We Just purchased this rare Mini from Trophy Motors in Texas sight unseen because of the current lock down. However the car that rolled off the transport here in Colorado was not the car the dealership described over the phone or in their advertising.
The first-generation Mini John Cooper Works GP is one of the rarest Minis around. With just 2,000 produced globally and only 500 imported into the U.S., you’d be lucky to get your hands on one at all. What’s more, to find the cheapest example for sale in the U.S. at just $13,800, you’d think you would have just scored the bargain of the century. At least, if you’re a serious Mini enthusiast. In this video, we bought this unicorn of a Mini from a Texas dealer, and we’re going to show you exactly what’s unique about it and just how well it’s held up over the past seven years.
In short, it’s a bit of a mess.
The last-generation Mini JCW GP is still an awesome car
Even with the issues Roman covers in the video above, the Mini John Cooper Works GP is a beast of a hot hatch. Mini only produces an extremely limited number every seven years or so, with the latest version just making its debut late last year. Under the hood, our 2013 model has a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine that has its power cranked up to the max. It produces 218 horsepower and 206 lb-ft of torque, which is quite a kick considering the car itself only weighs 2,750 pounds.
With huge front discs and six-piston calipers, it’s also one of the fastest-decelerating hot hatches around. With coilover suspension, aerodynamic tweaks like a unique rear-mounted carbon fiber wing and underbody covers and no rear seats (with Recaro front seats), the Mini JCW GP is a great handling car, as well as a collector’s item.
It’s not exactly low mileage, though
With 57,000 miles on the clock, which is a lot for a seven-year-old GP, you can immediately assume that it’s been ridden hard, and it’s been abused in its short lifetime. And you’d be right — apart from cosmetic issues like the loose headlight surround and wheels that appear to have seen every curb in Texas, it also has no fewer than three indicator lights on.
While the history report shows no accidents, the hood also doesn’t fit right. That suggests it may have had a shunt or two in its life, and these clamshell hoods are tough to realign if they’re not repaired properly (i.e. at a properly-licensed mechanic, which would have likely been reported to an insurance company). Only one of the headlights is actually working, and the tire pressure monitoring light is on as well. The tires are inflated so there’s an issue elsewhere in the system, and the brake warning light is on. The dashboard’s coming up, there’s a large chip in the windshield, and that’s just the start.
On this Mini John Cooper Works GP, it’s important to have proper, high-performance tires to make the most of its power and handling capability. What you don’t want to do is fit the car with Advanta HPZ-01s, an anonymous brand with an even more anonymous looking website. Seriously, go to their website and see if you actually learn anything about these tires or the brand. The brand is a registered trademark of American Pacific Industries out of Scottsdale, Arizona, but other than that there’s little to inspire confidence.
Will this project be a complete money sink?
Now, this is definitely a case of “buyer beware”, by all the issues this Mini has. That said, Roman did buy it for $13,800 and spent a further $500 to ship it here to Colorado. After all the repairs, it may still be a worthwhile investment, as these go between $20,000 and $25,000 when they’re in better shape.
We’ll have this Mini John Cooper Works GP as part of a larger Mini-based series, so stay tuned for more updates coming soon!