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Mini Cooper

Mini Cooper Published: 28th Feb 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Mini Cooper
Mini Cooper
Mini Cooper
Mini Cooper
Mini Cooper
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Old BMW MINIs are tempting modern classics. So much so that we couldn’t resist a Cooper S. Are they wise buys though?

When BMW announced a MINI for the New Millennium we knew it would be good because Paddy Hopkirk told us personally. A member of our staff met him at the Longbridge ceremony, back in 2000, mainly to witness the last ever BMC Mini rolling off the production line and the rally legend was spot on as you’d expect.

We previously ran a Cooper, with albeit a cement mixer sounding CVT automatic gearbox, a few years back and fancied becoming reacquainted with something sportier. There’s no shortage of Cooper Ss on sale – and cheaply too – but anything drastically under £2000 is usually a liability or has seen a hedge (or something more solid…) too many times.

Also, MINI experts advise steering clear of the most early models (of any declination) and concentrate on post 2003 variants where the design and build quality came – mostly – good. Our 2004 car resided less than fi ve miles away in Essex, a private seller who said he was getting rid as it was too cramped in the back – after only one month… Take this at face value (we did) but even so our car still had only four owners from new on the V5c.

The mileage was a smidgen over 60,000, largely verified by full service history (as MINI operated a cheap-as-chips TLC service plan from the outset, view any without very carefully) to 47,000 meaning that a pit stop is overdue. The car also came with transmission repairs and new clutch, we understand. Throw in general cleanness for a 15 year old, a long MoT and the £1850 (down from £2250) paid seemed a fair price for both parties, especially when the spec sheet revealed, leather trim, heated seats, updated Harman Kardon ICE system… far over the standard Chilli option pack amongst other desirables.

So far, our Cooper S has been a little bundle of joy. It still feels like the majority of the 168 horses are still on active service, making for a pretty rapid (7.2 sec to 60mph it’s claimed) if hard riding (not helped by run flat tyres) thing with a lovely characterful supercharger wail that the latter R56 lost when it moved over to a turbocharger.

The handling is so Mini like as well but would be better still if the tyres were in a better state; there’s an odd make among the Dunlop run flats which can’t help roadholding and grip but we feel all of them have ‘gone off’ so to speak.

Service faults, so far, have been few. The blaring horn was little more than defective contacts and the characteristic central locking problem that afflicts MINIs of this era was simply fixed once the door card was removed, which is the hardest part of the repair. Howling power steering is another common ailment but not present in our example although a failing coolant header tank (a case of not but when according to MINI specialists-ed) may be.

However, the most annoying fault is not actually with the car itself – but the key. Our picture shows the state it’s in; how on earth can you abuse a key?



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