Mini – classic : Beach cars

During the early 1960s, a couple of Mini-based beach car designs were produced in limited numbers.


Fun in the sun

In his 1964 book “The Mini Story”, Laurence Pomeroy provides the following information on these fairweather variants:

“For use in the balmier parts of the world, BMC have built a small number of prestige cars in the shape of a most elegant ‘beach wagon’. Cars of this kind have been featured at Turin Motor Shows for many years, and, by definition, have neither doors nor windows. Protection from the sun, however, is afforded by either a metal canopy or, like the Surrey, by a ‘roof on top’ made of canvas.

In the Mini version of this theme, the Chief Stylist, Dick Burzi, himself of Italian parenthood, was given a free hand and came up with an entrancing and most elegant little car of which 16 have been made for the use of hotels de grande luxe who use them to carry customers from the bar to the beach.”

Two-box designs

According to Rob Golding in his definitive book, Mini, "quite a few beach cars were built by specialists for overseas orders, mainly for hotel courtesy fleets". Peter Filby, in his book Amazing Mini, adds: "Although one example is known to remain in Britain, most of the beach car Minis went abroad to more suitable climates. Hotels were the chief customers, using the cars to ferry guests from bar to beach".

According to Rob Golding in his definitive book, Mini, "quite a few beach cars were built by specialists for overseas orders, mainly for hotel courtesy fleets". Peter Filby, in his book Amazing Mini, adds: "Although one example is known to remain in Britain, most of the beach car Minis went abroad to more suitable climates. Hotels were the chief customers, using the cars to ferry guests from bar to beach".

Recent discussion on the Minispares chat list suggests that BMC bulit three cars to this design, one of which was apparently loaned to the Queen. One example found its way to Montreal (reportedly facilitated by Lord Snowdon on behalf of the prospective owner), where it survives to this day in fully restored condition. It isn't quite clear whether the Montreal example and that which was on loan to the Queen are one and the same...

Recent discussion on the Minispares chat list suggests that BMC bulit three cars to this design, one of which was apparently loaned to the Queen. One example found its way to Montreal (reportedly facilitated by Lord Snowdon on behalf of the prospective owner), where it survives to this day in fully restored condition. It isn't quite clear whether the Montreal example and that which was on loan to the Queen are one and the same...

The concept obviously had its advocates, as a replica version of the original version appeared. According to Asopee Simeli, one such car called the Tigmark Mini Mille, which was spotted in 1998 came with, “…stripy vinyl bucket seats complete with three point racing harnesses. The roll back vinyl roof and minilite wheels completed the picture.” It should also be noted that the shape of the side opening closely mirrors the original.

Peter Filby reports that around 20 of these Dick Burzi-styled beach cars were built at Longbridge in the mid-1960s. We have yet to see any photographs of the completed model, but the design was clearly carried over to the Morris-branded, booted versions of the car shown below.

Peter Filby reports that around 20 of these Dick Burzi-styled beach cars were built at Longbridge in the mid-1960s. We have yet to see any photographs of the completed model, but the design was clearly carried over to the Morris-branded, booted versions of the car shown below.


Three-box design

Picking up on the styling cues of the two-box design shown above, this booted version not only looks more balanced, but also builds on the cleaner look afforded by the seamless bodywork by dispensing with Burzi's chrome side-strips.

Picking up on the styling cues of the two-box design shown above, this booted version not only looks more balanced, but also builds on the cleaner look afforded by the seamless bodywork by dispensing with Burzi's chrome side-strips.

Alec Issigonis seems to approve of this interpretation of his landmark design.

Alec Issigonis seems to approve of this interpretation of his landmark design.


Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Clsssics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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Posted in: Mini - Classic
Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007. Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Clsssics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

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