The cars : Mini Clubman development story

The Clubman was developed through BMC’s want to expand the Mini concept, without spending too much money.

It started out as a hatchback proposal penned by Roy Haynes, but then developed into something rather less useful, all under the new code number ADO20.

Keeping up appearances

Mini Clubman

The Mini Clubman story starts in 1967 when BMC Managing Director Joe Edwards embarked on trying to sort out the mess BMC had got itself into; namely huge sales, yet meagre profits. To help him in this task he poached from Ford its Product Planner and Stylist Roy Haynes, fresh from working on the Ford Cortina MkII.

It was on 19 October 1967, the second day of the London Motor Show, that BMC announced that they had obtained the services of 43-year old Roy Haynes. Sir George Harriman, the then 60-year old Chairman of BMC, was quoted as saying: ‘I want the best men, and I am prepared to buy them no matter who they work for at present.’

The need for clean styling

Shortly afterwards Roy Haynes gave an interview to the Daily Express, in which he said: ‘I think the public today is geared to understanding the message that comes over with good clean styling. The feeling that to be functional a thing has to be ugly has gone. The natural aesthetic progression, whether it’s in cars or domestic appliances, can only be good for the person who lays out the money.

‘The design of a car has to be in tune with other designs of the period. It’s probably the second most important purchase anyone ever makes and becomes an extension of the individual’s personality. But it is also a fact that it will be worth less as time passes, even if it is only standing in the garage. So it conforms to a particular modern stream, and the secondhand car is passed down the line. This is what makes it defensible to produce such a costly item on the assumption that it will be expendable. Everyone benefits, from the company workers to the consumer.’

Haynes brought from Ford other younger stylists such as Harris Mann and Paul Hughes. Roy Haynes worked out a plan to cut BMC’s model range down to five basic platforms and cut the proliferation of badge-engineered models. As well as new models, he was tasked with the job of re-styling the existing cars: he worked on the forthcoming Austin Maxi, and a revised ADO16 1100/1300 known as ADO22, which never saw the light of day.

Expanding the breed

For the Mini, his task was simple: to produce a re-styled model to replace the Riley Elf and Wolseley Hornet at the top end of the range, with lower production costs. The Elf/Hornet was produced at a rate of only 125 per week and was subtly different to the rest of the Mini range. The resulting car, which was given the development code ADO20, and eventually known as the Mini Clubman, had a longer nose in the same style as its bigger brother, the Austin Maxi.

Haynes also designed a revised rear end for the Mini, but management had second thoughts. The interior was designed by Paul Hughes, the three-spoke steering wheel (shown right) being pure Mk1/2 Cortina in concept, while the instrument binnacle was to survive until the demise of the Mini in 2000. Alec Issigonis believed in function over style and, although his concept might have caused problems for the ADO17 Landcrab and the Maxi, for the original Mini it was perfect.

Style over function

The Mini Clubman was a case of style over function, for the only benefit of the longer nose was easier engine access, and it was in fact aerodynamically inferior to that of the original. But before dismissing the Clubman as an unnecessary diversion one should remember that Roy Haynes knew what he was doing.

By 1969, the Mini had been on the market for ten years – relatively unchanged. In that time, Ford had produced both the Mk1 and Mk2 Cortinas, the Anglia and its replacement the Mk1 Escort. By motor industry standards the Mini was long overdue for replacement or, at the very least, a facelift. After all, the car’s status as an icon would not become clear until the 1990s…

Silly ass: The aims of this experiment were to provide the Mini with improved styling and a larger boot. However, Haynes appears to have achieved little more than making the car look like the result of a nasty car crash between a Vauxhall Viva HB and a Hillman Imp. Thankfully this version remained behind closed doors (Picture: Mini, by Rob Golding).
Silly ass: The aims of this experiment were to give the Mini with improved styling and a larger boot. However, Haynes appears to have achieved little more than making the car look like the result of a nasty car crash between a Vauxhall Viva HB and a Hillman Imp. Thankfully, this version remained behind closed doors (Picture: Mini, by Rob Golding)

The above text describes the car that was ultimately launched, but archive photographs show that Roy Haynes and his team had much more radical ideas for the cars external appearance. Much of the development story of the Clubman is sketchy, as both Roy Haynes and Paul Hughes seem to have avoided the attention of motoring journalists.

As far as is known, they have never spoken publicly about their part in the Mini story, which is a grave omission by the motoring media, as they have an important story to tell.

It should have been a hatchback

One set of development pictures show a Mini with what appears to be doors similar to those fitted to some Australian and South African Mini variants which had wind up windows while retaining external door hinges.

The bulbous rear appears to be made of clay and seems to have been trying to create extra boot space over the standard Mini, something offered by the outgoing Elf/Hornet. From the photographs it is not possible to deduce whether this variation had a hatchback. This concept was perhaps wisely abandoned, but a later variation on a theme had more promise.

A photograph from 30 May 1968 (above) – the day the Beatles began recording the White Album – shows a hatchback version of that other 1960s icon, the Mini. Again using Australian/South African-type doors this car seems to have possibly made it all the way to a full metal prototype. Described as a ‘Family Three-Door Super’, this car had similar rear styling to the forthcoming Morris Marina Coupe – as it was styled by the same team, that should come as no surprise.

So why didn’t they do it?

This car is clear evidence that BLMC was toying with the idea of a hatchback Mini as far back as 1968. So why didn’t BLMC push ahead with it? One can only surmise that it was a question of cost – the Mini was allegedly losing its makers money and some senior management in the corporation obviously felt that hatchbacks were not the way forward, as the forthcoming Allegro and Princess did not feature them either. So, was the May 1968 hatchback Mini a lost opportunity?

