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Discussion Starter #1
So the wife has always had a thing for mini coopers. Around 9 months ago we where sitting at home having a drink or two and browsing gumtree and i stumble on a grey R53 cooper S with 140k km for $5000 aud. In Australia that is real cheap. A few phone calls where made, one thing lead to another and the next day we owned an R53 for $4700.















The car was ok overall but a little rough. There was a couple of dents and the rear right quarter panel had been resprayed and the colour was a shade or two off. The tail light lenses where cracked. After getting it home and having a good poke around, i discovered it had been fitted with an ati balancer, alta 15% pulley, Bilstein shocks, jcw grill, alta intake pipe and filter/airbox. Not a bad start.

There was a minor issue with coolant temp dropping down too low. Was a simple fix, just the thermostat stuck open. Fixed that and also rewired the fan as it had the classic only working on high speed fault. Otherwise, mechanically the car was really good.

The idea was to teach the wife to drive manual in it, we would both drive it on the weekends and then sell it in around 6 months to recoup our money as we have 3 other cars. This was just meant to be a bit of fun.

She drove it twice before giving up on the idea. Great, the R53 became my new daily. I was sceptical at first as I've been driving a R33 skyline with just shy of 500hp for the last 5 years. The R53 felt very very slow in comparison. Never the less, i really enjoyed driving it and the bug had bitten. I was now on the look out for parts to make some further enhancements. I'll leave the story here for now.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
I was trawling gumtree again and noticed a crashed late 2002 jet black r53 with a decent mod list for 3k, it got me thinking. A month later, i noticed the price dropped to 2k. A phone call later and i was heading out to check it out on father's day morning.

It allegedly was making 220kw at the wheels. Um, yeah pull the other one. More like 220hp at flywheel. So the mod list was,

2006 jcw engine (allegedly)
Gp intercooler
Header (Supersprint copy)
Exhaust(eBay spec, scorpion style copy)
Dimsport rmw tuned ecu with handset
550cc injectors
17% pulley
Alta airbox/filter
Alloy rad
Strut brace
Tein lowered springs
Silver project rear control arms
M7 catch can
NGK coil pack and leads
BBS bt210 wheels 16 x 7.5 et35
Yokohama Ad08r 205/50/16
Slotted dimpled rotors
Performance brake pads
Near new valeo smf and clutch
Autometer boost gauge
D1 throttle controller
Led tail lights

Went, saw, comp tested (engine was good)and bought. Went back the next day with a hire trailer and my trusty audi Q7 and dragged r53 no.2 home.

The plan was to transfer all the performance parts over onto the grey 53 and then sell off remaining parts and scrap the damaged shell. I was hoping id be able to utilise the ecu and dimsport but wasn't sure if it would work out as the grey car is an 04 model.

The foundation for project hack hobo is set.

Here are some crap pics of the parts car.

You get the picture.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
So with the parts car at home, i did some troubleshooting. The accelerator pedal was unresponsive and i couldn't get any codes off the ecu as it was an early version pre obd2. I swapped the ecu, ews and key chip from the grey car in and was then able to view codes. From memory, the codes related to 02 sensors, evap circuit and something else, think it was accel pedal. With a bit of research, i found the culprit, it was a fuse that had blown. All 3 items where on the same circuit. I believe i founf the the answer on this forum. Turns out one of the 02 sensors had shorted out wiring and thats what blew the fuse. With that sorted and a new fuse in place, all was well and everything worked.

Now it was time to start removing and swapping bits over to the other car.

Pics of some of the bits. Header, gp ic and siemens deka injectors.

Screenshot_20200410_143646_com.quoord.tapatalkpro.activity.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Nearly all the performance parts moved from the black car to the grey car. This is the list:

GP intercooler
Siemens 550cc injectors
RMW dimsport tuned Ecu, ews + key chip
Header pipe decatted
Ebay spec scorpion style exhaust
Strut brace
Bbs wheels with Ad08r tyres
Boost gauge
Throttle controller

These accompanied the already fitted

Alta 15% pulley
Alta intake pipe
Alta airbox
Ati balancer

The only things i didn't swap over was the tein springs and silver project control arms. There's s lot of speed humps near my house and i kind of liked the way the car handles them on the Bilstein so didn't want to muck about with them.

At this point the cars performance was drastically improved and i was quite happy with it. It could bake the Ad08r in 1st and 2nd gear. Not bad, well better.

A couple of bad pics sitting on the bbs 4wd style.



 

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Discussion Starter #5
I know you shouldn't just swap in an ecu tuned on another car but seen as i won't be racing this car ( i have a skyline for that) and it rarely sees above 5.5-6k rpm i thought it would be safe enough. We're only talking around 200hp, it'd be different if it was a 500hp engine obviously. Also all the parts the black car was tuned with are now on this car other than the 17% pulley. The grey car has a 15% pulley, so it gives it a little safety margin if the tune is a bit off.

