Out to Cahors in the Morgan this morning, which just confirmed that the Mini is redundant. The Morgan is so much fun and makes you grin most of the time, even going slowly. It is actually pretty quick up to 70 or so as it is very light, but has limited grip and weak brakes so it’s fun and quite fast to push along in it – and it makes a great noise and you are in the breeze etc. And when you stop everyone wants a look or a selfie.

Finally got the registration through for the MINI – it took three months.

The last message was one month ago when they asked for a copy of the reverse of the UK reg doc – which shows nothing of value. Then another month goes by as it works through the queue again and now it’s OK.

This is the ad copy for the Mini

Mini Cooper S 2005 John Cooper Works

For sale is my near immaculate late model R53 Mini Cooper JCW. The is one of the last of the first generation of the new mini, before BMW started feeding them steroids and they became bloated. With the first generation (R53) the development team did a fantastic job of capturing both the classic look and wheel-at-each-corner-go-kart feeling of the original Mini that made it so much fun.

These are becoming increasingly rare and are sure to become future classics. The Cooper S variant is relatively common and makes a great performance bargain – if you can find a good one. With a 170 bhp they have enough performance for most people.

But to appeal to the real enthusiast and cope with the occasional track day, BMW developed a faster version in conjunction with John Cooper Garages (who developed the original Mini Cooper). The John Cooper Works makeover came in many flavours covering engine, suspension, wheels, body kit, seats and interior trim.

I spent quite some time last year searching for a Mini JCW in good condition and with the right specification. Eventually I found the perfect car, which I am now offering for sale as I have since acquired even more vehicles and it is getting out of hand.

In addition to the JCW parts this car has benefited from a lot of work and expenditure to make it an excellent fast road / occasional track day car. It provides huge fun and outrageous performance. I would say it is faster point to point on A and B roads than the Lotus Elise I used to run in the UK. It doesn’t have the same handling finesse but the wave of torque from the supercharged engine and the seemingly unlimited grip make up for that.

The car is a genuine JCW (with build certificate) has a fully documented service history and was in standard JCW form until purchased by the previous owner about 2 years ago.

It has done 104k miles, but a new engine was fitted at 72k so the engine has only done about 30k. This was fitted in October 2013 at a cost of £3,000.

In the last 2 years the car has had a lot of attention and upgrades and has only covered 4k miles in this time. The previous owner (retired company director) bought the car to use for a bit of fun and to do a few track days in the UK. He spent a lot of money on parts and maintenance. I have used the car on the road with one track day at Pau in March.

Don’t be put off by the track day use – this car has had more attention and maintenance in the last couple of years than most cars get in ten years.

Ownership plus points :
– Huge fun, brings a smile to your face
– The classic shape and glossy paintwork, together with the black body red wheels combination gives some real ownership satisfaction – it looks great and attracts quite a bit of enthusiast attention
– A hoot to drive with the go kart like responses, massive grip and huge torque at any speed from the supercharger
– The supercharger whine
– The pops and bangs from the exhaust on the overrun

Ownership minus points :
– The ride is very stiff – great on the track or smooth roads but not very comfortable on bumpy French lanes

Still reading, OK let’s go through the specification of the car :

UK car RHD
French registered on French plates
Carte grise in my name
CT 13 March 2018 (3 months old)


1.6 litre supercharged engine. In std form as a Cooper S it delivers 170 bhp. With the JCW upgrades this increases the output to 210 bhp. This car is running higher boost with an 18% supercharger pulley and a much larger motorsport intercooler. So the power is something over 210 and it feels like it. Still perfectly docile and civilised to potter around town.

Last service was in October 2017 at 102k miles, only 2000 miles ago. This included :

Motul 5w40 fully sythetic oil and Mahle filter.

Gerbox oil changed – Kennol 75w90 fully synthetic.

Brake fluid flushed and replaced with Motul RGF600 motorport fluid.

