Cars & Bids Bargain of the Week: 2005 Mini Cooper S JCW

2005 Mini Cooper S with JCW kit article highlights:

  • While the supercharged 2005-2006 R53 Mini Cooper S cars had slightly more power than the 2002-2004 ones, the factory John Cooper Works kit bumped their outputs even higher
  • A well-kept 2005 car with one of these kits is currently listed on Cars & Bids
  • It’s currently listed at $5300 with three days to go

The latest Mini Cooper might be more advanced and spacious, but it’s also rather expensive. But if cheap speed is your thing, used Coopers let you go roughly as fast for a lot less. And you don’t even need to get the full-on JCW models, either. Instead, you can get something like this week’s Cars & Bids bargain car: a 2005 Mini Cooper S with a factory JCW kit.

The 2005 Mini Cooper S was a speedier supercharged hot hatch—then the John Cooper Works kit arrived

2005 ‘R53’ Mini Cooper S
Engine1.6-liter supercharged four-cylinder
HorsepowerStock: 170 hp
With JCW kit: 207 hp
TorqueStock: 162 lb-ft
With JCW kit: 180 lb-ft
TransmissionsSix-speed manual
Six-speed automatic
Curb weight2620 lbs
0-60 mph timeStock: 7.0 seconds
With JCW kit: 6.2 seconds

It’s thanks to the racer John Cooper that the Mini became a rally star and performance icon. And today, his name isn’t just part of the Mini Cooper lexicon—it also brands the most extreme, track-focused models. But while it’s part of the Mini family today, the John Cooper Works shop was originally an independent Mini tuner. And much like Cooper did with the ‘60s Mini, JCW made kits to make the already-spicy R53 Cooper S even hotter.

The 2002-2006 R53 Cooper S holds a special place in fans’ hearts because it’s the only supercharged one. But the 2005 and 2006 Mini Cooper S are held in slightly higher regard because they have better interiors, reworked transmissions, and more power, Road & Track explains. In stock form, they’re still not as powerful or as fast as the 2022 Cooper S. However, that changes once the JCW kit comes into play.

To squeeze more horsepower out of the Mini Cooper S engine, JCW swapped in an upgraded supercharger with a lightweight pulley. It also installed a redesigned air intake with a performance air filter, modified cylinder head, higher-flow fuel injectors, performance spark plugs, and a stainless-steel performance exhaust, R&T says. In addition, to make sure the parts worked in harmony, JCW re-tuned the ECU. And this 50-state emissions-legal kit came with a factory warranty.

With the JCW kit, the 2005 Mini Cooper S goes from zippy urban carver to “nimble little terror,” R&T reports. It matches the 2022 model’s 0-60 mph time and that’s with the stick. Admittedly, it’s not as refined or as spacious as its modern incarnation. But it has sharp steering, a solid chassis, fun handling, and a smile-inducing supercharged shriek.

You have a chance to win this 2005 Mini Cooper S with JCW kit on Cars & Bids

A blue modified 2005 Mini Cooper S with JCW kit in a parking lot
Modified 2005 Mini Cooper S with JCW kit | Cars & Bids

Because the JCW kit was rather pricey—$6300 for parts and labor, R&T reports—it’s not terribly common. But the 2005 Mini Cooper S currently listed on Cars & Bids has an authentic kit installed. Plus, it also has some choice standard features and aftermarket modifications.

In addition to the standard sportier suspension, this 2005 Mini Cooper S has xenon headlights, fog lights, leather upholstery, heated front sports seats, and a leather-upholstered sport steering wheel. It has split-folding rear seats, too, as well as cruise control, parking sensors, and a flat-tire monitor. Also, in addition to the JCW kit parts, it has a Borla cat-back performance exhaust, Sony head unit, aftermarket front grille, tinted windows, and OZ Racing wheels.

It might be a 17-year-old hot hatch, but this 2005 Mini Cooper S is in great shape. Although it has some exterior chips and scratches, as well as some minor interior tears, it only has 88,715 miles on the clock. Furthermore, it has a zero-accident history and extensive service records.

The tan-and-black-leather front sports seats and black dashboard of a modified 2005 Mini Cooper S with the JCW kit
Modified 2005 Mini Cooper S with JCW kit front interior | Cars & Bids

Speaking of service, this R53 had some noteworthy maintenance recently. Firstly, the selling dealer replaced the tires as well as the brake pads and rotors in preparation for the sale. Secondly, the dealer and previous owner replaced the following parts in the last two years:

  • March 2021:
    • Oil filter housing gasket
    • Power steering suction line
    • Oil cooler seals
    • Oil pressure switch
    • Coolant
    • Power steering fluid
    • Engine oil and filter
  • March 2020:
    • Water pump and flange
    • Bypass hose
    • Radiator hose and hose clamp
    • Supercharger gasket
    • Crankshaft sensor O-ring
    • Engine cooling fan assembly
    • Power steering pump fan
    • Passenger-side axle seal
    • Valve cover gaskets
    • Fuel tank cap
    • Coolant
    • Transmission fluid

Will a factory-tuned R53 Mini be a reliable hot hatch bargain?

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As of this writing, this JCW-modified 2005 Mini Cooper S is listed at $5300 with three days left in the auction. That’s low even for an unmodified 2005-2006 R53; the next-cheapest manual example on Autotrader costs roughly $2200 more. And the cheapest example with a genuine JCW kit costs more than three times as much. In short, this car is a genuine bargain.

Since this is still a used Mini Cooper, potential bidders should consider getting a pre-purchase inspection. It’s also worth noting that Mini issued a power steering pump recall for the 2005 Cooper S. However, given this car’s power-steering-related service, the recall work was likely already done. Furthermore, the selling dealer already addressed some common problem areas, such as oil leaks and cooling fan failure.

Therefore, this 2005 Mini Cooper S is an uncommon yet affordable version of a fun hot hatch. And it’s nearly modern JCW fast without being quite so harsh.

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