MINI Front Brake Ducts, Part Deux

I finally got around to installing the brake ducts and hoses that I bought last summer. For the most part, the switch to Wilwood calipers and ducting into the wheel well solved my brake temperature problems during short track sessions of 25-30 minutes. But for longer sessions of 45-60 minutes or more, especially during hot, humid days, I was still having heat management issues. Oddly enough, not with the rotor or caliper, but with the ABS sensor in the carrier, which would turn off ABS mid-session.

The brackets I used came from Sneed’s Speed Shop and the hose is from Pegasus Racing. Chris Sneed makes a nice bracket that mounts behind the foglight opening of the R53 MINI, as well as a bracket that bolts into the dust shield mounts. The bracket to the bumper attaches via a couple of pop rivets. Aerodynamically, it’s not the ideal location, but the front of the MINI is fairly flat so I think it will work well enough. The highest pressure area is closer to the center of the bumper, but I didn’t feel like fabricating a bracket that worked around the radiator mount.  I’m also using a 3 inch silicon hose attached behind a 2.5 inch opening in the bumper. I’m sure that’s not ideal, but since the hose is ribbed, I figure what I loose in turbulence is made up for in volume. (Sounds plausible at least.)

Installation is fairly straight forward. You want the straightest possible routing for the hose that doesn’t pinch or rub against other moving bits (like the crank pulley, axle or serpentine belt.) You have to cut away a fairly substantial chunk of the front panel (#5 in the drawing) to create a path to run the hose behind the wheel well liner. (Try to save the tab to mount the liner.) Use Zip Ties to keep the hose tight against the frame rail. Be sure the hose is long enough for full travel of the steering.  Also be sure to leave enough hose to facilitate mounting of the bumper cover.

You do have to remove the brake caliper and the rotor to mount the bracket to the carrier. Sneed’s brackets are designed for stock rotors (stock Cooper S or JCW). If you are using an aftermarket caliper and rotor like the Wilwood’s I used, you may have to make some adjustments to get the to fit without binding. In my case, it just took a little persuasion (with a hammer) to get the brackets clear of the rotors.

Bumper bracketCut away to pass hoseclear bracket from rotorziptie hosefinished right sideexcess hosecut out for left side hoseClear rotor

left side excess hoseFinished Ductfront panel

CravenSpeed MINI Cooper Door Sill Plate DIY

At some point you’re going to want to do this mod.  Will it make you faster, better looking or get the chickweed out of your lawn?  No.  You’re going to want to do it for one of two reasons: 1.) You’ve become obsessed with removing all the shiny bits from your car; or 2.) Your current sill plates look like crap (my case).  Whatever your reason, this is an easy 15 minute DIY project and the only tool you probably need is a plastic pry tool, and maybe some goo-gone.

First some background.  If you look in the MINI parts catalog for sill plates, you’ll find part nr. 51717200469 for the Cooper S (number 4 in the drawing below). They’re bright aluminum with a printed “Cooper S” and sell for about $56 each.  Their function is to cover up the four clips that hold the top of the side skirt to the sill.  If you look on the inter-webs, you can find different versions, some with checkers, others JCW, some that even light up.  Since ours got all banged up taking the stock seats in and out of the car a couple of times, we thought it was time to find something a little more substantial and a little less flashy.  Enter the CravenSpeed black sill plates.

CravenSpeed sells these plates primarily to people who want to black-out their cars.  They’re a little less expensive than stock and are much more substantial.  Swapping them out couldn’t be more straight forward.  Find a plastic pry tool, start at one edge and pry away.  Since the stock ones are fairly thin metal, be careful to not cut your hand as you run the tool along the edge.  If the old ones do not come up cleanly, use some goo-gone to clean up the old adhesive.  Since the 3M adhesive the new ones use is pretty robust, we didn’t bother to clean them up too much as we know this stuff sticks to almost anything.  They certainly look better than the banged-up ones they replaced.



