I want to buy a Mini S and run it in autocross. Appreciate any advice as to what options I should consider ordering, such as suspension, performance, etc. Are there certain options I should get and others that I should stay away from?
Two months ago, I was asking myself the same question, Dave. I finally decided to get the bare minimum MCS. No package of any kind. Didn't even opt for the DCS seeing as how it's meant to keep the car straight, and that's a no no for autox. In doing this, it helped save on a little weight.
I will recommend that you wait until January to order it. That's when the 2005s will have LSDs. Also, a few extras are nice. Such as automatic A/C, on board comp., and the Harmon Kardon audio system is very nice.
No, avoid it. It bumps you to classes where it doesn't have enough power to compete (like STU). STX and GS (non-JCW Cooper S) are the best bets.
You're in the same boat I am, Dave. I'm waiting to order a post-January '05 with the LSD. If you're hardcore, don't get any other options. It will be a daily driver for me, and I plan to keep it after it's competitive lifespan has expired, so I'm capitulating to a few creature comforts. Definitely avoid the sunroof, though. It's rumored to be the single heaviest option, and up high to boot.
edit: removed GS comment- asleep at the wheel- S goes to DS for '05 edit2: replaced GS comment- I was right the first time, dammit!
Definitely avoid the sun roof option, 60lbs added to the roof will NOT improve handling
Don't bother with leather upholstery as it is very slippery, the cloth has much more grip to keep you in your seat.
The MINI 17" wheels are monsterously heavy and should be avoided, if you want 17" wheels, shop around and find the lightest you can afford. Centerline makes a very nice 17x7" wheel that is only 13.5lbs, compared to 22 or 23lbs for the factory wheels.
The HK stereo and 6-disc changer would be a waste, or any other aftermarket stereo for that matter.
Basically anything that adds weight without adding preformance should be avoided
The MCS comes with Sports Suspension + as a standard, thats about as good as it gets. If you go aftermarket and add lowering springs you will be put into a higher class, not what you want. Aftermarket shocks would be a good idea in the future.
Although I won't be running autoX, I prefer to have the car as bare as possible. Save weight for more performance. I will be picking up my Cooper S hopefully next week, it's stock all around . . . no add ons - except for the $2,500 markup!
For lightweight wheels, SSR comps are the best bet. Kosei K-1's are the budget alternative. I think they are about 2lbs heavier, but around half the price.
Go with the smallest lightest wheels you can afford. A smaller diameter offers a lower effective overall gearing, in addition to a greater weight savings. 15x7 SSR's only weigh about 10lbs. The advantages are a more responsive suspension, better acceleration, and stronger initial braking.