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Adding a Turbo to 2011 Mini Cooper (non S)

Cooper (non S) Modifications specific to the MINI Cooper (R56).

Adding a Turbo to 2011 Mini Cooper (non S)

  #51  
Old 05-13-2014, 09:11 AM
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I've got requests for a quote from 3 different places. I just got a rough quote from one of the places and it's 10k. I'm waiting to hear back from the other two. It's amazing how many people try to discourage this, including some of the shops themselves. The main argument against that I hear is that it would be cheaper to buy a turbo Mini instead. But I see a flaw in this logic.

It WOULD be EASIER to buy an MCS that is for sure. But it wouldn't be cheaper, and here is why. For those of us who have owned our Mini Cooper since it rolled off the showroom floor it would be cheaper to go this route since we already know what work has been done to our Mini's. We know the kind of care it's received so it isn't an unknown in the equation.

In trying to come up with a way to make my point and post it here I'll just play with some numbers using the low end of things to demonstrate...

If I were to go the used MCS route I could probably find one for $8500. Add to that finance charges, tax, title, license and charges over the life of the small loan and we are looking at 10k for the car. Now add any "surprise" issues that arise from the engine (water pump, tensioner, timing chain etc...) and we all know this will happen and since you don't know the car you have no idea what to expect. Now add the price of the mods you had on your previous car... and it becomes very apparent that buying a new MCS isn't cheaper than just adding a turbo to your Justa...

This is just my opinion on the matter but I really wish people would stop trying to make the "Just by an MCS. It's cheaper" argument. The fact is, it's easier. But it's most definitely NOT cheaper.

-D
 
  #52  
Old 05-13-2014, 09:44 AM
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First off, I’m not encouraging or discouraging you one way or the other. It would be nice to have someone do it and document it but it's your wallet.

To make the argument truly fair you really need to factor in the value of your current car.

Hypothetically let’s say that the conversion will take $10k (I believe that “actual out the door” costs will be higher but we’ll just use the $10k figure). And there are many, many, many unknowns with regard to the conversion including the reliability after the conversion.

So let’s assume that your car is worth $6000. So that means you would have a total investment of $16,000 in the car. And you would produce ~200 bhp

Now if you were sell your car for $6000 and purchase a comparable MCS for $10K (using your figure) then you are looking at a total investment of $4000. And you produce ~180bhp.

I believe that would be easier AND cheaper to purchase a MCS. Hell get a JCW.

Whatever you do, keep us updated.
 
  #53  
Old 05-13-2014, 10:15 AM
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I wasn't trying to say you specifically. Nor was I attempting to ruffle any feathers. I was making an observation based on all of the posts I read and the shops I've spoken with in regards to this type of upgrade. My observation was also aimed more at the shops I was talking to in regards to this upgrade.

To address your math, you are technically forgetting whatever is owed on the current loan. In my case it's 5k. If I attempted to trade it in AND I managed to get a 6k trade in value I'd only get 1k toward a 10k car bringing it down to 9k... add all the mods I currently have to match my car, factor in the 'unknowns' and it is still more expensive... but it would be easier. It really is a situational thing as well and I'm willing to concede that in some situations it may be cheaper to just trade in your justa for an MCS. In my case, I don't feel that is so.

It is also possible to get a turbo kit for the Justa that would be significantly cheaper. However, I find that it is a flawed product as it doesn't address the issues with the engine to allow added compression, supporting mods needed, and I feel doing this is a cheap way to get very minimum amount of HP gains while lowering the life of your Cooper significantly. If not done right, it's not worth doing.

I will definitely keep you guys updated though. When I do this I will make sure to post lots of pics and updates as it's going on.

-D
 
  #54  
Old 05-13-2014, 11:15 AM
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That you owe money on the car is irrelevant to the general comparison. For all I know you could have been upside down on your previous car and rolled that into the financing. You need to just include the values of the cars.

If it was indeed cheaper then people would by the Justa and convert it, and that is definitely not happening.

Anyway, when you get the quotes, post the list of items (not necessarily the cost) so that we can comment, especially if something was forgotten.

This is a project that is governed by the rule of thirty-two....it will cost three times as much and take twice as long as originally anticipated.

One other thing to think about...What will this do to the resale value of the car? I would think that you would have a hard time selling it in the future.
 
