There we were, bags packed and waiting at the door. “We want a feature on a Belgian GP please,” typed editor Jules. Very nice too – an awesome weekend of Formula 1 cars, all-nighters and all-access media passes. When the pics came through, the penny dropped. Ah, that type of GP…
Still, what a way to build a MINI – start out with the most coveted special edition Cooper S of all, slam it on air ride and custom modify a set of DTM-inspired Rotiform VCEs to roll in style.
Only a couple of thousand Cooper Ss were built back in 2006 with a Works GP kit, as the final send-off for the original Eaton supercharged hot hatch. That’s the razor sharp and highly tunable R53 model which seems to be the modifier’s MINI of choice right now, and the Works GP is the best of the bunch.
As standard, this particular edition came as a two-seater, 218bhp Bertone-built Nürburgring warrior, and its almost legendary status ensures they still make strong money today. Not that the value and rarity concerns Belgian MINI fan Joery Coenen, who proudly drives it daily after a thorough dose of modifications. In fact, he reckons this year alone he’ll have clocked up 30,000kms!
The stock engine and gearbox has been untouched, as the GP already benefits from a fatter intercooler and a smaller supercharger pulley, to increase boost without things getting too hot under the collar.
There’s also larger fuel injectors, a ported head, stainless steel exhaust and a tweaked engine map to suit, plus a limited-slip diff and solid six-speed box to put the power down. For 24-year-old Joery, it’s already a huge performance leap from his first MINI, a base model One.
“I bought it from a guy in Lille,” he says. “Then straight away I started modifying with a set of 3SDM five-spokes and the Recaro seats so it would be ready for the Players Show.”
The Pole Positions save a huge chunk of weight over the standard-fit Recaro recliners, and Joery’s gone for some Luke harnesses too, hooked round that rear strut brace where the seats would be on a regular MINI. Well, we say strut brace, but it’s not actually connected to the strut tops at all. It does look pretty neat though, and saves him from a full bombardment of Guylian and Leffe to the head under heavy braking.
“My plan was to give the GP a real race look, so after the visit to the UK I got back to work on the modding,” Joery continues. The exterior is surprisingly close to stock – a tow strap up front, those sexual alloys and sump-scraping ride height, which is completely adjustable without compromising the sharp handling.
The standard orange side markers are a weird US thing that remained on European GPs despite the lack of bulbs inside, but Joery colour-coded them red to match the door mirrors better. The red rear lenses and wheel nuts keep the styling bold yet classy.
In total he spent four months with his mates on the mods, getting help installing the essential air ride and those eye-catching rims. The 8.5-inch wide Rotiforms were never intended for a Mini, but thanks to an ET-35 offset and some custom drilling work, they just about squeeze inside the arches. MINIs are renowned for heavy negative camber when slammed on the floor, so that certainly helps. It looks mean as hell in show mode and purposefully stanced on the move.
“It drives very well and I love the overall stance of the car, but I might change the brakes next and modify the engine,” says Joery. With some more trackdays on the horizon, bigger anchors may come in very handy indeed. A big brake conversion with Porsche callipers would be a dream combination we think.
Then maybe it’ll be a turbo conversion, a big-valve head, race-spec clutch, CAE shifter, a rollcage…who knows. It’s a slippery slope and Joery has only just begun.
OWNER: JOERY COENAN
TECH SPEC: MODIFIED MINI COOPER S WORKS GP
John Cooper Works GP kit number 1197 of 2000, GP aero bodykit, smoothed bumpers, partially de-badged, red sidemarkers, red rear lenses, front tow strap, Thunder Blue paint.
8.5×18-inch Rotiform VCE rims custom drilled to suit MINI PCD, ET35 offset, Accelera 205/35×18 tyres, AP Coil-overs to suit air ride suspension, compressor and tank in boot, JCW brake kit, alloy rear trailing arms, aerodynamic under tray/smooth floor.
Three-spoke deep-dish Kode racing wheel, Recaro Pole Position bucket seats, Luke four-point harnesses, rear GP ‘strut brace’, GP centre speedo, grey trimming and headlining.
1598cc 16-valve engine, John Cooper Works GP upgrade, 218bhp quoted maximum power, stainless steel exhaust system, JCW head, JCW intake and injectors, Eaton M45 supercharger, six-speed gearbox with LSD.
Words Stephen Colbran Photos Kevve.Be