Buster the MINI Cooper’s upgrades and mods

One of the really fun things about owning a MINI Cooper is that mods and upgrades are not only encouraged, they are pretty much expected. There are tons of ideas online and people are adding to them all the time. I did not purchase Buster with the intent on doing this, but the more I found out the further I wanted to go. While not a complete list, here are some of the changes I have made.

Painted calipers red on MINI Cooper

Painted calipers red

A time consuming but cheap and easy mod is to paint the brake calipers. Only a few of the MINI Coopers out there have red calipers from the factory so I thought this would be neat. I found a brush on bright red caliper paint at my local auto parts store for a reasonable amount. The brush on I felt was better as I did not have to remove the caliper or mask everything off. I simply removed the wheel and started painting. It adds a nice little splash of red to the side view which matches the red in the S on the side scuttles.

Replaced side scuttle lights with blacked out versions on MINI Cooper

Replaced side scuttle lights with blacked out versions

Here I have replaced the side scuttle lights with blacked out versions. For some reason this is not commonly done on MINI Coopers. I looked at several different ways to black out the existing lights but they all looked a little, ummmm, terrible. Sure they looked fine from a distance but up close it was pretty bad. These were available online from several MINI Cooper aftermarket suppliers and used smoked plastic for the cover of the light. It is a complete light assembly ready to clip in. I figured for the $80 or so I spent on it plus maybe five minutes installing both of them, it was a deal. It looks like it came from MINI Cooper that way  even from inches away. Yes, you can still clearly see the blinking light.

Installed carbon fiber door handle covers on MINI Cooper

Installed carbon fiber door handle covers

I really did not like the chrome door handles that MINI Coopers have, but unfortunately even with the exterior piano black option kit they only had chrome handles. I looked around and found these carbon fiber covers on eBay specifically made for MINI Coopers. These are covers, not stickers, and are actual carbon fiber. They are made in such a way as they “clip” over and “snap” onto the handles. To make sure they do not come off they include some 3M heavy duty double sided tape. I think they really help complete the blacked out look.

Installed side stripes and tinted reflector covers on MINI Cooper

Installed side stripes and tinted reflector covers

These pictures show two thing; the obvious addition of side stripes and the blackening of the front and rear side reflectors. The stripes were purchased off of eBay (made for the MINI Cooper Countryman) and were the only ones I installed myself. I won’t be doing that again, they look great at a distance. Even with my less than stellar installation I think they really help the side profile look a lot more sporty. Since MINI Coopers do not have a side stripe option from the factory (at least not when I asked), this had to do.

The blackening of the reflectors may not be too obvious but if you look at the orange reflector in the front and red reflector in the rear, both in the black area surrounding the wheel well, you will note that even though the lower picture was shot in brighter light, the reflectors are far darker. This is because I installed some specialized tint tape that was cut to fit over them. These were very cheap and since they were precut, very easy to install. The effect is to keep the wheel well covers all black yet allowsing the reflectors to still work at night when light hits them.

Radar detector and dash camera installation in MINI Cooper

Radar detector and dash camera installation

Among the earliest additions were my radar detector (purely for safety reasons of course) and a dash camera. Both have power wires running on top of the headliner, down the right pillar cover, through the dash and into the fuse box in the passenger’s kick panel. The radar detector is is spliced directly into the fuse box using a fuse box tap and Escort direct wire kit I bought off of Amazon. The dash cam I wired a 12V female power receptacle directly into the tap and just plugged its 12V male adapter into that, avoiding the need to cut the end off the power adapter. These mods are very commonly done by MINI Cooper drivers.

Having the radar detector up high maximizes the range while keeping it near by field of view. I can easily look at the display without taking my eyes off the road. It also makes it easier to hear being up there. If I need to mute it I have installed the included mute button to the right side of the center console right next to the gearshift. This allows me to easily hit the mute without even having to look. I did run into a problem as nothing would stick to the center console plastic, so I used industrial grade velcro. This worked well where even 3M commercial grade red tape would not. There is something weird about the plastic MINI Cooper uses on that console.

The dash camera records both video and audio for over five hours before overwriting data. This ensures that I always have the last five hours of travel saved. The 130 degree field of view is excellent for a front dash cam. To see what it records, check out the video on my Buster versus the Three Twisted Sisters page where I ran the route with a bunch of other MINI Coopers.

Thanks for reading about my MINI Cooper’s upgrades and mods!


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