16 December 2009
 

Mini Beachcomber

MINI unveils Beachcomber Concept

Autozine
16 December 2009 | Prior to the launch of the brand's fourth model announced for autumn 2010, MINI is now demonstrating another spectacular concept car: the concept of a brand-new type of vehicle proudly presented by MINI at the North American International Auto Show (16 to 24 January 2010) in Detroit. The MINI Beachcomber Concept is a four-seater concept car designed for maximum driving pleasure, taking up the enhanced options of the new MINI and combining these potentials with the vision of a radically open body concept.
Info

The MINI Beachcomber Concept consistently does without doors, a conventional roof and all other body elements which might possibly limit the intensity of the occupants' encounter with their surrounding world. This makes the driver and up to three passengers one harmonious entity communicating directly with their surroundings – whether cruising through town, enjoying rough tracks in the mountains, or breezing along the beach.

Mini

The MINI Beachcomber Concept combines all-wheel drive with cutting-edge suspension technology, numerous body elements serving to make the car extra-strong and robust, as well as an elevated seating position. Generous spring travel and extra-large light-alloy wheels raise the entire car to a higher level. Access to the front and rear seats is nevertheless convenient and easy thanks to the omission of doors and the entry cutouts extending all the way down to the seat bottoms, allowing the driver and passengers to get in and out in one smooth and flowing process. A pleasant and interesting side effect is that the distance the occupants feel from their surroundings is reduced to a minimum.

The authentic style and character of the MINI Beachcomber Concept also results from the fact that the brand once already offered an extreme thrill of driving pleasure in the open air by conscious reduction to the very minimum: way back in 1964, just five years after the market launch of the classic Mini, the creator of the first model, the world-famous engineer Alec Issigonis, already developed an all-open version of this revolutionary compact car.

The body of the Mini Moke, as it was called, was made up of hardly more than a floorpan, wide sills at the side, the engine compartment lid and the windscreen. A folding roof served – more or less – to protect the driver and passengers from precipitation.

With its robust structure and the drivetrain technology carried over from the Mini, this four-seater fun car became a great success particularly in the sunny regions of the USA and Australia. Production of the Mini Moke in Great Britain continued until 1968 with a production volume of some 14,500 units, following which production was continued in Australia and Portugal.

Mini

The MINI Beachcomber Concept now projects the principle of the Mini Moke into the 21st century. The rustic appearance of the car and its consistent concept of consciously reducing the body components and interior to a minimum clearly follow the tradition of the radically open Mini Moke back in the 1960s. This is indeed further accentuated by design language strongly inspired by the Mini Moke and enhanced by various striking details such as the characteristic radiator grille.

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.

When open, the MINI Beachcomber Concept is also able to carry extra-long objects such as surfboards without the slightest problem. Fastened firmly to the lateral support, surfboards fit conveniently into the car, sticking out at the top on the way to the beach.

The driver and passengers enjoy convenient access to the luggage compartment though the rear panel split vertically down the middle into two sections. Whenever necessary, the right-hand side may remain fully open for bulky objects extending out of the car at the rear. The left rear element, in turn, is a window-less door hinged at the side and extending up to the seat backrests. The additional storage case fitted on to the door is reminiscent in its round shape of a fully enclosed spare wheel holder of the type otherwise seen on a conventional offroader. But since the MINI Beachcomber Concept comes with runflat tyres and therefore does not require a spare wheel, the lockable case may be used to take along additional luggage, keeping beach mats, towels, surf shoes or similar odds and ends within easy reach at all times.

Mini

The soft roof coming off the body completely and folding up into a compact unit offers particularly convenient and, at the same time, effective protection from rain and weather. Whenever required, the roof may be drawn over the car within a few instants like a tonneau cover on a boat, fastening conveniently on the windscreen frame, the rear panel and the side openings.

Made of an extremely light and, at the same time, very robust special fibre, the roof comes with transparent plastic inserts at the sides and at the rear serving as windows. In its functional qualities, the roof follows the same standard as the most sophisticated and demanding outdoor wear combining maximum protection from wind and rain with minimum weight.

The hardtop as such is connected to the windscreen frame at the front and rests in special mounts on the rollover crossbar. Precisely arranged connections joining the hardtop with the side and rear elements keep the entire structure extremely strong and stable, the appropriate connection being unfastened in each case when opening a door.

With the MINI Beachcomber Concept being intended primarily for driving in the open air, the number of air vents has been reduced in the interest of additional loudspeakers on the HiFi system as well as special instruments for offroad motoring. These additional instruments are indeed spherical in shape, reminiscent of the displays in the cockpit of an aircraft.

Mini

A liquid-sprung compass fitted to the left of the steering wheel consistently tells the driver whether he is going the right way and moving in the right direction. A further special instrument to the right of the steering wheel, finally, presents an artificial horizon showing the angle of the car around its longitudinal and transverse axis.

The range of colour and trim within the MINI Beachcomber Concept again reveals the car's close link to nature, the surfaces and seat upholstery, in their design, following the elements of earth, air, water, and fire. All plastic surfaces on the instrument panel come in a newly developed grain look resembling the structure of dry earth.

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