The last flourish of the R53 Mini Hatchback (2001-2006) was the Mini Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit.
The car was built at the Mini Plant in Cowley (Oxford) as a "Body in White" vehicle before being shipped to Bertone in Italy for assembly, hand finishing and painting in its rather fetching “Thunder Blue”.
The light-weight, quasi-race-prepped John Cooper Works model was fitted with a list of goodies that wouldn’t look out of place on a race car.
It was limited to a production run of 2000 cars during the 2006 model year, with only 444 of those intended for the UK market.
The Brazilian built Tritec Engine (Jointly developed between BMW and Chrysler) was tuned to produce 218 BHP and 245Nm of Torques, which propel the GP from 0-62mph in under 6.5secs.
To help tame the extra BHP from the Eaton supercharged Tritec engine, the GP features a larger Intercooler over the Cooper S, and a Limited Slip Differential.
On the outside the GP differs itself with some cosmetic and more purposeful body tweaks.
The “Thunder Blue” paint was exclusive to the GP and is not available on any other Mini or BMW, and the Chilli Red mirror covers and contrasting Pure Silver roof finish the GP off nicely.
The remodelled front bumper, rear bumper, side skirts, under-body panelling and carbon fibre boot spoiler all help improve aerodynamics, and the exclusive lightweight 18” alloy wheels and JCW brakes ensure it handles and stops as well as it looks.
A common upgrade for even more stopping power is to fit the R56 John Cooper Works Brake Kit featuring Brembo callipers and 316mm discs.
The standard steel R53 rear-axle trailing arms were also removed and replaced with lighter stiffer aluminium units.
The rear screen’s rear wiper was also deleted to save more weight.
On the inside the weight saving continues with the removal of the rear bench seat.
In place of the rear seats; a flat loading platform and an aluminium strut brace is fitted.
Comfort is not comprised for the driver by the addition of Recaro heated leather seats which feature adjustable thigh support and hug you like a seat should.
The car also has cruise control – an essential feature when you’re going for a fast lap of the Nordschleife !
The 3-spoke leather sports multifunction steering wheel looks after the radio and cruise control as well as helping you point the car around the next bend.
Each car is individually numbered 0-2000 with the number proudly displayed on the roof and dashboard.
There is a thriving club scene based in the UK with members from around the world.
One of the most notable features on the GP2 is the aero kit and rear diffuser (which actually reduce drag by six per cent).
As with the end of the R53 run GP1, the end of run R56 GP2 benefitted from a list of changes to turn it into a serious hot hatch.
New and somewhat troublesome and contraversial adjustable-ride-height coilover suspension (with inverted dampers at the front) provide a more "racetrack" stance.
Massive six-piston calipers and 330mm front discs ensure that you can ripple the tarmac when planting your foot on the anchors.
GP-specific and super-sticky trackday tyres from Kumho provide grip in perfect conditions, in less than perfect conditions people have been known to talk about them with rather fruity language.
Reconfigured stability control functions including a more aggressive Electronic Differential Lock Control provide extra fun in the handling department.
As with the GP1 the rear seats have been deleted.
Unlike the GP1 the GP2 was built entirely in house at the Mini plant in Cowley, Oxford.