After a long wait, I recently took delivery of the last customer order Clubman JCW to be delivered in the US. But as you all know buying a MINI is just the start of the journey. Making it your own is what you do for the life of the car. For me that started the day after I picked it up. And after a few weeks it’s finally ready for its official debut.

In my experience the first thing you should start with before any modifications is a vision. What do you want the end result to look and drive like? What’s its intended purpose? And how do you want to feel after you step out from a drive? For me the answer has always been what I call OEM+. In other words what would the engineers at MINI do if they were designing and engineering the car for themselves. Having had countless conversations with the designers and engineers behind the MINI brand, I’ve got some ideas.

The Suspension

The first thing that had to be done was to drop the car. For this I turned to our longtime partner Outmotoring to consult on the right approach given our needs.

The JCW factory ride height.

MINI’s like most modern cars have a tendency to have fairly high suspension set-ups making the relationship between the tires and the body look a bit awkward. Further the tires and wheels are tucked into the body more than is necessary due to various government regulations around the world (looking at you Japan).

While a coil-over set-up can be a great addition to a car (KW for instance), I wanted to keep the ride as stock as possible. Instead I went with the Eibach Pro Kit lower springs which are engineered to work perfectly with the stock shock absorbers while lowering the ride 1.2″ in the front and 1″ in the back. For one the cost dramatically lower which helps given that this is likely not the last suspension change I’ll be making on this car. Second the intent of this Clubman JCW is to be a daily driver and needs to have at least the same comfort as the stock suspension.

Post modifications stance.
Wrenching on your own car is so satisfying

But if you care about there stance, lowering a car only gets you so far. You’ll also want to bring your tires and wheels out a bit so that they line-up flush with the body. For that I went with 12m spacers. As with everything I handled the install myself with MF contributor Ken Endres providing an extra pair of hands. The spring install was relatively straightforward but took some time. The spacers were as simple as taking wheels on and off.

The results are visually stunning. But what’s really exciting is what it does to the handling. Bringing the wheels and tires outward has created a noticeable improvement initial turn-in and a sharpness to the handling that you don’t feel outside of a GP. Perhaps the best part is that there’s been no degradation in ride quality and even issues with scraping the front splitter on my driveway (which can happen on a stock F56 Cooper).

The Big Pair from Cravespeed is almost too pretty to have under the car.

Under-body Bracing

OEM braces in the background, CravenSpeed’s in the foreground.

Next up with increasing torsional rigidity. While MINIs are stiff, all you have to do is look under the car to see where improvements could be made. For this I turned to Cravespeed and their appropriately named Big Pair Chassis Brace. The Big Pair is a beautifully made, highly rigid replacement for the Clubman’s two chassis braces. What makes the Big Pair better? The OEM parts are mass produced stamped steel that are designed to meet a cost threshold and do just enough bracing. The CravenSpeed Big Pair was engineered from the ground up to be as strong as possible while still keeping weight to a minimum. Installation was straightforward and took about 30 minutes in total.

The result is that you limit chassis flex and reduce the twisting motion that you feel when pushing the car in corners. The torsional loading of the chassis is reduced which in turn gives you better steering response, turn-in and even reduces understeer. This coupled with pushing the tires and wheel outward and dropping the car have noticeably improved responsiveness and even steering feel. It all makes you realize how compromised stock components on MINIs can be.

The finish off the suspension and chasis modifications I installed the NM Engineering Rear Sway Bar from our patterns at Neuspeed.

One of the best bangs for your buck you can get, a larger rear anti-sway car helps with body roll management creating a more balanced car at the limit. In many ways this will actually improve handling characteristics as good if not better than suspension modifications. The result is a car that’s more neutral and less prone to the understeer that’s found in all modern MINIs.

Adams Graphene Ceramic Coating was a straightforward install with excellent results.

Finally I added Adam’s Ceramic coating as a way to properly seal the car for daily driver duties. I had considered having it professionally done but I’ve always been curious about the process and decided to give it a go myself. As it turns out it’s time consuming (especially to properly prep) but not at all hard to do. And the results are absolutely stunning. It might not have the depth as the best carnauba waxes but its ability to protect for years (Adams claims 9 years but we hear half that) is unrivaled. If you’re handy at detailing, I’d highly recommend giving it a try.

For those curious I had considered Xpel PPF which I previous done on another one of my cars but ultimately decided against it. This is likely an unpopular opinion but cost vs the MSRP of the Clubman JCW just doesn’t compute for me. It’ll be easy to regret later of course.

With that our first round of mods are done. But this is just the start. There are a couple of other subtle changes that I’ve made already (can you spot them?) we’ll be covering soon. And there’s more to come all following the OEM+ philosophy.

A huge thanks are in order to our partners at Outmotoring, Cravenspeed and NM Engineering for their support on the first round of modifications. And an especially big shoutout to Aaron at Outmotoring for his guidance over the past months throughout the MINI aftermarket world. Finally if you’re brand is interested in us review your products shoot us a DM on Instagram or email us at info@motoringfile.com. We’re evaluating a second round of ideas as we speak.

We’d also love to hear about your mods. What have you done to your MINI that you’ve loved? Let us know in the comments.

Now it’s time to drive it.