2006 Mini Cooper S R53 - A Mini Adventure?

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  • A build thread for my 2006 Mini Cooper S R53:

    Standard specification:
    1598cc
    Inline-4cyl
    Eaton M45 supercharger
    Horsepower - 168bhp
    Torque - 210Nm
    Weight - 1140kg
    Power to weight - 143bhp/ton
    Acceleration 0-100kmph - 7.2s

    Figured I'd do a build thread on this one then...
    So as some of you know I begrudgingly parted company with my beloved Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon 2.4 JTDM at the beginning of the year.
    I set myself a very small budget for replacement with upcoming home buying and wedding in the next year or so and as such my choices were rather limited.

    I knew I didn't want a diesel car again for environmental reasons and I also knew I wasn't in a position to look into any hybrids or electric vehicles.

    I eventually narrowed the shortlist down to the greatest hits of mid-2000s hot hatches

    • Volkswagen Gold Mk5 Gti
    • Honda Civic Type R FN2
    • Mini R53 Cooper S

    I furiously trawled the local classifieds in search of the perfect motor for me and found myself gravitating to the R53 as I have had 2no. Mini One Ds as my first cars and really did enjoy them. I was also conscious that if this was supposedly a cheap foray into motoring that I would benefit from the smaller engine size compared to the other two and the cherry atop the proverbial icing was of course the supercharger...

    So after finding that the first half dozen or so R53s I'd set my sights on were all clocked/ written off/ crazy high mileage/ no service history I turned to the Irish Mini Owners page on Facebook for some advice on a car I had spotted when the owner of the car I bought messaged me and told me that he was planning to sell his R53 as he needed to buy a learner suitable car for his daughter but hadn't advertised it yet.
    He was a former BMW dealer service manager which gave me good hopes of the car having been taken care of and although the service history was slightly patchy it did have a lot of receipts for the important things and even the original sales receipt which is kind of cool.

    So...

    We arranged to meet and I took it for a quick spin and had a look about it and I became the happy owner of an R53.

    Pics below are the photos sent to me by the seller so it looked just like this the day I collected it.


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  • Within the first few days of driving the car it became immediately obvious to me that the tyres were absolute Ditch-Hunter 5000's (Kenda Kaiser) and had to go. The original wheels were 17x7j et48 with 205/45r17 tyres

    I also hate big wheels on Minis, they make the ride feel so harsh and besides, meaty tyres look so much cooler!
    I reasoned with myself that the saving in the price of tyres would justify buying new wheels in the long run (as if it took much reasoning) and started looking into wheel setup...

    I started furiously trawling Mini owner groups on Facebook to try and work out the perfect fitment for my new wheels, I knew I wanted 15" wheels but what width and offset?

    I then found this car...

    The perfect fitment as far as I'm concerned 15x8j et28 with 205/55r15.

    Now to find the wheels and tyres...


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  • I fairly quickly found the perfect wheels but I was quickly overcome by good sense...

    They're absolutely superb looking wheels but I just couldn't justify the price at c. £1800 for a set. If I keep the car longterm I'll look out for a set in the right fitment some day but back to reality for now...

    I didn't want to buy "replica" wheels but after much deliberation I decided I'd settle for Japan Racing or Rota wheels just because they're tried and tested and despite some negative feedback in some quarters there really aren't many horror stories to suggest that the wheels are poorly manufactured.

    I did also look into buying some Buddy Club wheels or trying to find some wheels from Japan on UpGarage or Croooober which are both excellent ways to waste an afternoon but in the end I decided I'd attempt some semblance of sensibility and ended up buy Japan Racing JR5 wheels in 15x8j et28 from JDMDistro who are actually based about an hour down the road in Arklow, Ireland.

    They have an absolutely immense JDM wheel stock and lots of other parts too. Their YouTube channel is worth a subscribe for their wheel delivery videos alone.

    JDM Distro

    I also had to drive around with the wheels in the back of the car for almost three weeks due to a backlog in tyres resulting from Covid-19. I originally wanted to order Yokohama Advan Fleva V701 tyres but they weren't going to be available for months so I ended up with Nankang Noblesport NS-20 tyres which have been excellent despite a few bad reviews online which I suspect are from racist idiots who refuse to buy anything made in Asia.


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  • I decided that this would be an ideal opportunity to do a wheel stud conversion and get some track style long studs and some ever so JDM long nuts. I also ordered new grooved and dimpled black M-Tec rotors and some Brembo pads to give the brakes a freshen up while I was in there.

    I didn't take enough photos of the installation at all at all as I wasn't planning a build thread but I'll take more in future.


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  • Nice... followed

  • The car looks great! The small wheels and larger tyres bring the proportions of the car much closer to the original.

    Are you going to lower it?

  • I am in due time, I thought I was going to just focus on handling and aesthetic bits for the foreseeable in order to steer clear of any reliability upsets caused by engine modifications but that hasn't gone at all to plan and I've been working on all of the engine stuff lately which has put coilovers on the back burner just for now.

    I'll try and catch up on progress updates in the next day or two and then take more photos of jobs done as I go from there as this has made me realise I've done loads of small jobs that I'd kind of forgotten about!

  • Fairly immediately I decided to swap out the headunit for something with bluetooth as I don't think I could live without Spotify anymore.

    I wanted something that looked sort of OEM and blended in well in the interior rather than the usual aftermarket blue and purple flashing lights carry on.

    I looked at a few options, most of which have been covered by @Dammit over in the 911 build thread, and settled on a unit by Continental which is quite popular with Porsche and Mercedes owners apparently but has that sort of OEM- Euro style look about it.

