releasing the Bear in your Countryman.
Give it the ability to go off Blacktop!
And Info on Turbo Bee..
After the 2018 Minis Take The States(MTTS) this site was realized due to the multitude of questions I received it came clear to me there was not a site dedicated to the Off-road Countryman Building. This is not a site dedicated to what I build but more to what you can build and how to do it. My goal is to give you the ability to build your Countryman into a Bear of a Mini. We sell most everything we used to build Brown Bear here at one place instead of you searching the world as I did. Hope you find what you are looking for and if you have a question just ask.
After the 2018 Minis Take The States(MTTS) this site was made to communicate with others about my minis. But what I noticed is the daily drive was slowly running down the years left on Brown Bear so I decided to invest into a daily driver. I picked up this 2008 in what was kinda good condition just to drive it to work. Then I found it was really a JCW and the color was the very limited Mellow Yellow with the inside kit as well.
The lights were yellow because of the Bee look, The spot lights due to dark unlighted back curvy roads, and most everything else has a true purpose.
From the AEM intake to the High power coil packs there is not much more to say except he is fun to drive. Why the name, that is simple at 90MPH or above in 6th gear it sounds just like your in a Bumble Bee due to the exhaust.
Installed Waterproof WET OKOLE Bear seat covers
Added “RIGID” 2x2 Direct Spot Lights
Installed RAM IPod stand W/Life proof Mini POD mobile Lock
M7- Monster strut tower brace
M7- Stage 2 mass turbo air intake
M7- High-Performance turbo heat shield
M7- Oil catch can w/ SS inserts
Full motor “MINI” Plastic ground shield
Phase 2 Set
275 Decibel front horn kit
Front and rear recording cameras
3-way front and rear video control system
iPod video view system built-in
AT&T full-time hot spot w/ external antenna
Front 4.3" system view screen (backup, rear, iPod )
Scan Gauge 2 system monitor w/Mini M18 Update installed
ESCORT 9500ci Radar sensor w/ front and rear laser blockers
Laser LED ground door kit (Bear Type)
Phase 3 outside looks
JCW Badge and external build kits
Interior Red overlay kit
Carbon Fiber emblems and handle cover kits
Blackout light rings
Blackout JCW front grill
Systematic chrome removal from full car
Upper Luggage bars (MINI STYLE w/ BLACK)
Phase 4 Conversions
Bolt-on under-bumper 200/2000 1-1/4 hitch receiver.
4 wire light system for trailer
5 wire power and backup camera switch over the system to camper
M7-Front 2" Bull Bar
Added bear cave Runaway camper to be pulled
M7-Engine protection armor plate under the car (Removed mini plastic)
Removed old and install new Megan Racing muffler w/ O2 blue tips set
Install boost control circuit on the gas pedal
Forge-complete low resistance red silicone intake air kit
Added Third “RIGID” Front Light Full Wide Beam 6x6 "Cyclops"
6 function touch button light control system installed
Added mini Rock Lights around tires
Added color change ground lighting Zombie Lights
Install Off-Road Type K/02 BF Goodrich 235-65R17 tires
M7 2" lift kit installed
M7 all around MAXX-G adjustable extra-long sway bar end links
M7 new 22mm MAXX-G rear sway bar upgrade
BRA for the front of Brown Bear custom made in Carbon Fiber style...
Phase 5 Final Conversions
Rhino-Rack Roof Cargo Basket bolted to top for full support.
M7 Fold Away Spare Tire Mount / Custom Tire cover.
Custom Build 4000Lb Winch for those sticky situations..
EBC Brake Kit - S4 Redstuff and USR rotors for FRONT& REAR
BAVARIAN AUTOSPORT HIGH-PERFORMANCE IGNITION COIL SET
Installed GMRS Midland Radio in the car (15 watts)
Custom "CodeMyCar" Options added
Full LED light switch over Inside/Outside
TSW X-Brace Mid Frame Racing Support in RED.
Phase 6 Final Conversions
Sold original Bear Cave Runaway camper
Purchased new T@G Camper and added electric brakes (Bear Cave II)
Removed 4 pin trailer plug wire and Installed new mini-6 pin Round plug
Installed custom printed support and flip cap on mini to except new 6-pin
Added Component trailer brake system to mini for a new camper.
Installed M7 Rear tire swing-away holder with a custom hardcover.
