Digestible Collectible: 2004 MINI Cooper S

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
digestible collectible 2004 mini cooper s

Imagine if we’d had the internet back in the ’60s. Ignoring all other differences that fast, easy communication would have had on a pivotal time in our history, I’m most fascinated by the important stuff, like how it would have affected the way we buy cars.

Back then, one could walk into the dealership and check various boxes on an order form, specifying the exact options desired. Want a manual transmission, big-block wagon with non-assisted drums all the way around? Sure. Under-dash record player? Absolutely. But that wasn’t efficient, and eventually we got a few option packages and some dealer-installed bits.

MINI (gotta make sure we capitalize that) is one of the few mainstream OEMs that lets us relive those checkbox glory days.

I recall when the MINI first hit the scene. I fired up IE6 and optioned up a base car (under $20,000, if I recall) to well over forty grand. Yikes. But it was harmless fun, and a memorable way to connect with the MINI brand. Not too long after, my dad and stepmother took delivery of her new Chili Red Cooper S, much like the one we’re looking at today.

This 2004 MINI Cooper S is a limited edition Monte Carlo Rallye edition, which apparently adds driving lights, a plaque, and handsome dark grey alloys to a standard S. Honestly, I love those wheels. They add a bit of aggressiveness not found in the standard-issue rollers. These hot hatches have proven quite competitive in autocross competition, too. The price might be a bit steep at $9,995 for an 11-year-old car, but finding clean, unmodified examples is becoming challenging. I can see these early cars becoming more collectible at some point.

I know that if she ever decides to sell, I’ll be quite happy to buy my stepmom’s car.

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5 of 22 comments
  • TybeeJim TybeeJim on Oct 23, 2015

    I picked up an '07 Cooper S two years ago. It had 50k on it and set me back $12,0. It has 73k on it now. When I got it there 3 outstanding recalls never performed. BMW/Mini did all of them for free! Since then it's been only oil changes and tires. The wrench at Mini says it is rare as it has one of the last very aggressive mechanical LSDs. It's BRG over black, leather, chrome, pano, and last month I got the JCW upgrade (exhaust, intake, flash) installed on sale for a paltry $900. It's my daily driver and runs like the proverbial "scalded cat". Take off all the "nannies" and it'll smoke both front tires w/o a clutch drop. Looked at the new ones and mine is the keeper

    • Carguy Carguy on Oct 23, 2015

      Agreed - that generation Mini Cooper S has a lot more character than the subsequent models. The cast-iron block Chrysler mill may not be the smoothest but the power delivery is great and the super charger wails like a banshee with it hair on fire.

  • Ricky Spanish Ricky Spanish on Oct 23, 2015

    These cars are maintenance nightmares, bordering on lemons. The asking price on this is about double actual transaction values.

  • Sector 5 Sector 5 on Oct 23, 2015

    Sounds in keeping with the old Leyland beauty spirit.

  • Scuzimi Scuzimi on Oct 24, 2015

    I owned 3... '02/s '03 '04/s. The '02 was a nitemare, gave the '03 Cooper to my daughter, it was a good car but a slug. It went 245k. My '04 was a great car but at 20k the engine died, fixed under warranty twice in 6 months then it went to 145k with no problems other than 3 cracked windscreens. Got 28mpg under spirited driving. Once on a trip to MINI's In The Mountains in Colorado we got 34.1mpg. Kept the car until 2012, sold it for 12k, bought it used for 17k with 3k miles on the OD. Hated the cars after 2006, fugally and now just tasteless. HATE the 4 door and really hate the new Clubman, BMW has totally f'd the cars up. Thought I'd own a MINI for the rest of my life, nope! I now own a 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth. It's been a love/hate car but so far no problems at 30k. The MINI is a way better handling car out of the box (stock) than the Fiat but I added an 28mm anti torsion bar and its better now. The MINI is a more comfortable car and better built but the Fiat has that 1st gen MINI (2002-2006) raw handling feel that the 2007 forward MINI's have lost, I think. Nice to see one of you auto journalist finally spelling it correctly. Mini is the Classic, MINI next gen.