A swing and a hit: the Mini Clubman.
Everyone knows the MINI Clubman. Introduced in 2007 as the third variant of the relaunched MINI, it has become known and loved for many things, most notably its unique split rear doors. But this wasn’t the Clubman’s first appearance. Its debut actually came in 1969, when it was produced in multiple versions, one being the Clubman Estate. Back then it was intended to represent a new, more mature Mini. Did it succeed? It did and it didn’t. But that’s just one part of its exciting story. As this iteration of the MINI Clubman reaches the end of its cycle with the March 2023 release of the Final Edition, it seems a good time to look back at the often controversial car that first cemented the Clubman name.
The huge Mini family.
When the Mini first appeared in 1959, it was immediately obvious to most that it was uniquely suited to turn into a whole host of different automobiles. It almost instantly became a pick-up, while John Cooper also recognised its potential as a racing car. And then there were some exceptionally cool versions such as the Mini Ice Cream Van and the Mini Wildgoose.
There were also two – or four, depending on how you count them – variants that stand out when it comes to the Clubman and the Clubman Estate.
First there were the estate versions of the original Mini. Technically there were two of them, as at the time, there were two of almost all Minis. Mini was not yet its own brand: the first compact cars we think of as the original Mini were either badged as an Austin Seven (later Austin Mini) or a Morris Mini-Minor. This was because of its owner’s, the British Motor Corporation’s (BMC), policy for rebadging: selling essentially the same car under multiple names or brands. The main differentiator was the place of assembly, but they also had a different grille.