Added an Airhorn under the hood to move others away.
Configured and built remote growl on Brown Bear.
Phase 7 Upgrades/Changes
Upgraded all speakers to Custom built (Bimmertech system from the U.K.)
Added communication square in the rear window to show feelings.
Upgrades rear view system to electronic mirror system and cameras.
Upgrades mirror covers to full JCW's RED.
Changed out all single bulb chassis lights to active LED strips
Added all channel Sat Radio to built-in for those rural areas.
Updated coms system to full 15watt radio to stay in touch.
Updated spark plugs to a cooler burning Platinum.
Added 3 more options to remote Growl with Jeepers Creepers Horn.
Installed Black Leather w/ red diamond stitch floor cover all around.
Phase 8 Updates (Before MTTS 2021)
Replace all seat covers to new (Same Style).
Replace tires from Michelin Premier ATX 225 60r17 to the better long trip LTX.
Change out the door ground lights to PAWS.
As of now, Brown Bear is running great and no updates are planned until we have an issue down the road. He has 84,600 miles so I will be purchasing my second Mini (Probably an R56-JCW) for a daily driver so Brown Bear can be 100% Cleaned and become a weekend/event driver only so it can stay covered and stay pristine for many years to come.
I have enjoyed this adventure to make BrownBear what it is today. So if you have any questions about how to do some of these upgrades just ask me on Facebook or E-mail.
So, the question that many people ask me when they see Brown Bear is why a mini?
Well, the idea did not start off to be a mini cooper, it really started as a Ford Expedition until we went on our first trip just my son and I and this large, lingering beast of a Truck took thousands in gas just to move along the road at a slow muddy pace. It was then decided that if we were going to see the United States we needed a big change. I wanted a sporty car for once in my life, however, we wanted something we could still do trips down dirt roads and mountain trails in. So, one day my car was in the shop and a friend of mine picked me up in his cooper and that was it, I was stuck in design mode and dragged my son into it as well. It was cool to design your car section by section. The color had to be brown due to the old car being Brown Bear and now we were making Brown Bear Mini, it had to have All4 for the dirt roads we were going to go down, I wanted full high-end electronics (Did not want to go through another stereo install again), I wanted a sporty car so JCW was in the plan until I found out we could not get brown. So, we could not have a Black Brown Bear Mini so JCW went out the window everything else went on and we ordered it.
I have to say my obsession with the final design started before I even picked up the mini with me
watching a YouTube video tester made of an ALL4 car. The video was called” Something About in the Dirt.” It was where they drove up a road and stopped due to a rock in the road and I thought that could be a problem and that turned on the build obsession right then. Problem and solution, it was that simple. Solve the problem so Brown Bear Mini can do what it needs to and go where we want to take it. Remember I didn’t even have the car yet, it was still new on a dock overseas and the purchasing started. Rocks could be a problem, so I got the plastic mini cooper ground shield. Leather seats would get ruined by wet-suits and rain, so I ordered the Wet Okole neoprene seat covers that were waterproof. Knowing me, I will drive this little car hard, so I got the oil catch can and strut tower brace kits. My old truck had great spot lights, so we got them ready to go with the proper brackets. So now we wait for the car with a box of upgrades by my door. I must ask myself did my new mini ever have a chance to be just a mini cooper or was it designed to be different from the minute that deposit check was written? So, it is almost New Years, Christmas just passed and I get that call every new mini cooper owner is waiting for and anticipating with every phone ring “YOUR MINI IS READY FOR PICKUP”. So here we go I get the new car, love the smell, the way it rides (except it’s a bit loud with stock tires), the seats feel just right, the stereo is not what I am used to but it seems to get better over use, First week everything goes on, the car looks great and feels great and at that time I would not have known that I just finished the first of a 6 Phase trip into what I had no clue would turn out to be a one of a kind beast named Brown Bear Mini.