Some Mini fans may pour disdain on the Clubman that eventually emerged, disliking any distortion of the original car’s shape in the same way fans of the Series 1 Jaguar E-type pour scorn on the Series 3, but in the wider context of 1970s car wars, the rejection of the hatchback Mini was probably a serious mistake. Buyers would have got used to this hatchback Mini had it been launched, seeing it as an evolution of the breed in the same way as they accepted each new facelift of the Ford Cortina.

In the 1960s, the Mini was bought by many as a first car. By the 1970s there was a growing market for a second car for the wife to drive whilst her husband drove a company car. The new generation of European superminis increasingly appealed to this market and their use of a hatchback made them more flexible for such mundane tasks as shopping. The Mini may have been technically more space efficient than the superminis, but what use is space if one cannot access it?

‘A naive viewpoint’

In August 1979, the Technical Editor of Autocar magazine, Michael Scarlett, called for a whole raft of improvements to the Mini including a hatchback, not knowing that British Leyland had designed and rejected this a decade before in the mistaken belief that technical neglect would be compensated for by customer loyalty to the existing Mini. The launch and instant sales success of the Ford Fiesta in 1976 dispelled this naive viewpoint.

Development of the Clubman appears to have run parallel with the Issigonis 9X Mini replacement (above). The timetable began when Roy Haynes joined British Motor Holdings on 19 October 1967 and then, on 17 January 1968, BMH announced it was merging with the Leyland Motor Corporation effective from May 1968 – although, in reality, the details were far from settled and the deal nearly fell through. Also that month Mini production ceased at Cowley and all UK-built Minis now emerged from Longbridge.

Movement at the top

Then, on 27 February 1968, BMC, acting as if it still had an autonomous future announced a high-level reshuffle of BMC Directors’ areas of responsibility as part of a streamlining process before completion of the BMH-Leyland merger. The move centred on the decision by Alec Issigonis, BMC’s Technical Director, to devote himself full-time to more creative and forward-looking concepts of research and development.

More of an engineer than a professional administrator, Issigonis had asked to be relieved of executive responsibilities for the operational and administrative aspects of the corporation’s engineering functions. He planned to continue as Technical Director, answering to Joe Edwards, Managing Director, and would advise the Board on long-term vehicle research projects. Alec Issigonis’s previous executive responsibilities were to be divided among three other BMC Directors.

In the new role of Director of Engineering, Charles Griffin, became the executive responsible to the Managing Director for all aspects of the corporations product engineering work concerned with vehicle mechanical units such as engines, transmission and suspensions. As Deputy Director of Engineering, Stanley Dews would be responsible to Griffin, supporting him in directing the various aspects of product engineering, with special responsibility for administration of the department and its day-to-day operations.

Responsibility for body styling, structure, trim and finish would stay with Harry Barber, Assistant Managing Director of Pressed Steel Fisher, who was directly responsible for these specialised functions to Mr Edwards. This was the moment when Issigonis went off to develop the 9X Mini replacement.

The balloon goes up

However, on 18 April 1968, Joe Edwards resigned from the new British Leyland Motor Corporation, feeling unable to work with Leyland executives, some of whom were highly critical of BMC management practices. In May, BLMC officially came into existence with Sir George Harriman as Chairman and Sir Donald Stokes as Chief Executive.

In reality, Harriman had agreed to step down in the autumn to be succeeded by Stokes. Stokes took over the running of the former BMC volume cars part of BLMC, now renamed Austin Morris. He then drafted in Harry Webster from Triumph to replace Alec Issigonis as Technical Director. On 18 September 1968, Sir George Harriman stood down to be replaced as Chairman by Sir Donald Stokes, who appointed George Turnbull from Triumph as Austin Morris Managing Director. BMC/BLMC’s European Sales Director, Filmer Paradise, was promoted to Home and Overseas Sales Director for Austin Morris.

The upshot of all this corporate upheaval was that Roy Haynes had gone from being answerable to George Harriman, Joe Edwards and Alec Issigonis to Sir Donald Stokes, George Turnbull and Harry Webster. Harriman had been a great believer in badge engineering, arguing that some markets preferred some BMC brands over others, in Australia the Mini was badged as a Morris.

Brand streamlining takes place

Stokes and Paradise took the opposing view. It is highly likely that, had the BMH/Leyland merger not taken place, then the Clubman would have appeared with individual BMC marque badges. Would these have been Austin and Morris and/or the upmarket Riley and Wolseley? One of the decisions taken by the new management was to move Roy Haynes’ Styling Studio from Cowley to Longbridge, which was to have far-reaching consequences.

And bizarrely there is another complicated twist to the Mini Clubman story. In the 2006 book, Jaguar Scrapbook by Philip Porter, Oliver Winterbottom, then a Jaguar Cars Stylist, claimed: ‘We did the front end of the Mini Clubman. That was done at Jaguar. We did some Italian Mini designs. We only did some sketches and off they went on one of the Old Man’s trips to Longbridge, when he was trying to justify how he fitted into the big corporation. He’d offered to help with various things.’

The Old Man referred to was Jaguar’s Founder and Chairman Sir William Lyons. Oliver Winterbottom later continued his career at Lotus and TVR. The plot thickens…

‘The move to Longbridge is not a happy one’

However, in February 1969, Roy Haynes suddenly resigned from British Leyland. He told David Benson of the Daily Express: ‘There has been a difference of opinion between myself and other Directors… The move to Longbridge is not a happy one, but most people are ready to work in most places. It goes deeper than that. I am leaving for personal reasons and I don’t want to elaborate.’

David Benson reckoned Haynes had quit BLMC because his wife ran a successful business in Essex and refused to move. Until then Roy Haynes had commuted between Cowley and Danbury, Essex, but the extra distance to Longbridge may have made this impossible. A British Leyland spokesman commented: ‘We are very sorry to lose Haynes, but his resignation was because of his domestic commitments in Essex and he did not wish to move to Birmingham.’

