Boost Junkie
Tuesday, 26 November 2013 00:00

If you’ve got a Jack Russell called Boostie and you’ve fallen in love with the whine of an Eaton M45, it’s fair to say your JCW GP has got a special place in your heart

Words and pics: James Wallace


 Boost Junkie

There's something very distinctive about the whine of a supercharger. Whether it's attached to a Second World War fighter jet, a big block V8 or a fairly modest (by comparison at least!) MINI from the Midlands, there's an undeniable character to the sound that turbocharging can't match until it’s pushing head gasket worrying boost levels. Granted, it might not be as efficient as recycling waste gases and the parasitic loss of driving a compressor off the crank may result in considerably more power loss, but my God does a supercharger sound good when all you want is seamless drive, instant throttle response and effortless torque. And should you choose to dabble with the intake silencer of an Eaton, there's even more noise to unleash, albeit sometimes quite a grating one while you’re sitting at 70 on the motorway.

Take Samantha Bernard for example; she's been a fan of supercharged power ever since she beat the odds to win a classic 1996 Mini Cooper at Mini in the Park in 2011. “I only bought one ticket for £2.50 and I couldn’t believe my luck. I had to wait until the guy read my name out and was simply gobsmacked when it all sank in that I had actually won a car.”

Pikes Peak: Race to the Clouds
Tuesday, 26 November 2013 00:00

The Pikes Peak hillclimb in the USA is one of the most formidable, nail-biting experiences you could ever have – and that’s just as a spectator. We follow two MINI entries at this year’s event

Words and pics: Ian Blackett


Pikes Peak: Race to the Clouds

Imagine a road twisting up a mountain with hairpin bends and high speed curves with no barriers, rising from 9,000 to a staggering 14,000ft. It’s race day and you’re on your own, with a single timed run to the top; you desperately try to remember the sequence of the 156 turns between you and the chequered flag, as your life may depend on it. The course is lined with spectators stood precariously on the edge of the road keen to watch, photograph and film your progress. You look up at the sky, are those rain clouds you see? Your pulse races and you breathe faster in the thin air. The starter waves his green flag, your revs rise, you dump the clutch and you’re off. This is no MINI adventure; Pikes Peak is the most formidable hillclimb event in the world.

It’s the Monday the night before first practice when I fly in from the UK to Colorado Springs. I drive to the official event hotel – The Crowne Plaza – where most of the teams are staying. The tollgate to the Pikes Peak Highway opens at 4am so I go straight to bed and set my alarm for 2am. Why such an early start? The scenic mountain road is open to the public all week, so the racers can only practice between 5.30am and 8.30am. Only on race day is the road closed for the event to take place.


Gen 1 Maintenance Special
Thursday, 26 September 2013 13:53

The first MINIs launched in the UK are now 12 years old, so there’s been plenty of time to get to grips with any foibles. Here we recap on its most common faults

Words: Sarah Harrington-James

Gen 1 Maintenance Special

The MINI brand is more popular than ever before. ‘Gen 1’ models built between 2001-2006 were fitted with the Chrysler/BMW Tritec 1.6 engine, or shared Toyota’s 1.4 diesel for the One D and are now affordable to many newly-qualified drivers who aspire to owning a MINI as their first car. But not only that; the MINI’s phenomenal and renowned go-kart handling, coupled with its cheeky styling, has a universal attraction, regardless of age, gender or class. It’s this that has made the MINI brand arguably the most successful marketing campaign ever.     

However, it’s not just the MINI’s characteristics which continue to make it ever-popular. It’s the German build quality and general reliability – if you buy an honest secondhand model with a full MINI service history – that marks it out from its rivals. From new, all R50-R53 models came with MINI TLC, a transferrable service package that offered fixed cost, inflation-proof servicing. It covered the costs of parts, lubricants and labour (but not wear and tear) for MINIs up to five years old or 50,000 miles. After this, owners could take out an extended cover called, funnily enough, TLC XL, which continued the same package for a further three years or 30,000 miles. The all-important service book is a good indication of what work was done and when under this scheme, remembering that it’s the Inspection II that costs the most and with a MINI outside of warranty, this may well be the stamp that’s missing. If you’ve bought a MINI without paperwork proving its service history, talk to the service department or aftersales section of your local MINI dealer as they may still be able to print out a list of previous work for you, if the jobs were completed within the MINI network of course.  

Top of the Mods
Thursday, 26 September 2013 00:00

The standard R56 Cooper SD is certainly no slouch, but Alan Carleton’s gone one further and pushed his to a whole new level


Words and pics: Jon Cass

Top of the Mods

Have you ever spent what seems like an age deciding if it’s worth the expense and hassle of changing a set of wheels, swapping to a louder exhaust or even just fitting a new stereo? Sometimes it’s better to weigh up the pros and cons before committing to any major changes; after all it’s your hard earned cash being spent here. After much debate and what could be six months down the line those shiny BBS rims eventually make it onto your ride, just in time for winter and all the perils it brings. And before you know it, a year has passed and seemingly every other MINI owner has now bought those same rims you so badly hankered for. Did everyone else have the same idea at the same time? Who knows?

However, there are people like Alan Carleton who avoid this problem entirely by executing their ideas straight away and without a second thought. “Within a day of buying this Cooper SD the mods had already started and the whole interior was on the driveway!” laughs Alan. After all, there’s no point in wasting time when there’s work that can be done!

Track Star Gem
Wednesday, 24 July 2013 00:00

The key to executing a mighty MINI is so often moderation. Sam Woodhouse has dialled her R56 in for maximum road and track fun


Words & Pics: James Wallace                      

Stancing Queen

It's fair to say that new MINIs command a level of brand loyalty that few people probably realise they're about to be sucked into when they embark upon their purchase. They work their way under your skin like some kind of drug, eager for you to plant foot to floor whenever there's a killer B-road or a cheeky stretch of dual carriageway unfolding. The result is a serotonin mainline to adrenaline that's quite possibly as addictive as a narcotic and, if you’re constantly bouncing it off the redline, probably just as expensive to fuel. Yet for Sam Woodhouse, from Nantwich in Cheshire, the drug of choice happens to be a 2007 R56 Cooper S with a few subtle tweaks up its sleeve to inspire even bigger smiles per mile than the factory motor can muster. She doesn't need to pop a pill, inhale any smoke or cook up a solution because her neurotransmitters have become accustomed to a boosted way of thinking. Synapses aside, it’s clear that Sam’s are also fired up by a spot of modifying as much as the next young lady.

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