Now after just a month I find myself making a note on my desk of all the things I need to change and there you go, phase 2 of the build, which is a simple list of upgrades for things you can find if you look hard enough and long enough. The list was A 275 Decibel horn kit, so people can hear my little car even if they can’t see it, A front and rear dash cam system so everything gets recorded just in case, an in car full Video system for my son to watch movies on our trip with a backup camera and display for me to see what is behind me. I also added an Escort 9500ci complete radar system and laser scanner, so I can hear what can not always be seen in front or behind you. And the idea came up that we might need to get a camper of some kind due to many of our trips being in the summer heat and that meant I needed to have a better picture of the engine condition over hills and in the heat, so I got a ScanGauge 2 with the special Mini Cooper N-18 upgrade. So, we are getting ready for our first real trip of some distance and I notice the need for more room to put camping gear in. As we all know mini cooper is not big on storage areas so Brown Bear got his luggage bar kit and I found out that they only come in silver and that just will not do. I started looking around and found an acid primer that will allow paint to adhere to any type of metal, so the luggage rack turned completely black. Now I had the means to take the chrome off that I did not like so I spent the next two weeks removing every bit of chrome on Brown Bear, so he got a complete blackout job from boot to bonnet and anything I did not like got removed and replaced with those JCW kits I did not originally get.
Now we start and go on our first Brown Bear trip of 4000 miles and just drive with no trailer and a tent which was a great first trip, but it told my son and me that Brown Bear was missing its cave and still needed more to go on the full trips we wanted to get this cooper to the thought that was in my head from the beginning. That meant I needed to figure out a plan to get our mini into places It was never designed to go by mini but maybe others have so the search began for what the final build should be. The only problem is to find where these parts in my head would come from and will they fit? To start off with the most pressing problem which would be how to tow the camper that we decided was needed for future trips? The first thing was what camper should I buy? I did a lot of research, but it was settled on something that could be built just for our needs because weight is everything and I did not want a bunch of heaver stuff we did not need. I decided to purchase a camper made in Ocala, Florida called “The Runaway” due to it being the lightest trailer with AC that we could sleep in. (started at 678 Lbs. before Solar, Generator, and Water were added to create a grand total of around 1100Lbs)
The hitch that I went with was from MiniDoMore.com and only took one day to install which gave me more time to think about the next step in this conversation to the real Brown Bear itself. I now have a complete list of what was needed to be solved and I wanted to start with the biggest problem: Height and the ability to go over dirt roads without issues. After many late hours reading about other raised minis and the problems they have had I decided one of the biggest problems I found was with the center of gravity being put at a higher position in your car from the height change. Because of the change there should be a bigger sway bar installed or the feel of your mini will change and not be as sure on the road. Also, the sway bar will be at a different position with the way the Height has changed creating the need for longer sway bar links on both axles. There were many solutions by adding many parts together yourself to raise your mini however having everything in a single proven solution was right for me and that also gave me a tech support option if I needed it. With that I went with the M7 kit mainly because it came complete with the risers and beefy 22mm sway bar that had grease fittings on the bushing. The kit got installed by a local high-end tire and wheel dealer (Elite Roads) and after the install there is a need for a complete custom 4-wheel Alignment kit that cannot be added in by the factory specs after the changes that are made in suspension so check to be sure if you have a shop install done there is knowledge with the tech on the alignment machines. After you raise your mini even just by 2 inches there seems to be a void around the tires, so you will want to get some great looking beefy tires and what you won’t realize when thinking of all the options is the minis are not very insulated from the road noise and adding cool looking dirt tires mean you will have almost 100 dBs when you go down the highway. In most cases you get what you choose, good or bad, so I would think about whether you want quiet tires or ones that look cool as well as what tire size should go on this redesigned mini? 215 60r17 fits great. But no off-road tires come in that size so if you go for an off-road look you will need 225/65r17, but they will rub when you turn, when you bounce... I know that because I had to go with the cool look first. And remember that high end tire shop that did my install? Well again that decision helps me out by them knowing to fill out A customer satisfaction replacement request with Michelin, the same company that makes the BFGoodrich T/A KO2 Tires. With that little bit of help I was able to trade my 1-week-old loud tires in for Michelin Premier LTX 225/60R17 99V tires that were so quiet that they could not be heard over my son’s phone on half volume. Now as its taken place so many times before I feel that need that there is something missing on this build and looking at the Bear I am wondering what is missing and then I see it, I need a Bull Bar on the front that comes with Bull bar lights and maybe even a winch for the real Dirt look. I have never seen a winch on a Countryman, so I wondered if you can put a winch on a Mini Cooper?
