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2018 JCW Upgrades

18443 Views 31 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  Steeve
New to this site but figured I should jump in, get some input and give out what I've learned! I graduated from my 2013 Cooper S when I bought my JCW brand new but only recently started really customizing her.

A list of what I've done recently:
  1. Replace headlights, taillights and grill chrome trim, door handles, badges and gas cap with OEM Piano Black parts
  2. Cravenspeed Adjustable Shifter, retaining clip, well cover, shift knob, hand brake handle, and Stubby Antennae (of course the bullet variant)
  3. "Black out" tape around belt line. (Wanted to do something more official, but seems like quite an effort, and the tape achieves the look for now)
Ordered and awaiting install:
  1. Cravenspeed "Big Pair" chassis braces
  2. Cravenspeed K&N cold air intake
  3. Borla Exhaust
  4. A Tuner
I am kind of clueless when it comes to tuners, don't have any background in this realm... If anyone out there can school me up, I'd be much appreciative! Also not sure if there's anything beyond what I've listed above that should be done at the same time, again, if anyone out there wants to drop some knowledge, I'll pick it up! I've got a gear-head buddy more than willing to help with whatever install, but wanted to get some fellow enthusiast's opinion first.

Depending on my gumption I'd like the Added gauges, but I'm unsure of level of hassle vs. payoff...

I plan on keeping this car for years to come, so I don't want to do "too much"... but who can say where that line really is? (Besides behind me, growing smaller by the second)

All stock:



Current Set-up:



OG interior (with hand brake handle):

Beginning of tear-down

Tear down (nearly) complete:



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I've pulled the trigger on the TDI Tuner, braces, added gauges and intake. Went with a Borla Exhaust. Trying to resist rims... Poking around on someone stop me if there's a better source!

Anyone out there looking for more info on what I've done so far feel free to hit me up!
You can buy an Ultragauge which plugs into the OBD port - this can display many readings which you choose - Ultra Gauge EM Plus OBDII OBD2 Code Scan Tool Multi Turbo Gauge - Kill All Chrome®
Thanks for the good word, there are a ton of ODBs out there, not really sure what the expensive ones do beyond the cheap ones... Anyhow, I'm looking for that factory looking, permanent solution... Photos will follow!
Did the Union Jack Matte Black Roof Decal (CravenSpeed). COULD NOT BE HAPPIER! I screwed up on my first attempt and had to use the almighty powers of my lack of ego and get a "mulligan"... Anyone looking for tips on that install can hit me up (nothing brain-busting, just what now seems like common sense). This is also a good look at the Bullet Short Antenna.

What I wasn't expecting was the view being so cool from the inside as well... No comments allowed on my ugly mug.

Cancelled my Borla Exhaust, while it was on back order I discovered via their website that a JCW is specifically excluded from their fitment, found it so peculiar that I called them and spoke with a gentleman who seemed crazily knowledgeable, very honest and recommended I NOT buy their product. Hunting down the GT90 w/Cerakote Tips from Milltek now, likely won't be in-hand until mid July. :-(

Intake installed, crazy easy... Maybe an hour? Dunno, super easy, CravenSpeed's installation instructions are usually pretty spot on. I've ran into small JCW quirks all over the place, but they've been the closest to reality. Now she sounds like she's greedily gobbling up air while shifting & revving, super worth the nominal amount of money, hardly any time and no crazy tools required!

I also went ahead and bugged Logan with CravenSpeed for dimensions on their custom shifter caps. I then drew that crazy thing up actual size in AutoCAD. Then I dropped various JPEGs into the background, traced over them with flat polylines, etc. (figuring no one cares about CAD) yada yada yada, Googled a "mean smiley emoji", added the title, exported to a PDF & DXF, both "real size" (Not sure which one Logan used) and I now have my very own personal shifter knob!


Currently en Route to me are some KW V3 Series Coilovers (can not wait), a NM 25mm Sway bar & sway bar link kit. All of that will go in with the exhaust, now being my back-ordered Achilles's heel. Plan on doing as much measuring as I can after the new suspension is in before I get into wheels and tires, or if I drop it and decide I don't need anything further (or spend more $$$!).



