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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Having regretted selling my previous R53 works Cooper S with JCW tuning kit & exhaust, Aero bumpers and Sparco seats I was always determined to get another as a 2nd car for something to tinker with and for some track time.

At the start of last summer the hunt started, initial aim was to get a Cooper S as clean as possible which for what I wanted to spend was looking like a pre facelift with sub 100k miles.

BRG was first choice with BEP being second, as you can imagine it was a struggle to find either colour let alone in the condition I was after.

A few months later I found the perfect BRG candidate whilst in Germany driving back from Europe and arranged a viewing the day after we got back.

After 17 hours driving for the previous two days what was another 5 hour round trip, hats off to the Wife for agreeing this one.

The car is an 04 facelift BRG with usual spec along with heated seats and climate control both of which seemed rare particularly given my colour criteria. Car wasn’t exactly as expected, brakes were pretty much shot and exhaust was blowing, neither of which were mentioned but easily rectifiable so didn’t put me off. It also came with a stack of work through it's life so figured it's been looked after for the most part. MOT was also coming up so managed to use all of the above to get to where I wanted with the price so a deal was done.

As Purchased

Standard guise with a nice wonky exhaust:








To do/Done list

Engine

  • Thoroughly clean engine bay
  • Cam - Make undecided
  • Exhaust Manifold/flexi
  • Smaller pulley (11/13/15%??)
  • Intercooler - Pulley size dependant
  • Enlarge Rear air box intake - DONE
  • VR Rocker Cover Gasket - DONE
Drivetrain
  • Clutch - Make Undecided
  • Flywheel - Make Undecided
  • LSD - Make undecided
  • Poly Engine & Gearbox mounts - DONE
Brakes
  • R56s or Budweg Calipers
  • HEL Front lines
  • Replace all hard lines
  • Discs - Make undecided
  • Pads - Make undecided
  • Yellow Calipers - DONE
Exterior
  • Full Aero Kit (although like the subtlety of GP rear, but mega rare)
  • DRL style front sidelights/indicators
  • Replace door handles due to peeling
  • Stubby aerial
  • Finish polish / waxing
  • Bonnet respray
  • Honeycombe grill - DONE
Interior
  • Thorough clean
  • Sparco/Recaro/VXR/JCW seats whichever comes up!
  • JCW Gear knob - En route
  • JCW or Black handbrake
  • Replace Gear and Handbrake Gaitors
  • Carbon style 3 piece dash
  • Carbon / piano black down tubes
  • Piano Black trim rings / Door cards
  • Dial Change - GP style or Black, maybe with some green to tie it in
Wheels & Tyres
  • Undecided on wheels but like BBS RC kind of style
  • Refurbish Crown wheels as temp measure - DONE
  • 205/45/17 AD08RS - DONE
Suspension
  • Coilovers / Springs & shocks - Make undecided
  • Rear Control arm bushes
  • Rear anti roll bar bushes
  • Rear drop links
  • Poly RCA bushes - DONE
  • ARB Bushes - DONE
  • Inner & Outer Ball joints - DONE
  • Steering Rack Bush - DONE
  • Track Rods and ends - DONE
  • Steering Rack - DONE
  • Drop links - DONE
Have access to car auctions so plan to break a car or two for the rarer bits like interior/aero kit to try and get them as cost effectively as possible.

Present Day:







Have pics for the journey so far, will get posts for them up in due course to bring this fully up to date.


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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
First change was the brakes, replaced pads and discs all round with Eicher on the rears and Brembo up front.

There are plans to upgrade but at this stage with MOT approaching I stuck with the current system but freshened it up.

Also changed the cabin, air and oil filters as well as an oil change.



Next to tackle was the exhaust, despite being only a year old the wonky klarius replacement fitted by the previous owner was blowing from the first box as they all seem to do. Considering the price of these it’s pretty poor.

Knowing the best thing to do is go stainless I sourced a Direnza from eBay. Thankfully it just about fit in the daily without having to separate it.



Side by side:



Before:



After:




Looks and sounds far better than the original, nice growl when pushing on but a nice purr when driving normally with the occasional pops and crackles.

Lower Engine mount was split so bought a replacement and fitted power flex inserts.




