Press Report : Legendary MINI Moke is reborn

Jack Rix, Auto Express, 16th December, 2009


In a surprise move MINI has unveiled a brand-new concept car designed as a successor to the famous Sixties Moke. The car is badged the MINI Beachcomber Concept and it’s set to take January’s Detroit Motor Show by storm.

Auto Express was granted an exclusive audience with both the car and its designer Gert Hildebrand at the Magna Steyr factory in Graz, Austria. Hildebrand explained the reason for the location: ‘For MINI, 2010 is the year of the crossover. Firstly this Beachcomber Concept will be shown in Detroit, then a production version of our Crossover, built here in Graz, will be shown in Geneva before going on sale in the UK in the Autumn.”

So this is far from a wacky one-off show car. Imagine the Beachcomber with doors and a fixed roof and what we have here is actually an early look at how the production version of the Crossman will shape up.

Hildebrand explained the thinking behind his concept: ‘Under the skin this is entirely the same as the production crossover, in fact the donor car for this project was one of our many prototypes. The reason we chose the Moke as inspiration was not only to give the concept a sense of history, but there’s no better way of showing off the beautiful interior than cutting off the roof and doors!”

Climb on board through the huge side opening and the emphasis is on an active lifestyle. Each seat gets its own symbol depicting an outdoor pursuit, while a compass and a false horizon to the left and right of the steering wheel keeps you pointing in the right direction.

Hildebrand summed up the extravagant interior: ‘The theme is based around Hawaii and the active lifestyle – hence the volcano red wetsuit material on the seats and the various symbols depicting the different disciplines in the Ironman event. In fact Ironman was a name we considered for this concept.”

The Beachcomber is actually shorter than a Golf hatchback and only ten centimetres longer than a Clubman

Should the weather take a turn for the worse, a fabric tonneau cover can be pulled over the car – this fastens to the windscreen frame, rear panel and the side openings. For more permanent protection, ultra-light plastic inserts can be fitted to form a roof, rear panel and doors.

The styling is reminiscent of the Crossman Concept seen at 2008’s Paris Motor Show, with short overhangs and a wide-set stance. But the Beachcomber’s hexagonal grille borrows its chunky lines from the nose of the Mini Moke. Despite it’s stocky stance, the Beachcomber is actually shorter than a Golf hatchback and only ten centimetres longer than a Clubman.

Rugged wheelarches are filled with 17-inch alloys, which will be available on the production Crossman in a selection of sizes up to 19-inches, and wrapped in deep-grooved run-flat tyres, negating the need for a spare. So, instead of serving its usual purpose, the wheel cover attached to the boot door acts as additional storage. Another clever touch is the rear cross beam – viewed from above, it spells out MINI’s logo.

The level of detail on this concept is astonishing – from production-ready features, such as the centre rail running down the middle of the cockpit, to purely conceptual ideas like the wetsuit upholstery, it’s a concept that serves two purposes. Not only will it excite showgoers in Detroit –  an important factor with America being MINI’s biggest market – but it also tells us loads about the forthcoming Crossman, the fourth addition to the modern MINI family and the most adventurous model yet.

According to Hildebrand MINI’s ambitions over the next few years don’t stop there either: ‘For the next three years we are already working on three completely new MINIs, the Crossover for 2010 and production version of the Coupe and Roadster concepts shown in Frankfurt for the two years following that.”

[Source: Auto Express]


Keith Adams


  1. “Shorter than a Golf” – I should cocoa.

    I’m glad they explained that thing on the tailgate – I thought it was a valve radio with a bad attack of pigeon grey Dulux.

    Conceptually, this is a million miles from the original Moke, which didn’t need matchstick men on the seats to remind people it was an offroad vehicle. That’s new MINI all over – a fashion bauble more than a means of transport.

  2. This is the most convincing “we wanted to evolve the MINI, like the 911” New MINI I’ve seen… and I think it’s totally down to the squarer front and CORRECTLY shaped grille 😉

    To me, this ACTUALLY looks like a Mini Moke that’s been updated!

  3. It looks quite fun, but it’s a million miles away from a Mini. I wonder how much they’ll charge for the Crossman – £25k for a MINI perhaps? What a name – Crossman – you’ve got to be kidding!

  4. Pass the sick bag…

    It is not a Moke.
    It does not look like a Moke.
    It will never be a Moke.

    Another BMW ploy to pull wool over the eyes of people who think that they want the heritage of the Mini. I still say they should have named the car Maxi.

  5. Let’s face it – it’s awful.

    The Continentals seem to have no idea about taste or styling and it’s nothing like a Moke apart from the lookalike grille.

  6. Looks load of fun, I’m sure plenty of people would love to be seen in it. It’s just a bit young and zestful for those commenting above…

  7. I wish they’d make it!

    Face it. Modern cars are modern cars. You couldn’t sell a new Moke now if you tried. If you want a Moke, buy/restore one. As an option presented to new car buyers, I think this is really quite attractive and it’s a shame it’ll never make production.

    I’d like mine in yellow, with a yellow grille panel and white roof bars please!

