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2003 R53 Cooper S
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi all.

Wanted to document my R53 track toy project to date, and then somewhere to keep a note of future changes - just in case anyone is interested really!

Bought a 2003 R53 semi track converted (badly) in February 2022. Always wanted a bona fide track car, and was torn between the Clio 172 Cup and an R53. An R53 came up at the right time and price, so the R53 it was. Had covered 100k almost on the button. Came fully stripped with Bimarco seats and harnesses, OMP steering wheel on a snap off boss, uprated intercooler and a 15% pulley (which turned out to be for something else and didn't fit properly). Oddly, someone had desperately tried to make this Cooper S look like a Cooper!?

I've done a fair bit of track over the years in various cars I've owned, and decided to track day initially in March at Keevil Airfield (close as I'm south west based) to test it out. Airfields are great as LOADS of runoff in the event of running out of talent. In prep for this, I spent a bit of money on some of the essentials, so on went some R56 Cooper S brakes, EBC pads, braided brake lines, and some Toyo Proxies all round. I also removed the old 15% pulley and replaced it with a KAVS 17% instead. Once done, I went to a good friend of mine's rolling road to check primarily what the fuelling was doing with regard to AFR - no one wants a lean engine on track.

Font Parallel Art Pattern Paper


She managed a surprising 207 flywheel horsepower on those minimal mods, but the interesting thing was how unbelievably rich the fuelling was! I'm usually targeting a WOT AFR of around 13, the R53 was well into the 11s and lower which I personally think is too rich - but that's a matter of opinion. Regardless, a safe AFR for tracking so off we go.

A photo from the Keevil track day - (poor quality):

Sky Vehicle Car Plant Wheel


Verdict on track day 1. Awful. Brakes were tragic, half a lap and the pedal was long. Tyres weren't great, but to be fair, the surface wasn't either. Lots of engine braking that day. Still, it made it home happily enough - although with much to do and money to spend.

Next track day was booked for Castle Combe in June, so the spending started in earnest - much to my wife's delight.

First change wasn't a choice, the timing chain tensioner packed up on the next start, so that was the first job to do. When changing the chain, it seemed rude not to change the camshaft as well for a Newman cam - so in that went at the same time.

Wood Musical instrument Hardwood Woodwind instrument Flooring
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Inside the cylinder head was in really good condition - turns out looking through the limited history that came with the car, it's had a new one.

Other changes happened at the same time as well, addition of a strut brace (upper front), replacement of cheapo CAI with a Ram Air cone (mostly for the charger whine), various hose replacements, brake fluid change for Motul RBF660, EBC Yellow Stuff pads front and Mintex 1144 rears. I also removed the stock spoiler and fitted a JC Slick rear wing.

Another issue that needed to be solved was the airbag light on the dash. Both annoying, and an MOT failure. Broke out my old BMW software laptop and used NCS Expert to recode the airbag module to remove the airbags from the module itself. Airbag light problem solved.

I broke out another old laptop from back in the day which has WinOLS and ECM mapping tools on it. Using a clone MPPS cable, I grabbed a copy of the map on the ECU to have a quick look at. Interesting to say the least, especially because the map isn't clear as to what is what. An interesting fact though, is that the stock Cooper S map (at least on mine) has a very simple derestriction built into it. Looking at the throttle pedal map (I've put a copy in below for reference), above 5400 rpm, and at a pedal angle of 67% or greater, the map actually closes the throttle body progressively to redline.

Rectangle Orange Font Wood Art


With the new cam installed, I was expecting some changes to fuelling due to the change in duration of the cam, and also the fact that I had flattened out the throttle pedal map to give full whack and flashed it back, so back to the dyno we go to check we're safe for a day at the track. Dyno plot below shows before and after the cam install - very clear that it comes on from pretty much bang on 4000 rpm. Bear in mind at this point it is on a totally stock map (except for the throttle map bit) and stock injectors.

Product Slope Font Line Rectangle


The power gain from really the cam alone was 14 flywheel horsepower, and the ambient temperature was quite a bit higher which will affect power. That plot doesn't show AFR annoyingly, but I can confirm that it had lifted so that AFR was now in the low 12s instead of the low 10s towards the top of the range. So, happy with that, and off to the track we go again.

Verdict on track day 2. Better. Brakes were very good and didn't suffer from any real fade - the new pads and fluid definitely did the trick there. What did let me down on a 'proper' track, was the Toyos. My god they were awful, absolutely tortured all day long and went off really very quickly. But, again, a good day and the car drove home to fight another day.

