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ThunderBeast Kenwood HiFi Installation Update


The installation is complete now. We failed in one are which was connecting the steering wheel controls. This is because I ordered the wrong lead twice and lost the will to live on that one. Also there is not much room behind the stereo for the extra box it uses, so we called it a day on that one. In truth the fascia is much more user friendly on this one. 18 DAB presets in in a bank of 6 push button presets and a quick switch to change between banks 1,2 and three are easy to do even in a bouncing GP. 

Phone auto answers and calls are easy to do using the Siri connected voice recognition. Bluetooth music is a doddle, as is cd and usb music. The sound is as good as in the Opel GT, or better than the Mini Harmon Kardon of the JCW coupe. Put simply we are delighted with the upgrade.


The car finally feels like it belongs with its own 500 plates and a nod to it GP name.


Two modest changes prior to the Mega MINI meet at Lytham this weekend.


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ThunderBeast Kenwood HiFi Installation


We are doing this in stages as we have left the head unit easy to remove for now. First we swapped the head and set it up for sound yesterday.

This has given us Bluetooth music which works beautifully and Bluetooth  phone which uses the iPhone’s contact list and Siri for voice recognition calling. This stage of the install went well and the phone microphone has installed easily and also works very well. The voice recognition is excellent and using Siri it is better than the voice recognition on the Paceman and Coupe.


Next the DAB aerial arrived. So we removed the interior a-pillar trim and fitted the DaB aerial and plugged it in the rear of the radio. Removing the A-pillar was easy in the end. We undid the sun visor, two screws, pulled off the rubber trim from around the door and the pulled off the a trim from the top with a hard but scary yank. This was because the Dab aerial is a small box and aerial which pastes to the window and an extension strip which earths to the metal behind the a pillar.


The photos by the way are purely because they are all from my best angle! Next we set up the DAB radio and this seems to work a treat. The FM is not working yet but it didn’t before. This is because we need to take off the stubby aerial on the roof and put the original back. Alas we just cannot get the current one off so that is another job.

Delighted with the new radio features. Last bit to do is to get the steering wheel controls talking to it.


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ThunderBeast Gets His Plates


Finally (and thanks to M1RVW of MINI Clubman fame for reminding me to get them) ThunderBeast our R53 MINI GP will shortly me sporting his 500 plates which he shares with:

BP500-1 Opel GT The Phantom

BP500-2 MINI Cooper R50 CooperBeast

BP500-3 MINI Paceman SD PaceBeast

BP500-4 MINI Coupe JCW SilverBeast

BP500-5 MINI GP ThunderBeast.


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ThunderBeast To Get A New HiFi


We have decided to add some blue tooth phone and music functionality, DAB radio and remote control from the steering wheel to our GP. A few adapter cables have also been ordered. 

All should be well in theory  but it’s starting to look complicated on the wiring front for my poor brain. Will let you know how the install goes once I have all the bits and have had a crack at it.


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Car Of The Week – F55 MINI Clubman D

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ThunderBeast our Gen 1 GP went into MINI for a service and some new shocks and bushes and while it was in the garage MINI lent us a MINI Clubman Diesel to try.

Options

It came in pepper white with black roof and no packages on it, which allowed us to weigh up what you got if you didn’t go mad on the options tick list. A basic but perfectly useable sat nav is standard and again the radio is perfectly useable but basic in sound. The cloth non sport seats were comfortable enough and the steering wheel was adjustable for height and reach. The Diminutive Lady P was perfectly comfortable behind the wheel and it was also clear that the 6 footers of this world would have plenty of room too. Luggage space and room in the back was fine too. The option list was miles long and you could make this a luxury compact cruiser very easily.

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Looks

It’s handsome. It’s elegant.

Engine

This was a big surprise. The diesel is faster than our SD Paceman coming with 150 hp and 300nm and it was a very nippy and forgiving engine. Our Paceman punishes you if you are in the wrong gear, while this one is much more forgiving and therefore flattering to an average driver. It is also refined lacking the industrial feeling of the R55 basic Diesel and the R55 SD. If /when the SD comes along I would expect something rather special having sampled this one.

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Handling

Neither of us are F1 drivers or track trained drivers so we know nothing. But the car felt tidy to us. Very nippy, nice gear changes, smooth braking. The most grown up MINI we have ever driven.

As owners of a Coupe and a Paceman, we have had to listen to a lot of nonsense along the lines of, “ yeah but it’s not a MINI is it.” Well the Clubman I think has finally cracked this bugbear. By a countryman mile this is so not a MINI, so completely unlike any other MINI, so different in sophistication than anything before it. Yet this seems to be getting accepted. I hope it does it deserves to. As soon as you see it you know it’s a MINI (this is also true of Paceman’s Countryman’s and Coupe’s) yet it adds a level of sophistication to the driving and ride not seen before.