Hand Brake Handle DIY

Sometimes a part comes along that you just want to have. The CravenSpeed Hand Brake Handle is one of those. It won’t make you any faster; it won’t save any weight; you don’t NEED it. But once you pick one up, you will WANT it. Installation takes about 10 minutes using common hand tools. Installation is very easy:

  • Set the parking brake, and use a pry tool to remove the end cap. (You can use a screw-driver but you risk scratching the cap. If you never plan to re-use it, go ahead, otherwise, get a pry tool.)
  • Push in on the back of the brake boot to free the frame from the console, and then pull the boot over the handle to expose the zip-tie. Cut the zip-tie and remove the boot.
  • Use a screw-driver to pry the tab and remove the old handle.
  • Fit the new handle with the set-holes facing up. Insert and tighten the set-screws with the included 1/16 inch hex key.
  • Put the boot back on and use the included zip-tie to attach it to the handle. Trim the excess of the zip-tie.
  • Pull the boot back over the handle and set the frame back into the console. Set the front first, then pinch the back until it slides into place.
  • Slip the three rubber grip rings into place.
  • Sit back, grab a cold brew, and enjoy. You’re handy now!

IMG_4615IMG_4610IMG_4617IMG_4623 IMG_4625IMG_4622IMG_4611

MINI Scoop Grille DIY

Here’s another easy DIY brought to you by Home Depot Racing. If you notice that you’re picking up a lot of debris (klag, cigarette butts, rocks, etc.) then you might want to consider adding a grille between the scoop and the air duct plate that attaches to the underside of the bonnet. That’s the easy way: Just remove your scoop, trace the opening on cardboard, cut the grille to be just a bit larger, and then trap it between the back of the scoop and the forward edge of the air duct. But if you’ve removed the air duct, then it’s just a bit more complicated. But I’m ahead of myself. Start at the beginning.
mask off
Go to Home Depot, and get some Gutter Guard material, and a set of heavy-duty wire cutters or tin snips. You’ll also need some cardboard to make a template and some masking tape to transfer the template to the gutter guard material. If you still have the stock air duct on the underside of you bonnet, follow the instructions above. If you have removed the air duct, you’ll need a different method to attach the grille. For this you’ll need some stainless steel fine wire, an electric drill, and a small drill bit.
Wire in
For this method, you want to cut the grille from the raw stock to be about 1/4 of an inch larger than the cardboard cutout you made so you can bend the material around the back edges of the scoop and have enough material to catch with the wire. Drill 8-10 holes at various locations on the scoop about 1/8 of an inch from the back edge. Cut a 4 inch piece of stainless steel wire for each hole. Carefully feed the wire through each hole and loop through the grille, twisting until tight. Bend the excess wire out of the way.
You can still see the stainless steel wire twists from the front. I though about painting them flat black, but they really aren’t that noticeable, and besides, if I can see them, then they’re still there.

Hella Fog Lamps

October usually marks the end of track season here in the Mid-Atlantic. Since the first event of the new year is normally in April, we like to swap out some of the go-fast bits that will take a needless beating during the winter months. That generally means swapping out track pads, removing the cold air intake and splitter, and eventually putting on winter tires. Since we removed the stock fog lights to use the openings for brake ducts, this also meant we would drop the bumper cover, remove the wheel liners and put the lights back. But this year, we thought we’d try something different. Since we had a few of the Alta Rally Light Bars in the shop, we thought we’d see how difficult they are to install.

The Alta Rally Light Bar mounts to the rear of the bumper and protrudes through the lower grille. It has four light mounting points, but we only used the two outer positions. If you’re adept at removing the bumper cover and bumper, this project could be completed in about an hour if you are using the exiting fog light wiring. Double that if you are wiring up a new switch, and double that again if you’ve never removed the bumper.

Follow the instructions included with the bar, though you can probably use a smaller drill than the 7/16 inch bit they recommend. Just be sure your bit is slightly larger than the bolts used. Also note that the bumper is curved. Once installed and tightened, you will need to use a large philips screwdriver to get leverage to bend the mounting points back toward each other in order to fit the cross member. Do this before you place the bumper back into the cover to decide where you need to cut the grille for them to pass through.

