If youve been getting increasingly disillusioned with MINI spin-offs that bear no resemblance to any historical model, then the MINI Clubvan concept is sure to warm your cockles.
Due to be unveiled at the upcoming 2012 Geneva Motor Show, it could be passed off as just a Clubman with some boarded-up rear windows, and to be fair thats exactly what it is.
But its also the first model since the Clubman itself which has any real ties to a variant of the original Mini. There was never an original Mini five-door off-roader like the Countryman, nor did Morris, Austin or Rover ever make a coupe with a roofline like a chavs backward-turned baseball cap.
They did make a Mini panel van though, and thats clearly what this model harks back to. For fans of the original Mini, its about time too.
It looks pretty good for a start. The Clubman is an acquired taste of course, but in losing its back windows the proportions actually work quite well. And it looks like a MINI – its suitably retro again, something that cannot be said of the Countryman, Coupe or Roadster.
In fact, MINI itself says that the Clubvan is inspired by the Mini vans of old, though historically the Morris Mini Traveller and Austin Mini Countryman arrived as a result of fitting seats into the Mini van, rather than the Clubvans stripped-down Clubman roots.
MINI is aiming the car not at builders or plumbers, but towards fashion designers, art gallery owners or event caterers.
With that MINI badge on the front, itd also surely be a favourite of every boutique store owner between Hoxton and Harrogate. Most of them already drive MINIs in the first place so if BMW puts it into production, you wont be able to move for MINI Clubvans in a few years.
Befitting MINIs high-class aspirations for Clubvan owners, this is no cheap, rubber-lined small van like the average Ford Fiesta or Peugeot 207-based affair. Instead, the rear is lined in dark cloth, as is the roof lining. You still get a flat floor to maximise load space, with attachment loops and a mesh partition ensures you wont get battered by petunias or crushed by home-made fudge and toffee every time you brake.
Even MINIs driver-side Clubdoor begins to make more sense on the Clubvan, allowing drivers to load items from the side of the car, as well as the two rear doors. The glass in the rear doors is heavily tinted, and polycarbonate replaces the glass rear side windows of the normal Clubman.
The concept itself is painted in a traditional British Racing Green, with suitable signwriting down the side. It certainly looks upmarket in those colours, though painted in a brighter hue itd definitely be eye-catching too. Some vehicles work particularly well as promotional tools for small businesses, and this would definitely be one of them.
MINI hasnt confirmed production just yet, but it has to be likely. Those boutique owners would crawl over broken glass for a car like the MINI Clubvan