Would I have one? You bet I would. I’d stop short of the JCW. I’d have an SD or an S. I would tick all the options, including automatic gearbox and create a luxury compact cruiser. It would cost about £35k, which is why the order has to wait for the lottery win before it is placed, but place it I would.

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ThunderBeast – The Drive

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ThunderBeast is our first generation MINI GP. He has just returned from the garage where he has had a full service, two new front bushes, two new front shocks, a couple of oil leaks fixed and a perishing petrol cap replaced. It was good having him back. This is a car that makes you want to write about something as simple as just driving him…

I clocked out of work early, I had suffered enough pain from the cancer in my back. I wanted to rest. First though I was relishing the drive home in ThunderBeast – Our MINI GP1. As I crossed the work car park I clicked the remote and heard a faint click as the remote control opened. My heart matched the click. My mind had been conjuring with a catch phrase for the car. Mini has the “blow the bloody doors off” and Glennister has made “Fire up the Quattro” a modern classic.

I slid into the full leather Recaro seat. “Gun up the GP Ade” I said to myself, at the same time putting the heated seat on to comfort my aching back. The revs as it started hinted at the symphony the car promised to play to me. I reversed out of my parking space slow, real slow, prolonging the moment. Work colleagues were watching me. I was real slow, they were probably wondering where my Trilby was. I crawled past them giving a quick wave.

The road outside the factory was a thirty. Full of pot holes and abandoned cars and lorries on the pavements and road. Schoolkids were passing along. I took it slow to the lights at the top of the road. I was at the front at the lights. I gunned the throttle as I took a right and hit 40 in seconds.The supercharger whined. The Limited slip did its work on the bend. How do I explain the pleasure that move just gave me.

I slowed up to the roundabout then shot through it, stopping on a red light on the roundabout stopping me entering onto the motorway. A green light and I whizzed up to 70 as I went down the slip way, easing off as I did so.The supercharger whined, the exhaust popped as I let off. The car was playing its favourite tune.Driving this is not about speeding, I know how fast it will go, it’s having fun but legal fun.

I cruised along the motorway for one stop.I looked around the cockpit of the GP. Near vertical A-panels gave it a tank like feel. Things looked huge in the rear view mirror and the side mirrors. The gray instruments looked special. The loops of silver gray in the door panels gave it a rally car feel. It feels like a very special place.

Off the motorway now and exiting Upton’s 30 limit onto a 60. Two cars ahead were dawdling along. I lined them up and floored the GP. “Waaaaaaaaaarrrrrp!” went the supercharger as we flew past them. At 60 they were out of sight behind and I reined him in. Again the exhaust popped. My heart was a part of the car. It popped too as it recovered from the “warp” that shot through my chest.

I got home. Peanut was waiting for me on our steps. She hugged me and kissed me. Was she kissing Beastmaster or Steve McQueen? How should I know, I mean inside I felt like Steve McQueen.


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SilverBeast Gets GP Under Tray Fitted

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A long while back we installed the GP rear diffuser on SilverBeast. This improves the aerodynamics under the car and gives a more appealing look to the rear of the car either side of the exhaust.

It is because of this visual improvement, giving the car a beefier, sportier and more purposeful look, that this modification has been so popular.

However, without the engine under tray from the GP2  also being fitted then this modification in truth is purely aesthetic and gives no aerodynamic benefit at all. However, match it to the engine undertray and you have the same aerodynamic set up under the car as the GP 2 and this does make a difference.

Above is what SiverBeast looked like before the engine under tray was added and below is how it looks with it installed.

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Yep no difference can be seen at all unless you crawl under the engine bay. This is why there has been a much lower take up on having the under tray fitted, compared to take up of the rear diffuser as a modification.

In terms of aerodynamic handling I doubt I drive the car hard enough to notice much difference. That is the honest answer but having spotted other signifcant differences, I don’t doubt that is does work in making improvements in the handling.

Two things we have noticed. First, the noise. This car not quiet and a lot of the noise comes from road noise under the car. The car is a lot noisier than an R56. You had to either talk or listen to the radio but not both. Now, with the undertray fitted, you can have the radio on and still be able to talk. Now we can hear the engine more which is a much better noise than the road noise that dominated before. Also we can pick up the windscreen windnoise which again was drowned out by the road noise from below. For these benefits alone we feel the under tray has been a worthwhile benefit.

Secondly, we have a better fuel consumption. We are now getting an extra 2 to 3 miles per gallon on what we got before. I kid you not here.

So there you have it the GP2 under tray. It works!


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ThunderBeast Gets His Decals

  
A massive thank you to Pete Morgan from the GP UK Owners forum for going the extra mile to make the decals for our Gen 1 GP.

  
Before you ask BP stands for our names in the MINI community, Beastmaster and Peanut. 500 is because all our cars have 500 in their number plate. 5 is because we have 5 cars in the “500 Club” although one we have given to The Elf – Peanut’s daughter.

  
  
Finally we have MINI cooper laurels because all our MINIs wear these on their A – Panel.

Next stop is the “500”number plate!