Wide-Arch R56 build Mini Cooper S - Bayswater brings some serious attitude
Wide, loud and rare, this limited edition R56 is an antidote to cookie-cutter builds. Words Ben Birch. Photos Matt Andrews.
ARCH NEMESIS R56 BAYSWATER
With striking Kite blue paint and chunky wide arches, this Cooper S is a bold build.
One of the greatest aspects of the MINI scene is that it’s full of diverse people and ideas, which is why it’s such a vibrant and enjoyable community. That being said, there can still be a bit of repetition of the same old mods, and when you’re at shows, you can’t sometimes help but feel a sense of déjà vu when walking past rows of cars that seem to be ‘personalised’ in an almost identical way. Emily Baker’s R56 doesn’t suffer one bit from this cookie-cutter syndrome. Bought and built with the sole purpose of pulling crowds at the top modified shows, she has been very deliberate to ensure every modification enhances the car’s ‘stand-out’ appeal, and the end result is attention-grabbing for all the right reasons.
Emily was inspired by other builds she had seen at Mini In The Park, her lifelong appreciation for classic Minis grew quickly into an obsession for the modern-day version, and along with it the desire for a project car of her own. “I am a massive R56-head, so it had to be a Gen 2,” she explains, “but I wanted to build something very different to most others you see out and about, so I gave myself a head start by looking for a limited edition.” Starting from a point of exclusivity and rarity before you’ve even turned a spanner is a smart move, and despite there being half a dozen or so limited edition R56s, there was only one choice for Emily – the Bayswater. “The Bayswater colour is just me all over,” she laughs, “I’m like a magpie when I see anything blue, I have to have it!” There are only 400 Bayswater editions on the UK roads which ticked the exclusivity box, and the Kite blue paint is vastly different to the more usually seen reds, blacks and greys; the perfect blank canvas, then, to create a truly unique MINI.
Emily’s first mods were subtle. She de-chromed the exterior, performed a rear wiper delete and tinted the windows, which cleaned up the car’s lines and complemented the OEM black wheels rather nicely. As you can see from the pictures, however, this was only the tip of the iceberg and before long the JCW body kit was fitted and colour coded, which immediately boosts any Cooper S from a seven to a nine on the aggression scale. And if the G-Wing and raised bonnet scoop turn this up to a 10, the wide arches are off the scale completely!
“They’re my favourite modification of all,” says Emily proudly, “I’d always wanted them because my family and I have had tonnes of classic Minis. They’re very boxy-looking, so making my modern MINI wider and boxier is a tribute to them really.”
Going back to that theme of being different, there still aren’t too many R56s with wide arches, and there are even fewer with such fat wheels sitting under them. Measuring a full 9”-wide and shod with meaty 245-section rubber, the gunmetal grey Rotas not only contrast perfectly against the Kite blue, but the deep-dish style is far removed from what 99% of other owners choose. “I always wanted the concave look, and as soon as I saw these I instantly fell in love,” says Emily, “but getting the right fitment took a lot of trial and error with spacers.” The arches, wheels and spacers ended up being the most expensive round of modifications Emily has carried out, but it was completely worth it as they set the tone of the whole car. A set of Eibach lowering springs completes the stance, and Emily reckons being just 30mm lower than the standard springs is the perfect height for the arches and tyres to not only look right but to prevent rubbing.
Emily says the exterior is now finished, but future plans include being equally bold with the interior, as well as adding some more power. For now, the car makes a healthy 233hp at the wheels thanks to a JCW turbo, induction kit, intercooler and Stage 1 map.
She is on her third different exhaust now, and she’s finally happy with the looks and sound of the Cobra Venom, which is just as well because she actually works for Cobra! All the engine mods are already there to support a Stage 2 map, which would likely add another 10-20hp and be a great place to cap tuning a road car, in terms of both usability and reliability.
Emily has much bigger plans for the interior, which today benefits from some very classy seat and control trimming unique to the Bayswater edition. She has enhanced this by bringing the blue and grey exterior striping onto various interior components, including the steering wheel, and the overall vibe is OEM+… in fact, it’s so nicely done, maybe MINI should have done it with the limited edition cars out of the factory! But it’s not enough for Emily as she explains; “There’s so much I want to do in the interior, it’s the last part of the car to be finished. I know I want a rear seat delete, and then a neat subwoofer build too, basically I’ll go all-in just like the exterior.” Just imagine a Kite blue half roll-cage too Emily, and a forged carbon steering wheel to match the forged carbon door handles and fuel cap, and, and…!
“I know, it’s addictive isn’t it,” she laughs, “if I had it my way, I’d buy every limited edition Gen 1 and Gen 2 plus have an R53 as a track car. I just love Minis, it’s the heritage for me, the iconic tale behind them. It was always the Mini that I picked out driving past when in my dad’s passenger seat, I collected the toy models, and my family has owned a lot of them over the generations so the make is very sentimental to me.”
With that kind of genuine love for the marque, it’s no surprise that just a year and a half on from buying this standard Cooper S, she has already created one of the most unique show cars out there. And we have no doubt that her next modifications will draw even more crowds and inspire even more people to try different things on their own builds. As Einstein once said: “The person who follows the crowd will go no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find themselves in places no one has ever been”
17” Rota Kyusha wheels JCW body kit has been added, along with halo fog lights and an SMPS scoop. Unique Bayswater Badging. Cobra Venom exhaust looks and sounds the part.
- ENGINE 1.6-litre turbocharged Prince engine, Cobra Venom cat-back exhaust system with back box delete, de-cat, JCW turbo, Stage 1 tune with pops and bangs, AEM induction kit, Airtec intercooler
- POWER AND TORQUE 233whp and 301lb ft wtq
- TRANSMISSION Standard six-speed manual
- SUSPENSION Eibach 30mm lowering springs
- BRAKES Brembo OEM-sized discs and pads
- WHEELS & TYRES 9x17” Rota Kyusha wheels with 5mm front and 15mm rear spacers, 245/40 tyres
- INTERIOR De-chromed, colour-coded, genuine JCW parts
- EXTERIOR Kite blue limited factory colour, de-chromed, rear wiper delete, Bayswater bonnet stripes and decals, sunstrip, window tints, JCW body kit, Orranje G-Wing, SMPS raised bonnet scoop, halo fog lights, Joey headlamp mod, custom forged carbon door handles and fuel cap cover, VAD Design wide arches, Union Flag rear lights
The car makes a healthy 233hp at the wheels thanks to a JCW turbo, induction kit, intercooler and Stage 1 map. She is on her third different exhaust now, and she’s finally happy with the looks and sound of the Cobra Venom
1.6-litre turbo has been fitted with a number of upgrades. Interior has been de-chromed and treated to a host of colour-coded additions. Custom forged carbon door handles.
DRIVER SPEC EMILY BAKER
- AGE 23
- OCCUPATION Sales at Cobra Sport Exhausts
- INSTAGRAM @emilybbbb
- FAVOURITE MINI SHOW OR EVENT I really loved Mini In The Park as I could camp with friends, show the car on stand and even take it on track
- TRACK DAY OR SHOW AND SHINE I love track days, but I’m definitely more of a show and shine fan at the minute with the new exterior mods
- LESSONS LEARNT FROM THIS PROJECT Be prepared to replace several splitters!
- MONEY-NO-OBJECT MOD(S) Don’t really have any as everything’s been thought out and hard-earned to spend on it. My most expensive mod was probably the wheels and wide arches as additional things had to be bought, such as spacers to get the right fitment
- WHAT’S NEXT Possibly a Stage 2 map, and I want to fully re-do the interior next, including a rear seat delete, subwoofer, basically go all in