These aren’t the newest or the oldest, but still provide quite a contrast. I would estimate that the new(er) Mini is twice as far from the camera than the old one, which makes them look about the same size! Of course that is not the case…
Need I say the old Mini is actually much smaller than the new? Even though the square Clubman front end added 112 mm/4.4 in to the front end of the Mini the real size difference puts the new car at a whopping 464 mm/18.3 in, or 19% longer!
The wheelbase contributes 434 mm/16.9 in alone, but this does not all go into internal space; the original Mini was famous for its tiny 10″ wheels that were specified in order to reduce the space taken up by the wheel arches. Even a stock Mini Cooper’s modest 175/65R15 tyres are approximately 115 mm/4.5 in taller than the original rollerskates, and the arches have to be large enough for the 2006 John Cooper Works GP’s 18 in wheels.
The new one is I think a 2001-2006 R50 generation car (seen above in prototype form with John Cooper), in other words the first of the “new” Minis (why do they want to use all capital letters for the name?), apparently the glass-covered C-pillar is a clear point of difference from the R56 generation car that replaced it. The belt-line is also lower.
The “old” Mini is a unique Australian production, as it still featured the exposed door hinges after the UK production had the neater concealed version but flush door handles – compare it to the UK press photo above. In Australia the Clubman was seized on as the opportunity to facelift the by-then 12-year old car, and completely replaced the more charming original style instead of selling alongside it as in the UK. From 1973 they dropped the Morris name to become the Leyland Mini. The subject car in the first photo has a set of 10″ ROH Contessa alloy wheels, the local copy of the famous Minilite, and the white roof has been added too.
My young Son opushed me so very hard to buy an original Mini when first he became aware of them in the 1980’s .
After watching Top Gear’s Richard Hammond drive one in India, my 9 year old daughter has already set her sights on one for herself.
Oddly , I didn’t drive / ride them back in the 1960’s when available new and common here .
When my buddy recently bought a pristine 1967 Mini Traveler , he asked me to give it a test drive and post purchase check .
It’s neat and all but very cobby , noisy and crude .
Were is in my teens or twenties I imagine it’d be a hoot to own one .
I recently test drove and passed on a clapped out Riley Elf ~ it went like the blazes even with three of us in it but the engine was _shot_ , smoked copiously , clutch slipped , bagged original interior etc. .
NO rust , dirt cheap too but I already have two LBC’s needing attention .
Can clearly see the ‘slit’ treatment given to the greenhouse
on the modern version, at left in the top photo. The new
one’s beltline is so high it’s ridiculous – even though overall
height is a couple inches taller.
Don’t need backup cameras in the classic green one! 😉
You don’t need them in the new ones either. I think it’s crazy that MINI even offers them, yet so many people who walk through the door request one before they’ve even driven one. People are just getting so used to technology that’s making people forget the basics such as checking your mirrors or even turning your neck to actually look when backing up.
Next year (2017) you won’t have to “ask” for a backup camera in any new car, they will be required by law in the U.S.
My experience is most people only THINK they know how to back up a car. Stand in a busy parking lot and watch how 90% or more people will put the vehicle in reverse, look ONLY over their right shoulder and give a shove to the gas pedal. Look LEFT before backing up? No one does that, and I doubt they ever do it after passing their 1st driving test.
And then there’s my experience this week: a woman parked on a side street shifted from P to R and gave the gas pedal a really good shove. She was too busy with her phone to realize she was backing into a pedestrian….me. And the irony(?) was that where she was parked there was no need to reverse, she had nothing in front of her for almost 100 feet.
Ever see the movie Zardoz? I think we are racing towards that scenario.
Yeah that’s very true about the regulations coming.
Don’t get me wrong, they’re a nice aid, but that’s all they should be. The problem is, many people become too dependent on them and forget the basics. Even when driving a car that has one, I just can’t get used to it. I do a quick look before I start actually moving in reverse, then turn my head to lock back.
Zardoz? So we have this to look forward to:
I don’t look over either shoulder: I actually lift up
out of my seat and am turned half way around so
I can see straight out that back window, including
just to left and right of the respective C-pillars.
My right hand is braced on the back of the
passenger seat and my left is on the steering
wheel. Learned this from my Dad and have been
safely backing 10lb of tihs into a 5lb bag
(translation: large cars into small spaces and down
narrow driveways) for nearly thirty years! Was
good practice for use in other areas of life.. 😉 😉
The new Minis are hardly a mini car anymore, they are quite large. The 4dr models are almost as big as my Focus wagon. They have moved far far away from the original concept.
The 2-door HTs are still nearly 9 inches shorter than a 2016 Honda Fit and even the Clubman (the largest MINI) is some 14 inches shorter than the 2016 Toyota Corolla.
The reason of course for larger MINIs beyond the “pure” 2-door HT is because that’s what the market demands. The idea of a retro subcompact 2-door, 4-seat car is appealing, until people realize that it’s far too small for growing family. People like to criticize MINI for offering larger cars, but the truth is, most people who walk into a MINI showroom are interested in a Countryman or Clubman.
Of the MINI’s I’ve sold over the past few months, the overwhelming majority of them have been Countryman All4s, Clubman All4s, or 4-door hardtops. Having available all-wheel drive in the Countryman and Clubman is a huge draw here in New England.
The Clubman is almost exactly the same length as the Corolla hatch though (aka Scion iM over there), but as you say the market has spoken.
Even the Range Rover Evoque 2 door is very scarce compared to the 4-door.
Call it, the ‘homogenization’ of the automobile. Mini is still lucky to have *most* of its uniqueness. When a current Jetta or Beetle passes by I have to look again to confirm what it is! And forget about Fusion>Sonata>Chry200>Camry! LOL It’s a wonder those owners all go home in the correct cars!
