R53 MINI parts are becoming scarce. It had to happen sooner or later. It’s been 9 years since the last supercharged MINI rolled off the lot and a full 17 years since they began selling them. With almost a decade since those cars, the parts and accessories that many of us have used to customize our cars (or simply keep them on the road) are starting becoming scarce and in some cases completely extinct.
In a quest to refresh and upgrade a 2003 MINI which was acquired last year, reader John McLauchlan encountered an increasing (and frustrating) list of parts no longer available from MINI. We already knew some of the most desirable niche accessories (JCW wings, leather dash, and leather steering wheels for example) have been gone for quite a while. But that list has grown. For instance after much searching, John just purchased the very last brand new R50-R53 JCW steering wheel in the world (thanks to Way Motor Works).
But even more concerning are other items now no longer available (NLA in the MINI system). The aero body kit for one. There are thousands of these on the road, but if you ding a front or rear bumper, you are out of luck. There are none left. Aero side skirts just ran out of supply in November. We’ve confirmed through multiple sources that these are now gone forever.
Own a 2006 GP? Forget about ever replacing your suspension springs. They are gone, and never to be produced again. Other unique GP parts are becoming incredibly scarce as well.
Time brings change and we either live with that change or live entirely in the past. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to suddenly stop driving or wanting an R53. And it certainly doesn’t mean mean that this lack of parts availability isn’t frustrating. There are a growing number of us (author included) who has begun to casually look at 2006 examples of JCW MINIs as a classic car worthy of garage space. But the days of easily modifing with JCW factory parts out d at dealers seem over.
Perhaps even more alarming – what do we do when there is a minor incident and need to replace a bumper? What parts will be next to go NLA forever?
This problem isn’t new to BMW. They have been supporting BMW enthusiasts for years with special reproductions and even 3D printed parts of classic cars. In fact the number of parts available for my 1976 BMW 2002 has increased noticeably over the past few years.
The good news is that BMW Classic (responsible for this support) has officially taken MINI under its wings and will begin to support the brand in a similar way. What that means is unknown but during my tour last year at the BMW Classic facilities I saw several classic Minis being restored and one R53 in the queue ready for work.
For now however the R50/R53 enthusiast is going to have to get crafty. There are plenty of aftermarket sources (and some sources of the original products like the OEM Valeo) that have stock still.
Let’s hear from you? Have you had trouble finding parts of your first generation new MINI? Sound off in the comments below.
Reader John McLauchlan contributed to this report