A few photos from track day 2:
Wheel Tire Car Vehicle Window

Tire Land vehicle Vehicle Wheel Car


So then, to the tyres. First off, I managed to get hold of another set of wheels for £100, which needed some love and a paint. I also ordered a set of 4 Zestino Gredge 07R medium compound semi slicks. A friend uses them and recommended them based on price vs performance. On they went.

I also managed to get hold of a map file from a Cooper S JCW 200 BHP. When looking at the map in WinOLS, it was identical to my Cooper S map, except in places, there was more of stuff - that's about as technical as I can be as I don't have the map layout to say what is what. The Cooper S JCW 200 map also didn't have the throttle body restriction I talked about earlier. As the JCW 200 has the same injectors as the Cooper S, I checked that I was happy with my slightly modified version of the JCW map and flashed that on. It's not been back to the dyno as yet to identify any changes in power of AFR, however, it does certainly seem to go better, and a slight rev hang I had with the Newman Cam went away as an added bonus.

Track days 3 and 4 have both been at Castle Combe (because it's extremely local!) and have been great fun. The semi slicks have absolutely transformed the car, and it is now very capable on the track, and can hold it's own very well.

A photo from Track day 3:
Tire Wheel Land vehicle Vehicle Car


On track day 4 I downloaded the TrackAddicts app and used my phone in a mount to record one morning session and one afternoon session. These are on YouTube and can be viewed here:

R53 Morning Session
R53 Afternoon Session

Best session was the morning with best lap of 1:25:37 which is respectable. I want to be down into the 1:1x:xx range next year!

And that will now be it for this year - it's in the garage amongst the firewood awaiting maintenance.

A few jobs to be done over the winter - clutch slave cylinder, supercharger inspection (and likely replacement as I think it's poorly), bypass valve replacement, water methanol injection, track rods and ends, full wheel alignment to bring the toe of both front wheels out very slightly, half cage, further lightening, battery tray removal, race battery, new straight exhaust, 550cc injectors, a proper map!

If anyone's interested, I will update this thread as these things get done. Else I'll be back about this time next year!
 

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2005 R53, 2005 R53 lightweight, 2008 R55S, 2012 R58FJCW, 2014 R60SD All4, 1996 Mini Cooper 35SE.
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keep the info coming, good place this to keep a progress record,

which cam? PH1/2?

13afr would be too high on these, ideal seems to be somewhere around 11.5-12, I think historically people seem to have settled on 11.8 for some reason, erring on the side of caution maybe,

low 12's personally when not on a custom map I'd say is probably still too high, although it will likely be going well, as you say, better than in the 10's, these seem to like 12~ in acceleration, my thought is with the timing which will probably be wanting some taking out on a 17, and while it isn't, it'd be better having some additional fuel in there even if it does lose a bit of power to it surely? Then it sounds like you're going to get the map looked at anyway,

I have an MPPS cable but never did anything with it, yet....,

the WinOLS thing I think a few people mess with to alter these?

you seem to have a fair idea of where the track's going, not bad for a fairly basic car by the look of it,

sounds like it could use a diff ;O)

those tyres must be night and day :ROFLMAO:
 
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R53 cooper s
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A fantastic topic. Im also building a track going car so i will be keeping a keen eye on this thread. Currently i have done the pulley swop, airtec intercooler, manifild and the r56 brakes. Im looking at the EW02 camshaft but this will be something for next year.Coomb is also a local track to me, about 50 minutes away. May see you up there next year 😉
 

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2003 R53 Cooper S
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
keep the info coming, good place this to keep a progress record,

which cam? PH1/2?

13afr would be too high on these, ideal seems to be somewhere around 11.5-12, I think historically people seem to have settled on 11.8 for some reason, erring on the side of caution maybe,

low 12's personally when not on a custom map I'd say is probably still too high, although it will likely be going well, as you say, better than in the 10's, these seem to like 12~ in acceleration, my thought is with the timing which will probably be wanting some taking out on a 17, and while it isn't, it'd be better having some additional fuel in there even if it does lose a bit of power to it surely? Then it sounds like you're going to get the map looked at anyway,

I have an MPPS cable but never did anything with it, yet....,

the WinOLS thing I think a few people mess with to alter these?

you seem to have a fair idea of where the track's going, not bad for a fairly basic car by the look of it,

sounds like it could use a diff ;O)

those tyres must be night and day :ROFLMAO:
It's the BMWI/250/400 PH2 Newman cam that went into it - it's fairly mild to be fair, no real change to idle although it could do with being dialled in properly in the map for sure!