The first production Mini Clubman saloons were assembled in May 1969, followed by the first estates in September of that year.

The Mini Clubman was launched by the new parent company BLMC in October 1969, though whether any were actually sold to the public before January 1970 is open to question. At the time the big film in the cinemas was Guy Hamilton’s all-star aviation blockbuster Battle Of Britain. BLMC exploited the vogue for 1940s nostalgia as The Times in its October 1969 issue reported:

‘Wizard prangs at Earls Court’

‘As the last few days tick by to the opening of the Earl’s Court Motor Show next Wednesday, the publicity men of the two major contenders on the home market – British Leyland and Ford – are already getting in each other’s hair. The latest cause celebre is a film produced by British Leyland for showing to its dealers to promote the new Mini Clubman announced today.

‘This features three of the new super-minis complete with RAF red, white and blue roundels and driven by heavily moustached types wearing flying helmets circa. Battle of Britain. Performing suitably intricate manoeuvres they chase and destroy an enemy, who disappears in a cloud of bright green smoke. Unfortunately, the enemy – despite his huge black Luftwaffe crosses – is clearly identifiable as a Ford Anglia.

‘And if there is any doubt the film-makers have included a close-up of the victorious Mini leader adding another Ford insignia to several already decorating his cockpit door. Another rather significant feature is the introductory talk provided by the American ex-Ford executive who is now Sales Director of the Austin Morris division, Filmer Paradise. Ford’s view of all this?

‘”British Leyland really is becoming rather pathological about us and in a way it is quite flattering that they go to such lengths to identify our cars as their major competition.” Would Ford retaliate? “We would never react in this rather childish way. We are – to say the least – a little more adult.” Wearing a rather pained expression a British Leyland spokesman said: “This was just one piece of a very humorous film which featured the Mini in many settings, including prehistoric times. We don’t need to knock Ford, our sales figures do that for us.”‘

Where is that film now?

In the family way

Haynes' World: With the Clubman, Maxi and Marina BLMC had the makings of a new, square-rigged family look. ADO22 (second left), a proposed revision of the 1100/1300 range, would have completed the set, with its indicator and sidelight arrangement a clear legacy of Haynes' time at Ford. The Maxi was soon to receive a Clubman-style grille, thus strengthening the family look.
Haynes’ World: With the Clubman, Maxi and Marina BLMC had the makings of a new, square-rigged family look. ADO22 (second left), a proposed revision of the 1100/1300 range, would have completed the set, with its indicator and sidelight arrangement a clear legacy of Haynes’ time at Ford. The Maxi was soon to receive a Clubman-style grille, thus strengthening the family look

Mini was now a standalone marque, badge-engineering was out, the Austin and Morris versions having disappeared into the dustbin of history, and the Clubman estate arrived to replace the Traveller and Countryman. By October 1969 the Beatles had broken up, the ‘Swinging Sixties’ were about to become the ‘sordid Seventies’ – and the Mini was set to meet the challenges of a new decade. The Clubman range included the 1275GT, perhaps the most controversial Mini of all. Long dismissed as a third-rate Cooper 1275S, the 1275GT should really be looked on as a replacement for the 55bhp 998cc Mini Cooper.

With a single carburettor 1275cc engine taken from the best-selling 1300 saloon production line and providing 59bhp, the 1275GT had more torque than – and therefore far superior acceleration to – the 998cc Cooper, combined with superior equipment and the better 7.5inch brakes from the Cooper 1275S.

And the 1275GT had another advantage over the 998 Cooper: the twin 1¼-inch SU carburettors of the latter car tended to go out of tune if it was driven hard, which must have driven up warranty costs as disgruntled owners demanded rectification. The single 1½-inch SU carburettor of the 1275GT didn’t go out of tune so easily.

The 1275GT falls a little flat

Mini 1275GT

Some critics have claimed that the early 1275GT used the lower 3.65 to 1 final drive to boost acceleration in comparison with the 1275S. The truth is probably simpler: that the 1275GT had the same gearbox as the BLMC Austin/Morris 1300GT saloon. In 1971 it was raised to 3.44 to 1.

The Cooper 1275S in fact remained in production until July 1971, though in reality as a competition car and fashion icon it was a spent force. The Ford Escort was now the hot car of the moment. It is perhaps unfair to condemn Lord Stokes and co. for killing the Mini Cooper 1275S, as this was the same management team that introduced the 16-valve Triumph Dolomite Sprint in 1973, which became a highly successful competition car.

Performance is more than adequate

BL Special Tuning in fact offered a tuning kit to give the 1275GT the performance of the 1275S. The kit numbered C-AJJ 4082 consisted of a polished cylinder head, an extra 1.5-inch SU carburettor, inlet manifold, air filters and distributor, and cost all of £125 when Motor magazine tested it back in the early 1970s.

This boosted top speed from 87mph to 94mph and the 0-60 mph time from 14.2 seconds to an impressive 10 seconds, which was in fact better than the 10.9 seconds Motor had achieved with the Cooper 1275S. Whereas the Mini Cooper was understated in its appearance, the 1275GT was very much a product of its era, featuring 10in Rostyle wheels and go-faster stripes along its sides. In 1974, the 1275GT received 12in steel wheels which enabled larger 8.4in disc brakes to be fitted.

This also raised the overall gearing of the car. Dunlop Denovo run-flat tyres were offered as an option, becoming standard from 1977, though many owners opted for normal wheels and tyres at the first opportunity as handling with the Denovos was inferior. The standard Mini Clubman saloon was mechanically the same as the Mini 1000, using the 38bhp 998cc engine, later uprated to 39bhp.

How things go overseas

In August 1971, the Mini Clubman was launched in Australia where, unlike the UK, it supplanted the round-nosed version. From now on the Clubman was the Australian Mini. The Australian Mini had been the first variant to use wind up windows back in 1965 although, unlike the UK cars, it retained external hinges. The Australian Clubman continued to use these doors.

