Time to blow out those candles - the Mini hatchback is 20 years old. Two decades have passed since the first car rolled off BMW‘s Mini plant in Oxford, which still produces all variants bar the Countryman today.
Naturally, this has us feeling quite nostalgic. And when we get nostalgic, we tend to delve into the classifieds to pluck out something topical. A clean and tidy Cooper came to mind first, but that seemed a little too slow. A GP1 went too far the other way (have you seen how much a nice one is now?), leaving us with this R53 Cooper S.
It’s no ordinary R53, however - it’s a John Cooper Works. Back then, this was a package rather than an outright model like it is today. The officially recognised, dealer-fitted upgrade pack was the work of Mike Cooper, John’s son before the sub-brand was brought in house.
The pack comprised an upgraded cylinder head with bigger exhaust ports, a reduced supercharger pulley plus a new supercharger with Teflon-coated tips, an air filter upgrade, and a new cat-back exhaust. It’s these mods that standard R53 owners tend to opt for first, so to have everything pre-done in an official capacity is quite the boon.
Finding one these days is easier said than done, but happily, there’s currently a 2002 example for sale on Autotrader at a very reasonable £3250. The mileage is on the high side at just under 125,000, but it’s had plenty of work done including renewed track rod ends and lower ball joins, a new crank pulling, plus new timing chain and thermostat seals.
It’s wearing the complete JCW aero kit (contrary to popular belief, these weren’t part of the core JCW pack) and JCW R105 18-inch wheels wearing relatively fresh Bridgestone Potenza RE050As.
It has a full-service history, and a decent factory spec including the rare panoramic sunroof option, a full black leather interior and digital climate control.
On top of all the JCW bits, it’s also had further upgrades in the form of a custom strut brace, a new intercooler and silicon pipes from MTC plus a Fletcher two core radiator.