MINI Mods: Black Side Marker Housings

I for one tend to think that MINI went a little overboard with the chrome accents on the R56.  I also think the ‘murdered-out’ look is a little played out at this point.  Trying to strike a balance between the two, I’ve been selectively looking at black parts that will lend a stealthier presence to my MINI.

After going for a VA legal tint back in November to darken the greenhouse a bit, my next move was to swap out the chrome JCW side marker scuttle inserts and carriers that came from the factory with the ‘aero style’ black side marker housings that are shipping on the new 2011 ‘justa’ Cooper.  This is probably one of the easiest exterior mods you can do to a MINI and probably took about 20 minutes to swap out (a stubborn clip and switching the amber for clear bulbs slowed me down a bit – otherwise figure less than 5 minutes).

I ordered the side marker housings from OutMotoring (available here) but they weren’t yet in stock so I had to wait about two weeks to finally receive them.  **Separate note on OutMotoring, I was a little annoyed when I never received any correspondence regarding the potential back order or shipping confirmation after ten days, but within 30 minutes of emailing them they responded with an order status and followed up with a tracking number – guess it’s good to be proactive.**

As I said, swapping scuttles out is a breeze, but for the sake of completeness, I’ve outlined the install process below (thanks to Erin for taking pics):

Original JCW chrome side marker:

New black ‘aero style’ side marker housing:

The new side marker housing shipped with amber lenses – I prefer the clear lenses that I have as an option on my MINI so the first step was removing the amber bulbs from the housing so I could swap in my existing clear bulbs.  There is a copper colored tab on the inside – push it in and the bulbs pop out pretty easily:

Next we remove the existing side markers.  First open the hood (er, bonnet), then grasp the entire side marker assembly and pull it towards the front of the car – it doesn’t take much force to snap it out.

The side marker bulbs are connected to a wiring harness which will need to be unclipped before fully removing the side marker housing.  Just squeeze the black plastic clip and pull the side marker away.

Snap the clear bulbs out in the same manner that we used for the amber bulbs above, and then reinsert the clear bulbs into the new black housing.  Once this is done, simply reclip the wiring harness to the new completed assembly.

Now all we need to do is snap the new side marker assembly back in.  Start by getting the side marker housing flush with the body just forward of its final location – the plastic tabs will line up with the openings in the body panel shown above.  Once it’s flush, grasp the housing and slide it towards the door while maintaining inward pressure so it doesn’t pop out.  It will put up some resistance and then snap into position.  I did find that one scuttle didn’t seem to want to pop in after several tries.  By flexing the plastic tab that juts out just ahead of the bulb on the inside a few times I could soften it up and then the housing would snap in without a problem.

And with that, the new side marker housings are installed!

Drop a comment below if you have any issues or questions.

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