Buyers down under now had a choice between the Morris Mini Clubman 1100, which used a locally-made 1098cc engine, and Clubman GT which had a 1275cc engine. Both these models retained hydrolastic suspension until April 1973. In April 1972, the Morris marque was phased out and from now on these cars were Leyland Mini Clubmans. More changes occurred in 1973 when the models were renamed just Mini and Mini S.

In 1975, all manual gearbox UK Clubmans received the larger and more powerful 45bhp 1098cc engine, but the automatic transmission versions continued with the 998cc power unit. Perhaps when the Austin Allegro failed to sell in the numbers expected BL had a surplus of 1098cc engines to use up. Ironically, in Australia, the Clubman switched from home-made 1098cc engines to 998cc units imported from the UK…

Also down under, from 1976 the Australian Mini Clubman began to appear in more upmarket variants, beginning with the limited edition Mini SS, which had alloy wheels, a stereo and superior trim, all for a 10 per cent premium.

This was followed in 1977 by the Mini Sunshine with a sunroof and tinted windows. In March 1977, the first of the LS models appeared, a 998 cc car with upmarket trim and magnesium wheels. This was followed by the 1275 LS in August 1978 which also had 12 inch wheels, the only Aussie model to use them. Unfortunately, the 1275 LS became a rare model as all Australian Mini production ceased in October 1978 when the factory at Enfield, New South Wales closed.

Styled to lose?

The extremely rare Australian Mini 1275LS.
The extremely rare Australian Mini 1275LS

From a styling point of view perhaps the most successful Clubman was the estate, as the new nose suited that model’s longer wheelbase better than the saloon’s stumpy body. The Clubman estate fought a rearguard action against the new generation of superminis coming onto the market. It originally came with fake wood trims along the side and rear doors, which now look very dated. Like the saloon variant, the estate received the 1098cc engine in 1975.

As related earlier, the Clubman was the brainchild of ex-Ford men Roy Haynes and Paul Hughes and is an interesting contrast or hybrid of the original Issigonis design and Ford ergonomics. The controversy surrounding the Mini Clubman depends on one’s opinion of the original 1959 design.

The central instrument binnacle of the 1959 Mini was a design feature inherited from the Morris Minor and, while some owners thought it was quaint, others thought and indeed wrote to the motoring press that the dials should be in front of the driver. The Clubman was the answer to their prayers, introducing Ford-type interior ergonomics to BMC/BLMC’s baby.

Some changes make the grade

Indeed, by the 1980s, the Paul Hughes-designed instrument binnacle was standard fitting to all production Minis. The much-criticised larger Clubman nose has been condemned for being bulbous, aerodynamically inferior and an unnecessary diversion. The larger engine bay in reality allowed for easier servicing.

BLMC’s ex-Ford Designers realised there was more to car design than trying to create the best possible car in its class. The car had to be easy to service by the company’s dealers. To perform maintenance work on the original Mini often means removing the front grille. And although the Mini was hailed as an automotive icon, no subsequent small front-wheel-drive car had an engine bay as cramped as the original Mini and the proof of the pudding is BL’s own 1980 Metro.

The simple fact that BMC in its dying days was willing to allow ex-Ford Designers to tinker with the design of its Technical Director, Alec Issigonis, shows how the company was starting to get its act together. The big question is did Issigonis know about the Clubman project? Certainly, he never seemed very enthusiastic about the idea of modifying one of his cars to production, but as Technical Director one must assume he did know about the Clubman and gave his approval, however reluctant.

A late facelift

In 1976, the entire UK Clubman range received a facelift, with all variants sporting the same black grille while the estate dispensed with its fake wood in favour of stick-on stripes.

British Leyland’s chronic financial circumstances during the mid-1970s meant that there was little major development of the Clubman, the most important changes being the introduction of 12in wheels on the 1275GT in 1974 and the other variants receiving the 45bhp 1098cc engine in 1975.

This was a pity as the Mini’s reign as the king of small cars was under threat from the likes of the Fiat 127, Renault 5 and, later, the Ford Fiesta, and the Clubman could have been improved by some fairly simple measures such as fitting a front-mounted radiator, electric fan and disc brakes across the range and giving the estate the 1275cc A-Series engine. All these items were readily available in the Austin Allegro range.

Indian summer

This particular Mini Clubman is fitted with an MG Metro Turbo engine, but also a front-mounted radiator. BL could have fitted a front-mounted radiator to the production Clubman to refine the car in the face of growing criticism about how noisy the Mini was. Certainly the Bertone-styled Innocenti 90 and 120 Mini hatchback had a front-mounted radiator, something MOTOR magazine commented favourably on in a 1979 road test. Perhaps this was a symptom of BL's financial state.
This particular Mini Clubman is fitted with an MG Metro Turbo engine, but also a front-mounted radiator. BL could have fitted a front-mounted radiator to the production Clubman to refine the car in the face of growing criticism about how noisy the Mini was. Certainly, the Bertone-styled Innocenti 90 and 120 Mini hatchback had a front-mounted radiator, something Motor magazine commented favourably on in a 1979 road test. Perhaps this was a symptom of BL’s financial state

The Mini Clubman’s finest hour came in 1978 and 1979 when a 1275GT driven by Richard Longman won the British Touring Car Championship. Richard Longman had learnt his trade at the tuning company Downton Engineering in the 1960s. In 1971, he set up Longman & Company in partnership with other Downton refugees Steve Harris and George Toth.

In 1978, with financial backing from car dealers Patrick Motors, Longman & Company entered and prepared 1275GTs to be driven by Richard Longman and Alan Curnow. Richard Longman took ten class wins in twelve races to secure the BTCC title.