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Thank you for sharing! Great info.
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Looks great. So tempted to get the sunroof decal now!
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Also very tempted to do the roof decal, looks fantastic.
Interested in how you go with the Milltek exhaust, I was going to do the Remus but I can't seem to find anyone at Remus here who can tell me it will fit my 05/18, so this might be a good option.
The sound of the K&N is amazing, isn't it? Makes me smile every time it chirrups away (or whatever sound it's making)
Ended up going with NM Engineering exhaust, called them first and was informed they had 5 on the shelf. They seem reputable and only cater to us Mini/BMW folks. While on their site I decided to add some rear control arms and a tie bar. My KW V3 coilovers, sway bar and links due to arrive this Thursday... Hopefully not too long to receive my next round of NM stuff, they're just a state away!
Sway bar, sway links, control arms, coilovers, braces, exhaust and tuner all installed over the weekend! We (every time I use "we" means mostly my mechanically inclined friend and my assistance) got it all done in roughly 12 hours (including a trip to rotate a pork roast and pick up a spring compressor from AutoZone). I was missing hardware for the front strut tie rod, I called NM and they sent the missing items out, but they didn't arrive before I left town so I did that myself when I returned, that only taking maybe a half hour.

Dropped the frame around 1.5", she will rub her nose coming off speed bumps too fast and entering/exiting parking lots, etc., so I definitely have to be more cautious now. The V3s are adjustable, but definitely not something you want to monkey with often. I want to let her settle in for a week or so before I start considering any alteration at this point.

The only silly mistake made during install was putting the new sway arm in upside down, it only caused 10-15 minutes of re-work, but the installation instructions could've had one sentence in there to keep us from stepping in that shit!

After all the rear suspension and brace upgrades she's so stout that having the front driver side jacked up, it lifted the rear tire a quarter inch or so:

BIG shout out to Tyler, one of my best friends and funniest mo-fo I know in that shot!

Once we had everything bolted on and rolling we took her for a pre-alignment spin... That car will allegedly hit over 135 mph and feel like your going 90 now, with pedal left over, just a logical concern for jail time and other's well being stopping any other alleged testing.

NO pitching on accel/decel, no roll on corners, you feel the road more, but it's in no way a back breaker. She absorbes cattle guard bumps and general rough roads at normal speeds, no rubbing (keep in mind I'm still stock wheels/tires) and generally just as smooth as the stock JCW w/DDC & sport mode - a little stiffer, but that's what I wanted (we set the V3s at around 75% stiffness rebound and bump, also adjustable, but also not something you want to monkey with often).

NM exhaust is the real deal. Keep in mind it's not technically road legal, but when not ragging on her, she's not obnoxious, but in sport mode and tuned up and giving her hell, she's LOUD and full of those lovely pops and bangs we all know and love (again... LOUDER).

TDI Tuner: haven't messed with it too much (haven't even put it to level 7 yet). My general feeling is that it definitely upped the performance and I have anecdotal evidence of a gain of 15% fuel mileage on my 660 mile return trip home. I started the trip at setting 2 (7 being max), hit the ECO mode and very shortly got a check engine light. Logged into my OBD and checked the fault code to find it was running too lean, so I got out of ECO mode, into standard and reset the fault code at my next gas stop with no further dummy lights.

I have some pictures of the entire process, but really wanted to turn wrenches as much as possible without being in the way. Definitely an awesome learning experience, with really nothing too amazingly hard, but having someone with strong mechanical knowledge made the process MUCH less scary than if I was rolling solo (and likely eight times faster). Again, big ups to Tyler! Seating the front struts was likely the biggest ass-kicker, but that was at the end of a long day (we were both sore as hell after crawling around and stooping for 10 hors already).

Yadda, yadda, yadda... Here's some damned pictures!




If you read this far and have questions, please hit me up. It's a lot of time and money we put into our rides and I will do anything I can to help a fellow F56 owner!

