MINI Debadging – Creating Stealth and Subtlety

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In 2001 when the MINI One and Cooper were introduced to the world it was clear that BMW had done it right. No we’re not talking about the cars (although clearly they nailed that too). We’re talking about the brand identity and typography associated with it. Modern with a hint of tradition about it, the MINI brand and the Cooper mark on the cars was spot-on in our opinion. Then we started seeing R53 test mules with the same “Cooper” type design with a (gasp) gaudy and played-out “S” tacked on to it. Our first thought – we hoped we’d see revisions before production. Alas that was not to be the case and we’ve been trying to remove that italicized and stretched red “S” ever since.

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Fast forward to 2014 and now MINI has integrated that same “S” into the front grill itself. The idea makes sense and harkens back to vintage British cars. But it doesn’t excuse the fact that the “S” itself is as eye-rolling a design today as it was in 2002. What’s a owner with taste in typography to do? De-Badge.

Traditionally de-badging has been something that high-end luxury car owners would do (ordered from the factory) in order to make pricey and/or fast cars less of a statement that they might not want to make. In today’s world it’s also seen as a way to clean up the aesthetic of a car (case in point a de-badged Countryman or Paceman).

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De-Badging How-To

On the Metal

For all badging on the metal itself the process is very simple. We’ve typically recommended using dental floss or fishing wire and gently (and carefully) sawing back and forth behind the plastic letters. This cuts them away from the foam adhesive that binds them to the metal. From there simply use Goo-Gone (or equivalent to remove the remainder. If you’ve got it, using a clay bar to even out the surface of the metal isn’t a bad idea either.

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On the Grill (2014 + Countryman & Paceman / F56 / F55)

Here’s where things get interesting. In 2014 all of MINI’s Cooper S models began incorporating an “S” on the front grill. Despite appearances this is actually a separate piece that can be taken off. You’ll need small hands, a tiny flat-head screw-driver and patience.

Don’t worry if you break one of the attaching clips in removal as it’s a cheap part if you ever want to put it back on. While we’ve only removed the “S” from the Countryman/Paceman grille, the F56 grille seems be attached in the exact same way. The “S” moves around if you wiggle it and you can tell it’s not permanently attached.

Note: De-badging is relatively easy. Re-badging is not.

  • Cone Assassin

    On the topic of re-badging, any good leads on replacing MC40 vinyls?

  • pw4

    Deletion of the rear badge, on R5x at least, is a no cost option if you’re buying new. And, of course, the side indicator scuttles with the S are easily changed.

  • Porthos1984

    What about the MINI badge? One simply doesn’t debadge the MINI badge.

    • Chris Harte

      Because there are holes underneath.

  • Geepers

    I think the issue is with owners adding badges rather than de-badging. You see people buying M badges and Cooper badges to standard cars all the time to make like they’ve got the more expensive model.

  • RacerX

    The front “S” on the 2015 Countryman and Paceman models is removable, however on the F55/F56, it is part of the grille itself. You may be able to remove the actual red/chrome “S”, but the outline of where it mounts to will still be part of the grille. At least that is what I see from looking at it closely. While the R60/R61 front S moves, the F55/F56 does not.

    • http://instagram.com/gabrielbridger Gabriel Bridger

      This is what I thought too but Todd swears you can take it off.

      • RacerX

        I initially thought so as well, but I just tried to see how it could be removed and it looks like the base is molded into the black grille insert. :(

    • Warren Vegas

      Going the opposite way – how does one purchase the front S for a Countryman/Paceman?