Thankfully car passed MOT but did have some advisories with the RCA bushes being one I definitely expected from my research before buying as it’s very common at this mileage for them to be shot.

Then someone decided to steal one of my body coloured mirrors, I bought a cap to spray but it didn’t come out very well and was somehow the wrong size also, should have test fitted before spraying!

So I got some CF covers as an interim solution although they have grown on me I may go back to body colour when other items are sprayed.



That was it for 2019.

It developed a slight rough idle every now and again so decided to change the HT leads as they looked past their best and changed the plugs and cleaned up the contacts in the coil pack whilst I was there.

Went for some yellow ones from Mr Retro Leads having been inspired by my gym trainers which are green with yellow sole.






Cylinder 1’s plug tube had oil in it and cylinder 2 showed a small amount also. Quite common and is the rocker cover seals around the tubes.

The rocker cover gasket was also weeping around the edges so I ordered a genuine Victor Reinz gasket which came with the seals for the spark plug tubes and got them fitted.



Not a bad job by any means just have to be careful not to crack the pipe on top of the rocker cover when removing the old spark plug tube seals.

Then lockdown hit and I thought I would sand myself into oblivion and have a crack at refurbishing the wheels. They were different silvers, flaking paint and quite kerbed.



Sanded down and ready for filler on the deeper scratches.



I then etch primed then filler primed before adding colour and clear.





Whilst I was doing each side I painted the calipers yellow and fitted the debadged grill.



Also came across a Gti badge from my MK5 golf, don’t worry it didn’t stay!



Finished article:



I still need to flat the wheels back and polish them up, fairly happy with the result, not planning to keep them long term due to weight and limitations on brake options but couldn’t bare looking at the kerbing and flaking, really made the car look untidy.
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Discussion Starter #3
It was then time to move onto the so-called 100k service :

Parts started arriving, don’t have a pic of everything together.



Stripped the front end down, was surprised how dry the front of the engine was. The damp area on the front was coolant leakage from removing the charger/pump. And the area to the left was leaking from the rocker cover gasket.

Decided to leave the o ring for the sensor in the front as not to disturb anything, I’m quite comfortable stripping the front down again should it give way.



Gave the charger and horn a little clean whilst it was off.



The oil in both ends was unexpectedly plentiful but was dark and stank of Parmesan so definitely original fluid but seems to be nice and healthy.

Water pumps



Noticed one of the other hoses that weren’t on my list to be replaced was perishing as it was rubbing on a clip so I ordered a replacement and made sure all hose clips were orientated in a way that wouldn’t cause any issues.



All back together




Also changed the fuel filter:




Car seemed much smoother to drive once all was back together.


The following was replaced during the above:

Slow speed fan resistor in the shroud
Fuel filter
Intake hose - old one was perished (I have put a clip on since the pics)
Top and bottom radiator hoses
Gearbox oil - changes are much better now
Supercharger oil
Water pump
Thermostat, housing & gasket
Cleaned throttle body


The rear lights were also making the car look a bit dated as they were pretty badly faded so after carefully scouting eBay for fresh ones I managed to get a pair, although had to buy 3 lights as one that arrived was better than mine but still slightly faded.



Comparison of new vs old



Much better and thankfully no signs of rust under the rear lights as yet.



I then moved on to tackling the old paintwork which is still a work in progress, plan is to clay, polish and wax. Have clause the whole car but only polished and waxed the boot so far.

This was the clay bar after just the boot



Half and half with polish



Full shine



Slowly getting round to the other panels.


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Discussion Starter #4
Decided to finally tackle the tired looking arches with some car pro perl, made such a difference and really freshened up the car.





With lockdown eased slightly I got the car booked in at torque monkey in Chelmsford initially for the following:

Inner & outer ball joints
RCA Poly bushes
Steering rack bush
Arb bushes
Drop links
Track rods and track rod ends

But the car had other ideas:

That’ll be a new steering rack then...




Pretty sure a bird did the CV boot as caught one nestled in there when the car was on axle stands whilst I had the front end off. Noticed it at the time but forgot about it.

So got both of those added to the list but meant they had to keep the car until the rack came in so had to move my tyres and alignment to the following weekend.

