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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all

So the time has come for a mid life crisis weekend car and my choice is a Cooper S. I am currently looking in the £2,000 - £3,500 range and am more bothered about condition and previous maintenance rather than miles. Two cars currently stand out and I am in the process of trying to arrange a viewing. I need your help and guidance please.

The first is a 2002, R53, 2002 with 106,000 miles. £2200.00. Lots of recent work (the owner is a mechanic) including work by Mad4Mini in Leeds. Brand new Teflon coated supercharger with full oil service and overhaul, 17% reduced pully and 2% enlarged crank, new wheel bearings and hubs on all 4 corners, brand new continental 3s sport pro tyres on all 4 corners, brembo updated performance front pads and discs, new rear pads discs and callipers and handbrake cables at the back. Full service done every 2k miles, gear box service done by mad4mini, new upgraded drive shafts. Pictures from the ad below:

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The second is a 2008, R56 with 72,000 miles. £2,800. Complete engine rebuild less than 2 years ago (non Mini specialist) including: compression test, engine strip, fit 4 new pistons and overhaul cylinder head. New headset set, bolts, pistons, timing chain kit, alternator belt, and high pressure fuel pump (receipts provided) Reg is: DA57 CZS.

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Obviously going to look at them and both leave me with a fighting fund for bits. The R53 is clearly cherished but the R56 has also had recent and important work. Help me choose. Thanks

Martin

PS If I shouldn't have shown pics of potential purchased then mods please remove them.
 

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Try both and see which one is the most fun. Speed is overrated, go for the most engaging drive.

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Drive them both. Decide which model you prefer. Both very different. Once decided then start looking for the one.
 

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R53 and R56 may look similar (even have a good few similar parts - particularly the chassis) but are quite different. Try both to see which floats your boat.
 

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As others have said and if you aren't aware, there are quite big differences. The r53 is supercharged, the r56 is turbocharged which means the engines feel and sound quite different.

I preferred the supercharged engine in the earlier car as I think it sounds nicer and revs better but some prefer the turbo. I also heard lots of horror stories about the later turbo engined cars. Not sure how true they are, the Internet often inflates these things but it was enough to put me off.
 

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A tough choice TBH as there are definite pros and cons either way you go.

I think the R56 probably offers better value for money (far newer, less miles, has had alot of the common work done....though seemingly because one/some of those components failed) but that R53 does look nice, though is a pretty early pre facelift car (im not averse to earlier cars, but personally would rather a facelift car).

Sure youve done your homework, but from experience I found running an R53 properly, particularly if you arent going to be doing much spannering yourself isnt typically a cheap affair. Fuel economy isnt good, road tax is heavy compared to a 56. Dont think a R56 is quite so pure/driver focused though....trades a bit of feel and chuckability for refinement and comfort im sure.

Loved my R53, like to think ill have another at some point but have to be honest think i'll probably risk an R56 next time. Whatever yo choose tho, so long as you like it and buy/hold out for the right car dont think you can go too far wrong either way.
 

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the pulley combination on that 53 would put me off, you haven't mentioned if it's been mapped for them so I guess it hasn't been, it could still have a heavy clutch and oil left to leak etc, hopefully you'll discover it to be dry

of the two if accepting the rebuild was particularly thorough I'd possibly be more interested in the 56 tbh,
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks all for the input - it's appreciated. I'm not a spannerist, other than oil/filter changes, brakes and the odd suspension component, but with a bit of YouTube and How to Guides, am prepared to have a go at accessible things. Heart wants an R53. Head says R56. Internet says Prince engines made of cheese.

Re the R56 engine work, the receipt (redacted copy below) doesn't say anything about valves and cleaning - is it reasonable to assume these would have been done and does the timing chain kit include the guides etc.

103669
 

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Thanks all for the input - it's appreciated. I'm not a spannerist, other than oil/filter changes, brakes and the odd suspension component, but with a bit of YouTube and How to Guides, am prepared to have a go at accessible things. Heart wants an R53. Head says R56. Internet says Prince engines made of cheese.

Re the R56 engine work, the receipt (redacted copy below) doesn't say anything about valves and cleaning - is it reasonable to assume these would have been done and does the timing chain kit include the guides etc.