Initially the engine stalled a few times when coming to a stop and returning to idle but this sorted itself out over the next few days as the ecu self adjusted the fuel trims and whatever else it does. Car was running good now, idling well, fuel economy seemed around the same as before and on full throttle i could see a slight puff of black smoke in the rear view. Slightly rich on load, just the way i like it.

Power wise, it seemed like a little less initial urge compared to the stock ecu (probably a little less timing down low in the tune) but a lot more pull midrange and top end.

A couple pics of my skyline

 

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As soon as I read “the ECU adjusted itself” I smile.

It doesn’t and over 4K rpm it doesn’t use fuel trims, it uses a target map which will be wrong.

I‘m all for recycling, but the so called “Hobo” style approach often leads to tears.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
As soon as I read “the ECU adjusted itself” I smile.

It doesn’t and over 4K rpm it doesn’t use fuel trims, it uses a target map which will be wrong.

I‘m all for recycling, but the so called “Hobo” style approach often leads to tears.
I actually agree with you keithy. When i was talking about the ecu adjusting itself, i was more talking about the idle and long and short term fuel trims. These trims do bugger all at wot. By the way, i did throw a wideband 02 into the exhaust and if anything it was slightly rich throughout the rev range.

Im not really too bothered if the engine goes boom but im quite confident it won't. I tend to drive it with mechanical sympathy and not keep it at prolonged high rpm.


Anyway, we are far from the end of this story. So i will continue.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
So now with all the parts i wanted removed, i had a wreck sitting in my backyard for a month. I was hesitant to start stripping it until i had sold something major. Then all of a sudden there was a mad rush, the gearbox got sold, followed by the engine 2 days later. In 4 days $4500 of parts where sold.

Now with the engine removed i could check if it was a jcw as alleged or not. No larger exhaust ports, so it wasn't but the serial numbers didn't match the chassis. So it probably was an 06 engine, just not jcw.

A few days after the mad rush, i see another cheap r53, was advertised for 4k, dropped to 3k a few days later. I swooped in with an offer of 2.5k and was soon dragging home R53 number 3. This one had no damage, just needed a new clutch.

Here it is

 

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Discussion Starter #9
Now i have 3 R53'S and 3 other cars at home. This is getting a bit out of hand. I get the latest r53 home and assess it. Although it just needed a clutch, it wasn't worth fixing. The previous owners seemed like the type that just fill with petrol and drive till it won't drive no more. It was pretty run down and had 200k km on the clock. The decision is made to part this car out as well.

So for the next few weeks i was selling parts from both cars. Inadvertently i got into a war with the local wreckers. There's 2 main shops that sell mini parts in Melbourne and let's just say they weren't happy i was selling stuff at 1/3 of their prices. They where constantly putting up new ads to move my ads further down the list. Was kind of funny.

The black car was pretty bare so i decided to totally strip it and cut up the shell. I got that all done using a big ass grinder and reciprocating saw. I loaded the chopped up pieces onto my trailer and dumped them in the scrap metal bin at work.

I was now back down to 2 R53'S.

Bye bye, you served me well.







 

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Discussion Starter #10
For probably a month after this i was selling bits of the blue car. I was really starting to get over dealing with people from gumtree, Facebook etc.

I had no luck with selling the engine or gearbox from this car and really wanted my garage space back so decided i would try sell what was left as a whole and market it towards someone who wanted to do a justa to cooper s conversion. I was asking $1500 aud which i felt would be appealing and also left me with a modest profit for my time and effort considering what i already sold.

I advertised it in this condition and sale was to be without any wheels.




Notice how the back is sitting so hi, that's because there is no rear shocks and a couple of blocks of wood cut out and bolted in there. Lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
My marketing prowess paid off a few days later. I had a guy come check it out for his daughter. She had a justa with a cvt auto that gave up the ghost. They where quoted $1500 aud for a 2nd hand cvt replacement without warranty from the friendly local wreckers, aka rip off merchants. So my car made excellent economical sense for them.

The daughters boyfriend was a mechanic and agreed to do the conversion for her. Winner winner for all involved, except maybe the boyfriend doing all the work.

They left a deposit and returned the following day. Fantastic, down to 1 R53 again and a shed + backyard littered with parts.

Overall i made a decent profit for my troubles and harvested all the fruit from the black car. Effectively this meant my now modified grey mini was almost a free car.

The Mini Cooper experience has been great so far. Parting out cars was not part of the plan. One thing kind of just lead to another and I capitalised on opportunity.

I have parted out a car once before but that was a totally different situation. I had crashed an Nissan S15 silvia i had at Phillip island grand prix track and the only way i could recoup any money out of that was to sell it in parts. That was quite lucrative, JDM Nissan parts sell like hotcakes in Australia.

I wasn't sure if the Mini would be as popular for parts as Nissan's. Not quite but not far off.

Here's a couple of pics of said Nissan, i do miss this car. They're a bit like an r53, you move on but always feel like another.