I have topped up the supercharger gear oil, which is not a normal service item and not easy to do but is a useful safeguard. I have also fitted a metal expansion tank to the cooling system as the plastic ones have a habit of splitting.

Coolant renewed with Motul -25 anti-freeze.

Resealed the tdc sensor to fix the slight oil leak – they all leak.

Fitted a bypass resistor to the fan so that the low speed fan works – most don’t.

Cam chain drive so no rubber belt to worry about. Tensioner was changed at 98k miles.

Air filter foam washed and re-oiled

New Bosch battery.

Exhaust and Intake

Full JCW exhaust and JCW sound pack – more noticeable supercharger noise due to the ITG filter and cold air intake – and pops and bangs from the exhaust on the overrun.


JCW suspension replaced with Eibach lowering springs and new standard dampers at 98k miles.

New front suspension top mounts and obdurator plates fitted at 102k miles.


Fronts are new Nitrac coated discs running Mintex pads with less than 3k miles.

Brake cooling ducts fitted replacing front fog lamps.

Rears are new Brembo discs and pads with less than 2k miles.

Amazing stopping power and fade free.

Wheels and Tyres

OZ racing lightweight alloy wheels.

Virtually new (less than 2k miles) 205/45 17 Michelin Pilot Super Sports – 600 Euros for the set.


The highlight of the interior is the leather Recaro Works bucket seats (£1500 option when new). The standard seats are comfortable for your granny to do the shopping but are useless for any spirited cornering. These seats are a rare but essential option (in my view).

Also has a rare leather dash rather than the usual painted metal.

Harmon Kardon stereo and the all important air con.

Works floor mats.


Black gloss bodywork in great condition with the JCW body kit extras and badges.

Two small paint bubbles on the rear hatch which I have rubbed down, rust killed and simply painted black.


In contrast to the upper body the underside did have some surface rust as a testament to many salty English winters. Although superficial this has been painstakingly rubbed down, rust killed and painted with hammerite. Now very tidy.

Lights – Fitted with Xenons, these have been given the joey mod – stripped and painted black and red to match the rest of the car – the standard headlights have a chrome interior and don’t look right on a black car.

Controle Technique / MOT

I have a print out of the previous MOT records from the gov.uk website which validates the mileage.

There is a folder full of receipts and I have summarised all of the service history in an excel document for ease of reference. A copy can be seen by using the images link at the end.

The French CT was passed on 13 March 2018 – 3 months old. Observations on the CT were :
Rear seat belts not present – the previous owner had removed the rear seats and belts but these have now been refitted
Slight oil leak from the engine – see TDC sensor fix above
Surface rust on the chassis – see details of treatment above

I have uploaded a few images but you can see a more complete set including the service records here :

Out in the Mini today, what a fun car !

One set of bends on the way in to Cahors is like doing a lap of a racetrack and normally not much traffic to spoil the fun and no gendarmes along that bit.

Trouble is the Morgan is probably even more fun on the same bends – at lower speeds.

For the record…

Things I Like about the Mini

– huge performance and massive grip
– supercharger whine and pops from the exhaust
– seats
– appearance and small size
– the mods and JCW spec

Things I don’t like

– No finesse to the controls or driving experience (it just goes and grips)
eg. Can’t feel what the front tyres are going. Even when understeering round corners on the track there was no feedback through the wheel, just a feeling that the car was pushing wide.
Controls generally too heavy – balanced in that they are all heavy but too heavy – clutch, steering, gearshift
– Black paint comes up beautifully but gets dirty instantly which doesn’t encourage use as a daily driver
– the handling balance – might have improved with the camber plates but probably should have addressed the rear
– To get the level of excitement I was looking for it had to be driven very fast (too fast on the road). The Morgan provides more excitement and driver involvement at much lower speeds. But if I hadn’t got the Morgan I would probably be keeping the Mini and continuing to work on improving it.

Mini faster than the Lotus I used to have but nothing like the same “feel” to the car – which is what i prefer. Mini would be better in this respect with less grippy tyres and set up to be a bit twitchy.