2012 Mini Cooper S Clubman

Post By: Luke Rolf

Date: 10/16/2023

The Story

I've ALWAYS been a huge fan of tiny cars, and the way I ended up with this one is kind of interesting. I actually didn't really like Minis when I was younger, for some reason the look and vibe they gave off felt pretentious and like they were trying to be cooler than they are. Here's the story of how I ended up with one and fell in love with them!

My first real "tiny car" was my 2013 Fiat 500, but it was just a base model. Great gas mileage, cool looks, and it was really fun to drive! I drove that car for a few years, and enjoyed it quite a bit. The looks and comments I got about a big, tall guy like me getting out of such a tiny car never got old. Plus, I thought it was cooler than the Minis I saw around! I was kind of bummed out at the lack of aftermarket support for it though, and was really only able to get a cold air intake and some cooler wheels, and it didn't seem worth it to do any fancy, expensive custom upgrades on a base model.

Unfortunately, the clutch gave out while I was working as a Jimmy John's delivery driver, which was a pretty big problem as I obviously needed a working car for that job! I was able to borrow my parents' car for a little while, but I would only be able to do that for a couple of weeks while my Fiat was waiting for new clutch parts.
Double unfortunately, this all happened in early 2020, and I bet you can guess where this is going. The needed clutch parts were to come from Italy, but since Italy was hit super hard with the pandemic, lots of their businesses had to shut down, including the one making my clutch parts. So the Fiat ended up sitting with a broken clutch for months. I was able to borrow my parents' car for a bit longer, but it seemed like I was going to need to get a different car, at least temporarily.

Enter my old first-gen 2005 Mini Cooper S. I found it on FB Marketplace for a pretty good price, and the listing caught my attention since it looked like tons of fixes had been recently done, and it looked pretty well cared for with very little rust or other stated issues, except for a leaky exhaust and a lot of miles. I was a little bit more into the idea of Minis at that point, so I thought I would check it out.
Once I got behind the wheel and test drove it, I immediately understood why people like Minis. Compared to my Fiat, the Mini handled so much better and tighter, was much faster, made awesome supercharger noises, and had a really unique interior that was much nicer than my Fiat's. Best of all, Minis have TONS of aftermarket support, and a lot of dedicated fans and knowledgeable mechanics to help with any issues or questions. I ended up buying the 2005 and sold the Fiat to my dad.

I loved my 2005 Mini, but it had over 180,000 miles. That may not be terrible for some Toyotas and Hondas, but this little car was starting to show some issues. My dad and I worked together to fix some major issues like replacing the supercharger oil, replacing the exhaust header and catalytic converter, and (ironically) the clutch. We also fixed some rust around the tail lights, and upgraded the suspension to BC racing coilovers (which I actually ended up regretting. Way too stiff of a ride for a daily!).
After all these fixes, I started to get the feeling that this car was a bit of a money pit. I'm fixing all this stuff on a car with 180k miles, which is pretty high up there for a Mini. So decided to start looking for a different car.

At first, I wasn't sure what to get next at all. I considered a WRX, a Z3 and even a turbo Beetle, and while all of them where very cool, nothing really captivated me the same way the Mini had. But then I thought about how much I liked the look of the second-gen Clubman ever since I started liking Minis, and decided that I should check one out. I searched for a few months to get the correct one -- no jumping the gun because I'm desperate for a car this time!

That's when I found my current car. It was a 2012 Clubman S and had all the features I wanted (sunroof, heated seats, 6-speed, and more), and had less than half of the miles of my 2005. The only issue was that it was 6 and a half hours away in the middle of nowhere in central Minnesota. I talked with the dealer and asked if they would be able to hold it for me until I was able to come check it out that coming weekend, and they could! I got my bank loan ready to go and asked a friend for help getting to it.

That weekend, my friend and I made the trek, staying overnight near Minneapolis, so we would be able to get to the dealer in the early afternoon. Once I did, I test drove the Clubman and instantly knew this was the right upgrade. It still had all the awesome driving feel, but had even better looks, a better interior, a turbo (which I enjoy more than the supercharger), and the awesome practicality and looks of the Clubman wagon.
I bought the car, drove it the 6+ hours home, and have been driving, upgrading, and loving it ever since!

I've done shows, autocross, meetups, cruises, and road trips with this car and have loved it the whole time. This is a car that I will be keeping for a while; again, nothing really piques my interest quite like this car, even newer Minis. If you see me driving it, you can be sure I'm having a good time (also, sorry about the burning oil smell, that's next on the agenda!)

Current Setup

  • Wheels: Enkei J10
  • Tires: Hankook Ventus V12 Evo 2
  • Suspension: H&R Sport springs
  • Suspension: Bilsten B4 shocks
  • Exterior: KPMF Purple/Blue Metallic color shift vinyl wrap
  • Exterior: Chrome trim blackout
  • Exterior: Spyder LED/HID Headlights
  • Exterior: Leap.Works Lambda hood scoop
  • Exterior: Mini Blvd custom union jack LED tail lights
  • Exterior: Rokbloks mud flaps
  • Performance: AEM hood scoop intake
  • Performance: Forge Motorsport silicone charge pipes
  • Performance: Rev9 Intercooler
  • Performance: Forge Motorsport diverter valve
  • Performance: Milltek Sport downpipe and catback exhaust
  • Interior: Cravenspeed shifter