    Fitting was all fairly straightforward although I stupidly made the mistake of ordering the 24v version instead of the 12v version (didn't realise they did both) and had to send it back for an exchange. I also haven't gotten around to wiring it properly with a constant live supply as there's some difference between the wiring of the new stereo and the old one so I have to actually turn it on whenever I get into the car instead of it coming on automatically but it's not a big deal and I'll get around to it at some stage.

    I ordered a set of standard Mini One side repeaters too as I much prefer the orange lenses instead of the clear ones that came fitted on the Cooper S. I've always thought clear lenses looked a bit Max Power even when they were factory fit.

    Irritatingly I had a set of UK spec facelift rear lights ordered with orange indicator lenses to replace my Euro spec clears but they got lost in the mail so I'll have to try again on that art some stage soon.


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  • Nice - followed.

    Fellow R53 owner here. I've got a 05 JCW, no mods though. They're great fun!

  • Oh nice! Feel free to add some photos! I would have loved a JCW, my pal has an R56 JCW with a built (rebuilt after it inevitably blew it's N14 load) engine running somewhere around 260bhp and it's an absolute monster!

  • cool radio! do they make a 2din version? looking to replace the head unit in my forester and i can't decide what to go for...

  • but it's not a big deal and I'll get around to it at some stage.

    this is the kind of job that never ever gets done.

    Headunit looks cool though and v factory.

  • I don't believe they do but I reckon there's probably an adaptor plate available which could look ok? Otherwise some of the 2-DIN ones on Alibaba/ Aliexpress are actually really good and look very OEM. I had one in my Alfa and it was great, I think it was Joying brand?

    Had a Google and they do this one for Forester but I'm not sure if it's the same as yours?

  • You're probably not wrong ;)

  • thanks, i'll have a look, don't want to derail your thread!

  • No sweat man! Feel free to lob in a few pics of the Forester or start a build thread for it. LFGSS needs more proper JDM!

  • it's nothing fancy, just a UK spec '06 non turbo. I don't think it's worth doing a build thread for. I'm not planning on any major upgrades other than stereo and a few subtle visual updates. it's just going to be a practical dad wagon with a roofrack for bikes and stuff. I'll likely only upgrade mechanical bits as they wear out.

  • Rad! This is very relevant to my interests. So many questions so little time.

    How is it mechanically? Issues? Crusty exhaust? Any oil leaks? Coolant tank still in once piece? If I was gunning for one, what should I be looking for?

    Digging the mods as well, including chunkiness aims, though I'd personally go for sliiightly less chunk! Where's the update on the bonnet drillage?
    I'd also like to request detailed report on the headunit with specifics to wiring.
    What's gonna go down with bouncy bits for that slight stance? You upgrading braking to anything bigger?

    Coming from motorbikes, my main priorities aren't so much power (maybe -12%) but I want the car to absolutely rip around corners and stop sharpish without much fade.

  • Mechanically it's good * touches wood again * but I suspect the clutch will want doing in the not terribly distant future once the power increases...

    The only issue I've had was the alternator failed which isn't really a big deal on a fourteen year old car. Exhaust is a little bit crust but passed the NCT (MOT in Ireland) fine, I have an upcoming update on that though in a future post.

    There is an ever so slight oil (and possibly coolant although the coolant tank is fine other than the usual discolouration) leak which has me topping up by about 300ml once a week I'd say, it's not enough to leave an oil stain anywhere I park regularly so it may just be using a bit of oil anyway which would be a shocker for a warm-ish petrol engine I guess but it's on the to do list more to be able to tidy up the engine bay and have everything looking swell at some stage...

    I'll try and get up to speed on the updates as quick as I can because I have a lot more done than I've posted here including the bonnet drillium!

    The headunit is great, I just ordered a harness and adapter to go with it and plugged it straight in as far as I can remember, a little bit fiddly but nothing complicated. Once I setup the bluetooth on it I haven't looked back since. It sounds great with Spotify and works perfectly well for phonically although I do have a Quadlock phone holder and I use the phone to change tracks and make calls as the buttons on the headunit are more fiddly than just using the phone screen I find.

    I have an in depth plan for bouncy bits that I'll unveil soon but it's rather comprehensive and as for the brakes I haven't upgraded anything except for the grooved and dimpled rotors, the brakes are ok but not superb, I wouldn't like to be tracking with them I think... I'm not sure if there is a big brake upgrade I can do that will fit under my current wheels, there is definitely a bit of investigation to be done to find a solution that will solve that problem as I don't want to go to bigger wheels.

    If you're planning a proper fast road/ track toy I'd say it would be worth looking into lightening as much as possible with stripping out interior and I'd say 16" wheels would be the best bet in order to have some space for bigger brakes!

    In short; get one! :)

  • Followed, thinking about buying an S myself.

  • Looks good - I picked up a r56 cooper last month & been looking at new wheels, the 15" with fat tyres suit the minis well, why did you go for 55 instead of 65 on the side profile, space for lowering?

  • Oh nice! Do post pics! I went with the 55 as it was the closest I could get to the stock circumference. I was keen to keep the gearing and speedo as right as I could!

    I would have liked to have gone bigger as ideally I'd like to fill the arches with less lowering but it would have bothered me to have the speedo reading lower than actual speed, whatever about reading a little higher...

  • The smaller wheels and beefy tyres look so good! Can't believe that almost no one does this... I never liked the big wheels on the 'new' mini's, more pics please!

  • What is the cargo area like with the back seats down?

  • Cargo area in the back is actually surprisingly good with the seats down. I can fit my YT Capra with the wheels off which is no mean feat and I have even managed to fit a full size double bass in one before (neck between the seats and scroll resting on the dashboard obviously)...

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2006 Mini Cooper S R53 - A Mini Adventure?

Posted by Avatar for Nahguavkire @Nahguavkire

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