When it comes to styling, this modified Mini Cooper S R53 has been given just a few tweaks, however Oli was eager to not go too far. “I wished the modifications to be very delicate, simply to appear like an ordinary JCW 210, actually. It’s good to see the look on individuals’s faces when it strikes and makes turbo noises,” he laughs. This Cooper S has been handled to Aero bumpers entrance and rear together with Aero grilles, angel eye sidelights and a GP rear wing, and these additions have given it just a little extra presence with out going overboard. On the within, in the meantime, Oli has added a pair of extraordinarily horny Cobra recliner bucket seats, and they’re the one seats you will see that within the automobile because the rears have been eliminated. The battery has been relocated to the boot to assist with weight distribution, there’s a Coolerworx short-shifter with a pink gear knob, and the crowning glory is a lift gauge to the appropriate of the rev counter.

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This modified Mini Cooper S R53 is an especially spectacular construct for thus many causes. There’s the truth that that is Oli’s first Mini, so he’s set the bar fairly excessive, and the truth that nearly all the pieces was finished by him and his dad within the household storage, which makes the top end result all of the extra satisfying. And what an finish end result that’s. Over 300 turbocharged horsepower wrapped up in a subtle-looking R53 physique with simply the correct amount of key upgrades inside, exterior and beneath make this each an extremely enjoyable and potent efficiency hatch. When Oli suits a set of 1000cc injectors subsequent yr and cranks the facility as much as 340hp the challenge might be actually full, however there’s no rush – his predominant precedence is to benefit from the fruits of his labours, and we wager they style fairly candy.

Tech Spec: Modified Mini Cooper S R53


1.6-litre Tritec, Garrett GT2871R turbo, Professional-werx ported and polished cylinder head, inventory valves, Airtec R53 turbo front-mount intercooler and radiator equipment, Newman Part 2 camshaft, ABF 3” downpipe, 3” R56 exhaust, Vibra-Technics engine mount, ABF top-mount tubular turbo manifold, modified OEM inlet manifold, Majesty seven-row oil cooler, Mishimoto 85°C oil thermostat, inventory pistons and rods, ARP rod bolts, Victor Reinz head studs, King huge finish bearings, Bosch 550cc injectors, 8mm HT leads, NGK spark plugs, SuperPro poly bush higher and decrease engine mounts, OMP strut brace, R50 dipstick, Hyperlink G4+ ECU, Hyperlink CAN lambda, MAC 3 bar increase solenoid

Energy and Torque:

307hp and 251lb ft


BKL LSD facelift six-speed guide gearbox, Clutch Masters FX400 clutch, TTV lightened flywheel


BC Racing coilovers


R56 JCW Brembo entrance calipers, Ferodo discs and pads, R56 braided brake strains, R53 rear calipers with EBC Greenstuff pads

Wheels & Tyres:

17” Advanti Racing wheels with 215/45 Toyo Proxes R888R tyres


Cobra recliner bucket seats, Coolerworx short-shifter, rear seat delete, battery relocated in addition, increase gauge


Aero bumpers and grilles, GP rear wing, angel eye sidelights