The old Mini had a real purpose as economical transport that didnt take up much space and was easy to maneuver in tight city streets, the new one is a cynical styling exercise to cash in on a brand bought cheap by BMW having killed Rover they discovered they owned the Mini name and set out to exploit it,
Aussie Minis gained the Clubman front because it was the only way the car could pass ADR crash testing apparently you will survive a prang in a clubman but not in the original.
I drove many new Minis,Mokes,Mini panel vans in 1973/4 and they were fun to drive, but as a longterm ownership prospect I wouldn’t buy one.I used to call them the Kidney Shakers.You could feel every bump in the road and that made them quite uncomfortable.
Fair call. I drive my ’78 mini into work every day and I have gained intimate knowledge of the bumps on the route. Needs a new set of cones, but even though it’s not going to be a featherbed ride. Flip side is that don’t have to slow down for corners, roundabouts etc. Nothing handles like a mini!
Quite. I’m a classic Mini owner: 1962 Morris Cooper, RHD from the UK. I even wrote about it, on another website some years ago. At any rate, my Mini is the best handling car I’ve owned. Better than my 2012 Mustang–OK, the latter is no Miata, but I’ve never owned (or even driven) one of those.
And the space efficiency is amazing. But, even by the standards of the 1960s, there are trade offs. It can keep up with modern traffic, but is loud. And it, like all of its fellow British cars, leaks oil. Hardly any boot space. And, despite its mechanical simplicity, it can be difficult to work on because there is so little space under the bonnet. Heater? Yes, it has one–optional, of course. And it is hardly suited to North American needs. But I wouldn’t drive it in winter anyway.
But, the A-series is a torquey and tough little unit. Parts are plentiful. It always brings a smile and seems to always attract a crowd. Love it.
As nice as a smile is, I used to love the looks of wonderment I would get as my little “shitbox” mini-cooper S would just beat out a 289 powered Ford Mustang! (It’s all about power-to-weight ratios, and a 100 hp mini pulling 1500 lbs = 200 hp pushing a 3,000 lb Mustang). Of course it was 78 or 80hp stock (which is 1hp/cubic inch, pretty impressive for a pushrod motor), but after boring, balancing, oversizing the carburetors, raising the compression, porting and polishing the head, changing the cam, valve springs, exhaust system, etc, etc, I was beating stock V8 Mustangs and some 327 V8 Chevy Camaros in acceleration. On a winding road, of course, almost NOTHING could keep up to me (with stiffened suspension, Koni shocks added to the front, a factory HD rear anti-sway bar). I got into more trouble with that car than any other I’ve ever owned. Obviously, I still miss it.
A friend had a later Mini (not a lot different from the subject of this article other than cosmetics & wheels) with a hot engine that would do 180 km/h / 115 mph, as proven on a police radar. He didn’t get booked, the police were doing speedometer accuracy checks on a quiet country road and he asked if he would be able to see what the car would do – and amazingly they said yes!
On the ride comfort front as mentioned by Roderick and Chaz, I remember looking at a few Cooper S’s with a friend who wanted to buy a genuine, non-reshelled car (he ruled out quite a few!). We went on a test ride in one near Geelong and hit a pot hole at 80 mph. I was in the back seat and it felt like somebody had kicked me in the backside. The small wheels certainly amplify the effects of bumps.
Oh sure! Especially with larger bores and newer larger wheels (like 12″ or 13″) which, in effect, lower the overall final drive ratio. Back in the early 70s, though, i pulled 7350 RPMs out of my motor in 4th gear (stock redline was 6800 I think) which indicated a little over 105 on the speedo, but we figured between 110 and 115 factoring in the expanded circumference of those extremely-fast turning 10″ wheels. An accommodating police radar operator would have been great!
I drove a borrowed Clubman from Cygnet to Huonville and back several years ago 1999 if memory serves first one I’d been in since Irish Georges S model in Sydney, yes awfull ride but thats what they were like, my daily car at the time a 83 VH Commodore a much more comfortable proposition,
I love the space efficiency of minis. Tiny from the outside, but my family of four fits perfectly comfortably inside, without feeling particularly cramped. I particularly notice these days that the roofline of my car is actually at beltline level for the majority of cars I pull up alongside.
What goes up – will come down, I can assure you.
The reason I miss my 1966 Mini-Cooper S is simply it’s light weight. At 1500 or so pounds it was like driving a go-kart. The new ones weigh in at close to twice that.
My old man had an original Mini which was also driven by my brother and I -we’d go through the front tyres in 3000 miles because if you go fast enough you can steer them with the throttle on roundabouts and sweeping bends.
Yeah, my mini would burn through the fronts in a couple thousand miles and the rears would be almost like new, so a quick front-to-rear switch would give me 4 or 5,000 miles, if I didn’t show off too much (my Cooper S was producing significantly above stock hp). I had a friend at a dealership who also owned a Cooper S so his discount brought the price of 4 Michelin ZX radials down to $79.00 USD) for the set of 4. This must’ve been back in 1970 or 71, of course.
There simply is no new Mini.
I love the French for one reason only : They’ll never go down the retro-road but always look forward to bring us new concepts or know how to make a success of a new concept and they move on.
Retro design is simply lack of imagination or spiritual inspiration.
All great car concepts were born by thinking out of the box and all have a filosofy, an idea, the Mini roomy usable, economical but by not spilling too much steel for the post war British economy.
I don’t know about that, although it is less common than others.
The Citroen C3 has strong echoes of the 2CV even if it is not a full-retro machine as per the Mini/Beetle/2005 Mustang. Similarly the concave rear window on the C6 was purely a retro touch.