Mini Cooper Forum banner

Looking at a 1st gen Mini Cooper S manual as a daily driver, good idea y/n?

655 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Blue al
My last car was recently written off so I'm in a bit of a time crunch here. I've only ever owned early 2000s American built cars, and have always tried to do the repairs myself, but currently do not have a garage to work in.
I've located a 2002 Mini Cooper S manual JDM import (right hand drive). The car only has 85k km on it and the ad says they've recently replaced the clutch, the pictures show the body in good condition, so I'll be going to see it later this week. I've always wanted a mini but with it being my daily driver I wouldn't want to be working on it all the time.
All the research I've been doing hasn't really swayed me in either direction but all the comments about the engine bay being cramped scare me a bit for when it comes time to get my hands dirty. Side note- I can drive manual but have never personally owned one.
Any thoughts or recommendations you have would be greatly appreciated.
1 - 1 of 7 Posts
One the greatest lies ever told by first gen MINI owners is that the 2005-2006 cars where materially better, sadly they really weren't

The oil pan gaskets still leaked
The dipstick tube and crank sensor seals still leaked
The strut towers still buckled
They still rusted in weird areas
The R53 tensioners still failed
The crank pulleys still delaminated
The supercharger water pump PTO is still prone to lubrication related failures
The power steering pumps still fail and sometimes catch fire
The sunroof drain tubes still randomly fall off and ruin the BCM
The cat/header was really prone to cracking at the seam next to the flex joint
The front control arm bushings failed in typical BMW fashion

There was a progressive refinement on the R53 transmission in terms of the gear ratio in 1st
The later cars got teflon coated supercharger rotors, but it didn't really enhance the superchargers other weakness the PTO drive
The biggest refinement came with the R50 transmission when they ditched the fragile Midlands for a proper Getrag box

Having owned an R53 five years ago as a weekend car, I wouldn't daily one. While mine never broke down, there was always something that needed doing to keep the car in tip top shape. In terms of build quality i'd rank it lower than my MK3 VW Jetta.

If you're going to buy an R53, buy the best stock example you can find. I'd sooner take a minty 2002 vs. a tarted up 2006
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
1 - 1 of 7 Posts