by Peter D. DuPre, Editor-In-Chief
Monday, 15 December ~ Ever since the introduction of the original Mini in 1959, the brand has always exhibited a certain level of excitement among auto enthusiasts, and since the debut of the BMW/MINI in 2000, the public has been blessed with plenty of auto excitement by the factory. The new MINI hatchback was earth shatteringly different, as were the cabriolet and Clubman and JCW models. Additionally, the Coupe, Roadster and Crossover concepts struck an immediate and positive chord in both the industry and with the public. With the introduction of the Beachcomber Concept this coming January at the North American International Auto Show, in Detroit, MINI has once again shown us all that this is a brand that will continue to deliver excitement and driving fun well into the future.
The 4-seater, open car design shows off the continuing flexibility of the MINI design concepts and the platform, incorporating much of the styling of the existing hatchback, and combining it with elements already seen in the Crossover concept, plus adding styling cues taken from the original Moke. Featuring all-wheel drive, a beefy front end, knobby run flats, and open seating, this newest styling exercise has not yet officially been slated for production, but don't be too surprised if you see it in the showroom in the not too distant future.
The real question that comes to mind is whether or not this latest styling exercise will be marketed as the new MINI Moke; the factory certainly compares it to the original Moke in their release. Rumors have had it that the factory was working on a Moke model and this beach buggy certainly fits the bill, but some have said that the yet to be announced pickup model will be called the Moke. This new model is said to feature 4-doors with a short pickup bed similar to the Subaru Baja... but no details on the pickup are yet forthcoming from the factory execs.
As for the Beachcomber Concept, it is an exciting look at the future possibilties of the brand and the raised suspension, increased wheel travel, all-wheel drive, and interior layout give us a strong indication on the direction that the Crossover will take when it debuts as the Countryman, or possibly, Traveller. And, we think the Beachcomber Concept will be called the MINI Moke Beachcomber when it does come to market, which we expect it to do in about three years. Price? Well, a target price hasn't even been announced yet, but one thing is certain, it won't have the rock bottom price tag that the original Moke had. We expect that when released, the Moke Beachcomber will have a starting MSRP somewhere in the mid-20s. We'll have more information for you in the upcoming Issue 24.
To read the complete factory press release on the Beachcomber Concept and see additional photos,