Let’s talk about those JCW GP carbon fiber fenders. A lot of the internet has been focused on the look – which we liked in person. But it’s the construction that’s truly a first for MINI. The fenders are the first factory components (outside of the first two GP wings) that are made from the lightweight and traditionally expensive material.
JCW GP Carbon Fiber: Construction
The fenders aren’t actually full carbon fiber but instead are made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic or CFRP as it’s known in the industry. This isn’t unusual as most carbon fiber bits you see on BMW M cars use this same construction method. The idea is that it both keeps costs down (initial and replacement) as well as creating some flex in the structure which allows for longevity in daily use. Also note the weave on MINI’s CFRP is omnidirection which strengthens the material in all directions.
As we reported four years ago, MINI’s move into the world of carbon fiber has been taking shape for some time. While there was talk about leveraging it for the Cooper SE to reduce weight, the GP ended up being the perfect debut for the material.
Perhaps unsurprisingly MINI decided to leverage BMW’s carbon fiber expertise in producing thermoplastic substructure and carbon fibre-reinforced plastic outer shell. That webbed pattern is known as CFRP fleece, is a refined material that is recycled from the production of the BMW i3 and the BMW i8. Finally the components are produced at the carbon neutral Moses Lake factory in Washington State where BMW produced almost all its carbon fiber components.
JCW GP Carbon Fiber: Functional Design
In talking with the GP’s chief engineer recently, we learned that the boxed fenders are functional in two ways. First they widen the car covering the wider track and larger tires. Second they help air-flow around the car. While the difference they make isn’t dramatic, a MINI going 165mph could use all the air-flow help it can get.
That 2020 number on the side of the car? While it’s obviously not functional, it does employ an interesting production process. The number is individually applied during production using a special method designed for durability and longevity.