News : MINI adopts the outdoor life

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Keith Adams

Outdoor MINIs

The Clubvan Camper and Cowley have been shown alongside the Austrian-made Countryman ALL4 Camp and these tongue-in-cheek one offs, nicely timed for the beginning of the summer holidays, prove that the Engineers in Munich really do have a sense of humour.

The three packages have clearly been inspired by the thousands of Mini owners who brave the festivals, such as the International Mini Meet and each reflect different aspects of the rise in popularity of camping and festivals, creating a choice of premium home-from-home options for the enthusiastic traveller.

MINI Clubvan Camper

The MINI Clubvan Camper is claimed to be the world’s smallest luxury camper van by MINI. It’s packed with practical solutions that make it ideal accommodation for an individual on a weekend away – just don’t expect to accommodate anyone you might pick up on your adventurous weekend away.

There is a single sleeping berth, plus a small, extendible kitchenette complete with propane stove and chest fridge. On-board facilities includes the MINI Navigation Portable XL sat-nav, a television and chilly mornings can be made more comfortable thanks to an auxiliary heater. The Clubvan Camper’s roof has a small glass panel that can be opened for ventilation or star-gazing, while the storage rack above means owners can travel with equipment for outdoor pursuits.

The Camper also includes an integrated hand-held shower, with a water tank housed underneath the load floor.

MINI Cowley Caravan

The MINI Cowley will actually be familiar with festival goers already – not because the Cowley isn’t new, but because a number of Mini owners already tow similar Teardrop and Pod trailers for that genuine home-from-home experience. But MINI being MINI, the Cowley is pitched as a luxury option, equipped with a twin-ring gas stove, fridge and sink. And besides, we like the choice of name.

The Cowley caravan has two comfortable sleeping berths, a twin-burner gas stove and a water tank complete with pump and sink facility. A solar module charges the on-board battery and there’s a 230-volt connection to power the fridge, TV/DVD and audio equipment. The Cowley is just 12cm wider than a MINI Clubman including exterior mirrors and weighs just under 300kg, making it a piece of cake to tow.

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Finally, there’s the MINI Countryman ALL4 Camp, which features a safari-style rooftop tent – and, of all the concepts shown, this one looks the most convincing as a production car. And as for finding somewhere to stay in this MINI, it’s a simple case of heading upstairs.

The innovative roof-top tent can easily be mounted on a MINI or MINI Clubman. The upper half of the tent is simply folded out of its storage box, and is ready to go. It’s also really useful when the specially fitted bicycle rack is added to the package. The roof-top tent quickly folds away into its box when it’s not needed.

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up 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 Classics 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 unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

44 Comments

  1. I think with a bit of ingenuity they could have made a fully fledged miniature camper out of the Clubman van- complete with pop top roof with fold-out extension over the windscreen and over the tail end.

    Obviously it would be very basic, but if the cooking facilities could be at the tail end, there would be standing room, with a fold-down bench mounted lengthwise (only usable when the roof is up and bed folded away) then it would be a winner for weekending, or for those that like to travel light.

    OK, there isn’t much one can do to restyle the rather unfortunate facia (or the car’s externals for that matter) but this could well make for the most purposeful Binivan version, which could be used day-to-day for commuting- if you don’t mind only having 2 seats- which would not necessarily be an inconvenience when used as a second car, or for a young childless couple.

  2. A midern day Suntor Marina!

    I wonder if the ingenious Steve Wheeler from Wheelhome, the spuritual successor to Torcars of Torrington has any ideas?

  3. Too late for us, MINI! I’m taking our Clubman for a camping holiday in Scotland this week. Suppose we’ll just have to rough it in a tent…

  4. Looks like the ultimate in desperate measures making a motor caravan out of the little Clubvan in order to squeeze about three more sales out of the lame duck.

  5. I think the words, ‘tongue-in-cheek one offs’ in the original piece (did you read it?) tell you MINI’s intentions for these concept cars.

  6. The other key comments in the piece centred around what has been seen at shows such as the IMM.
    The rooftop tents etc have been a staple of these sorts of shows and demonstrate the ingenuity some owners have had when doing mods to their classic Minis.
    For once I applaud them for getting into the spirit of things and actually showing it as being FUN, something that seems to have been missing in the past.

  7. Meanwhile,anyone with any sense whatsover would buy a cheap T4/5 Transporter and come sell on time be able to punt it to surf dudes in cornwall for more than they paid for it.

    @12, Dont the dealers already indulge the customers with customisation? Like black wheels,orange mirrors silly stripes “all for a bag of sand my son”?

    And before anyone accuses me of being an “hater” or pumps out the usual “at least it outsells MG,its built here(or is it?) UK plc blah blah-save it.

    I am simply not a member of the provisional wing of the continuity real BMW MINI all they make lovers army.

  8. I think Mini needs to think seriously about developing a new ADO16 to compete as a trendy Golf equivalent. Most of the recent versions are too low volume niche products. A decent new 1100/1300 maybe using the Riley brand would genuinely take the brand up to 500,000 units and give then the economies of scale they need to make a good profit. I think Mini Countryman stretches the brand too far – big and ugly. These versions whilst fun are no substitute for real development.