Since we know we’ll be removing the lights to install the splitter again in the Spring, we added quick-connects near where the wire comes through the grille, and attached the other end of the wire to the connectors for the stock fog lights. This way we use the stock fog light switch, and the fogs dim when the high-beams are activated. The Hella lamp kit includes mounting brackets, wire, a relay, and a switch. The lamp kit is available with either fog lamps (short, wide beam) or driving lamps (long, narrow beam). We chose the fog lamps and also optional yellow lens shields.

For about $200 plus a couple hours of your time, this kit provides ample lighting and is quite a bit less expensive than the stock kit. You do have to remember, however, that the lamps sit a couple of inches in front of the front bumper.

view from side view from front Locate holes to drill lightbar-e1446050987921

Oil Pressure & Temperature Gauge Pod for MINI

I always felt the MINI was missing two critical gauges: Boost and Oil Pressure.  Back in 2005, I fabricated my first gauge pod and I’m still using it 10 years later.  [Rather than fabricate your own if you have an R56, check out the CravenSpeed Gauge Pod for Gen 2 MINIs.  We don’t list them on the website yet, but we can special order them if you’re interested.] I decided that adding the sender for oil pressure was a bridge too far back then, so I installed Boost and Voltage.  MINI offered a nice bracket at the time that tucked under the stitches and sat above the cup holders so I always thought I’d get one of those later.  Well now is later and MINI has discontinued that bracket (though you might still find some complete gauge kits on ebay.) I thought I’d try to see what I could piece together using Autometer parts. If ever I have reason to disconnect and reinstall all of the Autometer gauges, I’d put boost and oil pressure up by the tach, but for now, boost and voltage stay where they are, and oil pressure and temperature will be added in place of the radio. [The Autometer two-gauge pod fits below the swich panel and above the cup holders as an alternative, but it does get in the way of both the cupholders and the electrical socket.]

This isn’t a particularly difficult DIY (if you’re patient) but I wouldn’t attempt it if you are not comfortable splicing wires, wielding a soldering iron and/or have especially large hands.  Here’s a tip that will save you hours of time: There is a socket available at your local auto parts store especially for oil pressure senders. It fits senders 1.0625 inches (1 1/16 in.) and is very deep.  There isn’t enough room to maneuver a wrench or vice-grips.  Don’t bother to try. Just buy the socket. [We can get all of these parts including the CravenSpeed Gen 1 Tapless Pressure Adapter or Oil Temp Adapter, just use the contact form, as we haven’t listed them in the store yet.]


Difficulty-Scale (1)Time Required: 2-4 Hours

Parts & Materials Required:

  • Autometer Ultra-Lite Gauges (Pressure Part #4327 & Temperature #4348)
  • DIN Two Gauge Radio Blank Plate, or
  • Autometer 2 Gauge Pod (#2237)
  • 5 spools of different colored 18 gauge wire (+12V, Ground, Illumination, Pressure, Temperature)
  • Spade and eyelet type connectors
  • Wire Shrink Tubing
  • Electrical tape
  • Zip-ties (you always need zip-ties…)
  • CravenSpeed Tapless Sender Adapter (CRMC-0024)
  • AMS EVO VII-IX Oil Pressure Sending Unit Remote Mount Line Kit (AMS 01.04.0104-1)
  • SAE Flare Brass Fitting/Connector/Adapter Pipe Thread Male Connector (Gates part G60650-0402 available at your local NAPA auto parts store)
  • Bracket to Mount Sender to Firwall (fabricate from a hose clamp)
  • CravenSpeed Temperature Sender Adapter (CRMC-0350)
  • Wire Shielding
  • 3M Auto Trim Adhesive
  • Two M4 x 10 bolts with nuts (optional)
  • No splice wire connectors
  • Soldering Iron, flux, & solder
  • Add-a-circuit
  • Teflon sealing tape
  • Since you’ll also be changing the oil, you also need 5-6 quarts of 5W30 synthetic oil and a new filter element