The following year saw the 1275GTs having a clean sweep, with Longman taking ten wins and Alan Curnow the other two. Longman won the championship and the pair took the team prize. Unfortunately, this positive event for the ailing BL empire was overshadowed by the continuing strife in the company which interested the news media more.

In conclusion

Mini Clubman saloon production ended in August 1980 to make way for the Metro, although the estate lingered on – renamed 1000HL Estate – until 1982. The car was controversial in its day, detested by no less a person than Alec Issigonis himself, but it did its job as the Mini returned to its roots as a people’s car.

There is a postscript to the Mini Clubman story. In the 1990s, Mini enthusiasts found that the extra length of the Clubman engine bay had its uses: by removing the inner wings, a larger engine and end-on five-speed gearbox could be transplanted into the humble Mini.

The most popular transplants have been Vauxhall 16v 2.0-litre engines with iron blocks with alloy heads, or the all-alloy Honda VTEC and Rover K-Series. With outputs of 200bhp attainable the Mini Clubman now has function over style.

Saloon 275,583
Estate 197,606
1275GT 110,673
Roy Haynes pictured with two of his foremost creations: the MkII Ford Cortina and the Morris Marina (Picture: "Men and Motors", Barney Sharatt).
Roy Haynes pictured with two of his foremost creations: the MkII Ford Cortina and the Morris Marina (Picture: Men and Motors, Barney Sharatt)
Ian Nicholls
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  1. I have one of those “extremely rare Australian Mini 1275LS” cars for sale. Problem is, it’s in Australia!

    But it is very close to original, which seems to make it even rarer, from what I see online.

    However, it’s never had those extra lights in the grill (fog lights?) that I see in the photo in your article.

    This is the only mini I’ve ever known, so perhaps some might think I’ve missed out on something by not experiencing an “original”, but I adore it and really miss driving it. It’s time to admit I’ll never get around to restoring it and sell it to someone who will.

    Oh — and don’t forget the mini’s finest hour in Australia — winning the 1966 Bathurst 500 with Rauno Aaltonen and Bob Holden driving. In fact, mini took the first 9 positions outright for the endurance race that year.

    Minis forever!

  2. great cars, dont make them like that anymore, saddly the modern cars are to complicated to fix….

  3. I still think the Clubman & 1275GT were decent looking little cars, (nice photo of MFC 442H above) After owning a ’67 Mini 850 I aspired to buy a Clubman… never did though!

  4. Always wondered why an updated Clubman saloon (derived from the Riley Kestrel) or a Clubman with black bumpers (and without any chrome) was never considered.

    Also read that the extra length of the Clubman engine bay was intended to receive the 1.5 E-Series unit, a pity the Clubman hatchback prototype never entered production.

    Regarding the 1275GT, it would have been better if it became the 1098GT instead and made use of the similarly powered 55-59 hp 1098cc A-Series engine.

    That would than enable an alternate 1275GT to be uprated to featuring the same 71-74 hp output as the Innocenti Mini De Tomaso.

  5. Can anyone confirm that about the clubman been intended to have the 1500 E series engine or is it just one of those stories ?

    • I don’t think the 1500 E-series would have fitted, however when the E-series was first conceived the plan was a 1300 for ADO16, a 1600 for ADO14, a 2l for ADO17, and a 2.4l for an A110 replacement. However when the 1275 was developed for the 1300, that all changed. However, if ADO22 had gone ahead, it may have used the original E-series engines, then a 1300 E-series Clubman hatch would have made a logical range topper.

      I fitted a 1750 Maxi engine into a Mini race car, it did require modifying the subframe and had to sit quite low to clear the bonnet. But a 1300 E-series wouldn’t have needed as tall a block, so might have been able to fit.

      • The purported rationale was the idea the E-Series was developed to fit into any space an A-Series would, a 1500 engine should be quite a bit shorter than the the 1750 unit to fit into a Mini let alone a Clubman though admittingly it would be a relatively tight squeeze and am dubious about the idea in its proposed form against a tuned 1275cc+ A-Series.

        That has not stopped people from performing 1500 E-Series conversions over the years including below as well as the odd 1500 Mini Moke (including an Australian 5-speed conversion via a Nomad) and a few others. – –

  6. I had a 1275 GT Mini which I bought new in 1972, dark blue with white decals, and I have to say I loved every minute with the car. Unfortunately she was written off within the first year, and no, it wasn’t my fault. But despite the front end being flattened virtually back to the windscreen, my wife and I walked away unharmed apart from some serious seat belt bruising.

    Can anyone remember the price of these cars new? I have searched the web to no avail, plenty about the car itself but absolutely zilch about the price new. I should be able to remember but simply can’t. Any help appreciated.

    • I bought a brand new Clubman in 1977 for £2,200, loved the car but both sills and back corner of bonnet all rusted through in 4 years, absolutely pityful. Made in that era with russian steel, apparently.

  7. I had a 1275 GT Mini which I bought new in 1972, dark blue with white decals, and I have to say I loved every minute with the car. Unfortunately she was written off within the first year, and no, it wasn’t my fault. But despite the front end being flattened virtually back to the windscreen, my wife and I walked away unharmed apart from some serious seat belt bruising. And without the benefit of airbags back then of course.

    Can anyone remember the price of these cars new? I have searched the web to no avail, plenty about the car itself but absolutely zilch about the price new. I should be able to remember but simply can’t. Any help appreciated.

    Correct email: raymondreynolds@btinternet. (The website insists on using a capital R at the beginning)

  8. I always thought the Clubman demonstrated the woeful lack of imagination of those ex-Ford people. The front end is not only horribly jarring with the shape of the original Mini, but is also an exact copy of the front end of the Mark II Cortina. Just as the Maxi facia was an exact copy of the Corsair. Pinin Farina once said you couldn’t improve on the shape of the original Mini and he was right.

