Alaskan R53 Mini Cooper S on Tank Tracks Wins Winter

If you told us this was Santa’s backup ride, we’d believe you.

byMaddox Kay|
Builds photo
TikTok / @mojo2022

I’m currently rebuilding an R53 Mini Cooper S. It’s getting an aftermarket exhaust and a comprehensive suspension and brake refresh to take it from neglected near-classic to road-ready hot hatch. But there’s one upgrade I hadn’t considered until I saw this TikTok: Tank tracks. Now, I can’t stop thinking about them.

A video shows a Chili Red first-gen Mini Cooper S on four rubber tank tracks parked outside a bookstore in Anchorage, Alaska. I’m not sure why this big-brained individual felt the need to visit a reading establishment, as they already know all there is to know. “Only in Alaska,” the video’s narrator confirms.

We’ve covered wildly lifted Minis before, but those are typically body swaps with a modified truck or SUV chassis underneath. From what we can see here, this car looks mostly stock. I'm also impressed that all the plastic wheel arch trim is seemingly intact, as the clips that hold it in are known for breaking and jettisoning themselves at the first opportunity.

The tracks appear to be the pre-assembled, bolt-on kind you can buy from companies like American Track Truck, but the company curiously doesn’t list Mini under compatible vehicles on their website. The company’s website does say its rubber track system is compatible with “almost any” four- or all-wheel drive passenger car. The Cooper and Cooper S were only available with front-wheel drive, so it’s unclear whether this car was converted or is still sporting its original drivetrain.

Aside from a substantial increase in unsprung weight in a car that’s not too powerful to start with, this is genius. The Mini’s low weight (2500-2600 pounds) and forward weight bias make for controllability in slick conditions, and the 1.6L supercharged four-cylinder is a robust iron-block unit that can take a beating. A simple supercharger pulley upgrade will boost power from 163 hp to nearly 200, too.

If anyone knows the owner of this car, I’d love to get in touch with them. I’m curious what (if anything) they’ve done to the drivetrain, how it is to wheel, and where they’ve taken it. Until then, we’ll have to marvel from afar at this wonderful creation.

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