From £23,780
Packed with kit and full of character - but ludicrously expensive
Allan Muir
30 November 2009

What is it?

This special-edition Mini JCW has been launched to mark the 50th anniversary of John Cooper’s first Formula One title as a constructor, with a car driven by Jack Brabham.

Just 250 examples are being built in total, all painted in a retro Connaught Green with a white roof and bonnet stripes, black wheels and a numbered plaque on the flanks.

They are also lavishly equipped with the most popular items from the Mini options list (including sat-nav, keyless entry/start, heated leather seats, climate control, Harmon Kardon hi-fi) plus a full complement of carbonfibre trim inside and out from the JCW accessories catalogue.

Other than the paintjob and plaque, virtually none of this is bespoke, and the standard JCW’s mechanicals are untouched, but it’s enough to add more than £10k to the asking price.

What’s it like?

The combination of the green/white Cooper colour scheme and the black 17-inch wheels makes the Mini look particularly tough, an attitude boosted by black internals for the xenon headlamps and black-backed driving lamps.

The interior, by contrast, feels tastefully upmarket with its black leather and red trim, factory-fit sat-nav and gorgeous leather/Alcantara steering wheel. So the feelgood factor is off the scale even before you get under way (although all the carbonfibre trim is a matter of personal taste).

Unsurprisingly, the WC50 feels no different from a regular JCW to drive: astonishingly quick and mildly hyperactive. The undoubted highlight is the 208bhp 1.6-litre turbo engine, which not only gives the Mini stronger performance than any of its rivals but also crackles and fizzes with energy the whole time. It sounds peachy, too.

If only the car’s chassis could do justice to this engine. While it retains that pointy Mini feel at low speeds, it resorts to quite strong understeer as speeds rise, and it struggles to put its power down without a fight. In some ways its slightly unruly nature adds to the car’s character, but it’s actually less fun on a British B-road than it should be.

Should I buy one?

Only 100 of the 250-strong production run are staying in the UK, so the WC50 will always be a rarity, but £33k for a Mini – any Mini – is frankly ludicrous.

While it’s right and proper that BMW is commemorating Cooper’s achievements through his long association with Mini, we’d rather they’d spent some of that money on improving the JCW’s chassis and making a car truly worthy of Cooper’s sporting heritage.

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Comments
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Add a comment…
kcrally 5 December 2009

Re: Mini John Cooper Works World Championship 50

a mini with black bits. marketing gone mad ! you can buy a 'twingo extreme' now.

Peter Cavellini 3 December 2009

Re: Mini John Cooper Works World Championship 50

What next!?, maybe a post van, or a British gas van, or an Accuread ' van!, it's just a BMW with a retro-ish look-a- like body, you can come out with loads of special editions, but it's still a Mini. isn't it?.I'm quite sure John Cooper wouldn't have wanted his 60's creation maligned by endless "special editions" it kind of dilutes the Mini legend don't you think?

catnip 3 December 2009

Re: Mini John Cooper Works World Championship 50

Its that little red thing you can just about see at the bottom left of the big dial, a waste of time I agree. I don't think it really matters though, as most MINI owners just use the digital one in front of them on the steering column, whether sat-nav is fitted or not.

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