  9. In my opinion, BL made some terrible commercial descicions in the 1970s, the lack of a hatchback on the Allegro and Princess being one, allegedly to protect sales of the Maxi.
    Another was the failure to introduce the Innocenti Mini hatchback into the UK. This could have given the Mini more versatility and a useful sales boost in the mid 1970s when it most needed it and helped it compete with the Fiat 127, Renault 5 and ultimately the Ford Fiesta.
    I actually owned one of these Innocenti hatchback Minis, they had corresponding holes at the front of the two leading footwells and the dashboard was easily reversible. All you really needed to effect a conversion was a RHD Mini Mk2 steering rack! So given this I can only presume the plan was originally to import it into the UK, but then for reasons unclear then abandoned.
    Fot the record my Innocenti hatchback inveariably caused a stir wherever it was parked up, most people trying to work out what it really was. Most people plumping for a derivative of the Fiat 127!

    • Nice, was yours the original with the A series or later post 82 with the Dhaihatsu engine? (Or indeed, the Fiat era “Small”?)

      The Innocenti Mini was a good looking contemporary rebody, it looked like a car from a newer generation to the Mini – including the Clubman.

      If the Clubman resembled a mk2 Cortina front, the Innocenti resembled the mk5 Cortina front with the wraparound indicators, square lights and black grille.

      • My Innocenti Mini was I think the 110L, with a 1275cc engine and the biggest single SU caburettor I have ever seen. The car was good, if you had nerves of steel, for over 100mph. Which I only ever did once, as I wanted to keep my driving licence!
        When I sold it a chap who was a Mini expert and ran his own Mini specialist business, claimed it was actually a Mini Cooper engine.
        Definitely a car i wish I had kept.

        • I had an Innocenti de Tomaso with the 1300GT engine. I did drive it regularly on the autobaan at 100 MPH. The noise was deafening! I used to drive from Denmark to Holland and back on a regular basis for weekends at home and the seats were so comfortable I could get out and walk normally! I drove 100,000 kms in one year, but unfortunately needed 2 replacement engines (the second one because they had supplied the wrong one the first time). Up to 50 km/h I could out drag a Porsche. Unfortunately they were extremely rust prone. My rear hatch was rusting within 2 years. I can’t find any second hand ones for sale anywhere.

  10. If it was possible to transplant a larger engine and 5-speed end-on gearbox into a Clubman just by removing the inner wing, then was it also possible for the Clubman to ditch the in-sump layout in favor of an end-on gearbox mated to the A-Series engine?

  11. The Marina-esque hatch looks quite credible for it’s day, would have been a good idea to stick the roomier LWB estate floor beneath that, add longer doors for better rear access and lower the steering column for a more relaxed driving position. Could’ve been positioned above the mini, gaining a foothold in the supermini sector very cheaply.

    The Clubman was a half-baked idea, replacing the top-spec Minis with no practical advantage, just added extra engineering costs.

  12. What was the reason that the Innocenti Mini was not used to replace the min?

    It was gorgeous. Bertone job, fergorsake!

    “The Innocenti Mini is an automobile introduced by Innocenti in 1974. The vehicle was a rebodied, three-door hatchback version of the Mini, styled by Bertone. A five-door prototype was developed around 1980, but was never put into production.”

    B-L might still be around, had they had beautiful vehicles like that.

    • The Innocenti Mini was said to have been much more expensive to build and had less interior packaging compared to the original Mini, largely as a result of the Innocenti Mini being a standard alone project unique to Innocenti of Italy that meant there were financial limitations as to what could be done to improve the Innocenti Mini over the existing Mini.

      The people involved with the development of the Innocenti Mini actually wanted to increase the wheelbase of the car to compensate for the packaging issues (such as new front seats stealing rear legroom, etc) yet that would have cost a lot of money (approximately seven figures plus) to implement for what was essentially a separate project.

      Especially since BL wanted to somehow replace the Mini with a clean-sheet design instead of say using the Barrel Car project (platform, etc) as a basis for an improved and cheaper to built Mini replacement.

    • Mmmm, maybe. You find that large institutions will concoct a plausible, face saving set of reasons to cover their inactivity and lack of foresight. They cannot really turn round and say, well actually it was a balls up we did not think about it at the time.As members of the public, we often make the mistake of holding captains of industry in awe, because of the positions they hold. But the truth is we are all human and make mistakes, its just how you cover it up that matters!
      I have owned a standard and Innocenti Mini and any restrictions in internal size were minimal (if they existed at all) and were more than offset by the usefulness of the hatchback.
      The body shell had identical holes drilled in the two front footwells for LHD and RHD versions, so at one time it must have been planned to introduce it to the UK.
      I have heard all this before, that it would have been horrendously (or whatever)expensive to produce for the UK. But surely it cannot have been more more so than the Fiat 127 for instance and the Innocenti Mini sold well in mainland Europe despite these so called crippling assembly costs.
      No, I suspect the real reasons were coomercial incompetence and possibly a lack of money.An oportunity to bolster flagging Mini sales in the UK in the mid 1970s lost, I think so.

      • It is likely down to commercial incompetence and lack of money, though the Innocenti Mini would have still needed to spawn a 5-door hatchback to remedy criticisms of the 3-door hatchback model being too small to compete in the fledgling Supermini class.

        Probably did not help that the costs were not mitigated by selling the Innocenti Mini in other markets including the UK.

          • Though there was the weird-looking Embo-built LWB prototype that used the Estate platform, a more tidy looking 5-door would probably be limited to just using the 84.2 inch wheelbase of the Estate/Minivan as demonstrated on the original 4-door Mini prototype.

            There was an image of an Innocenti Mini 5-door prototype I found of the latter a few years back though that appears to have disappeared.