So off to the internet I go again for a bull bar that will fit a mini cooper countryman. Now, if you try
that search you will find there is not much out there, I guess Countrymen are not for the
countryside? I do find a few and I choose one from a 4x4 dealer that states it will fit a
countryman. I get the box and open it and… There is no countryman direction, or any directions
at all, I find out that yes it will fit on a countryman after you get a welder to make a custom
bracket that bolts where? Have you looked under your cooper, because I have spent long
sections under there and I’m just wondering how? So, with that I sent it back and after another
tedious search I find on the M7 site there is a bull bar that was custom made for my bear. After
a week or so my new Bull Bar comes in the mail and it has directions and everything I need to
install it on my Countryman. Now out of the box it is designed to, well, be a good-looking device
but, I would never try to push a bull with it. However, while I am installing the new Bear bar I
notice there is a major whole in my plastic ground shield so. Back we go again to find a
replacement and this time a little stronger so that rock that is waiting for me to drive over it does
not damage the Bear. I locate a ¼” aluminum solid under shield that is custom made for the
countryman and that did fit just perfect so no more rock worries.
Lights were a need because who has a Dirt car without major lights that would blind a moose.
However, lights normally are built to be big and bad looking and not small and strong. So, I took
a drive to a few truck shops and came across the rigid 6x6 LED Light so Brown Bear now has a
set of rigid 4x4 SPOT lights that reach a whopping 600 feet ahead of the original Brown Bear
and a single RIGID 6x6 matching flood light that drops a beam from 20 feet on each side of our
path and I thought that might be enough light for a mini, that is the size of some small dirt
trucks. I have done a few changes to Brown Bear and it has some of the look of my imagination that I wanted to get on my Mini Cooper. But, I have not concerned myself with any of the engine
issues that would give the bear a stronger pounce. Now what should I do to get the power I
needed to be able to get out of most situations I might get myself into?
The next area of design started with the air system because I felt the pretzel intake pipe of the
cooper had to add a lot of drag to the intake air. The parts started arriving at the front door for
almost a week. Everyday my son would answer the door and say, “Dad, you have another mini
thing” until we had a box full resembling the original box just a year earlier where the changes
started. New K&N style MAXX-Flow intake kit, Forge Air Intake pipe and Downpipe, M7
Silicone charge hose, NGK Iridium Spark Plugs... After everything got here I had an engine day
with Brown Bear where most things went on as easy as can be until I got to the new Air intake
pipe where there was an extra sensor without a port to install it in. After trying to locate what
this sensor does I found it was a sensor I could not just remove however never did find out why,
so I just wrote it off as a mini mystery and moved on. What I did after a few tries was to whittle
down the original port and pass it into the intake pipe with a small hole then Built with red High-
Temp silicone a seal resembling a designed bracket. It has worked without any problems so
with that the air intake system was completed with a new sound and more punch. However, it
was not the quick speed acceleration I was looking for until I located the missing part a “Sprint
Booster V2” that took about 4 minutes to install. What this small simple installed device does is
it removes most or all the delay between pressing on the gas pedal and the throttle moving, that
gives you the start line delays that all but the JCW coopers have. So that final item that was not
even under the hood made the bear pounce more instantly. While I am doing these upgrades, I
have a thought that keeps bouncing around, that is the idea of going down dirt country roads or
logging type roads without a winch to help us back on the road and just being stuck like a
dinosaur in tar.
It was time for Brown Bear to get its roar which was made by the install of his new Megan
Racing muffler and tailpipe set that I found after listening to so many recordings of other
completed mini countrymans, I was looking for a low pitch more than the overwhelming loud
exhaust and that system gave me what I wanted if I did not remove any other exhaust
components. So, without a deafening rumble that would disrupt our music while going on our
long trips I had a distinct big engine low sound from a mini. I went with the Megan Racing
system also because I liked the size of the tips and the O2 Blue burn effect option. Only install
problem was the way the mini exhaust is installed with no brackets on the whole pipe from
engine to muffler. What this caused for me was when the system was bolted in place it would
dip in the middle, so I would highly recommend you find a garage that still does welding on
stainless exhaust (Took me a few weeks to find someplace that still did it in Fort Lauderdale)
and have it welded onto the original without clamps. With that we had the power and the roar I
was looking for.