Special Tools Required:

  • Torx T-20 Socket
  • Oil Pressure Switch Socket
  • Wire stripper/crimper tool
  • Straightened coat-hanger (for phishing)


  1. The first step is to make a plan.  If you are going to proceed, you need to decide:
    • Where do you want to put the gauges? We have done both below the switches and in replace of the radio. If you have a track-car, the higher radio location is more in line of sight. If you want more of a stock look, go below the switches.
    • Where are you going to tap into power & ground?
    • Where will you pick-up illumination?
    • How will you route wires through the firewall to the temperature and pressure senders?
    • Can I get my hand around the pressure sender to connect/disconnect the wire and thread the tapless-adapter?
  2. Assuming you still want to proceed, start by preparing the interior.  We’re going to place the Autometer 2-Gauge Pod below the switches so we need to remove the switch panel. (Skip ahead to #9 if going with the radio location.)
  3. Disconnect the battery ground wire.
  4. Remove the four Torx screws holding the pillar covers on either side of the center console. You may have to open the glove box to get to the ones on the passenger side.
  5. Work the pillar covers loose from the top (dash) so you can see the Torx screws holding the switch panel. The pillar covers do not need to be removed completely.
  6. Remove the two Torx screws holding the switch panel to the center console, and pull the panel out toward you.
  7. Disconnect the wire bundle at the connector. (If you have ever thought about adding an Auto-up Circuit, now’s the time to do it.)
  8. Carefully pry apart the switch panel.Take care not to dump the switch activators.  You want to use two of the holes in the bottom of the cover to attach the gauge pod.  Use screws and automotive adhesive to attach the pod.
  9. Time to think about wiring.  If you have not added any accessories, recommend you tap into the following:
    • Main Power: Choose an existing 5v fuse and Add-a-circuit. (Alternative location: Cigarette lighter plug.)
    • Ground: Cigarette lighter plug.
    • Illumination: Light ring around cigarette lighter plug.
    • Oil Temp Sender: Choose a color of wire that easily to identify.  You’ll need to route it through the firewall.  There’s a large rubber grommet above the steering column that you can use a coat hanger to phish through.  Make sure you make the wire long enough to route it away from heat sources down to the oil drain plug.  Use shrink tubing or other means of heat shielding if you need to run the wire past any hot parts.
    • Oil Pressure Sender: Choose a color of wire that’s different from the other four.  Routing is similar but to the back side of the oil canister. Route it along the cowl inside of the engine bay. Use shrink tubing or other means of heat shielding if you need to run the wire past any hot parts.
  10. Put the car on jack-stands and drain the oil. Leave the filter cover off for now so there’s more room to work around the oil pressure sender unit.
  11. Remove the top heat shield around the exhaust header.  Take note of the notch between the heat shield and the oil canister. You want to finish with the tapless sender pointing up toward this notch so there’s room to spin on the oil pressure sender. (One alternative it to remote mount the sender and attach a pressure hose to the tapless sender.)
  12. Remove the electrical connector to the stock sender by pulling out the red pin.  Do not remove the pin completely.  The plug will come free once it is partially removed.  (Sort of like the connector on the coil pack.)
  13. Carefully remove the stock sender with the Oil Pressure Switch Socket.
  14. Inspect and clean the threads of the stock sender.  Put new teflon tape on the threads, leaving the first three threads free of tape (to ensure a good ground.)
  15. Inspect and clean the threads on the oil pump.
  16. Put Teflon tape on the threads of the tapless sender adapter, leaving the first three threads free of tape for a good electrical ground. Put Teflon tape on both sets of threads of the Gates Adapter and thread/tighten it before installing the tapless sender adapter.
  17. Hand tighten the tapless sender, and then use the Oil Pressure Switch Socket to tighten, following the instructions from CravenSpeed.  You want to end with the Gates adapter for the remote line facing straight up into the notch you identified in step 11.
  18. Put Teflon tape on the threads of the Autometer sender, leaving the first three threads free of tape. Thread/tighten the remote line to the sender.
  19. Hand tighten the right angle end of the remote line to the Gates adapter, and tighten with a wrench according to the instructions.
  20. Reinstall the heat shield and ensure it does not rub.
  21. Reinstall the stock sender switch and tighten.  Reattach the connector.  The red pin will now be facing up instead of down. (Optional: Wrap connector with heat shielding since it sits closer to the header now.)
  22. Check continuity of the sender wire and the sender unit.
  23. Attach the Autometer sender to the firewall and attach the power to the top of the sender.
  24. Replace oil filter, o-ring, and reinstall cover.  Tighten and check.
  25. Put Teflon tape o the threads of the Autometer temperature sender, leaving the first three threads free of tape.
  26. Hand thread the sender into the CravenSpeed Sender Adapter and tighten according to the instructions.
  27. Inspect the Sender Adapter and ensure the O-ring is in still good.
  28. Thread the Sender Adapter and tighten according to the instructions.
  29. Check continuity of the sender wire and the sender unit.
  30. Attach wire to the Autometer sender.
  31. Fill oil.
  32. Hide all wires in the dash as appropriate and run through the openings to the gauges for a test fit.
  33. Connect all of the wires as appropriate.
  34. Reconnect the battery.
  35. Turn the key to the first position and turn on the headlights.  The gauges should be illuminated and the needles should move from the resting position.
  36. Start the car and the oil pressure gauge should be working correctly.
  37. Turn off the car and check the oil level.  Fill as needed and restart the car.
  38. Let the car fully warm up.  The oil temperature gauge should move when warm.  This may take 10 minutes even after the coolant is up to temperature.
  39. Shut-off the car and complete installation of the gauges.

