ECS Nation: Robert’s F56 MINI Cooper S
I came to the MINI world from various car and jeep builds. My last car before this was a 2015 SRT Challenger, that I loved but was not the right car for me for a number of reasons. I traded in my Challenger on my MINI due to a need for something smaller, easier to get around, and less hassle to run to the grocery store. I also wanted something a touch more nimble for back roads and the track.
The initial focus of the build was to make it a back road slayer. I started with the suspension and feel. I opted for a 2015 MCS Sport package, mainly for the LED’s as I knew I would rip everything else out. I went with KW Variant 2 coilovers with custom Swift Springs, the NM GT rear sway bar, Megan Racing rear control arms due to adjustability and rebuild-ability, Powerflex Race Motor mount, Powerflex Chassis mounts, and originally the adjustable front control arm bushings from Powerflex for camber adjustment. I then ordered a set of custom Team Dynamics ProRace 1.2’s in gloss black and wrapped them in Bridgestone Potenza RE71r’s. I also went with the Cravenspeed Short Shifter, with the upgraded bushings to improve shifter feel. This made the car handle like a go kart on crack, but there was way more grip and potential than stock power levels would allow.
Once the handling was addressed, the next step was focusing on the handling/power imbalance. I never intended for the car to end up as fast as it is, but through well-planned mods, some creative tuning, and E85 she really came alive. I did a 3″ turbo back, starting with the large bore Milltek race downpipe, going into a full stainless/v-band set up made by a highly regarded local race shop. A lot of people on the forums advocate against going that large, but for my plans, this build required some big lungs. I also went with the Cravenspeed Cold Air intake, as I liked the placement of the filter and design of the heat box the best. They also use a nice coating for heat dissipation. I went through several tuning options, starting with the BMS stage one as it was available, upgrading to stage 2 as a beta tester, and now running stage 2 with flex fuel and the canbus add on. The ability to go E85 allowed for high octane tuning, as well as the additional safety factor of ethanol, and brought the car to life. To keep everything cool I added the Forge Motorsports front mount intercooler, and was the first car in the US running one. All of this additional power, however, led to issues with the adjustable front control arm bushings and required us to go with the Challenge car fixed front control arms to keep the additional camber needed to run such wide tires at such an aggressive offset.