When I picked the car up it instantly felt miles better, so much more connected and together despite the tracking being out and still being on shit tyres.

Went to Kwik fit (I know, I know) for tyres and alignment. The rear bolts were seized and they didn’t want to risk snapping them so haven’t been able to adjust the rear, I’ll be soaking these and try to loosen them off at some point so it can be done.



Initially went with Kwik Fit as they were still showing AD08R tyres on their website and I’d read good things about them and the RS version not being quite as good. Plus they now have hunter alignment in the one near me.

Unfortunately the tyres were in fact the RS version, was likely to happen but took the chance, however as I’ve never used the R variant previously I had nothing to compare to.

My thought on these tyres though is that they are fantastic, has really transformed how the car drives and complements all the other changes that were done, honestly feels like a new car again and it loves going round corners!



Finally up to the present day now!


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Discussion Starter #5
Started my project thread last week but was pending approval, thanks Adam for sorting today

Latest update:

Really fancied some new seats as I don’t find the standard ones comfortable in the slightest and there’s no bolster support when going around corners.

Been on the hunt for seats for a while, have a baby on the way any minute and couldn’t justify spending a grand on seats after all the work that I’ve had done recently.

Missed out on a cheap breaker that had full Recaros which would have meant getting them for free and beer money left over but due to a registration delay it wasn’t meant to be.

I then spotted some Corsa VXR seats that had already been in an R58 and having done some reading into them knowing this would mean they’ll bolt into the R53. They were an outside option as I didn’t want to faff with the mounting but given that was already taken care of we managed to agree on a very decent price so I went to get them.

Drivers bolster does have some splits, I think I can tidy this up short term, long term I’d be looking at leather/alcantara retrim similar to the JCW seats.

They were also pretty grubby as you can see.





I cleaned them three times and got them much cleaner.





Managed to get the drivers seat in this evening.




Side by side:



Fitted:





The holes on the adjusted mounts lined up perfectly and I swapped the pretensioner from my R53 seat but used the bolt that came with what I assume to be the R58 tensioner as it was longer, the R53 one was too small.

I’ll deactivate the seat airbags using NCS and plan to sacrifice my old seats for the seater elements before winter comes round as I’m a sucker for heated seats.

Initial thoughts are that they definitely look the part and are much more comfortable and supportive and hold you in place when cornering unlike the standard ones.

They are wider at the base so I’ll need to adjust the seatbelt buckle so it sits better as it currently touches the exhaust tunnel depending how far back the seat goes. They are heavier than the standard seats mind so might have to lose the rears down the line to balance it out

So passenger side to go and also have a black handbrake cover, both gaiters (same as Pipsy, cheers!) and a JCW carbon fibre knob, although I was a knob and got an R56 one but have seen it can work with some modification.




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2006 R53 Hyper Blue/White Cooper S
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Loving this mate, making great progress......gaitors not half bad for the money hey?!...so much better than the stock crap!!

Have a little tip for you which might help you tidy that seat v short term......proper hobo but get yourself one of these from WH Smith's or any other reasonable stationers....black waterproof ink and does a reasonable job of recolouring the hide where the painted leather coatings come off. Have done it on my drivers stock sports seat bolster to good effect. After a few applications whilst not perfect should look better until you get a chance to re-trim. Bloody love those seats by the way, basically Sportster CS's arent they?

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Discussion Starter #9
Loving this mate, making great progress......gaitors not half bad for the money hey?!...so much better than the stock crap!!

Have a little tip for you which might help you tidy that seat v short term......proper hobo but get yourself one of these from WH Smith's or any other reasonable stationers....black waterproof ink and does a reasonable job of recolouring the hide where the painted leather coatings come off. Have done it on my drivers stock sports seat bolster to good effect. After a few applications whilst not perfect should look better until you get a chance to re-trim. Bloody love those seats by the way, basically Sportster CS's arent they?
Cheers gents.

Gaiters do look and feel really good particularly for the money so were a great shout, look forward to getting them in.

Thanks for the tip unfortunately they are leatherette and it has gone slightly through the initial layer but hope to tidy the edges and use some leather filler to reduce the profile of the wear and then try to match the colour, won't be perfect but will be better than it is currently.