Yeah, WinOLS is the software for buggering about with the file I usually use. For normal use, and in the past, WinOLS you use a Damos file to identify the different maps within the file, but the Siemens EMS2000 simply doesn't have one. ECM Titanium does identify some maps, but I believe that a few of them are wrong. The main fuelling table is identified, but the fuel enrichment table isn't making that pretty useless. Compared to the VAG stuff I've worked with in the past, tuning these is clearly a bit of a nightmare!

It could use a diff indeed, it will be on the list for later as 95% of the time, getting the power onto the ground isn't an issue. When there is more power it will be!

It's going to have one final dyno this year for completeness before I start doing anything else. Being on the rollers will also help me find the mystery rattle as I can see the engine under full load!
 

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well the PH2 is smooth out of the box, it is still a fast road cam but the lower of the few available, best suited for those not wanting a hunting idle or any stalling likelihood, yet it can work ok, don't seem to hear of many with 240+ using them but a very popular cam to date, many out there with it, most I've seen written about seem to be between 220-230 iirc, vague though as all dyno's differ as well as cars. Good for a daily with occasional track use. Discreet cam.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
well the PH2 is smooth out of the box, it is still a fast road cam but the lower of the few available, best suited for those not wanting a hunting idle or any stalling likelihood, yet it can work ok, don't seem to hear of many with 240+ using them but a very popular cam to date, many out there with it, most I've seen written about seem to be between 220-230 iirc, vague though as all dyno's differ as well as cars. Good for a daily with occasional track use. Discreet cam.
Not after anything too lary to be honest, power wise, it's roughly where I want it, with maybe a little more room for improvement - it's more about the stopping and going round corners!

When the time does come for substantially more power (which it invariably does), the supercharger will be going in favour of a turbo anyway to be honest - I'm a turbo kinda guy.
 

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When the time does come for substantially more power (which it invariably does), the supercharger will be going in favour of a turbo anyway to be honest - I'm a turbo kinda guy.
this is tempting, but so far I've held on to the M45,

as I haven't yet sold my BRG one it is tempting to do this and keep the car discreet otherwise.... ish, apart from brakes and gearing anyway.

this has been sat around for some years so is always a temptation, DIY job but wasn't slow (not my creation)

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a good read if you haven't seen it on here yet, is of Astroboy's DIY turbo project....
 

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“the timing chain tensioner packed up on the next start, so that was the first job to do. When changing the chain, it seemed rude not to change the camshaft as well…”

I got a good chuckle out of that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Back on the dyno yesterday.

In the interim it's had the new Airtec cooler fitted as well, replacing the cheap eBay cooler that was ill fitting.

Vehicle Car Hood Automotive lighting Motor vehicle


Power wise, it's gained 6 flywheel horse power from the adjusted JCW 200 map and Airtec cooler combined, and is now 228 flywheel horsepower. It has, however, lost about 0.7 PSI of boost. This further enhances my suspicions about the charger being tired, however it could also be a boost leak as has been suggested to me, or could be due to the Airtec cooler being less restrictive and flowing better - hard to say until disassembly.

AFR was what I was really interested in as discussed previously. Very happy with the results - top end is in the higher 11s to very low 12s which for me is ideal. Graph of AFR & boost at previous dyno (red) and three runs yesterday (blue, green yellow) below:

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Lastly, and this will interest quite a few people I would imagine, I had it weighed on the race scales.

Now, the kerb weight of the R53 seems to be massively variable depending on what you read and from where. I believe that the kerb weight of a 2003 R53 Cooper S is 2,678 lbs, or 1,215 kgs.

Mine was weighed with no one inside, and a half tank of fuel on board.

Gas Measuring instrument Electronic device Machine Display device


Total weight as above is 1,098 kgs. It's pretty well stripped out, but there is more to do. No back seats, carpets, liners, head liners, airbags, etc etc etc.

What is interesting is the weight distribution - it helps explain the balance of the car. 10 kgs difference between the front sides, and only 5.5 kgs difference at the back.

I'll weigh again once its diet is completed in the spring.
 

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Looking good Welly. Are you on standard exhaust system? I did read through the post again but couldn't see anything mention?

I need to get the jcw map and then go and get a rolling road check. I believe the Badger place you use is about 1 hour from me so would be nice to go to a recommended tuner.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
As for the boost loss, the pressure is measured post intercooler, or pre?
That's actually a very good point, I would imagine that the FPR pipe it's in to would be pre intercooler, however, if the intercooler is flowing better, there would be less back pressure arguably so doesn't narrow it down that much.

I'm in the process of completing out a repair on an N47 Mini One D which snapped the chain, once that's done I'll start on the R53 so I'll report back with findings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Looking good Welly. Are you on standard exhaust system? I did read through the post again but couldn't see anything mention?