  8. The Crossman is likely to be called the MINI Countryman when it goes on sale next year…

    I think this Moke concept looks a lot better than the previous MINI SUV concept and indicates what the Countryman will look like. Sadly, British ownership never moved the Mini brand forward or added new models or variants after the 1960s but allowed it to almost fade away into the past over 40 years. Why could the British management not have seen the potential to make MINI into a modern sales success like BMW have?

    Quote from Dec 2009 Mini Magazine:
    “Even before BMW divorced itself from Rover, the Mini was only ticking along on a ‘care and maintenance’ basis keeping the name alive. By this time, demand had slumped almost to nothing – only 11,738 had been built in 1999, and a mere 7070 would follow in 2000. These figures compare badly with the record production year (1971) in which 318,475 had been built. The fact is – and Mini enthusiasts will hate me for saying this – in the wider car world, the public had all but forgotton all about the Mini.
    Many people, in fact, thought the Mini had disappeared years earlier, for so very few were being sold in the late 1990s. Towards the end, many Rover Group dealers rarely even kept Minis in their showroom stocks, though we now know that there were thousands of unsold examples in stock when the end came.

    MINI brand under BMW:
    “Since the MINI brand’s acquisition by the BMW Group, MINI sales have increased every year since 2002, with more than 232,000 MINI vehicles sold in 2008. The United States was the single largest market for MINI cars last year. To date almost 1.5 million vehicles have been sold worldwide since the “New MINI” was launched in 2001. Its characteristic combination of driving fun, individualistic style and premium quality has led to rising sales on all continents in recent years. This unique premium compact car is now sold in 80 countries around the world, with Brazil becoming its newest market in 2009. The MINI brand has come of age and become an important pillar of the BMW Group in virtually all international markets.”

  9. I like it – it’s not what I’d choose to drive, but I can see the appeal. Nice grille too. Shame they couldn’t expand Cowley enough to make the 4X4 models there.

  10. A lot of you are missing the point. All we care about is whether or not it will sell or will it keep the MINI brand in the mind of the public. If the factory moves away from the original idea to sell more cars, then that can only be good.

  11. A cold, clinical, if not cynical, observation of the real world… Money no object, would you rather be seen in one of these or the original or something more ecological like the funky little electric cars they build in France for less than the £20k pricetag I predict (once you’ve added climate control)?

    I know, it’s still a MUST HAVE! A decent paint shade, ICE and bigger wheels… cold, clinical yet cynical did I say?

  12. Production versions of the MINI Coupe and Roadster!!! Whoo whoo have they bought the Mini Marcos name/brand? Another cashing in on the MINI brand – the best investment BMW has made in the UK… With this in mind and what went wrong with smart’s venture in diminutive sports cars is it the way to go or is the MINI brand the gateway to cash-in on any niche?

    Hopefully, workers won’t be affected if failure occurs – they’ve already been there and BMW has nothing to do with Oxfam or any charity apart for their shareholders…

  13. It owes much more to the original BMC Mini beach car built in small quantities than the Moke – would be more convincing if the roof folded down totally leaving a rollcage.

    When are BMW going to add a boot, wood, leather and chrome to make the Elf/Hornet version? That would go down a storm in some markets, eg India, Spain, China, Japan, UK.

  14. I also wonder if that styling house in Italy who tend to pre-empt BMW will be the first to stuff another engine/transmission in the boot to make a Twini?

  15. I think a couple of doors which fold up into a matchbox and could be put in the glovebox would be a good idea. I guess any doors that are that clever would also need a lockable glove box. Perhaps some gullwing doors might be ok, then they could also be used it make it fly. Alex.

  16. @Chris Chapman
    “I also wonder if that styling house in Italy who tend to pre-empt BMW will be the first to stuff another engine/transmission in the boot to make a Twini?”

    From the BMW Press Release:
    “Even ALL4 all-wheel drive goes back to a role model from the past, to be precise a prototype Mini Moke fitted by Alec Issigonis with two engines in 1963. On this test car, appropriately referred to as the “Twini”, the front and rear wheels were driven in each case by a four-cylinder from the Mini range of engines.”

  17. @Puke Monkey
    You are right – it’s not that bad. It’s grown on me somewhat since the original crossover concept. However, I do quite like the idea of gullwing doors or doors that can be folded up into a matchbox. I’m intrigued that I attracted your attention in the same manner as the other two you cited 😉 Alex.

  18. If BMW can sell them – and I think they will sell – good for them and for our economy.

    It’ll soon become a paradox though, as I can’t think of a single outdoor pursuit to which it’s well suited. It’ll even struggle to carry kit for four rock climbers, lacks weatherproofing or 4WD – and those seats? When you’re clad in muddy boots, accompanied by the canine version of a name used in this website’s title? And where do you perch a kayak?

    This won’t matter a jot. People of fit physique or an ‘outdoor pursuits’ bent don’t, in my experience, buy high performance or ‘active lifestyle’ cars. Drivers of such cars seem much more likely in the real world to be couch potatoes than the active type. Therefore the Beachcomber must be equipped with ashtrays as big as a 1970s Capri’s.

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