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FAR FROM THE MINIMUM

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Thu, May 22, 2003

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

FAR FROM THE MINIMUM

By JOHN GRAFMAN

Sinatra had it. So did Kurt Cobain. The new Mini Cooper S specially prepared by SVC most certainly has it as well. Just a glimpse of any of the three and you know therein lies something special. Call it style, character or just simply “cool,” they all share that common thread. Somehow the Mini has its own gravitational field which is just a tad bit stronger than the earth itself. As strange as this may sound, it is the unmitigated truth. I have seen it with my own eyes; normal people going about their usual routine find themselves getting sucked into its pull. If you’re not keeping an eye on the situation, you'll have some poor souls stuck to the side glass, hands shrouding the glare so they can get a better view of the clever interior.

© Photo by John Grafman  Peter Cameron, CEO at Special Vehicle Concepts, managed not only to get his hands on these hard to get shoeboxes on wheels, but had the gumption to tweak the Cooper S - which is already a supercharged version of the Mini. Peter’s aftermarket package includes both performance and visual upgrades that has a little something for everyone. SVC, for those who are unaware, isn’t just a one-model tuner. Peter has many packages that cover a variety of vehicles including the new T-bird and Cadillac escalade. For more info on SVC, scope out their web site at www.specialvehicles.com. Right from the get go, the Cameron SSE Mini Cooper S lets everyone know that this isn’t a run of the mill factory job just by looking at the huge 19 x 8 inch wheels and low profile 255/40/19 Toyo tires under the fenders. The multi-spoke rims are well chosen for both in how they look and in the view of the brakes they afford. The front discs SVC installed are these monster cross drilled Stop Tech rotors with accompanying 4-piston calipers that are just a shade under the size of the rim it fits inside. Those babies could stop a train let alone the dinky import. 

  © Photo by John Grafman  The body enhancements are also done in good taste. The appearance seems like OEM. In fact due to so few Coopers on the road as of yet, many of the body modifications could easily be overlooked as being done by the factory. Once there are more stock cars on the road, the tweaks done by SVC will be much more apparent.              Like Sinatra or Cobain, the Mini can belt out a tune. A new cat back system by Magna-Flow creates an exhaust note that is infectious even at idle. Ripping around Newport Beach was a blast as pressing the accelerator let the little four-cylinder growl in a very pleasing manner and working through the six speed you could orchestrate a crazy, frantic beat that was pure music to any sports car lover. Of course, the amplified sound is just the side benefit of a less restrictive exhaust system. Additional power via better exhaust flow is the primary reason for the upgrade. According to their dynometer testing, the system on the SVC Mini gains a healthy 19 horses. Although I can’t testify to the validity of the dyno, I can certify the seat-of-the-pants method supplied by my esteemed co-pilot Harvey Schwartz and me. Both of us were left extremely impressed. No, it won’t squash your eyeballs into the back of your head upon launch. However, its power was far more than adequate, always on tap whenever needed, and well distributed throughout the power band. I didn’t even ask Harvey if he realized that I was holding back on the power. After all, we’re serious journalists and not a couple of maniac hooligans. I am sure with time the SVC Mini would have corrupted us beyond all belief. 

             © Photo by John Grafman In addition to the power and sound provided by the cat back, the aggressive behavior of the wheel, tire and suspension upgrades - including Eibach coil springs and sway bars - made life difficult in trying to fully evaluate the car without raising a few eyebrows. Again, as luck would have it, we managed to slip by unseen by the local constable who doesn’t take kindly to us folk determined to find just how capable this is through every bend in the road we could find. The ability of this import to decelerate and hold in through corners is just what you might imagine in something this small with all of these goodies thrown in. This Cooper brings back the warm memories of many good times behind the wheel of cars that I sadly no longer own. Of course the size of this vehicle leads to numerous advantages around town that are blatantly obvious to anyone who has driven a car, so I won’t bore you with it. The S is an upgrade over the stock Mini and the SSE by SVC trumps that both in performance and price. The total package tallies up at eleven thousand dollars. At the end of the day, Sinatra's "the best is yet to come" wasn't the tune we were humming - as it seemed the best Mini is now here!

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