  #55  
Old 05-13-2014, 11:39 AM
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I have no intention of reselling the car. I've modded it enough that I doubt I could even trade it in and def not sell it to anyone but someone who appreciates a modded car.

As for a list of things that would need to happen is...

New engine internals
Head Work
Back end work and changing compression
Custom Fab of engine compartment parts and mounting
A turbo
Intercooler and custom intercooler mounting
Oil feed
Routing the turbo intake and exhaust
New Exhaust
Blowoff Valve (Hopefully a quiet one)
and a custom ECU tune.

I don't see how whats left of a loan is irrelevant. It does factor into the cost. However, as I said before this is situational and if you are someone looking to get a Mini from the get-go knowing what I know now I would definitely say get an MCS. That IS cheaper. In my case, I already have a justa and I want a turbo but I doubt the ability to sell it or trade it in. It has no back seat it has a false floor with a 10' sub in the back, completely new audio system among other things. I'd love to be able to do an even swap for an MCS but I know that won't happen.

-D
 
  #56  
Old 05-13-2014, 11:57 AM
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When you say custom ECU tune, does the current ECU even have the capability of being tuned for a turbo, if not is there a stand alone available (like the Vipec). What/who is your tuning solution?

Is this you're daily driver, i.e. only car?
 
  #57  
Old 05-13-2014, 12:02 PM
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Surprisingly yes. The ECU can be tuned for a turbo. I haven't decided who I'm going to have do the tune yet... I'm not quite that far into this thing yet. I'm still waiting on the other quotes and once I do decide on a place there is no telling when they could start work and as you said how long it will take.

Yes this is my daily driver, but I'm not exactly trying to put 400hp in this thing. I'm shooting for 180 to 200 Whp.

-D
 
  #58  
Old 05-13-2014, 11:21 PM
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I asked if it's your daily driver because there is a good possibility that you will have drivability/reliable issues (at least at first).

Once you get all the quotes back and come up with a well mapped-out plan, think long and hard about spending a lot a money on project with no real guaranteed success. If this car was purely a toy for you then that's a different story but it does't seem to be the case here.
 
  #59  
Old 05-14-2014, 06:42 AM
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ive heard that some people that run those chinese turbo kits from ebay on their hondas are just fine. those turbos are only good for so much boost, but i dont think thatll be a problem in your case.

just spend the $500, document the install (because we all want to see this sh*t!), then get a tune. your biggest "issue" may simply be the exhaust manifold to support a turbo (maybe you can get one from an S), otherwise you may have to spend a couple bucks on a custom one.

just start with LOW boost, a few PSI, slowly work it up while you work out the bugs.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/JDM-UNIVERSAL-T3-T4-TURBO-KIT-TURBOCHARGER-INTERCOOLER-WASTEGATE-BOV-BOOST-GAUGE-/380857928523?pt=Motors_Car_Truck_Parts_Accessories&hash=item58ace6cb4b&vxp=mtr
 
  #60  
Old 05-14-2014, 10:04 AM
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CerenKov,

I understand. I didn't exactly come to the decision to turbo my car lightly but I guess I should have mentioned that if it can't be done right and stable then I won't do it. But it is the ultimate mod and my ultimate goal, if it can be done safely and effectively.

AstroB,
Thanks for the suggestion but I'm not gonna put a Chinese ebay turbo in my car. The idea just makes me shudder... :-)

Thinking on this decision and people's hesitance and the general resistance to an idea like this I have to say I'm somewhat disappointed. Just because something isn't easy or popular or even cheap doesn't mean it shouldn't be attempted. I'm not exactly one to play things safe. Sometimes I pay for that sometimes it pays off. It's a gamble. But why even have turbo kits, or turbo any aspirated engine then?

If I can't do it safely and reliably I don't plan to do it. But if I can, you bet your sweet **** I'm gonna try :-)

Happy motoring!
-D
 
  #61  
Old 05-14-2014, 11:02 AM
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With regard to using turbo kits, most cars are not offered in both a N/A version and turbocharged version so people have no choice. With the MINI you do have the choice. The practical/logical choice would be to buy the factory turbo version if you want a turbo car, unless for some reason you can make a lot more power converting the N/A version, which is not the case here.

Don't be disappointed with the comments here, we are just being honest with our answers.
 
  #62  
Old 05-14-2014, 11:27 AM
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No I appreciate an honest and blunt response. I'm not one to sugar coat things either. My disappointment stems more from the general negative connotations. Not from you or anyone specifically but with the idea that someone wants to do something the hard way to see if it can be done safely and efficiently.

