How to Spot and Buy a (R56) JCW
When MINI released the R56 JCW we all groaned at the lack of visual differentiation. And while MINI has eventually fixed that issue with the 2012 models, there are still three years of JCW out there that, for all intents and purposes, don’t look any different than a Cooper S. This is particularly an issue when trying to find one used. I recently had a senior editor of a very large automotive website ask me for help in the JCW quest and I was blown away at how hard the process had become. I told him not to give up because the JCW was definitely the one you’ll want. But it takes patience and just the right amount of arcane MINI knowledge to find a real JCW.
As enthusiasts know, it’s not always easy to look for used cars on the web due to misleading descriptions. Often I leave it up to the photos to tell me the real story about the car. When it comes to the JCW, even that can be tricky. So what’s the secret?
Here are a few MotoringFile approved tips for all those looking at used R56 JCW. Hopefully these help you find the real-deal.
- Look for the wheels. JCWs came with a set of silver 17″ Challenge Spokes until 2010 when black also became optional. However note that I’ve seen more than one used JCW stripped of it’s Challenge Spokes by a previous (and greedy) owner sitting in a car lot.
- The massive red calipers of the Brembo four pot JCW brakes should be peeking through the front wheels. You can differentiate these from the aftermarket as they are the shape of the MINI wing logo. Although its worth noting dealers sell these as kits that easily bolt onto any R5X MINI.
- The JCW grille badge should be placed on the lower left side of the lower front grille. Around back there should be no mention of the word “Cooper”. Instead just a surf-board shaped JCW badge on the right side of the boot.
- Inside there should be a cheap looking plastic checkered flag sticker stuck to the right side of the dashboard. Surprisingly it’s legit.
- From 2008 to 2010 the red shift pattern was exclusive on the JCW.
- From 2011 on JCW offered a chili red roof on all R55 and R56 JCWs. Take rates have been low but it’s an easy way to spot a thoughtfully appointed JCW.
- From 2011 on JCW offered exclusive dark background gauges that make the interior much more distinctive (especially given MINI’s goal speedometer).
In the years ahead one of the most frustrating things used JCW shoppers will find is the proliferation of the JCW Pack. In 2011 MINI starting offering what they call the JCW Package which adds the JCW Aerokit, above mentioned Challenge wheels, JCW door sills and even the shift knob with the red shift pattern.
Why did they offer the look of the JCW without the go? It was a business case issue. Because JCWs hadn’t sold in the numbers they hoped for (perhaps because there was no visual differentiation) MINI couldn’t rely on JCW sales alone to make adding the aero-kit to the factory profitable.
And all of this meant another thing – depreciation. Yet the fact that JCWs don’t hold their value is a boon to anyone looking for one on the used car market. In fact the more I looked and the more I got into it, I realized that a used R56 JCW is probably one of the best used car buys for the enthusiast today. If you can find a real one.
Written By: Gabe
Sort by MINI model
- MINIUSA Recalls 92,000 MINIs for Airbag Faults
- World Premier: The 2015 F56 MINI 210 Challenge Edition
- 2015 MINI John Cooper Works: First Drive Live On Periscope
- We Have the F55 MINI Four Door For a Week – What Do you Want to Know?
- Cross-Shopping the F56 JCW with the MkVII Golf R
- MF Garage: Snow & Ice vs the Cooper S (In Praise of Plastic)
- Woofcast #547: Travel Like A Wad Of Cash To The Safe
- MINI Worldwide Sales Up 39% In March 2015
- The Future Of The Auto Industry In One Chart
- The BMW Startup Garage
MotoringFile on Instagram
- BMW Team RLL Makes a Dramatic Return to the Top at Long Beach
- World Preview: The All-New BMW 7 Series
- 10 Things You Should Know About Your M4
- BMW Debuts Aluminum Tank for the R nineT
- BMW Worldwide Sales Up 5% In March 2015
- The Future Of The Auto Industry In One Chart
- BMW Group DesignworksUSA Renamed To Designworks
- The 2016 BMW 3 Series LCI Lighting Rendering
- BMW Group Classic At Techno Classica 2015
- Rumor: The Next BMWi Product Will be a Sedan
- Vespa Updates the GTV, Adds ABS and ASR
- Recommended Scooters from Just Gotta Scoot
- Kickstart This: Sit Stay Ride 2 – Sidecar Dogs Return
- Police in Barcelona Adopt Fleet of BMW C Evolution Electric Scooters
- New Illinois Law Could Require Motorcycle Awareness Training in Driver’s Ed
- Genuine Unveils New Roughhouse Titanium Special Edition
- AACA Museum Features “Motorbikes for the Masses”
- Piaggio Group Recalls 2,600 Vespas For Faulty Fuel Pumps
- Video: 2015 Vespa GTS 300 ABS Wins Midsize Scooter Shootout
- Two Tiny Vespas That Make a Big Impression
MINI Model Cheat Sheet
R50: One & MC Hatch
R52: All 1st Gen MINI Convt.
R53: MCS Hatch
2nd Gen MINI
R60: MINI Crossover
R61: MINI Crossover Coupe
3rd Gen MINI
F55: Five Door Hatch
F60: MINI Crossover
Advertise with MotoringFile
MotoringFile Buyers GuidesR50 ('02-'06 MC) Buyers Guide
R53 ('02-'06 MCS) Buyers Guide
'12 JCW Coupe
'11 Fiat 500 Sport
'11 Tesla Roaster 2.5 '11 Countryman Comparo
'11 Cooper S Hatch
'11 Countryman MCS (FWD)
'11 Countryman MC (auto)
'10 Mayfair MCS (auto)
'11 Countryman MCS (ALL4)
'10 MINI E
'10 Tesla Roadster Sport
'09 Cooper S Convertible
'09 JCW Hatch
'09 JCW Clubman
JCW Stage I vs JCW Stage II
'08 Clubman S (Auto)
1st Drive: '08 MINI Clubman
'08 Smart Fourtwo
Comparison: '08 BMW 135i
'06 R53 MCS vs '07 R56 MCS
'07 R56 JCW (Stage 1)
'07 MINI Cooper S Long Term
'07 BMW Z4 M Coupe
'07 MINI Cooper & Cooper S
Audio: '07 MC/MCS at the Track
'06 JCW GP Long term
Reader Review: JCW GP
'06 JCW Cooper S Long Term
Comparison: '06 Lotus Elise
Comparison: '06 Mazda MX5
Comparison: '06 UK Focus ST
Comparison: '06 Civic Si
Comparison: '04 TVR T350
Comparison: '06 Nissan 350z
Comparison: '06 VW GTI w/DSG
Podcast: Cooper S Auto
Podcast: BMW 325i
Podcast: JCW MC Soundkit
'04 JCW MINI Cooper Tuning Kit
'05 MCS: One Month Review
'05 MCS Auto
'05 JCW S 1st Drive
'05 MINI Cooper
'05 MCS Conv. Long Term
'05 MINI Cooper S
'05 MCS Cabrio 1st Drive
'04 JCW MCS First Drive
'04 MC w/JCW Tuning Kit
BMW M3 SMG Vs. MCS
'04 MINI Cooper CVT
'02 MCS 3 year Review
Autocrossing the MINI Range