 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
For the next couple of months i was enjoying cruising around in my 1 R53 as my daily driver and occasionally driving the skyline. Driving the skyline reminded me how slow the Mini is but also how useless such a powerful car is on the street, albeit lots of fun.

One night i was on the couch late at night almost passed out. My wife started waving my phone around in my face saying look at this. Eventually i grumpily got up and had a look.

It was another Mini, a facelift R53 this time.
It was hyper blue and a decent spec. Xenons, hk sound, leather, sunroof, chrono pack, chrome pack, chilli pack, jcw aero rear bar, was also advertised as a jcw. None of the other Mini's i had had these features.

It looked nice, neat and very clean in the pics. The harmonic balancer had failed and it was running out of registration the following week. It also had very high mileage at 239k km. The condition looked great though.

The owner was quoted over $1k aud to replace the balancer and decided to part ways with it. The asking price was just $2300. I sent a late night message asking if it was still available and when could I come pick it up.

Here are some pics as it was advertised, was not a fan of the decals but hey, they could always be removed.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
The next morning at 8am i get a phone call from the owner asking what time i could come around. Since i was working, i said i could get there at 3:30 pm. He said ok.

Half an hour later he messages back and says someone else is coming at 1:30. I messaged back saying i could make it at 1. He says he won't be home till 1:30.

Determined to not let this slip through my fingers, i call him and say that I'll buy it sight unseen and send him a deposit electronically, i would pick it up the next morning. He said he would think about it. 20 minutes later, he accepted my offer.

The next morning I hired a trailer and went to pick it up. I was just hoping it wasn't going to be a steaming pile of poo. For all i knew the pictures could of been from years ago and cars always look better in photos.

I got there and it looked even better in person than in the pics. I had a look under the bonnet and found bits of the balancer, started the engine and let it run for a few seconds and then handed over the money and drove it onto the trailer.

Boom baby, enter Mini number 4.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
So, i now have this thing at home and having a good look over everything and it's better in every way compared to my grey mini which has 100k km less. Even the engine has 10-15psi more compression across the board.

I am now seriously considering keeping this car and selling the grey one. It only has 4 days of road registration left. I make the decision to swap the ATI balancer from the grey car in so i can drive thus for a few days and make a more informed decision based on how it drives.

Old balancer out



ATI ready to go in





So now I've been driving it for a couple of days, it drives really really well and has really good low to midrange pull. I found it had a smaller pulley on the charger when i was swapping the balancer over and i suspect the ecu has some sort of tune.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
It's not all good news though. There is some kind of cold start issue. It would start fine but after 5 or so seconds would start to sort of like misfire for about 10 secs and then come good again. Hmm.

After running for around 30 mins or so then the idle would start hunting. It would fluctuate up and down then settle too low for a while then repeat again. The condition would not go away even if i blipped the throttle.

I did a fair bit of research and found a lot of info about this dreaded idle condition. From ecu programming to map, tmap, 02 sensors, evap cannister etc. I did have a lot of parts i could swap around so i was confident that I'd be able to overcome this issue.

The decision has now been made, the blue car stays and the grey will be returned to stock and sold. The performance parts would either be fitted onto the blue car or sold off seperately.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
So the grey car is now returned to stock. The alta intake pipe, airbox, filter, jcw grill have been swapped with the blue cars standard items.

I posted a for sale ad on gumtree with an asking price of $5200 which was way cheaper than anything else with under 150k km. These where the pics in the ad.


 

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Discussion Starter #18
9 minutes later the phone rang and i had someone interested in having a look. We arranged for him to come over the next day. Meanwhile i had another 4 enquiries who where interested and i told them I'd get back to them.

The next day, the guy comes down, checks it out, took it for a test drive and we agree to a price of $4900. Sold, sold, sold. Thank you very much.

So now the blue car needs to get a road worthy certificate to transfer it to my name. It had some oil leaks from the oil filter housing o rings. While i was at it, i replaced the heat exchanger ones, the cam sensor one and the rocker cover gasket. I also bought the crank sensor o ring but left that for another time. Fantastic, no more oil leaks.

The only other issue was the reverse lights weren't coming on, some googleing revealed the reverse switch was the likely culprit. Swapped that out and all was good and the blue mini sailed through the rwc without issue.

Next problem was there seemed to be a ghastly smell coming from the rear of the car. It was traced back to the battery tray area. The previous owner used to put his little ankle biter dog in the back there and the little bastard had vomitted on the carpet at the back and it had run down the side of the battery tray.

It took 3-4 attempts to clean and sanitize the area until the stench finally went away.
 

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I'm just jelous of looking at all these high-milage R53s without a drop of rust on them... Wonders of a warmer climate and no road salt.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I'm just jelous of looking at all these high-milage R53s without a drop of rust on them... Wonders of a warmer climate and no road salt.
Yes, yes the lack of road salt is the big one. The only cars here that have rust are Jap or British imports that came from places that use salt on roads.

If it makes you feel better, my skyline has a few spots of rust and the black r53 had a few spots under some of the weather seals and where the sheet metal had torn from the hit it had.
 
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