It was tantalizingly close yet not to be. In 2012 MINI was hard and work finalizing the JCW GP Coupe. Based on the excellent F56 JCW GP, the Coupe version promised greater rigidity in a package with more downforce (or perhaps less lift depending on who you talk to). Yet at the last moment BMW pulled the plug on the program well into development. What happened? We wanted to find out.
Throughout the spring of 2012 we had seen GP Coupe in prototype form roaming the streets of Bavaria looking ready to launch sometime in 2013. Based on the R56 hatch GP, the Coupe would have been an interesting product. Yet there were differing opinions within MINI as the point of the car. With less weight loss than the R56 hatch based GP (which loses two seats that are already gone in the Coupe), the GP Coupe wouldn’t have seen a weight difference over the standard JCW. Further the second generation GP was saddled with a power train that output barely more than the standard JCW. It’s reason to be was about weight, suspension, brakes and aero.
Ultimately MINI made the decision because there wasn’t enough differentiation between the two and they were concerned that the market may have been saturated by the just released R56 JCW GP. And perhaps more to the point it would have made the R56 JCW GP less special and hurt values almost immediately.
In retrospect however it was a missed opportunity. With MINI moving away from niche cars like the coupe, the JCW GP Coupe would have been not just the best performance MINI at the time but an incredibly rare and interesting product years later. We believe the R58 as a MINI is set to become one of the more sought after second-hand MINIs in the years ahead and will ultimately be one of the more rare body styles ever produced.
How close was the R58 JCW GP Coupe to being produced? Sources tell us the engineering was done and ready to go before being killed by executives. Which leads us to the question – are there any left in BMW’s vaults? While the engineering mules were likely all destroyed, there’s always a good chance that one or two might be lingering somewhere in the archives.