Consider this buying guide a living document and what you see here to be version 1.0. While we’ve worked hard to create the basic information, you the reader will be essential in helping us add content where appropriate. One note; you can only leave comments on this introduction post and not the actual “Buyers Guide” page.


The R50 and R53 MINI coupes were watershed products that ushered in a new era of small, sporty premium cars. Beyond that, they also resurrected a brand and changed perceptions of what a small car could do both on the track and in the market place.

They also make great used buys. But there are some important things to remember when shopping for that perfect used MINI. In this buying guide we’ll attempt to get you started down the right path. We’ll look at the cars, their issues and the seemingly constant updates made by MINI throughout the model cycle.

While it’s true the early MINIs had there fair share of issues, they are still very strong cars with little in the way of serious, budget busting potential problems (with one exception we’ll touch on later). They can provide an unequaled out of the box driving experience for a great price and are generally easy and fairly inexpensive to maintain.

That’s not to say that a potential MINI buyer shouldn’t be fully educated in the ins and outs of potential issues. It’s also very beneficial to know what has changed through the years. With this guide we hope to give an overview of what to look for in the way of potential problems and what to look for in terms options and production changes through the years. We won’t be diving into all specific issues but giving a general overview of what to look for and what to avoid.

There’s one rule of thumb when it comes to buying a used R50 or R53 MINI: buy as new as your budget allows. As is the custom for BMW, MINI made quite a few important changes to the first generation MINI coupe throughout it’s lifecycle. The most important happening in the 2005 model year (beginning with July ’04 builds).

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