In many ways I do concede that it would probably be easier and depending on the situation even cheaper to just buy an MCS. In mine I find this breaks even, and I see my Mini as MINE... It's my first Mini. I've wanted one for years before I purchased it. I've always had two cars on my 'ultimate' car list. One was an Aston Martin, the other was a Mini Cooper. Since I didn't have half a million laying around to spend I went with the Cooper ;-)

When I originally got my Cooper I should have gotten an MCS JCW... but I didn't think I'd want that kind of power. I honestly was going on MPG more than anything else. I also wasn't a big on Mods back then. After Owning the Mini for a few years though that changed. Long story short, if I can safely and reliably get that turbo I plan on doing it and I WILL be documenting it. Pics and all including a blog post that I'll update so everyone can see whats going on and comment.

And if for whatever reason the car blows up. I'll just get the latest Mini GP :-P

-D
 
  #63  
Old 05-16-2014, 02:24 PM
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Quick update. Got the estimate I was looking for. Full turbo conversion turn key at 8k.
If you guys want a breakdown I can post it but this is pretty darn good considering all the custom fab, rebuilding and parts required. I'm rather excited about this. Only issue is I have to drive across country to have it done. I'll keep you all updated as things progress. I'm still several months from having it done but honestly this is an encouraging start.

-D
 
  #64  
Old 05-16-2014, 05:07 PM
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I think this is insane, but I can't wait to see how it turns out.

I've had my Justa for 4 years now and I've wanted more power the whole time. I'm going to pay off the loan, save up some more cash, and buy a 335i next year. The Justa is a great car but I don't think it's the right platform to chase power on.
 
  #65  
Old 05-17-2014, 11:55 AM
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Update...

We've been talking and we might have found a way to do this for half the cost originally quoted. It involves actually swapping the engine with an S engine, a new wire harness and the ECU retune... I'll update you as we figure more of this ongoing project out...

-D
 
  #66  
Old 05-18-2014, 01:50 PM
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The S engine swap has been done before with good results. Do a forum search and I'm sure you'll find some info.
 
  #67  
Old 05-18-2014, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by ammodave View Post
The S engine swap has been done before with good results. Do a forum search and I'm sure you'll find some info.
My "Turbo Yoda" and I are trying very hard to find those posts. i know I've seen them but for the life of me I'm not finding them. Not sure if I'm using the proper key words or search terms. If you or anyone else has found any blogs, posts or otherwise describing this kind of change or even an engine swap please let me know. It's going to be critical to our project. In the mean time I'm still looking, so here is hoping I can find something.

-D
 
  #68  
Old 05-18-2014, 06:40 PM
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Don't want to be negative, but you keep using the word "safely" in terms of a one-off significant modification. Those two terms are inherently at odds. If nobody has gone before you to tell you the gotchas, then you are the one who will find them. People have certainly done crazier things, but you have to know that there's nothing safe about it. Especially if the one who does the mods is across country. What would the back-up plan be if something went wrong? Who would fix it and how?

The engine swap would definitely be a safer alternative, in that all you really have to do is get all the proper mounting bits, ECUs and wiring, and there are thousands of MCSs to use as a blueprint. That said, as a finance guy I think your calculations of risk and cost are skewed. The problem with custom stuff is labor. It's not cheap, and it has no residual value.
 
  #69  
Old 05-18-2014, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Eric_Rowland View Post
Don't want to be negative, but you keep using the word "safely" in terms of a one-off significant modification. Those two terms are inherently at odds. If nobody has gone before you to tell you the gotchas, then you are the one who will find them. People have certainly done crazier things, but you have to know that there's nothing safe about it. Especially if the one who does the mods is across country. What would the back-up plan be if something went wrong? Who would fix it and how?

The engine swap would definitely be a safer alternative, in that all you really have to do is get all the proper mounting bits, ECUs and wiring, and there are thousands of MCSs to use as a blueprint. That said, as a finance guy I think your calculations of risk and cost are skewed. The problem with custom stuff is labor. It's not cheap, and it has no residual value.

