R50 & R53 MINI Parts are Becoming Scarce

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

  • Christopher Johnson

    This is a big issue for those of us with R53 era cars. This past March I swapped my 06 R52 for a decked out 06 JCW R53. One reason I paid a premium (according to the internet) for this one was the presence of parts I cannot replace. Most notable are the JCW wing, full aero kit, and apparent now the CF boot handle.

    After picking the car up, I noticed it didn’t have the upper aero grill or the black plastic aero kit fog light surrounds. Finding the upper grill was straight forward, Outmotoring had one, but a week prior the fog surrounds went NLA. After calling dealers across the country, I was finally able to find a set from Kennesaw MINI. They had 3 sets. If I had more $$ I’d start buying backup items that are sure to be NLA soon: CF hood scoop, CF mirror covers, etc.

    The car has a JCW (alcantara) wheel that needs to be installed and euro (clear indicator) tail lights sitting on a shelf. Other items I would like to get are a complete Se7en piano black interior (also NLA), GP car cover (required due to the wing – on perpetual backorder), JCW suspension (my car has a sunroof so the rear springs are NLA), and (Most Annoyingly NLA) old JCW logo wheel caps.

    Yes I am lucky to have what I have, but more pain is coming. Look at the price of a replacement set of OEM rubber door seals (over $300), I bet those go NLA soon.

    As much as I love my new JCW, I also love driving cars and it bothers me constantly to know I can’t replace my bumpers should something bad happen. I have even thought about going to get a fiberglass mold made so I could have unlimited fiberglass replacements.

    R53life

    • John McLauchlan

      Hi Chris, yes the struggle is real. Glad you’ve been able to find a few items. Patience is key.

      Speaking of, here the old style JCW center caps (while supplies last!):

      https://www.northamericanmotoring.com/forums/mini-parts-for-sale/321898-john-cooper-works-wheel-caps-old-logo-style.html

      • Christopher Johnson

        Thanks for the heads up, I got a set just in case they fit, but these decals are 52mm vs the 50mm original caps for my wheels. I think these are decals for the R95 wheel caps vs. the caps used on the R90s I have. Still, hopefully more people/places will start doing reproduction old JCW stuff.

        • John McLauchlan

          Thank you for the tip on the fog light covers. Just purchased their last pair.

  • Nick Dawson

    Sourcing replacement body parts will be the least of our problems, especially for Classic car lovers like me. From 2025, we can expect the internal combustion engine to become progressively outlawed. I anticipate that there will an upsurge in companies providing electric conversion kits for Classic cars.

    http://media.jaguar.com/news/2017/09/jaguar-e-type-zero-most-beautiful-electric-car-world?q=&start=0&brand=jaguar

    • The idea of the combustion engine being outlawed in the US is laughable. While they will eventually go away in terms of offering from car makers, outlawing the 10s of millions of cars on the roads and in garages will not happen this century (and probably next).

      • Nick Dawson

        Expect restrictions as to when and where combustion engined cars may be used. In some countries already, old cars can only be driven on alternative weekends.

  • Kevin Bartlett

    Having just picked up a 06 R53 JCW too this is a concern for me as well. I think there are enough aftermarket parts in essential areas to ensure I can keep my car roadworthy. But the non-essentials are going to be a problem. I hope BMW Classics steps up as Gabe has indicated they have for older BMW’s but even if they don’t the 3D printing capability may help for many small to medium sized parts.

    I’d be concerned about engine parts though, as a car with an engine not used in any other platform the ongoing support for those parts will be a problem too.

    I guess enjoy the cars as much as we can while we can…..time marches on. Electric may phase out gas, autonomous may phase out driving.

  • Aaron Cornaby

    What I have found is that the JCW products or those that were upgrades/accessories are now rapidly becoming NLA. In the last year we have seen the full Aero body kit including front and rear bumpers, and side skirts become NLA. Before that it was the JCW rear spoiler and rear Carbon Fiber boot handle and the steering wheel. So, yes the cool, upgrade stuff is going away or already gone but basic repair and replacement parts are still readily available. But gone are the days of buying a gen1 MINI and adding the Aero body kit or any of the other items noted. They are simply gone until some one decides to buy the molds from MINI or make replicas; which is common with other makes and models with similar or higher production volumes.

    Owner of http://www.OutMotoring.com

    • John McLauchlan

      Aaron, thanks for your help recently in researching availability of several parts. You are totally correct, it’s primarily the after-sales accessories which are becoming NLA.

      You recall MINI once referred to this as “Youification”. Customizing and making the car your own is a big part of the ownership experience. This has become a little bit harder for owners of the R50-R53 cars.

  • mike

    Niche items like JCW accessories will be harder, if not impossible to find. Simple things like bumpers and trim? If you own a “classic” car, or anything 10 years old you have got to be comfortable with sourcing used parts. Craigslist and eBay have your back. Don’t be afraid of used, its just a matter of fact that this may be your only option. I just replaced my JCW rear bumper and had it shipped from NY to midwest for $400, and it was mint.

    Btw, if anyone wants a Chili Red JCW convertible with MC40 treatment, let me know 😉 It MIGHT be for sale.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6275e2d84241973894eb3dc8d9903183b4d01c53084fcf050d1e499ef5cb8816.jpg

  • CMMC_Steve

    I have a set of Gabe Bridger R50 side skirts sitting in my garage waiting to become collectors items 😉

  • ZR

    No surprise here. As a previous Motoring Advisor, I’m no stranger to ordering parts for restoration on my ’06 R53. Sadly, my dealer is no more… but that’s best saved for another discussion.

    At one point while ordering parts for a friend who also has a 2006 R53, I noticed the price for the door seals had more than quadrupled from the price I paid when I replaced my own. They briefly came back down, but it looks like @disqus_x5oVo8pxiM:disqus has noticed they’ve gone back up. I luckily replaced mine when they were still about $60 ea.

    My R53 is here to stay, though – it’s a special car, a modern classic if you will, that is very much so an extension of myself, and I’ve built it as such. I’ve been lucky enough to own two of my dream cars in my lifetime – the first was the 2013 GP2, and the second is my R53. Of course, I have others, but to acquire others would require getting rid of my R53… and that’s not going to happen.

    • b-

      How many miles did your car have when you needed to replace the seals? My 2005 R52 has around 78000 miles and mine seem to be holding exceptionally but it obviously doesn’t see that much time out of the garage and is never winter driven.

      • ZR

        Mine had about 50k on it at that time. I had just acquired the car and wanted to replace all the rubber seals I could to ensure that water intrusion wouldn’t happen for a long, long time.

        The car had also sat outside at some point and had collected a lot of crud in the door jambs and seals, and the lower door pinch weld area had some rust starting. So I wanted to start fresh with a clean seal that had no rust particles, too.

        • b-

          Thanks, mine was pretty clean when I picked it up in 2010 and have averaged 1000 miles/year so I expect it to last a good long time.

  • veggivet

    Well, sounds like it’s time to buy another R53 as a parts car for my track beast.

  • Nick Dawson

    In this week’s Autocar magazine – in its usual 6 page Used Car section – there is the following question from a reader:

    Q. I want you to buy a first-gen BMW MINI Cooper. Is there anything to look out for?

    A. The older models need a bit of money spending on them. Due to owner neglect, there are scrappy ones around. Check the brakes, central locking motors, suspension track rod ends, power-steering pump, exhaust back box …. plus the alternator might have gone by now and is not cheap to replace.