So My son comes to me and said “Dad, we need to get these, for the car, they are so cool” The
Item in his eye was led lights that change color or stay on a color to give you the “cool” look that
I thought went away in the 80’s but old things become new so I ordered the lights and installed
these and while I was under the car also installed mini spot lights under the car behind each tire
(Rock Lights) again to get the proper effect. Now as most things you try to do to a mini cooper
that was not designed for them, there is a new problem created each time you add anything that
would be where do I put the light switch controls, fuses, indicators... Guess what, SO we go off
and search the internet with the hope something I type in will show me a rendering of my
thoughts and then I found the perfect item for the Mini Cooper made for marine as a stand-alone
fuse and switch system. The switch is this little panel that has 6 push-button switches that can
be labeled as you want with indicators and an under the hood relay box with fuses and standard
auto relays. This was installed, and it solved my problems since it switches power direct from
battery, but the tech used a separate power line that allowed me to connect the whole system to
front side lights witch now the light system only would work when the auto light switch activated.
So, this little box removed the switches for the spot, cyclops, rock, color(zombie), work, and one
left for that thought of a Winch. And now I waited for the CodemyCar.com guy to call me so I
can add some neat features to this design like the ability to lock the doors and roll up all the
windows by remote, When the car turns off the mirrors fold in by themselves, and finally to add
the Weather Band directly to my radio for easy local checking.
The final piece of the puzzle was done, at least I would like to of thought so when I got an E-
mail that there is a new rear tire rack designed for the countryman and I had no spare so that
was another item to be added to the final build of Brown Bear. But. With that additional spare
tire came the need to finally finish this build and that was also when that little thought started to
design itself into reality. I started gathering parts that I would need for the winch addition to
what was now called the Bear Bar and used my 3D printer to print a support design template for
the install. In the end I spent a weekend with all my cutters, A pile of metal, and my welder to
make two support beams for under the car that when the winch was used it would pull direct on
the frame supports and bolted the top directly to the bumper after adding an L beam behind it
for extra support. The effect was a fully functional 4000 Pound winch on the Brown Bear which
was the final touch from that original vision that started almost two years earlier prior to the
purchase of the Countryman ALL4.
I guess you can say that Brown Bear will be touring this summer because we will be camping
along the 3,000-mile MTTS run from Orlando FL to Keystone CO. Then after that we will be
doing another 3,000-miles to the Grand Canyon the down to I-10 for the trip back home before
the next year of builds starts to take place. That is one thing you can be sure of is if you own a
custom car like the Brown Bear you get almost an obsession with what’s next and what you can
change. I must say that I have completed the building of brown bear but even I know there are
things to change like the rims, Brakes, turbo charger… How fast would brown bear be if I
installed a bigger turbo charger? Thanks for reading my story of the Brown Bear Mini. Now for the 2020 MTTS there has been phase 8 of the updates that included XMradio, 15 watt radio, Cell booster, updated lights so far, and the the camper Bear Cave II has had power brakes added.
(A few quick notes from the author)
Most of the online research came from google searches, there was no specific site that was
visited to gain more information than any other.
M7 Sport is mentioned in this mainly because of their support and the ease of their installs not
to mention it started to me my first go to site to search for an upgrades.
Elite Roads in a very knowledgeable shop located in Fort Lauderdale, FL that does everything
tire and suspension and honesty and great work ethic they were mentioned by
Michelin Premier LTX 225/60R1799V were used because they had the lowest noise rating in
that size of tire along with the very highest rating on rain traction.
CodeMyCar.com is a service that will send you a cable and the coded changes can be done
remotely so he was in CA and coded brown bear while resting in FL. However, I now use Bimmertech and an IO adapter for basic code changes or NCS Pro for major updates myself.
Rigid was the brand of lights used on Brown Bear because they were built tough and their
lifetime warranty could not be matches by any other manufacturer.
If you have read through this full stpory I hope you got some information to help you along your build path...
Minis do not have much room and you need to find the free space where you can...
Well, Lets open up a N-18 catch can and see what it caught?
What did you do with your extra sensor and pressure hose when you added the new Silicone intake hose ?
Turbo BEE has no parts removed or changed on the exhaust system other than the STOCK JCW Mid Back upgrade..
I had nothing to do with this, But it was very helpful for the first timer.
These are files found and used to support or diagnose upgrades and problems.
Drop me a note and I might be able to help you..
Deerfield Beach, Florida, United States