50 years ago Mini was something of a superstar in the rally scene, having claimed multiple victories at the Monte Carlo Rally through the late 1960s. To celebrate that mighty period of Mini history, the automaker has built something special that will be unveiled in just a few days at the Frankfurt Motor Show. It’s officially called the Mini John Cooper Works GP Concept, but we’re just going to call it freaking awesome, because look at it.
“The MINI John Cooper Works GP Concept is all about the unfettered feeling of driving and levels of performance found in motor sport competition,” said Peter Schwarzenbauer, who’s on the board of management for BMW AG and is responsible for Mini, among other things. “This is driving fun in its purest form.”
The car picks up where previous Mini GP concepts left off, and it’s definitely flashy. Wings, air intakes, and carbon fiber abound in this design study, with notable points being the aggressive front clip with its gaping air intakes and carbon-fiber front apron. More carbon fiber is found on the side skirts, while flared arches for front and rear wheel openings blend with the aggressive add-ons and a massive rear wing to give this car a properly mean look. As for colors, we’re not always fans of high-contrast designs but the blending of silvers and grays with red and orange just push the right buttons for us on this design study.
Inside, the Mini is pretty much race-spec and by that we mean gutted. The bare interior is outfitted with a roll bar and a pair of race seats with five-point harnesses and that’s about it. The driver swaps cogs through paddle shifters on the wheel while monitoring vital info through a heads-up display. Should either driver or passenger need to exit the race-inspired concept, fabric straps are used in place of traditional door handles. Saving weight on the Mini John Cooper Works GP Concept is a top priority.
Despite the brand’s rally history and the concept’s ode to Monte Carlo, this model is portrayed as something best suited for track use only. Being a design study there’s no mention of engine or powertrain details, though we’d love to see it getting dirty and sideways on a WRC stage with all-wheel drive. Mini ultimately did a limited run of its previous GP models, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see a version of this winged wonder on sale in the not-too-distant future.
Gallery: Mini John Cooper Works GP Concept
The MINI John Cooper Works GP Concept: Racing without compromise. MINI presents design study at the IAA Cars 2017
Munich. The BMW Group has chosen the IAA Cars 2017 show in Frankfurt a. M. to present the modern racing essence of a MINI – in the shape of the MINI John Cooper Works GP Concept. Inspired by the carmaker’s legendary triumphs in the Monte Carlo Rally exactly 50 years ago, this design study embodies undiluted dynamic flair and the ultimate in driving fun – on both the race track and the road. The concept car picks up the baton from the 2012 MINI John Cooper Works GP and 2006 MINI Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit. Produced in strictly limited numbers (2,000 examples each), these two models explored the outer limits of their performance capability at the time.
“The MINI John Cooper Works GP Concept is all about the unfettered feeling of driving and levels of performance found in motor sport competition,” says Peter Schwarzenbauer, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for MINI, Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorrad. “This is driving fun in its purest form.”
The design – compact proportions and sporting agility. The design of the MINI John Cooper Works GP Concept majors on purity and emotional richness. Significantly wider than the current MINI, the design study exudes dynamism and power. Large front and rear aprons, side skirts and a prominent roof spoiler create a confident appearance. The use of lightweight materials such as carbon fibre optimises the car’s power-to-weight ratio. And evenly balanced weight distribution is a ticket to MINI’s signature go-kart feeling.
“If you know about MINI, you’ll be aware of the brand’s long and successful history in motor sport,” says Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design. “The MINI John Cooper Works GP Concept brings together the full suite of defining MINI design features and showcases them at their sportiest and most exciting. What we’re looking at here is maximum performance, maximum MINI.”
The front end.
Large air intakes and precisely moulded air deflectors dominate the front end, which cuts a low-to-the-road figure. Crisply cut add-on elements frame the smooth MINI silhouette and highlight the track focus of the MINI John Cooper Works GP Concept when viewed head-on. The space between the main body of the front end and the air deflectors further strengthens the car’s presence. The familiar colour contrasts of John Cooper Works models come in the form of the Black Jack Anthracite exterior paint finish – which shimmers between grey and black – and the accent colour Curbside Red metallic (a matt red shade). Curbside Red metallic provides a fresh
take on the classical John Cooper Works red and visually accentuates the optimised geometry of the performance and add-on parts.
At the centre of the front end, iconic MINI design cues such as the elliptical headlights and hexagonal radiator grille sharpen the car’s identity and recognisability factor. At the same time, elements such as the powerdome with prominent air scoop in the bonnet and the hexagonal honeycomb radiator grille and air intakes in the front apron heighten the car’s sporting appearance. Further colour accents in Highspeed Orange enhance the visual impact of the headlights and air intake.