  9. @14,Any money is good money and profit is profit,couple that with a sheep follow sheep advertising machine and you have swam the channel.

  10. @14 – If the “new” MINI had been a flash in the pan and sold as a style statement for a few years after launch in 2001 your comments may have some validity. The fact it has remained popular and residually strong for 12 years now suggests the product has rather more depth than you give it credit for. By the way, what is wrong with celebrating the manufacturing jobs this car has supported?

  11. @SimonW

    No one knows who Riley are any more. Why would BMW bring in yet another brand to compete with the 1 series and their forthcoming i-series FWD models?

    The 1100/1300 concept wouldn’t work, I doubt there’s huge demand for a car that rusts out in 2 years and has a driving position like a bus. BMW will gain the economies of scale by using the platform and their existing badges.

  12. Which is nothing more than the incoherent ramblings of a beardy type person who has no real argument to present.

  13. @21 That statement just shows how much capacity you lack,like someone whom accuses someone of being “a little englander” or “racist bigot” if they merely mention an immigration crisis.

    I cant be arsed with the car,and all these silly toys to add on that nobody will buy,its pointless tat and everybody knows it. Thats why Devon and Cornwall is awash with every type of air and water cooled VW van conversions and not MINIS, Avengers or anything else like that, the people whom would buy this is not worth counting on two pairs of hands.

    Wipe your mouth,you do not know what you are talking about.
    Where is your argument? Where is your rationale for a car and accessories like this? As you can see we are already at post 213 such is the interest and enthusiasm for this vehicle,even the bloody Sandero attracts more interest,where are the incoherant ramblings you so loftily assert?
    Your post @21 descibes yourself down to a tee.

  14. @23

    Occasionally manufacturers put out concepts to ‘test the water’.

    If reaction is lukewarm, the concept is never acted upon.
    If reaction is good, then the company could look to put it into production.

    Perhaps BMW see a market gap where the old dormobile / VW Camper used to be?

    Modern campers tend to be based on large commercial vehicles such as Fiat Ducatos. Natural habitat is the suburbs or the local caravan park. Not the sort of thing trendy urbanites would bring to the beach.

  15. BWM now seem to be wringing every last vestige of cash out of the Mini brand that it possibly can, each idea more hideous than the last…………..

  16. Concept cars or not, I reckon there’s some strangely compelling concepts in these cars. I personally wouldn’t mind a ‘continental’ type spare wheel rig for my clubman so that I can use all of the boot space that a full size spare takes up. C’mon MINI, take my money!

  17. Ah come on – you shouldn’t make judgments about people based on the cars they drive. That’s why driving in the UK is so screwed up – so many people fall into this trap.

  18. Im generally called an arsehole- i wear my badge with pride!
    Joking apart,i didnt mean any offence-i couldnt resist it!

  19. @32, I had a Carlos Sainz edition GT-Four many years ago and Toyota have never got close to that car since,not even the GT86.

  20. Camper versions of MINI – now there’s an interesting idea. One that could be explored much further I am sure!! Like Chris says at comment 1, a 2 berth Clubvan would be good!

  21. @26
    BMC,BL,Austin-Rover, etc were pretty good at producing some hideous cars in their time but sadly not so good at ‘wringing cash’ out of their good brands like Mini in order to invest in future designs……in 1971 Mini sales peaked at 318,475 followed by years of steady decline in Mini sales (and no significant investment in new models) down to only 11,738 Mini’s sold in 1999, the last full year of production. It took ‘BWM’ as you call them to get Mini production back up to 301,526 sold in 2012….with a range of small cars people actually want to buy. 🙂

  22. I meant trendy urbanites as BMWs perceived target market, not in a stereotyping or judgemental fashion.

    I’ve been to BMW showrooms, they’re like a nightclub crossed with a fashion boutique.

    A world away from the Citroen showroom my dad took me to in the 80s to look at the BXs, which were more like a conservatory on a mechanics yard.

    We’re rural dwellers, and not particularly trendy, yet still fancy a MINI for the lady.

    When I was part of a sub aqua club, it was like the A team mixed with Mad Max the vehicles which were converted to campers – Novas with trailers, emptied out plumbers vans, old Post Office vans with a sofa bolted in, Leyland Dafs which somehow had got a spraypaint from the local bus company…
    These kind of vehicles would be ideal for weekends away diving / surfing / hiking etc.

    @32

    A GT4 WRC!!!!!

    That’s one thing missing from my last gen Celica, 4 wheel drive.
    As much as the FWD handling is fun, they never took the gen7 rallying.
    Closest I got to that was hustling the Sega Rally machine in the students union. 🙂

  23. To be honest, if BMW were able to legislate the Clubvan Camper it wouldn’t be such a crazy idea.
    Keith, I bet on your trip to Italy you would have taken one?

    It would be a small market, but one MINI would have all to themselves, if the price was sensible…

  24. @37,Save the pity for yourself. Troll? dont be silly,i have an opinion,just as you do perhaps you dont like it,who cares?

    I have my owm mind and eyes, if i see a opertunistic cynical marketing ploy or whatever i will have my say like the next man.

    Instead of trying to traduce my name with such a slur,and retreating away,discuss your disagreements with my views,infant.

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