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Mini with the Works

Mighty Mini: The Mini Cooper Works is one of two John Cooper Works Mini models that will come to Australia.

John Cooper puts some added punch into the Mini Cooper with tuning kits

22 Apr 2002

THE mid-year arrival of the supercharged Mini Cooper S is a precursor to an even hotter new generation brick - a 150kW super-Mini due before the end of 2002.

But be prepared to pay for it, this Impreza WRX competitor will be more than $50,000 by the time you get it on the road.

The car is the work of Mike Cooper, son of motor racing legend John Cooper, the man who tuned the original Mini Cooper race cars back in the 1960s.

With the approval of Mini owner BMW, Mike Cooper's company, John Cooper Works, has developed tuning kits for both the normally-aspirated Cooper, which went on sale in Australia in March, and the forced induction Cooper S, which we should see in late June.

While the Mini Cooper Works is a relatively mild tweak, raising power from 85kW to 99kW and torque from 149Nm to 162Nm, the Mini Cooper S Works is the real weapon, boosting power by 30kW to 150kW and torque from 210Nm to about 235Nm.

That power output is achieved by installing a smaller supercharger pulley wheel to increase compression, a modified cylinder head, modified exhaust and an ECU tweak. The supercharger modifications are worth about half the power improvement.

There is also the prospect of brake and suspension changes in the future.

The Cooper S Works will initially run on standard Cooper S Sports PLUS suspension, but will have 17-inch wheels standard and 18-inch wheels as an option.

Brake changes being investigated include different pad material and larger discs and callipers.

High-speed testing over the next month will determine if bigger brakes are required.

Dynamic Stability Control will be standard in an effort to tame the extra power and torque being transferred through the front wheels.

But the only external styling giveaways will be John Cooper Works badging and four exhaust pipes, two exiting either side at the rear in BMW M3 style.

Mini buyers will be able to have the kit installed when they take delivery of their car, or can have it fitted at a later date. The kits have a fully warranty in the usual manner.

Mini national manager Shawn Ticehurst expects the Mini Cooper S Works to be priced just under $50,000 - including a $39,900 Cooper S base car - when it goes on sale late this year.

The Cooper Works kit will probably be about $6000, pushing the car up to around Cooper S pricing with less power and equipment. The real advantage is the Cooper Works works with the CVT transmission, whereas the "S" is only fitted with a Getrag six-speed manual gearbox.

Mr Ticehurst predicts 90 per cent of "Works" sales will be "S" models. But just what the total will be is hard to say, as JCW is forecasting annual production at just 2000 units, and it could easily sell the lot in Mini-mad Japan, or the US.

The limited production number is because of the detailed cylinder head work performed by Swindon Racing Engines and the fact that JCW is a small company with limited resources.

Mr Cooper's own prediction that Australia would probably only account for 40 kits per annum was thought to be conservative by Mr Ticehurst.

"Forty a year is only just over three per month. I think there is a little more potential than that," Mr Ticehurst said.

"I think the Cooper S Works shows what potential Mini has, what that chassis has been engineered to take, and how extreme it can get.

"In a way it's going to help us sell Coopers because people realise how pure and true this car is to the whole concept.

"And then you get the enthusiasts, people that might otherwise be cynical about the whole thing, realising that Mike Cooper who is the son of John Cooper is actively involved and supportive of this, and it helps in that way as well.

"And there's also your real hard-core enthusiasts - so we'll get some of those guys who want a car that really challenges anything else on the market under $50,000."

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