True there is a matter of risk. By "safely" I mean something we can be sure will work. Which is why we've decided to go the engine replacement route... Basically as it stands we are going to remove the engine and clear the engine bay to receive a stock MCS engine and internals turning my justa into an MCS. The bays are the same so in theory it should work. The biggest hurdle we are working on right now is the ECU and wiring harness. Reprogramming a non turbo ECU for a Turbo is where we are worried. I'm pretty sure I've seen people say that the ECU for the justa has the same programming as the MCS with the turbo options turned off.

As far as cost is concerned I've already been quoted 4k for the entire job. (Turn key). To me that's alot better than doing the prefab and worrying about the other difficulties that go with converting the engine. It's also night to bring what was an 8k price tag down by half.

So that all being said if anyone has any documentation on the ECU's for an R56 S and non S or has seen any blogs showing an Non S engine being swapped for an S I'd appreciate it.

Thanks!
-D
 
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Old 05-18-2014, 08:18 PM
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Are you planning on using a used engine (that you rebuild)? If so, is it possible to use the ECU that came with that engine?
 
  #71  
Old 05-18-2014, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by cerenkov View Post
Are you planning on using a used engine (that you rebuild)? If so, is it possible to use the ECU that came with that engine?
Yes we are going to replace with a used/rebuilt engine. We want to try to use the ECU on my car and turn on the turbo features (if possible) otherwise we may need to use the ECU that came with the engine... we aren't sure yet. As I mentioned, right now that is the hurdle we are trying to overcome. I'll let you guys know what we find, but again if anyone has info on this kind of swap I'd appreciate it.

Thanks!
-D
 
  #72  
Old 05-19-2014, 06:35 PM
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Just wanted to make a quick post here to let you guys know I've started a new thread for this project. It can be found here. Things are progressing as well. I'm sending my ECU in on Friday to be checked to see if it will accept the new engine or not... I'll be updating the new thread and things happen including pics, spec and stuff. I'll be happy to answer questions etc but keep the negativity off the thread. Trust me I've heard it all and then some... this IS happening.

-D
 
  #73  
Old 05-19-2014, 07:07 PM
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It's hard to be negative on this type of swap compared to turbocharging the non-S motor. This is much more sensible.

This could be a cool build.

Are you going with the N14 or N18. Upgraded turbo? There's a lot of activity right now on aftermarket turbos/hybrids. And lastly are you planning on upgrading the internals? I believe that RMW is designing a new head for the R56.

Check to see if Vipec makes a standalone ECU for the N14/N18. That could be a great way to go. Especially if you can't reuse yours.
 
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Old 05-20-2014, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by cerenkov View Post
It's hard to be negative on this type of swap compared to turbocharging the non-S motor. This is much more sensible.

This could be a cool build.

Are you going with the N14 or N18. Upgraded turbo? There's a lot of activity right now on aftermarket turbos/hybrids. And lastly are you planning on upgrading the internals? I believe that RMW is designing a new head for the R56.

Check to see if Vipec makes a standalone ECU for the N14/N18. That could be a great way to go. Especially if you can't reuse yours.
Funny thing is this was my original plan. I wanted to do a full engine bay swap but my Turbo Yoda and ECU guy thought it might actually be easier to put a turbo on the existing engine because the ECU would be such a problem. But it went full circle and now we are (happily) back where I had originally wanted to be.

I think we are going with an N14 with a stock turbo for now. We may upgrade the turbo during the project depending on how the conversion goes. I'm not going for 300+ WHP here though. I'll be happy with 200WHP and with a proper tune my Turbo Yoda thinks we will probably hit 230WHP.

I've started a new thread as well dealing with this project so I stop hijacking the OP's thread. I feel kinda bad about that.

https://www.northamericanmotoring.co...bo-engine.html

So I'll be posting there with the latest in the project and answering questions on the conversion. But it's really exciting and as my wife said I sound like a kid in a very very expensive candy store. Of course I told her that my candy store has no sweets, just very shiny turbos, exhaust manifolds and exhaust systems.

-D
 
  #75  
Old 03-21-2015, 08:22 PM
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You would need to change your trans and your clutch for starters. The little 5 speed trans in the base model would be ripped to shreds by that much horsepower. Also, the clutch in the base isn't designed to handle that much torque so it would slip often and would wear out quickly.

I think you're better off selling your base model and buying an S. It will be easier to change out the turbo from the S and upgrade to a twin or just to a larger size. You won't have to replace 90% of your car's power plant and you can still get tuned to the 300 horses that you wanted. It will be less expensive and easier in the end.
 

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