IMG_3384 IMG_3406 IMG_3386 IMG_3411 IMG_3392 IMG_3390 IMG_3399 IMG_3405 IMG_3410 Radio location Remote Line Kit mounted to firewall

Brake Caliper Rebuild DIY

If your brake calipers have had multiple events where they’ve exceeded 450 degrees or any one event where they exceeded 500 degrees, many brake manufacturers recommend a rebuild. You also want to rebuild if you notice the dust boots have cracked or ripped like the ones in the photo above. Why take the risk of a caliper dragging because klag got past the boot or finding out too late that a seal has failed? It’s a relatively easy, but messy job. Have plenty of towels on hand to clean up. Remember: Brake fluid can ruin your paint. Do not grab a fender with a brake fluid soaked glove hand if working in a confined area. Instructions below are provided for illustration purposes only. As usual, refer to your workshop manual for guidance. Use at your own risk — no wagering.

Verify that you have all of the parts on hand before you begin. You will need a caliper rebuild kit and a bellows repair kit for each caliper. (On the first generation MINI, only the front calipers can be rebuilt.) You will also need replacement crush rings for the brake lines (2 per caliper), and since you will have to bleed the brakes, you might as well flush and replace all of the brake fluid. (Consider high temperature brake fluid if you track your car often.) It is critical that you not let the brake fluid reservoir run dry while you do this job. Modern brake systems are very difficult to purge if you allow air to get all the way to the reservoir. This would be an excellent time to change the brake pads and rotors as well. (This DIY only covers the caliper rebuild. See this old post for changing pads.) Expect this job to take 60-90 minutes the first time you do it.

1. Safely jack the car and remove the road wheels. Never work on a car supported only by a jack or one that is not fully supported by jack-stands.

Get started

2. Remove the caliper from the carrier. Note any cracking or damage to the bellows jackets of the caliper pins. This is a also sign the caliper has seen some serious heat cycling.


