New York Times: MINIs instant collectible

(from New York Times):
… Everything is limited edition these days, including the Uniqlo T-shirt I wore the other day. When carmakers label something as limited edition, it typically means they’ve added leather and slapped on some chrome badging to spark sales in the middle of a model cycle … Could the Mini Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit (its official name) be different? It was a purpose-built racer that came with a better suspension and brakes. Engine modifications bumped power to 218 horsepower. There were no rear seats (for weight reduction). Production was limited to 2,000, and 415 were allotted to the United States.
In two years, the GP Kit, according to my friend, had become a collector’s item. “People bought them and stored them in their garage,” …

UPDATE: See comments on the MotoringFile post for this same story

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Pros and Cons of a GP

An interesting discussion on MINI2, asking for comparisons between an R56 MCS and an R53 GP – with a great summary from Fin (re-posted with permission):

For:
The looks are stunning. Seeing a picture of a GP does not, I feel, do it justice. The whole stance of the car looks like it needs to constantly be restrained to stop it speeding off. Whenever I take the car out people admire it, underestimate it, and respect it.

Driving. The whole set up of the car is spot on. You can purchase an R56 S, R56 S JCW and I don’t think there would be much in it against the GP in terms of pace. From what I have read the new cars have excellent mid range punch like the GP. But the whole set up of the GP is just so focused on its purpose; I have never driven a car like it before. I don’t think we will see it again until they do and R56 GP.

Noise. When sat cruising on the motorway the GP will keep noise down to civilised levels. But when you take it to the redline the supercharger absolutely screams, and mixed with the rumble of the exhaust, removed sound damping, and huge area for the sound to resonate….. its like the Cooper S on steroids in surround stereo. It is one of my favourite traits of the car, one I feel I would miss in the R56.

Exclusivity. You do not, and will not see many of these around. I see probably 10 MINIs a day around where I live, none of them are a GP.

Boot space. No rear seats allows a decent amount of room.

Fuel economy. It is only by the skin of its teeth that the GP gets a positive here, and it comes with a caveat. I use my GP as my main car. On motorway journeys from 70-75 mph in 6th, the GP will cruise with quite acceptable fuel consumption.

Residual value. So far they have been strong and hopefully will remain so.

Against:
Fuel economy. It has to be mentioned again here because it is not good around town or when you are driving it how it is meant to be driven.

Tax. It is £210 this year going up to £300 next year as the government pretend to do something about global warming.

The car does not come with an alarm as standard.

You have to be very careful over speed bumps as it is pretty low!

It is difficult for me to remain unbiased in my assessment of the GP, as is to be expected. But I feel I have been pretty fair.

Fin is based in England, but the fuel economy comments are becoming more relevant in USA too – my GP is reasonable (high 20s for town driving), but the R56 I drove for a few weeks got low 30s on the same routes (maybe 15% better). Of course, if you only care about mpg, an R56 Cooper will be your best choice!

I totally agree with Fin’s comments about looks, driving, and sound … after 25,000 miles my GP is still a thrill to drive 🙂