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Old 12-30-2009, 10:34 AM   #1
Formerly Snox400
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 505
My Ride: 1999 323i
Advice Needed! - Purchasing a MINI COOPER

Members familiar with the Mini offering, please chime in, thanks!

I'm looking to purchase a used Mini Cooper for the following purposes and with the following objectives:
-Daily driver
-Find most reliable year for standard Mini (no S-version or JCW)
-No performance upgrades will be done
-Prefer manual transmission
-$10,000 budget

I've searched around on the forums and have only come up with this:

I've searched for Mini forums and found a great site, with the following specific article:

I'm still wondering about the following, please consider:

1) Can someone give me rundown on the generations and designations of the modern mini? (ie R53) Or direct me to a good location?

2) What year(s) tended to be some of the better-built cars. My initial searching has revealed to avoid the early 01-03 models, correct? I cannot stress enough that I'm looking for a known trouble-free year.

3) Maintenance will be performed by a shop, not DIY. What are thoughts on going the dealer route, as in a CPO car, versus purchasing independently with or without a remaining factory warranty.

4) Need to locate quality listings. I know Ebay can be great as well as I disaster (heck, I recently had a great first buying experience purchasing a 4.8is). A dealer is an option, albeit more expensive one. Forums might have some quality cars, though are there any deals to be had? What else am I overlooking?

5) How do these cars wear, mileage-wise? Personally, I would be comfortable purchasing an E46 with 60,000 miles as an arbitrary number, but not much more. Can I use the same logic on the Mini brand?

That should keep me busy for now, an comments/insight would be much appreciated! Thank you
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Old 12-30-2009, 01:09 PM   #2
Formerly Snox400
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 505
My Ride: 1999 323i
Update: Found info on #1 above:

"The 1st Generation"
R50: 2001-2006 Mini Cooper
R52: 2002-2006 Mini Cooper Convertible
R53: 2002-2006 Mini Cooper S

"The 2nd Generation"
R55: Mini Cooper Clubman (an extended length version)
R56: 2007-current Mini Cooper & Mini Cooper S
R57: 2007-current Mini Cooper Convertible & Mini Cooper S Convertible

Can some knowledgeable members comment on the others??? Thanks!
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Old 01-02-2010, 10:58 AM   #3
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Montreal
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My Ride: Land Cruiser
Avoid BMW dealer at all costs.
Girlfriend drives one, they tried to charge her $1500 for a MINOR door ding.
Parts are pretty expensive too
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Old 01-02-2010, 11:09 AM   #4
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Posts: 16,309
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Mini no S
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Old 01-02-2010, 02:20 PM   #5
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you must have an S. they are uber fun.

most problems we see up here are: oil pan gasket, NUMEROUS thermostats replaced, every once in a while a water pump, sometimes valve cover gasket. honestly there aren't too many problems with them.
Have a oil or coolant leak? Click here!:
ABS/DSC/Brake/Airbag light on?? Click here!:
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Old 01-06-2010, 10:13 AM   #6
Formerly Snox400
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 505
My Ride: 1999 323i
^ Thanks for the responses so far!

Dealer is most certainly being avoided. Private party is the preferred route with ALL services records.

No S, I know . Its a vehicle for my girlfriend and low maintenance/low cost is a must. It would also put any vehicle out of her budget range.

Currently looking at 2003-2005 models, and avoiding the 2001-2002. Anyone else have comments on years with respect to build quality and problematic areas? That was helpful listing the failed parts by the way 330ciandr6

Also, I'm struggling with the mileage debate. I specified less than 100,000 while looking for the best car possible in order to attempt to avoid serious repairs. Now I'm starting to think this is unrealistic. A common rationale for buying a low-cost, higher mileage car is that you're deferring sinking a lot of money into the initial cost, but setting aside plenty of funds for future maintenance and repairs. Right now, I'm looking for a lower cost car ('03-'05 R50) with 80,XXX but would have a very thin margin for any work on the car in the future. Am I just setting myself up for headaches in the future?

Last edited by jbfrancis3; 01-06-2010 at 10:15 AM.
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