I need to get the jcw map and then go and get a rolling road check. I believe the Badger place you use is about 1 hour from me so would be nice to go to a recommended tuner.
I'm not on the stock system, no. As it stands, it's using a Toyo Sports manifold (cheap but reasonably effective) with a 200 cell sport cat welded into it (and a wideband AFR gauge boss for later use), combined with a cheap mild steel resonated exhaust from Hornet Exhausts. It was a 'it'll do the job' purchase for the first season really. Over the winter, the whole lot will come off, the battery tray will be cut out and a straight through exhaust will be fabricated for it in the spring - mainly to bring the bloody noise of the thing down. I don't like scraping through noise tests at 97 - 99 db.

Badger 5 will dyno for you I'm sure, but they're a VAG tuner primarily so won't be able to help with the mapping sadly. I've spent a lot of my life working with the 20v turbo VAG engine hence my affiliation with a VAG tuner! Seems R53 mapping is a rarity (and to be fair having looked at the maps, I can understand why!).
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Many weeks on and it's time for an update, now that I've managed to find some time in amongst other projects to actually do some R53 related work. I don't usually do mechanical work at my own house, as I use a workshop where all my gear is - so this was a first for me. No tools at my pad though, so I have tried and tested the amazon basics range! Not the best, but to be fair, useable and saw me easily through this job.

As I mentioned before, I had my suspicions that the supercharger was tired, but didn't realise quite how tired until it came off. On removal, I span it over to have a look at the coating, and heard a very odd noise. I've popped a video of the charger on YT here: Supercharger noise.

Next thing to do obviously it to check out the PTO side as that's where the noise was coming from, on opening it wasn't very pretty.

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Truth be told, I'm not exactly sure what has happened here, but best guess is that the oil has exited the chamber over time and caused the PTO gears to rust up - when used, that rust has been ground off and spread around. There was similar colour remnants on the supercharger inlet pipe so it clearly had been leaking - not a surprise as there is no oil left. What a mess though! Snout side was fine, coupler in good condition as well, so I've fitted that snout to the new (to me) charger to save messing about getting the OE pulley off.

Coating on the charger is also looking extremely poorly.

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It's pretty much like that across the board, and I'm assuming it has been for some time. This will not have been helping with supercharger performance! Sadly, this core is destined for this bin, so it will likely tear it down just to see how easy or hard the various gears are to remove.

So, new super charger then! Sourced a used one from eBay, graphite not teflon, but hey ho, it was £100. Good used condition, PTO and snout chambers were both in good condition. Serviced it with new oil and water pump before refit.

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Refit of the charger done and dusted. Managed to give everything a good clean whilst reassembling, because why not.

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I have uprated the spring in the bypass valve and centred the butterfly whilst is was off - I'll be interested to see what difference that makes - if any.

Need to reassemble the front end, crack on with a couple of cosmetic bits and then sort the battery tray ready for new exhaust.

Until next time!
 

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that rot in the charger is coolant getting in there, also a sign of your system state probably, I would make sure its all flushed, including small bore hoses, fwiw I stick a hose into the heater hoses and clamp each off in turn behind the junction piece which forces the path via the cooler or matrix as desired, both ways, or you might think it's clear just because it emerges from the other hose, you wouldn't know if either the matrix or cooler was partially or fully restricted etc. Your block galleries may be quite rusty.... so I'd re-flush at 1-3 months with OEM coolant, including upending the rad to flush while off the car as it can hold it at the bottom.
 

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Nice to see you attacking the car in tje cold weather ready for the new track season. It would be interesting to see if there is any improvement on the dyno afterwards. The supercharger does look past its best to say the least but good points made by Sean, i wouldn't have thought of that anout water getting in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
that rot in the charger is coolant getting in there, also a sign of your system state probably, I would make sure its all flushed, including small bore hoses, fwiw I stick a hose into the heater hoses and clamp each off in turn behind the junction piece which forces the path via the cooler or matrix as desired, both ways, or you might think it's clear just because it emerges from the other hose, you wouldn't know if either the matrix or cooler was partially or fully restricted etc. Your block galleries may be quite rusty.... so I'd re-flush at 1-3 months with OEM coolant, including upending the rad to flush while off the car as it can hold it at the bottom.
That makes an awful lot of sense to be fair, and it's nice to get a sensible explanation as I don't like unexplained failure.

The water pump had clearly been changed (seemingly due to failure!), but I would imagine the damage was well on the way to being done sadly. I have flushed the coolant a number of times already, and have noticed a great deal of ming in the system previously, so again, this all comes together nicely as an explanation. This would almost certainly have been the reason I had to swap out the heater matrix previously - no heat!
 
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