BrakeCaliperRebuild-43. Note the type of brake pads in use. These Carbotech pads have a pin in the center that won’t allow the caliper to be slid off of the rotor until the piston is slightly retracted. If you pads are shot, just use a screw driver to carefully pry between the pad and the rotor to create clearance, but if you plan to reuse the pads, then carefully apply pressure directly to the piston to make room. Be careful to not damage the surface of the piston. Notice also the Brake Caliper Temperature Strips. This is a great way to keep track of the max temperature sustained by the caliper.


4. Hang the caliper so the weight is not supported solely by the brake line.


5. With the caliper off, inspect the rotor for excessive checking, cracking, or deep grooves. Replace as necessary.


6. With the pads removed, briefly reattach the caliper to the carrier. Wearing gloves, put down plenty of towels to absorb any spilled brake fluid and have a sandwich bag and zip-tie handy. Use a socket wrench to loosen the banjo bolt and catch dripping fluid into the sandwich bag. Place the bag over the end of the brake line and secure with the zip-tie. You have about 30 minutes before gravity will fill the bag. If you do not expose the fluid to air or grime, you can recycle it (well long enough to put it back and purge it when you do the pressure bleed later.)


7. Carefully empty any remaining fluid from the caliper and inspect the dust boot. If it looks like this one, replace and rebuild the caliper.



8. Once the boot is removed, check the piston for debris and damage before proceeding.

Check Piston

9. Place the caliper on a workbench and use an air pump to push out the piston. Place a towl under the piston to catch it as it comes out. Do not use excessive air-pressure or you will shoot the piston from the caliper. 20 lbs was enough to slowly release this one.


10. Inspect the piston and the chamber before proceeding. Remove the old seal and inspect it for damage. Ensure the new seal is the same size and thickness.


11. Once you’ve cleaned the piston and the caliper chamber, seat the new seal ring.

BrakeCaliperRebuild-14 (1)

12. Push the new dust-boot so the end that fits into the groove on the caliper is exposed and can be fitted before the piston slides in to the chamber.


13. Engage the boot seat into the caliper and then slowly push the piston back into the caliper until the dust-boot engages in the slot at the far end.


14. Reattach the brake line using new crush rings. Use hangars to support the calipers again.

15. Reinstall/replace the brake pads.

16. If it hasn’t been contaminated, pour the brake fluid from the bag back into the brake reservoir, otherwise top off your reservoir with fresh fluid before bleeding. Be sure to top off before starting to work on the other side as you DO NOT want to allow air past the reservoir.

17. Bleed the brakes according to your workshop manual once booth calipers have been rebuilt.

18. Torque banjo bolts and caliper bolts according to workshop manual specs.

19. Once both calipers have been rebuilt and reattached, bleed the air from the brake system and replace fluid with new.

MINI Rear Swaybar Install DIY

One of the most transformative mods to make to any MINI is to add a larger rear anti-sway bar (RSB). In fact, we list it in the top three: RSB, Pulley and Exhaust. Installing a RSB is a fairly simple DIY project for anyone with a basic set of hand tools, some jack-stands, and a little bit of determination. If installing an adjustable RSB for the first time, such as this Alta 22mm Adjustable Swaybar, start with the bar in the softest position first, that’s the hole the furthest from the bar. But before we begin comes the required disclaimer: The following instructions are presented for general education purposes. Be sure to follow the appropriate technical manual for your vehicle and double-check that all fasteners are tightened to the recommended torque specifications. Use at your own risk. No wagering. OK, with that over, we can begin.

3-wrenchesFirst let’s set the scene. Be sure to work on level ground with enough room next to the car that you can maneuver the new RSB into place. This usually requires as much room as the bar is long to be safe. Safely place your vehicle on jack-stands and check that the vehicle is securely positioned before getting under it.Difficulty-Scale (1)