Essentially but they're a slightly less aggressive version, so the seat base and side bolster aren't as exaggerated. And the price was no where near as a result haha
Had a longer drive this morning and I'm super happy with them, barely any lateral movement when cornering.

Best colour albeit a biased opinion, especially when clean, which currently isn't the case!
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Nothing groundbreaking to report, finally got around to fitting my JCW gear knob and black handbrake handle along with leather gaiters.

As mentioned previously I bought the gear knob for the R56 by mistake but as it was brand new and given the state of some I have seen I thought I’d make it fit by hook or by crook.

I ‘gently’ persuaded the grey sleeve on the standard gear stick to give way so the gear knob can slide down far enough and also engage the fork on top of the shaft to stop it spinning, it work and the knob doesn’t twist or come off without significant effort.

As pipsy found with the gaiters they do need some playing with to get them to fit nicely but nothing too crazy, and for the price of them I definitely won’t be complaining, far better than standard!

Before:



After:





Gear knob feels so much better than the standard ball, and the added bonus of not being cut by peeling chrome is nice too.

Need to wait until baby arrives before I can put the passenger recaro in, as the base bolsters make it uncomfortable for the wife to sit comfortably.

I’ve got some gloss black coming to spray the silver rings and down tubes but the daily needs pads all round so that will probably be my car related work for the weekend but will see if I can squeeze in some spray painting.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Doing the brakes on the daily was nice and smooth, so nice not having to work with 16 year old bolts!

Managed to get some time in on the Mini, coded out the side airbags so no more light on the dash, and started stripping the interior for spraying.

Before:



Silver bits stripped, looks better already.



The victims:



Make shift spray booth in the garage:



Will let them dry over night and then sand back and hit everything except the speedo ring with gloss black and lacquer when it arrives which should be any day now.

With the speedo ring I’m going to try it in BRG and see how it looks. Already have that so will spray that in the morning.


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Hi how did you code out the airbags ? I have an intermittent fault on mine and switching it off would save me loads of hassle !
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I used NCSExpert to change the coding in the airbag module to disable seat airbags and then INPA to read and clear the codes that had arisen.

Straightforward if you’re careful and the software is free, it’s just the cable to buy, I bought mine years ago though so can’t remember where from, will check it when I’m next in garage to see if any markings on it. Loads about but not all of them will work without shorting two of the pins in the cable together.

With the side seat airbags it’s worth noting both sides have to be either on or off you can’t just do one side or the airbag ECU will throw a coding error and the airbag light will stay on.

Also if you deactivate part of the airbag system you need to also unplug it otherwise it will register a fault as it will sense something is there that shouldn’t be.
 

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I have NCS Expert and INPA P/D etc, found after a week of trying to get the whole lot installed and it consuming many GB of memory, much appeared to be in German so have never really messed with it. It was pretty cheap, with several leads and an optional lead for some BMW's, will look further into it one day haha
 

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OK thank you, if I get time I will swap the airbag units over to see if it is indeed the airbag, where is the airbag module ?
Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I have NCS Expert and INPA P/D etc, found after a week of trying to get the whole lot installed and it consuming many GB of memory, much appeared to be in German so have never really messed with it. It was pretty cheap, with several leads and an optional lead for some BMW's, will look further into it one day haha
Haha yes one of the versions I had was fully German, the one I'm using currently has a pretty decent chunk of it translated to English, just some of the INPA faults that need a little translating/searching on Google.

With NCS, NCS dummy helps with translations and making the module codings 'tickable' rather than manually scrolling through the data in notepad and typing.

OK thank you, if I get time I will swap the airbag units over to see if it is indeed the airbag, where is the airbag module ?
Thanks
Pretty sure the airbag module is under the handbrake surround, but don't think you will be able to swap one out without coding it due to VIN discrepancies, it's not something I have done previously so can't help too much there I'm afraid.

Have you had it scanned to see what error the module is putting out?
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Made some progress on the painting, leaving it until tomorrow to harden then I’ll polish up and start fitting.



Managed to get most of it done but have run out of black need some for the gear surround and front cup holders.


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