The lower edge of the large front apron reaches down close to the road, appearing to suck the front end towards the asphalt, while the car’s wide track and prominently flared wheel arches promise top-level handling and high cornering speeds. Another technical highlight is the front apron’s all-carbon-fibre construction, which reduces
the car’s weight. The carbon matting is now directly visible and presented with a high-gloss paint finish with red hexagon graphic.
In time-honoured MINI fashion, the interplay of narrowing windows and a rising
shoulderline creates a wedge shape from the side and gives the car the appearance
of powering forward even before it turns a wheel. Lower down, voluminous surfaces
fuse into a muscular body and endow the flanks with agility and dynamism. The car
number 0059 refers to the year the classic Mini was born: 1959.
Carbon-fibre side skirts provide the body with its lowest edge. 19-inch Racetrack
lightweight wheels in classical multi-spoke design underline the design study’s
performance aspirations. Contrasts in Curbside Red metallic - together with the
Highspeed Orange on the inside of the rims – and the GP logo bring extra verve to
the wheel design. Elsewhere, Curbside Red metallic and Highspeed Orange bring
neatly judged highlights to the exterior mirror bases and door handles respectively.
The rear end.
The rear of the MINI John Cooper Works GP Concept picks up the striking use of
forms in the front end and flanks. Here again, large surfaces are bordered by
precisely formed air-channelling elements, and the positioning of the LED rear lights
well to the outside of the rear underscores the car’s dynamic focus. Sophisticated
touches, such as the half-Union Jack on each side, represent a nod to the concept
car’s British origins, while also providing a sporty, technical flourish. The prominent
roof spoiler is a visual statement of intent and slots cleanly into the geometry of the
Like the front end and flanks, the lower section of the car has a very precise and
dynamic design. Carbon-fibre air vents and air deflectors are in optimum positions,
and the two rain lights at the outer edges at the rear improve visibility in wet races.
The classical central twin tailpipes low down at the rear embody the John Cooper
Works DNA to eye-catching effect.
The interior – stripped down and with track-inspired looks.
The interior of the MINI John Cooper Works GP Concept is pared back to its core
elements, its roll cage joined on board by little more than a pair of low-mounted
bucket seats with five-point belts and a cleanly-designed instrument panel. Gearshift
is by paddles on the steering wheel.
All the elements of the interior are trained squarely on the driver. The display and
control concept with digital instrument cluster and Head-Up Display places the
relevant information for the situation at hand directly in the driver’s eye-line,
allowing absolute focus on the road to be maintained. Interaction between driver
and car is otherwise digital, notably touch-control adjustment of suspension settings
in MINI’s familiar central instrument. As digitalisation dictates, the display here is
now in large-screen format. It is left to the large emergency cut-off button and the
traditional MINI toggle switches with start/stop button to provide a bridge between
the digital and analogue worlds.
A rear seat bench, headliner and conventional door trim panels are conspicuous by
their absence, sacrificed in the interests of weight minimisation. Instead, the
surfaces between the elements of the roll cage and the rear compartment are
trimmed in lightweight panels with textured details and a hexagonal pattern. This
creates a transition between the unadorned rear and more design-rich front cabin.
The doors are opened using recessed grips with fabric straps, leaving the driver and
passenger to clamber out through the roll cage in the usual racing car style.
The interior combines its pared-back sporting forms with eye-catching elements and
bold colour accents. The result is a face-off between the less familiar aesthetic of a
racing-car bodyshell and the exclusivity of high-quality production-car
Against the backdrop of the white basic space, black, patinated
smooth leather on the head restraints and bolsters provides a neat contrast with the
back-and-white knitted textile in the central section of the seats. A new 3D knitting
technique gives a classy and modern feel, while red accents send out a visual
statement. The bright, aluminium roll cage also stands apart clearly from the black
3D-printed parts in the doors and instrument panel, and a lightly-structured trim
element with hexagonal graphic reinforces the sporty, modern look. Curbside Red
metallic adds a colour accent to selected functional components, while the
Highspeed Orange shade in details like the belt straps, inscriptions and the stitching
of the steering wheel and seats acts as a second accent colour to complement the
red. With 3D printing and 3D knitting techniques, MINI is bringing technologies to
the interior of the concept car which will enable both tool-free production and
simple personalisation in the future.
MINI + high performance + race-track feeling = John Cooper Works.
The character of the MINI John Cooper Works GP Concept is defined by a motor
sport heritage which stretches back over more than five decades. Indeed, the classic
Mini was transformed by legendary sports car designer John Cooper into a byword
for driving fun on the road and an extraordinarily successful competitor in the race
and rally scene. A motor sport career which began exactly 50 years ago reached its
zenith with three overall victories in the Monte Carlo Rally. Today, the John Cooper
Works name is synonymous with products and models whose quality is rooted in
established motor sport know-how and an association with the British premium
small car which dates back all those years. The result: the motor sport experience
comes roaring into everyday life.