View attachment 103669
I personally wouldnt ever assume anything mate, but if the car runs well probably not something to get too hett up about. These things could use a fairly regular walnut blast as being DI they can and do get coked up but just factor that into the purchase. Used to be quite an expensive process but more commonplace and not so bad now.
 

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overhaul head would usually include cleaning and lapping valves

that invoice reflects that it was not really a full engine rebuild, to me that says it had an 'in situ' repair, probably honed and just new pistons put in, enough for some, no bearings listed, I guess the block has not been apart, still, it at least had new rings and pistons, I'm guessing that this type of repair was due to chain jump or related failure and exhaust valves hitting the pistons perhaps, or other scenario where perhaps valves may have been involved. Looking at the price of the chain kit I'd expect it hasn't had an oil pump chain either, maybe but most kits at budget prices don't include them or even the front main seal.

an engine rebuild example is detailed in my R56 thread: (1) and suddenly he found himself dragged kicking and screaming into the world of R56S ownership.... | MiniTorque.com

the invoice above also doesn't show rod bearings were changed, or for that matter the rod bolts!!

I'd still be looking at it over that 53, or find a better 53, new wheel bearings aren't really much of an indicator of that, or the garage names tbf so much as what was done and how along with it's overall state, garages only do what they've been asked to, and not all well if the truth be told. If it has a wet motor or orange/brown coolant, walk away, any engine noise, same, as I say, hopefully it's good, just don't accept the typical nonsense remarks from sellers re oil leaks or a heavy clutch that they're 'normal' because they're not, they're common yes, and ignored 'a lot' ;O)

as for 56's coking and walnut blasting, the ideal is to manage oil ingress, if you can sort this by adding catch cans and stopping it getting into the manifold as best you can, you're going to have a better engine for longer, with it keeping its performance.

56 engines aren't made of cheese really, the duff element can be the owner😂 It's really just emissions driven combined with lack of maintenance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Guys - I feel very welcomed here with lots of knowledge and advice (y)- nice to see a happy Mini community. I will update as I progress.

@CarsOrBikes - loving the R56 thread - just a little bit outside of my budget although I could come up a little...:unsure:
 

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haha, wasn't trying to sell it to you or I'd have linked the sale ad😂

there are two here though, one in bits currently, just put the crankshaft and pistons in with new bearings, plenty to do....
 

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Its got an almost perfect mot history - suggests very well cared for. Slightly overpriced though imo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
It looks nice. Current owner says it was a garage queen previously. If I like it and it's a goer then it will have to start with a 2.
 

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needs a rear wiper motor perhaps as the arm is on the wrong side

park sensors painting maybe

see if it's wet, if so there's your bargaining tool imo
 

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I eventually sold this for 3.5k, slightly higher mileage but 2 years newer all round fab condition/history also. Hope it might give you some means of assessing prices.


Some OCD observations on the 04 car....wiper motor is probably shot, the Cooper S badging is in completely the wrong place and the rear sensors are not OEM. None showstoppers but IMHO makes me think the car might not b quite as perfect as the seller would want people to believe......I also think its at least 500/750 quid too expensive 👍👍
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Observations from today's viewing. R56 with engine rebuild was wetter than an otter's pocket. On the basis it's done less than 2,000 miles since the rebuild and is leaking like a sieve + general tattyness - not for me.

Drove this one which was night and day different: 2006 MINI Mini Cooper S - Cars & Trucks - Sowerby Bridge | Facebook Marketplace

Wheels a bit scuffed; no chilly aircon; needs supercharger service; bootlid rust bubbles; passenger airbag light on; left top mount groaning on lock, but, but....pulled like a train. Clearly loved in the past but in need of some TLC. To me, it's a candidate but only at sub £2,500. Also, is the R53 gearchange a bit stiff? This one felt quite direct but not not hard work (if anyone's driven an original Ford Puma you'll know what I mean).

What am I looking at for top mount and supercharger - £750 - £1,000?
 

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Supercharger service is very diy-able, as is top mount.

Done diy it is a weekend's work tops and a couple of £000.00 in parts.
 
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