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What would you buy with a £3k budget ?

  • R53 Cooper S with around 80k miles (July 2004 facelift model)

  • R56 Cooper S with around 100k miles

  • Stay away from the Cooper S and get a R56 Cooper with lower mileage for that money

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Discussion Starter #1
Hi !

I've decided to purchase a Mini, which will act as a 2nd runaround car with a budget of £3k. I want a 2nd car that is reliable that doesn't require a huge expense to run.

My dilemma is that I love sporty cars so a facelifted Generation 1 Cooper S would be my no.1 choice, but I think there is a risk that for that money I would end up spending a lot on maintenance as I would be choosing from ones with around 80k+ miles on the clock needing parts to be replaced. Happy to be proved wrong.

What do the experts suggest ?
  • R53 Cooper S with around 80k miles (July 2004 facelift model) or
  • R56 Cooper S with around 100k miles or
  • Stay away from the Cooper S and get a R56 Cooper with lower mileage

Thanks in advance
 

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I wouldn't go for R56 Cooper S as it will be an early one and prone to more expensive issues than the R53, namely engine turning to mulch.

Personally I wouldn't be afraid of getting a slightly higher mileage facelift R53 that has had the maintenance (oil seals, control arm bushings, supercharger service etc) done to it, perhaps enthusiast owned.

You should be able to get a decent one for your £3k budget.

R53's are juicy though and road tax is ridiculous for what they are but they'll put a smile on your face that will make you forget about that.
 

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my convertible :rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Personally I wouldn't be afraid of getting a slightly higher mileage facelift R53 that has had the maintenance (oil seals, control arm bushings, supercharger service etc) done to it, perhaps enthusiast owned.

You should be able to get a decent one for your £3k budget.
Thank you for your reply.
Is there a certain mileage they should have this done ie if one has more than that mileage I need to factor in a huge service soon after purchase ?
 

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it's in the classifieds (y)
 

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Thank you for your reply.
Is there a certain mileage they should have this done ie if one has more than that mileage I need to factor in a huge service soon after purchase ?
They should all be checked by now due to age irrespective of mileage in my opinion.

Anything coming from CarsOrBikes will be mechanically spot on, immense attention to detail.
 

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2006 cooper S 221bhp
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Anything coming from CarsOrBikes will be mechanically spot on, immense attention to detail.
I can vouch for that, my current car was off carsorbikes and is spot on, he also did all the work on my previous Cooper S before I scrapped it
 

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2005 R52 One Convertible (The Smoker)
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Sadly any R53 or R56 S purchase will be a bit of a minefield.

Both are relatively cheap to buy but to run and maintain properly unless you get v lucky and buy an absolutely solid one it usually results in pockets being emptied quite quickly.

R53's are way more hardy than the Prince engined R56's but they are still faily complex for their age and most are around or past the point where they could do with a fair bit of preventative maintenance. Supercharger service is one such example.....its the labour costs mainly as due to the very tight packaging much of front end has to come off the car to do anything much beyond the basics.

If you can find a really good, overmaintained R53 particularly from an enthusiast owner Id say worth a punt...I wouldnt even be too worried about the mileage to be honest rather that its had a lot of cash thrown at it resolving most if not all the common issues.

Early R56's have the N14 motor....I think these have probably gotten a bit of a harsh rap as they have become renouned for going wrong but the camchain issues are often down to people not keeping the oil level in check....but then HPFP's and other issues still present themselves.

TBH id probably only buy an R56 if I could stretch to an N18 facelift, for your budget R53 S all the way.

As others have said buying a car off Sean (carsorbikes) would bring so much peace of mind, such is his mechanical meticulism. If you are local all the better but probably worth travelling to him if he has something that floats your boat otherwise 👍
 

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2005 R53
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Another one for the R53 option here. Personally I love the supercharger noise and (so far) it's been a good car to work on - lots of parts available and plenty of DIY info on how to do bits yourself when the time comes.

I wouldn't expect it to be low maintenance though, at the end of the day they're 15+ year old cars that things wear out on, and especially with track work things will happen faster than otherwise. If you have the time, space and tools doing stuff yourself will save a lot as opposed to always using a garage.

It's a difficult balance on budget because even one for 5k may develop an issue after a few weeks. I bought on the cheaper end keeping the rest aside to fix issues I knew would come up, so far I've had no really nasty surprises with mine. Of course you don't want one that's been openly abused though! Most of the money I've spent on mine has been on upgrades rather than fixing things.
 

