Man With a Plan
Despite what There's Something About Mary may have lead you to believe, getting your penis stuck in your zipper is not funny. It is absurd, but it's not funny. The second it happens you realize that you done f'ed up. After the initial pain subsides a bit you realize something else: it's going to hurt more before it gets better and there's no good way to get out of your situation.
Owning a project car is kind of like getting your penis stuck in your zipper.
Originally I was just going to, in one fell swoop, put in some racing seats (the factory seats have garbage lateral support), thrown on some coil overs (gotta have adjustability), a big brake kit is a must (I love braking), can't forget an intake/exhaust/tune (the car is brutally slow), also new wheels and tires (I'm no drifter, give me grip), also a cage (safety sixth!). Full on baby's first track car.
This was a solid plan, until I had to get the front subframe dropped for a repair. Then get the front subframe dropped for another repair. Then the front subframe had to be dropped for a repair again. Then I finally got the car in good enough shape to do a track day…until I took it to get inspected and found both oil and air leaks. Oh, and my check engine light came on right before my birthday so even though it was a minor fault I had to get it fixed so I'd pass emissions. But I finally did get on track, only to have my one mod (bigger, wheels with stickier tires) break the car. Then I found out how hilariously overpriced dealer spark plug changes are (upside, I now know how to change plugs and wires).
The irony of naming a car after a fictional thief and having it take all of my money was lost on me until this exact second.
In between all of this madness I bought an M5, a car that I truly an enamored with. It is, probably, my second favorite care that I've ever owned. It has caused everyone to ask me if/when I am getting rid of the Mini. The answer to which is: no time soon.
My bleeding, liberal heart is trying to make up for owning a care that's seen NINE mpg in rush hour traffic, by alternating it with a car that sees high 20s mpg in traffic (in real world terms the Mini can go almost three, summer commute, weeks without getting gas, the M5 can do one). Additionally, the Mini is just fun to thrash around. The M5 is awesome and all, but on a normal road it's, frankly, just a very loud 5 Series.
You can thrash the hell out of the Mini on the street. There is nowhere outside of a track that I can go wide open in the M5 for more than a couple of seconds at a time (and even then, only a few more seconds). I have to go wide open on the Mini all the time. I can’t leave or return to my home without going full throttle on the Mini. I have to shift a lot. Every turn becomes an event. the Mini is, well, fun.
So, Handsome Rob The Mini stays. And I think I've got it figured out. I'm not doing full track car anymore. No, I'm going for what the kids call, "OEM Plus," which is the cool way of saying "mildly tuned." Well, really, tuned in a way that could have come from the factory.
Yes, I know that JCW exists.
But, the only JCW, R55 Clubman in Atlanta costs $9,500 with 74k miles on it. You know what happens to a BMW at 100k miles? About $10k of service. I've already put that into the car I have, so no buying another car to do it again. Instead…
I originally started writing this before having taken Robbie to Atlanta Motorsports Park. AMP is a "country club" track that is made out of corners from other tracks. It's all elevation changes this and off camber that. Whereas Roebling Road Raceway (the only other track I've had Robbie on) can, largely, be done with almost zero braking in a Mini, Roebling requires a lot of braking and his current setup does not inspire confidence.
Given that when the previous owner bought the car it sported three different brands of tires, I'm guessing that the people who had him between my wife and her didn't exactly put the highest premium on such things. Gotta fix that. Big brake kit?
No, Brembo makes slotted rotors and EBC make Yellow Stuff pads for the stock, Cooper S application.
I am not sold on stainless brake lines, that seems like one of those things that was more important before…technology. Material sciences march on. I am sold on replacing the fluid with better fluid, though.
Rough Cost: $400
I kind of hacked the seats by putting an armrest in. It holds me in. Although, long term, I'd like to replace the current seats with seats from an F chassis Mini, as every one of those that I've sat in has been wonderful and had better side bolstering for my fat, American frame.
Rough Cost: $0
Wheels and Tires
I will admit that I may have gone slightly overboard with my wheel and tire choice. I managed to squeeze 1" wider wheels under there and fitted 215/45 RE-17Rs to them. RE-71Rs are the go-to tire for time attack, autocross and anyone racing in the rain, and in this application only cost about $125 a tire (which is freaking CRAZY). Realistically I got about an extra inch of much, much sticker contact patch at each corner. Too sticky for the chassis, it seems. So, I think I'm going to dial back the tires to something less aggressive, (like Firehawk Indy 500s or Bridgestone S-04s) or put some REs on my stock wheels for track days.
I like grip, but I have too much of a good thing.
Rough Cost: $450
I'm good. It doesn't rub anywhere and it's hard enough. I'll take that money and put it into track days. Thanks, though.
Rough Cost: $0
I want 200hp wheel. I think that's possible without going nuts. I know there are folks out there going for 300+ hp out of this engine and all. That seems silly. A car that weighs this much, 200hp should be fine. I feel like it can be done the Bisi way, but eliminating inefficiencies in the stock system. I'm, basically, looking for 50hp. That should be easy, right?
I've just doomed myself.
Rough Cost: $Terrifyingly Higher Than I’ve Likely Considered
Still, that's what I want. There's some aesthetic stuff I need to take care of, like my headlights (which are yellowed) and maybe some new stripes because mine are all faded, and new rubber trim (because cracking)but nothing really crazy on that front. I’m not trying to make the car look super new, just better.
Pray for me.