Oh, still haven't installed the gauges... I have the housing installed, but nothing beyond that... it was a long holiday weekend! Cheers everyone!
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Ordered some Stoptech drilled & slotted rotors and EBC Redstuff Ceramic Brakes... My buddy quite wisely said to me, "You've spent a lot of time and money making her fast, now you should spend some on making her stop quick too."

Taking a long road trip to the midwest early August, planning on doing the brakes then.
Love the work you put into your Mini.

Just purchased a 2016 JCW , 42K miles, and looking to get some work done on it. That roof decal is sweet- where did you find it?

Also, I'm thinking of getting a Borla exhaust but curious why you chose the one you went with on your ride.
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I think all those answers are buried in this blog already, but I'll answer again in case anyone else has the same problems finding info sandwiched into my autobiographical prattle!

The Roof Decal is an easy answer: CravenSpeed! That link should take you right to their F56 catalog. ALL of their products are top-notch, I've just about ran out of stuff to buy from them.

I had the Borla Exhaust on order (back-order to be exact), I poked around their website to see if I could get it faster if I went directly through them and found on their site they specifically call out their product fits Minis EXCEPT JOHN COOPER WORKS. Again, I found that so peculiar that I called them and spoke to a knowledgeable gentleman who suggested I go another route. Then I somewhat stumbled on NM Engineering's exhaust while picking up a bunch of their suspension stuff, called them, they had 4 on a shelf & I ordered one of them and had it in-hand 4 days later.
Brakes! These will be going on in a week...
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Be ready for a bit of a fight when it comes to getting the calipers off... There's some lock-tight involved. And after replacing the brake lines, she took a surprising amount of brake fluid while bleeding, so much that we stood there and questioned where we lost it all, it was a conundrum. There's a bunch of nuanced little stories on the latest installs, but I'm living it up in the Midwest right now, proof below. She's officially a globetrotter! Made it from Idaho to the greater Chicagoland area in around 20 hours, straight thru!
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Did the brakes, be ready for a fight with the calipers, there lock-tight involved.. A big head-scratcher is the sensors on the brake pads are a one-time use! After we finished up, I tried unsuccessfully numerous attempts at resetting them, only to find out from the dealer that they need to be replaced. They I got into it with them because if I would've had them put stock parts back into my car the G.D. sensors would've been free under warranty, but since I upgraded they saw it fit to charge me for them, even though they weren't even installing them! Anywho, put them bastards on, reset was successful, no more dummy dash lights.

Then for my LONG trip across the country I kept going back and forth with the "System too Lean" errors. I tried a plethora of options, upped the tuner, kept it in sport mode, etc. They brainstorming with my modifying-partner-in-crime I had the epiphany that it might be solved with a tuner adjustment, TDI had no idea that I had modifications, if I inform them, they may be able to fix me up relatively painlessly! Which they were! In less than 36 hours after I initially emailed them they had a new map sent to me and I had it in the tuner via Bluetooth in under 5 minutes. Crazy easy and awesome customer service with those guys!
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The addiction is real folks. Union Jacks on the C pillars and ghosted Union Jacks on the taillights.
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So, a small update on my check engine woes: with new tuning map, I now on long highway cruises get a catalytic converter error, and she smells like she's running rich. Contacted the very helpful folks at and they sent me yet another map and suggested I run something higher than 90-92 octane, which is near impossible to find, unless I start dumping 110 into her at $9/gal (sorry for the stupid American units of measure for everyone else in the world). They also suggested upgrading my coils, which I now have on order some of these bad boys, and some iridium plugs.

I've also put the Matte Black Jack on the A-Pillar (from CravenSpeed), and have some side skirt decals (matte black of course) on the way as well. If you check that link out, the checkered pattern is somewhat plain and I was considering putting some gentle arcs along the top to give it a little more character, should be an easy thing to get mirrored before installation.

Cheers to anyone still reading about my autobiographical and self-diagnosed insanity!
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awesome work!

anybody ever say you have a striking resemblance to the actor ewan mcgregor?
(sorry, know you didn't want any comments on your photo but when i saw it, it actually made me do a double-take.)
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