            It would have been interesting to see an Innocenti Mini Estate, either in utilitarian Mk2 VW Polo “Breadvan” estate or upmarket coupe-looking “Shooting-Break” estate forms.

  13. Does anyone know what the story is behind the 1973 Clubman wide-body prototype mentioned in Chris Rees’s recent book on the Mini?

    Specifically aside from its extra width compared to the existing Clubman, is the Clubman wide-body prototype connected with the alleged E-Series powered Clubman prototypes or even as yet unfounded rumors of a Clubman based on a shortened Austin Allegro platform in order to reduce costs?

    Which would also potentially explain how the E-Series engines were able to fit into a Clubman, unless the Mini-sized Allegro-based prototype somehow refers to ADO88 or some other unspecified Mini replacement project.

    • This often gets confused with the early Maestro prototypes that were built on Allegro underframes.

  14. In this article it says “the engine used in the normal Clubman was same as Mini 1000 at 38/39bhp.” I always thought my old 1967 Mini 850 was 39bhp… am I wronG?

  15. In 1967 BMC were still using/quoting the SAE method to determine engine output figures, as many other car makers still were at that time.

    These figures were taken with a typical ‘bench’ tested engine with ancillaries removed, (like a full exhaust, cooling fan) which meant the BHP quoted was always more flattering than the later DIN standard figures.
    So in reality, BMC’s 39 BHP was the same 34 BHP an 850 Mini made a few years later using DIN.

    It’s for this reason alone I have long suspected that the likes of Jaguar and Aston-Martin are sometimes derided these days for ‘exaggerating’ power output levels in the 1960’s.
    I like to think it’s just because of the difference between SAE and the latterly-used DIN methods of measurement and nothing more sinister.

    • Thanks for clarifying that Carroll. My next car (Viva HC) was quoted at 58bhp and a ’79 Datsun Cherry 1.0 at 45bhp. Small by todays standards, but we just got on with it.

  16. Wonder how a three-box Clubman replacement of the Elf/Hornet would have approached ditching the latter’s tailfins in favor of a more modernized rear-end treatment without negatively impacting boot opening, could Peugeot 504 estate inspired tail-lights have worked?

  17. BMC missed a sitter with the Clubman. They could have lengthened it and made it into a hatchback with a 1275cc engine and a higher standard of equipment than the basic Mini, which could have continued as an 850 and 1000 cc basic car. The hatchback could have mostly supplanted the Mini and become an effective replacement for the seventies, with the Mini 850/1000 living on as a city car.

  18. Had the Clubman hatchback been made, to what extent could it form the basis of a further post-1980s reskin roughly along the lines of a shrunken 3-door Maestro?

    The Clubman hatchback’s rear provides a fairly easy starting point, while front at minimum could have been updated to roughly resemble the Maestro at the front similar to the Marina being facelifted into the Ital.

    • @ Nate, very likely, but the Clubman was only a light revision of the 1959 Mini with the same problems of a tiny boot, poor passenger space and poor refinement. Giving the car a new front end and a new dashboard fooled no one and many Mini purists hated the Clubman update as it uglified the car. Ideally lengthening the Clubman by a foot, adding a hatchback and making the 1098cc and 1275 cc engines as standard could have seen the car steal a march on superminis uncer development at Fiat and Renault.

      • While understanding the Clubman’s pitfalls would have to say that had it featured a hatchback as was envisioned amongst other updates (plus hydragas and a 84-inch wheelbase 5-door if not an 84-inch wheelbase 3-door to slot it above the round-nose Mini), such criticisms against the Clubman could have been largely mitigated.

        It is possible that post-1980 reskinned Clubmans had they not been discontinued could have resembled a shrunken Maestro (assuming the front-end is not remedied beforehand), with the Maestro in turn featuring a lower bonnet line like the larger Montego (had the resources been available to design the Maestro around the S-Series engine).

        The Maestro styling theme and lower bonnet line could have also been utilized on the Allegro or an Allegro-derived sub-Maestro larger Supermini model (of roughly ADO16 dimensions) given it was used as the starting point for what eventually became the Maestro/Montego, powered by 998-1275cc A+ and 1598cc S-Series engines.

  19. Regarding the radical ideas Roy Haynes and his team had for ADO20, is it known to what degree ADO20 was influenced by the unbuilt ADO22 project and vice versa in terms of styling as well as the ADO22’s planned revised/refined update of its hydrolastic suspension (assuming it was separate from what became hydragas) and any other improvements?

    • Roy was always ahead of his time. After he left BL he created an electric car company based in Maldon, Essex called ElecTraction Ltd. Recently he was promoting his ideas for an airport of the Essex coast.

      • Know it has been mentioned numerous times that Roy Haynes envisioned a common platform to replace both ADO20 and ADO22 (had the latter been built), yet am fascinated by the extent he was willing to go on furthering commonality between ADO20 and ADO22 prior to their common replacement.

  20. “by the 1980s, the Paul Hughes-designed instrument binnacle was standard fitting to all production Minis.” I have a brochure from 1984 showing a City E with a single-instrument centre speedo, so the centre binnacle last a lot longer than we might think! I’d assume 1985 must have been the year it was scrapped. The Mayfair always had the in-front-of-driver binnacle since its introduction in the early 80s.

  21. My 1967 base MINI 850 had the centre speedo only, but I remember a Hired Mini in 1985 on Isle of Man had the Clubman style driver facing binnacle which was better. Obviously all basic by today’s standards but did the job.

  22. The photo of ADO 22 alongside Clubman, Maxi and Marina looked potentially good as a complete BL range at the time.

    On the other hand, The Cortina MKII still looked more modern than Marina and by the time Marina was launched, the MKIII Cortina was already active and pulling in sales

  23. While the Clubman’s front featured both a similar look to the rest of the BL range as well as improved engine accessibility which has allowed engine-swapping owners to install various engines in the car’s engine bay over the past few decades, the fact it was said to be less aerodynamic and made the car slightly longer compared to the original roundnose Mini makes it more compromised than necessary.

