The MINI was originally conceived from a familiar dilemma. In 1957, post-world war II England faced a fuel crisis caused by the Suez Canal conflict. Fuel prices soared and many of her people couldn’t afford to run their big and heavy fuel guzzling vehicles.
Facing the issue straight in the face, Sir Leonard Lord of British Motor Corporation (BMC) ordered Sir Alec Issigonis to design a fuel-efficient car, which also has to be affordable and economical to run for the masses. Its 850cc engine is a transversely mounted as a front wheel drive package, which allows space to sit 4 adults comfortably in a small package.
Factoid: The term supermini (also called B-segment) is developed in the 1970s UK, as manufacturers sought a new design to surpass the influential MINI.
When it was launched 1959, the MINI had impressed motoring journalists and the public alike with its handling and practicality, making it the best seller of its time. The MINI ownership consists of almost all walks of life at the time, from nuns to movie stars and even, Enzo Ferrari himself. People soon recognise that the MINI wasn’t merely a car; it’s low-cost, small size, fun and nimble package symbolise independence and spontaneity. Which reflects the youthful 1960s culture.
Some of you may wonder how did the Cooper badge come along? John cooper, owner of the Cooper Car Company, which develops Grand Prix and rally cars saw potential for the MINI to be competitive in rallying. After coaxing doubts out of Issigonis, the two men agreed, and collaborated to build and compete a competition version of the MINI, The MINI Cooper.
A more powerful MINI Cooper dubbed the “S” developed in tandem was released in 1963. The MINI Cooper S won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965 and 1967, making it a rally legend in its own right.
In its illustrious lifespan, the original MINI was produced in various factories by BMC, which then switched hands over to British Leyland and finally the Rover Group. BMW bought over Rover group in 1994 and began the development of an all-new MINI.
Towards the end of 1999, the last batch of the classic MINI rolled off the production line, and the concept for the all-new MINI was unveiled at the Paris Auto Show. To the relief of many, the concept car retained the classic MINI’s maxims. When the car made it’s debut in 2001, the new MINI became a hit among MINI aficionados and enthusiasts alike.
Our feature MINI Cooper S makes a good example, its unmistakable exterior design features are recognisable to people both young and old. Its yellow and black vertical stripes suggests that this MINI is not a car you should mess with.
As its insignia would suggests, under the hood of the special edition MINI lies an aluminium block that’s good for 1.6 liters of turbocharged cumbustion magic. However, as Zharif, the proud owner of the car would have it, sorcery is taken to the next level with the same heavy-duty tweaks that John Cooper Works (JCW) applies to its MINI Challenge One-Make racecars!
A wise man one said, “even the world is not enough.” Likewise the MINI sport an aftermarket induction kit to help it breathe better. BMC’s cream of the crop Oval Trumpet Airbox (OTA) sits in place of the stock airbox to drive air towards the turbocharger. Inside the OTA is a “trumpet” that is designed to speed up air flow for better efficiency on both naturally aspirated and forced induction engines.
Salvaged from the BMW parts bin is a JCW Countryman R60 turbocharger and manifold assembly that makes itself right at home in the Cooper’s tight chest. The problem with tight engine bays is heat management. For this an M7 High Performance Heat Shield contains the scorching heat from the turbocharger to keep the temperatures in the engine bay low.
A stainless steel intercooler piping system channels charged air to a Forge intercooler, which is constructed with a combined thermal efficiency core and with a larger surface area to dissipate heat to significantly reduce boost temperature thus making it denser for better engine output.
Restrictions in the exhaust system needs to be removed to allow the turbocharger to spool quicker and more power to be made. Opting for an aftermarket solution rather than a custom system, Zharif snapped on some Miltekk hardware, namely a downpipe, a high flow cat, and an awesome sounding backbox.
Giving the engine a head check, the factory computer is remapped with Evolve Automotive’s Evolve-R ECU remap, which brings the engine up to speed with its JCW augmentations and spells out a gain of some 40hp.
Even in its stock form, the MINI Cooper S offers great driving dynamics that reflects the original MINI’s sharp go-kart like characteristics. Further improving on this, a JCW strut bar is used in conjunction with the car’s MacPherson struts, providing extra stiffness by reducing chassis flex.
Sitting lower than its standard self, the MINI now comes equipped with a set of Eibach Pro-Kit Springs paired with a set of Bilstein B8 short stroke inverted mono-tube shock absorbers, softening the hard knocks of the daily drive. And with its lowered ride height, the car looks eager to hit the track.
On the outside, its exterior is enhanced with a full JCW body treatment that includes a carbon fiber air scoop and a rear wing that looks just so damn good. Additional wet carbon fiber components such as side mirrors, door knobs, MINI logo and fuel filler cap don’t just add to aesthetics, but put the car on a diet too.
To complete the package, the MINI runs on a set of 17 x 7.0j JCW wheels painted in black, and wrapped in sticky 205/40 R17 Potenza RE002 tyres.
No race ready car would leave its garage without being able to slow down before attacking the apex. The only way of stopping this angry hornet is a set of Brembo 4 pot brakes up front, taking its braking performance up one level.
Today, we find ourselves on the cusp of a technological shift with major auto manufacturers responding to a familiar dilemma like they did in the ending months of 1957. This time however it is not caused by conflicts, but rather the damage we have imposed on Mother Nature and her environment. The MINI however, remains true to its original brand value of a car that is economical to run and fun to drive. Just like its predecessor, the MINI continues to be relevant today and for decades to come.
Car: MINI Cooper S
Engine: Prince N14 1.6 4-cylinder, BMC air intake, R60 JCW turbocharger with manifold assembly, M7 heat shield, stainless steel intercooler piping system, Forge intercooler, Miltekk high flow down pipe, Miltekk MK2 exhaust system, V1 fuel booster engine treatment
Electronics: Evolve Automotive Evolve-R ECU remap
Handling: JCW strut bar, Bilstein B8 dampers, Eibach Pro-Kit lowering springs
Brakes: Brembo GT 4-pot brake kit (front)
Wheels & Tyres: John Cooper Works 17 x 7.0j, Bridgestone Potenza RE002 205/40/R17
Interior: Carbon steering accessory, John Cooper Works steering cap
Exterior: JCW full body kit, JCW Carbon air scoop, JCW spoiler, CF side mirror, CF doorknob, CF MINI emblem, CF tank cover, MINI daytime running lamp system, JCW stickers
Garage & Tuner: Fastlane Automotive Sdn Bhd (Accessories & engine parts), Tedco Sport (Evolve-R ECU remapping), Motorsport Playground (Sticker)