MotoringFile Spotlight: Ian Cull

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This is the first article in a series that will feature some prominent MINI owners, what type of MINI they have, what kind of personal stamp they've put on it, and why they've done it all. Our first owner featured is Ian Cull.

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p>Ian is the founder and editor of GBMINI.net, overall pillar of the MINI community and proud JCW MINI Cooper S owner. So without further delay – Ian, what have you got on your MINI?

My MINI Cooper S (GBMINI) was optioned with manual a/c, 16″ wheels  and no sunroof. It also had Xenon headlights, front fog lights, the Harmon Kardon upgrade with steering wheel controls …

Exterior

The front & rear bumpers and wheel arches were removed and sent to Sublime Restorations; the black textured trim was sanded smooth and painted to match the Indi Blue body colour. The side skirts were replaced with painted aero kit ones (I even had a front plate bracket painted to match). Problem of waxing the car eliminated!

Driving Lights
When I first saw a MINI with the dealer installed driving lights fitted to the front, it made the car look perfect – I had them on my first MINI Cooper and even though they are rarely needed for driving where I live, I had them fitted to the MINI Cooper S also. At nearly $700 they are an expensive decoration but I think they are worth it. The official MINI ones are smaller than many aftermarket lights and I think they match the car much better!

The Union Jack Roof
I had seen and been disappointed with the official MINI Union Jack roof decal – I wanted one that covered to the edges of the roof. I ordered a full roof decal from Cooperflags, but I had terrible problems with the installation; also I was not impressed with the dull colors (something that Cooperflags has since fixed).

I chose to have a Union Jack painted on the roof, using official MINI Indi Blue and Chili Red colors – the result was “awesome”, especially when the many clearcoats glow in the sun after a recent waxing!

John Cooper Signatures
From eBay, I got some “John Cooper” signature decals which overlay the bonnet stripes; I also got a chrome John Cooper badge from a British company for the back of the car. Nice extras, not too over-the-top.

Interior

The Stereo System
My original MINI Cooper has the stock (“Boost”) stereo system which I found to be lacking, especially in the rear speakers. But after replacing the rear speakers with aftermarket MB Quarts, I was much happier with the sound. In fact, when my MINI Cooper S came in with the Harmon Kardon upgraded sound, I was disappointed – it seemed to be less “full” than the old upgraded car. I decided to scrap the Harmon Kardon system and go aftermarket!

I first replaced the head unit and installed a Kenwood Keg (a 20GB hard drive MP3 storage device); the aftermarket Kenwood head unit can display the track / album / artist details. To upgrade the rest of the system, I had Tweeter install new speakers and an amplifier. Unfortunately this was another failure and the resulting sound was dreadful, with engine noise pickup and minimal bass (due, it turned out, to crossed speaker wiring). After many weeks of negotiation, the Tweeter system was ripped out and refunded. Today, I am still not happy with the sound system, but at least there is no engine noise.

Other Tweaks
I have a Lapis Blue gear shift boot and handbrake boot to match the Lapis Blue interior. I also have the ESSENTIAL Hot Pocket (for extra storage between the down tubes) and Glove Box organizer. In the trunk I have the MINI Boot box and Saddle bags (not very useful additions!) Finally I have homemade auto-up front windows.

The Works
I recently upgraded GBMINI with the John Cooper Works 200hp engine package. It definitely makes the MINI Cooper S more keen, although it also makes my DSC work harder. On public roads, the base MINI Cooper S engine is probably sufficient – but I like my MINI to be the best that it can be!

I justified the extra cost of the JCW upgrade against aftermarket upgrades based on the solid warranty, and the badges! Other people may be less worried about their warranty, or may not care about having an “official” upgrade. Personally, peace of mind is worth the extra. I also believe that when it comes time to sell, my John Cooper Works upgraded MINI will sell more easily than an aftermarket upgraded MINI, which some buyers will be wary of.

A big thanks to Ian for taking the time to participate in the first article of this series.