US Connection for MINI’s New Roadster?

Another week, another MINI/Triumph rumor. MotoringFile has received further information from a fairly reliable source about the possible new roadster. For those that might have missed the previous stories on MotoringFile, let’s first recap a bit. The rumors are that MINI will be introducing a new concept sometime later this year that harkens back to the classic Triumph roadsters of the 50’s and 60’s. While it’s not entirely clear if it will be marketing under the MINI brand, the Triumph brand, or something complete new, it is clear is that this rumor doesn’t seem to be going away.

Now there’s a new twist. The latest we’ve heard at MotoringFile HQ is that BMW is considering building the “Triumph” at BMW’s Spartanburg SC plant where the Z4 and X5 are currently produced. This seems to correspond well with other rumors that BMW has notified it’s US suppliers of the new potential production plans.

It would also make sense on a logistics level. MINI’s Oxford plant is currently at the limit of what it can produce so adding another car (on-top of the new Traveller in 2008) would be seemingly impossible. Meanwhile BMW has a state of the art facility in Spartanbug with plenty of capacity thanks to softening sales of the BMW Z4. In fact there were rumors not long ago that the Z4 might not even be replaced when the current model runs its course. Add the currency factors which make producing such a car in the US so attractive (compared to the UK) and you have what seems to be a no-brainer.

Of course it’s all still very unconfirmed so file this squarely in the rumor category for now.


[ First MINI, Now Triumph? ] MotoringFile [ More News on the MINI/Triumph Concept ] MotoringFile
  • DaCrema

    Production in the Spartanbug plant lends hope to those in favor of a rear wheel drive car.

  • Woohoo!! Can’t wait for the factory tours!

  • Patrick

    There is something tender about the very idea of this.

    The only real reason to bring back MINI’s, Triumphs or Mustangs/Challengers/Camaro’s is because we believe there’s value there… in the utter idea of those cars.

    On top of all the pragmatic issues, BMW has demonstrated how to honorably create genuine and raw appeal when resurrecting a marque.

    Let’s have at it. Has MG slipped from our hands?

  • NJ Ron

    Factory Tours?

    Great – Sign me up.

    But, what about factory delivery with a ‘mini’ driving school?

    Now we’re talking.

    And, they better have a pure black color!

    (I just couldn’t resist….)

  • MINIMiller
    Production in the Spartanbug plant lends hope to those in favor of a rear wheel drive car.

    And of course it could not even be called a triumph unless it were RWD!

  • DB

    This totally makes sense to me. I could see this car being built on something similiar to the Z4, which then makes me wonder. Are they planning on something totally brand new, or just a re-shelled Z4? The Z4 is proven and tested and would make an easy platform to build upon IMO.

  • Whatever they do, I hope they make sure someone who’s 6.5″ tall can sit and drive the car. That’s certainly not the case with the current Z4 … where I can only view the road ahead when looking over the windscreen.

  • IanF

    Hmm… one could imagine BMW letting the Z4 run its course and then introducing a lower priced competitor to the Miata and Solstice…

    A shortened Z4 platform designed for the PSA engine… oh boy… 😛

  • Whatever they do, I hope they make sure someone who’s 6.5″ tall can sit and drive the car. That’s certainly not the case with the current Z4 … where I can only view the road ahead when looking over the windscreen.

    Philip – I’m not surprised that the Z4 doesn’t ft you. At 6’2″ it just fits me like a glove. The Z3 wasn’t even close.

  • Bryn

    Wasn’t it supposed to be a “MINI-derived” 2-seater, according to the initial report/rumour…? If so, surely it’s a small speedster/spyder/roadster we can expect (rather than a BMW-based full-size sportscar). So, it will be FWD or with the MINI engine/trans. package instead midmounted to provide RWD or (dare it be hoped) a Getrag AWD. At the same time, there’d seem little point in reviving “Triumph” unless it’s distinctly different from MINI…. More questions than answers, at this stage!

  • giacomo

    My hope……….MINI’s never get built there!

