MINI Cooparu: The Most Incredible Project You Didn't Know About
This once humble Gen 1 Cooper is now a totally different animal.
If like me you spend more time than you care to admit scrolling through your various owners groups and Facebook and DT, you'll no doubt have come across some incredibly impressive and equally weird stuff. However amongst all the silly wings and ridiculous alloys, laid something that caught my eye. Those of you that have been daft enough to follow my feed will know I'm something of a Mini fanboy and what I came across takes the cake in terms of doing something cool - just for the hell of it. One emphatic rally addict named Chris has turned a beat up old MINI into a gravel munching masterpiece - this is how he did it.
Chris and I share more than just a passion for Mini as it turns out he was born only a stones throw away from myself in Derbyshire - small world indeed. Unlike me however, Chris has a breadth of rallying experience and knowledge gained over a lifetime on the scene. From 1987 onwards Chris has lived and breathed a life on the dirt, driving Ford Escorts, Subarus and even an MG Maestro along the way. It wasn't until 2012 though, after the death of a rather brilliant Suzuki Swift that he decided it was time to have a crack at rallying a Mini.
Apologies for the watermark.
Chris has lived all over the world in his years, but at this time was living in Costa Rica. After finding this particular Cooper, a little work was done to ensure it was ready to tackle the worst Costa Rica could throw at it and shipped out in time for the 2013 season. After a rocky start, the car took second place in the championship in 2014 with none other than the man who had built it behind the wheel. This was down to a 50% DNF, something that can only be expected when dealing with an early model featuring the Midlands box (if you know, you know). The car did have a serious blip at the end of the season though, requiring a rebuild after what can only be described as a slight tumble...
This didn't take away from the fact that the new Mini, like it's less German ancestor is a brilliant rally package. As Chris said - when the Mini was running, they were winning. A 100% DNF in 2015 signalled it was high time for a full rebuild. This didn't come cheap but after 3 years and a lot of hard work, Chris and the Mini were back for 2018 having cut the DNF by half to 50%. Though this was an improvement, it was decided that enough is enough - the faulty parts had to go.
In order to make the car reliable enough to stand a chance at winning, Chris turned back to what he knew worked - Subaru parts. The car was effectively gutted of all it's organs and had some replacements donated from a $4500 Subaru Legacy Outback. The original chassis was mated to some makeshift Mini/Subaru rear subframes whilst the front subframe came straight from the Legacy. This may sound simple on paper, but took some serious engineering prowess from Chris to get working. For those with more technical knowhow than me - feast your eyes.
EBC have supported Chris throughout, supplying brake parts just as fast as he could wear them out.
Once Lockdown ends, Chris hopes to uprate the engine to produce 220hp Naturally Aspirated and add in a super tight short ratio gearbox as well as front and rear limited slip differentials. Once complete I think we can all agree this thing will be a proper monster. Fingers crossed that in 2021, the Cooparu as Chris calls it will be ready to take Costa Rica by storm and start racking up those wins. Cannot wait to see what is achieved by this fantastic little project.
A big thanks to it's creator Chris for providing me with all the juicy details of this quirky little car.