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N18 has all the same issues an N14 has really, bar one significant thing which is a lot less carbon build up on inlet valves due to the different breathing arrangement of the head, manifold and cover,

I believe (haven't had one apart in detail) that actually the breather system has been partially integrated into the head itself on the 18, not something I'd prefer tbh.

It actually also has an additional exhaust Vanos to go wrong as well as the whole Valvetronic system that the N14 doesn't have, and an electronic oil pressure control, pretty sure some other management complexities.

The 53 is more hardy due to the iron block and earlier emissions requirements really, it didn't have to run so hot or the high pressure fuelling, more of an old school motor. The 56 is all alloy, a full built 56 bottom end weighs about the same as a stripped 53 block only it feels like, the 56 is an efficient evolution of the petrol engine and is destined to have more faults, take more diagnosis work, and/or be more delicate as far as consequential issues are concerned I think.

As mentioned the oil level is an issue, and so is the coolant, but also for the 53. The 53 eats its bearings sooner than the 56 and has lower pressure, the 53 blocks rot due to coolant neglect, heads can also, the 56 bores suffer from excess heat and the rings, or stem seals, and the cam journals can be damaged due to poor oil supply affecting pressure read from the head vs the filter housing on the 53's. Far more timing chain issues exist on the 56 as it is longer and also drives the high pressure fuel pump and the vacuum pump plus a totally different design of oil pump, two of the three can cause chain issues on their own, the 53 can suffer cracked heads more than the 56, and of course has no turbo system faults to affect it, the supercharger being a reliable part unaffected by the engines oil or cooling system, but it does drive the water pump and can fail in the drive system if oil leaks away from the reservoir. The 56 throws rods more than the 53, the rod bolts are puny, they run tagless bearings, the bottom end can't take the same tuning of the 53 really, well abuse shall we say, affected even more by pressures arising from poor tuning or greed.

The crankcase is more compact and does run a baffle screen, looked after they can all be good, but the nature of most owners having little mechanical interest means faults can be inherited by later enthusiast owners who end up putting it all right, or telling their tales of woe condemning the model based on poor early experiences, some actually caused by people not product, the 53 can be similar, people saying they all leak etc, not true, common yes, just ignored ;O)

Kind comments above, really the cars I have are just subject to certain repairs many other people might do just the same, or even better in some way perhaps, who knows, the potential difference is that I will deal with obvious mechanical stuff most sellers will avoid the costs and hassle of, it doesn't phase me really, I'm a mechanical repairer and an enthusiast, so am proud to do stuff it as if it were my own car, investing a little more time and not using the very cheapest parts, usually all OEM quality, or even some good used as I see fit, then I document it for people to see.

Some cars for sale I do more with than others so not all are rebuilt, in fact few are in the way of new rings and valves etc which can surprise some folk, they don't all get the motors stripped but do mostly receive some significant attention. All are possible to modify at reduced cost using parts I supply at list, or very good previously run parts, fitted sometimes for less or even FOC if at the time of buying a car, especially if it's mid repair and it costs me no more to change the spec of things, other work can still be negotiated if required. All documented by the images people are used to seeing.

It's flattering if some like what I do and feel they can recommend me for things, thanks all who do (y) It's only at home and is now how I 'try' to pay some bills😂 It is pretty much word of mouth only or passing people that see what I do.

CoB / Exclusive Workshops / LanSpeed
 

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I've driven all 3 gen MINIs and still prefer my 2nd gen MINI the most, but if you like the 1st gen MINI then you should stick to what you like.

If you're anywhere near the NorthWest go and see CarsOrBikes instead of taking your chances on a car lot as most likely turn out bad sooner rather than later.
 

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Hi !

I've decided to purchase a Mini, which will act as a 2nd runaround car with a budget of £3k. I want a 2nd car that is reliable that doesn't require a huge expense to run.

My dilemma is that I love sporty cars so a facelifted Generation 1 Cooper S would be my no.1 choice, but I think there is a risk that for that money I would end up spending a lot on maintenance as I would be choosing from ones with around 80k+ miles on the clock needing parts to be replaced. Happy to be proved wrong.

What do the experts suggest ?
  • R53 Cooper S with around 80k miles (July 2004 facelift model) or
  • R56 Cooper S with around 100k miles or
  • Stay away from the Cooper S and get a R56 Cooper with lower mileage

Thanks in advance
Hi - not sure if you’ve found anything yet but I am looking to sell a red cooper s convertible 55 plate - all good apart from paint is peeling and so needs a complete respray....if you‘re looking for a ‘project’
thanks
 
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