  1. You will need to raise the back-end of your car high enough that you can get under it and reach the bolts that attach the sub-frame to the chassis.
  2. Remove the road wheels and on one side, remove the rear strut assembly. The bottom bolt is going to require a breaker-bar and possibly an extender to break loose.
  3. Remove the drop-links from the old RSB, but leave them attached to the wheel hub on the other end.
  4. Moving to the rear sub-frame, loosen but do not remove the two bolts toward the front of the car. Back them out about an inch but ensure the threads are still engaged.
  5. Remove the two bolts that attach the sub-frame toward the back of the car.
  6. Lower the sub-frame to create a gap, you may have to gently pry the bar to make the gap big enough to slip the bar through.
  7. Remove the bolts on the RSB bushing brackets and slide the old RSB out the side where you removed the strut. Take care not to catch the RSB on the wire bundle in the middle on the way out.
  8. Installation is the reverse of removal. Double check that you are installing the new RSB with the correct side down if it is not symmetrical.
  9. Grease bushings if indicated by the manufacturer.
  10. Do not over torque the bolts on the bushing brackets.
  11. Use a floor-jack to raise the sub-frame and tighten the sub-frame bolts. Torque to spec.
  12. Attach the rear strut and torque to spec.
  13. Attach the drop-links to the new RSB. You may need to raise one wheel carrier with a floor-jack to get the bolt to align with the hole in the RSB.
  14. Reattach road wheels.
  15. Lower vehicle from jack-stands and torque the road wheels to spec.

Some additional considerations: Expect some creaking and groaning from your new bar. This is normal, especially with a 22 mm bar. Move up to the stiffer settings on the RSB only after you know how the current bar performs. This usually involves a trip to the skid pad or autocross: “Sorry honey, I have to go autocrossing….”

RSBComplementary Mods: If you bought your bar used, consider upgrading the bushings to poly before you install. Here’s a tip: Check that the bushings do not stand taller than the bracket. If they do, hit them with a power sander.  This will help movement of the bar in the busing and also reduce some noise. If you have significantly lowered your suspension(eg, more than 2 inches), consider adding adjustable end-links to correct the position of the bar. With the vehicle on the ground, look through the wheel to the top edge of the bar where it meets the drop-link. The bar and drop-link should form a right angle to get the most out of the bar. If your car has been lowered, you will need shorter drop-links in the back and longer drop-links in the front to get back to right angles.

MINI Front Splitter DIY

I’ve been thinking about making my own front splitter ever since I read this article in Special Projects Motorsports. This got me thinking that a good splitter should be: a). disposable and b). cheap. I then came across this thread about building your own splitter for the MINI. So I got the template and set about to make a splitter out of (mostly) found materials.

Here’s how I made it:

Start with this template.


Rough out the splitter out of light-weight plywood or ABS plastic. I used some spare under-layment that I sandwiched together with some waterproof glue. Cost: $3 for the glue.

Next I covered it in some resin and fiberglass I had from a previous project. Then I sanded it smooth. Cost: $0.00.


When the resin was dry, I used some automotive spray paint to paint it black and then cover with clearcoat. Cost: $0.00.

Since you have to think of the splitter as disposable (and your bumper cover not) I wanted the mount to support the load forces to be applied, but break away under shear force. I made some T-brackets out of spare metal stock and connected the splitter with snow-blower shear-bolts. Cost: $3.50 for the bolts.


At this point, the mount was strong enough for highway speeds, but it still had quite a bit of flex. It certainly wouldn’t be good enough for track speeds. I ordered some slick splitter turnbuckles, but they won’t be available in time for the track this weekend, so again I headed back to the hardware store.


This took some creativity to piece together. I started with a turnbuckle used to support a sagging gate. I replaced one end with an eye bolt. I attached it to another eye bolt attached to the splitter. At the other end of the turnbuckle, I heated and shaped the rod to form two 90-degree angles like a zig-zag and I cut it off about 6 inches from the threaded end. I drilled a hole in the bumper and threaded the zig-zag end like you do a tool hook in a peg-board — if that makes sense. Once I put tension on the turnbuckle, it pulled out the gap under the chin spoiler and would now support my weight when I tried to stand on it. The pair formed the most expensive parts of this whole project. Cost: $27.

Total Cost: $33.50 (and the better part of a 4-day weekend.) Now that I have the template, I’m going to work up a couple of spares.