    Personally like the look of the Clubman front and felt there was a bit more life left for the Clubman front to be updated, however did it really need to be less aerodynamic compared to the original Mini and if so what could have been remedied without restoring to a Clubman SRV4 solution?

    In terms of improving engine accessibility without at least seeming to be less aerodynamic, the Project Ant / Barrel Car appears to have done a much better job of fulfilling the brief against the Mini Clubman that entered production.

    • The clubman was planned to have the hatch ear end that had a marina style feel. I think if it had been unveiled as this then I think it could have kept the mini more in the game during the 70s and not had the derision amongst car fans the released version has.

      • Aware of the planned hatchback rear end for the Clubman yet that is another matter, would have to agree it would have received a better reception compared to the original Clubman though not unqualified before other elements have been resolved to both maintain its competitiveness as well as further improve its longevity.

        Subjectively the number plate of the Marina style rear could have been placed between the rear lights a la Innocenti Mini and they could have tried to sort out an alternative to the aerodynamically inferior front end, there is much more one can go into regarding the improvements the Clubman could have received (let alone the Mini in general) yet the image of the hatchback prototype also shows it was in need of some good de-seaming (particularly at the rear) before reaching production.

        If one were particularly harsh the hatchback rear looks like an unnatural extension of the car with the external seams similar to Roy Haynes’s early attempt at a booted Mini, unlike the hatchback conversions done to the original Mini (e.g. Marples, Radford, etc).

        A de-seamed Ant / Barrel Car solution would have helped the Clubman hatchback, otherwise it is difficult to believe the Roy Haynes developed the Clubman in isolation without him or others being aware of the ideas from other in-house proposal and seeking to corporate their good points into the Clubman. Given the sketchy details surrounding the development of the car it is entirely possible Roy Haynes had something much grander in mind for the Clubman beyond a new front and a hatchback that somehow ties into the ADO22 project, before the latter was canned in favour of the Allegro and a compromised approach was taken with the Clubman.

        • I agree that it needed deseeming, however I think that Haynes was working on a budget. I think Barrel Car was much like Issigonis’ much vaunted 9X, never ever going to reach production, as the money wasn’t there. That’s why we didn’t get the hatch, which was really an oxy moron, as they could have charged more and covered the cost of the re engineering the read end. I think if Haynes had been given free range that he wanted, I think the ad016 and Charlie Griffin’s planned manufacturing changes, would have been the basis for a mini replacement based on his plan for 5 platforms.

          • From my admittingly limited understanding Barrel Car made use of an 84-inch wheelbase as well as maybe a new engine within the context of the wider ADO74 project, however it is the front and improved space efficiency / engine accessibility as well as the cheaper to build and less labour intensive to produce elements of the Barrel Car that would carry over to the Clubman. So any increase in costs along with the hatchback (possibly a Marples / Radford inspired solution) would have been balanced out by a reduction in costs and being less labour intensive to build.

            Aspects of the above would later be revisited again in the 1970s during the development of ADO88 / Metro when new presses were bought for the Metro, potentially allowing the Mini floor to be made in one pressing instead of 6 pressings, redoing the side pressings to give some tumblehome thereby passing some German shoulder-room regulations and de-seaming it to get rid of a source of rust to the satisfaction of both Pressed Steel and the Body Builders who never liked them.

            Haynes was working on a budget which is understandable, yet would go out on a limb and contend his original plans for ADO20 were more intertwined with ADO22 than one would expect with his ideas of increasing component sharing and commonality between the Mini and ADO16 to further atomize costs before the tight budget and cancellation of ADO22 (the resources being diverged to other projects within the company) led to the latter only carrying the front at minimum. Would be very surprised if the hatchback version of ADO22 was completely dissimilar to what Haynes planned for the Clubman hatchback given his involvement with both projects.

  24. Whereas back in the 70s I thought it looked ok, I find the front end really jars on the saloon models now. It looks as jarring as a square front on a Morris Minor, Fiat 500, VW Beetle or 2CV!

    On the other hand I think it really suits the estate

    Still both models sold pretty well AND it at least gave Austin Morris dealers something “new” to sell, and the frontal styling was fashionable at the time, ditto the 1275GT with its graphics and bright colours. Sometimes you do need to change things to make it clear that someone has bought a NEW model…

  25. Park a Mini and a Minivan side by side and marvel over the greater wheelbase of the van, BL did not make enough use of the Minivan floorpan to stretch the saloon, a few extra pressings for the sides and there is the Mini facelift of the 1970s.

  26. The 998cc Clubman gained little beyond a standard Mini 1000. It was certainly not a a luxury Mini in the guise of the Hornet/Elf. In fact whilst the Clubman instruments were better sighted in front of the driver, the oil pressure gauge standard on the 1000, was deleted for the Clubman. The Hornet/Elf had a polished walnut dashboard (full width on the Elf), the Clubman had an open down market shelf.
    Over the 1000, the Clubman gained little beyond the aforementioned, a more accessible engine and better quality bumpers. Big deal, what was all the fuss about, was my reaction at the time.

    • Leyland missed a sitter, the Clubman was little more than a Mini 1000 with a more modern front end and a better dashboard. As has been mentioned above, the Mini van’s platform could have formed a new Mini for the seventies, such as a hatchback with the Clubman front end and a choice of 998 and 1275 cc A plus engines. Also a luxury version with the wooden dash from the Wolseley Hornet, more standard equipment and the 1275 engine could have attracted sales.

      • There was a 4 door Mini prototype made on the long wheelbase platform, with the Clubman nose & a rear hatch it could have been a decent supermini.

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