  • db
    surely it’s a small speedster/spyder/roadster we can expect (rather than a BMW-based full-size sportscar)

    If you look at the MINI and Z4 dimensions, except the length and height, they are very close to being the same size (Z4 + 3.6 wide, +1.1 wheelbase, +.6 track). If I were building cars, I would look for a way to ‘double up’ what I currently have to save a few bucks, keep the car priced resonably and have a fast turn-around to market and still be able to offer a quality, well-tested product. Not to mention that if they used the Z4 chassis, there might be a chance that a six cylinder engine could be an option, or at least possible.

    Detroit has done this. The most striking example is Pontiac building the Fiero from the Chevy Chevette and off the shelf parts. Sure, neither were the greatest car, but they were essentially the same in the beginning.

  • The Z4 definitely isn’t a bad platform to build a RWD sports car from.

    However I don’t see any connections between this Triumph and the MINI, other than the fact that they might be sold under the same roof.

  • …I can see how and why BMW could tie in the Triumph and the MINI. A good many parts on the MINI came off from the BMW 3-Series parts bin…therefore,I don’t see a problem for Triumph to do the same with MINI. Besides,multi-National Auto Companies over the years discover the simple beauty and lower overhead of making various platforms/parts become interchangeable with various types of cars in its’ lineup.

  • Frank

    Very interesting. I think BMW believes that they can enter the small roadster arena and compete with the likes of the Mazda Miata (MX-5), Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky. Honda S2000 and others.

  • Greg W

    Having one assembly plant for MINI doesn’t make good sense. BMW already knows this and has plants in South Africa (3 series)and Spartanberg (X5 and Z4) for global market as well as local assembly plants in Thailand, Malaysia, (due to local content requirements and high taxes for built-up cars), as well as mooting plants for India and China. Old Mini was assembled also in overseas plants – South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, on CKD basis. So why try and build all MINI’s at Oxford? The USA BMW plant makes sense – especially as USA sales are growing and could assemble enough cars for the home USA market (and possibly Canada). Originally the Z3 when introduced was supposed to be a low entry cost luxury two-seater sports-car. As time has gone on it gotten more expensive. Given that BMW philosophy is rooted in sporty cars their drift away into luxury limos is straying away from the original concept. They have to decide if they want to be a high volume maker of sedans or a niche marque of sporty cars. I don’t think you can be both – example Porsche. BMW will always be a rear-wheel drive car(quote). The only way they can compromise on these issues is to introduce another marque – one that they already own or buy one – hence the sporty Triumph.

  • So why try and build all MINI’s at Oxford? The USA BMW plant makes sense – especially as USA sales are growing and could assemble enough cars for the home USA market (and possibly Canada).

    What kind of volume would be required to make an investment in production State-side feasible? They’re selling, what, 70,000 cars per year here? Is that right? How many Z4s are made in Spartansburg?

    Let’s say that production in the US was an option; does MINI want to sell that many more cars?

  • IanF

    My guess is that BMW is willing to sell as many MINI’s as they can here. This is sort of a requirement when selling $20K cars. If the Oxford plant is at capacity and the Spartenburg plant is not, I would not be surprised if the MINI “variants” are built there.

  • Pocket_Rocket

    TIME TO TRADE THE 97 Z3! Hate the Z4 except the white hot Z4 Coupe coming out but a Triumph may have serious temptation potential.

    I could still go to Homecoming!!

  • Frank

    I don’t think MINI is selling more than 35K-40K cars anually here in the US. That is a drop in the bucket when you compare those sales figures to more “mainstream” cars and marques.

    Oxford is capable of churning out 200K MINIs yearly for worldwide comsumption. I think that for BMW in order to justify adding MINI production outside of England, sales would have to exponentially grow to beyond the 70K units anually in the US to ever consider such investment.

    As for the Z4.. I never really cared too much about it. The front end design of the car and the weird side slabs do bother me a lot. The rear is attratcive though and the car is otherwise an excellent machine. The upcoming hardtop should remedy some of my quibbles with the current ho-hum roadster but it still has that “Pontiac” front end look. Even the new Pontiac Solstice looks MUCH better design wise than the Z4 effort. I can’t wait to see a Solstice coupe hardtop.

    I always preferred the Z3. The M coupe was a hit/miss in that generation. Now it is the opposite: The Z4 coupe hardtop will look much better than the ragtop version.

    It seems to me, BMW risks cannibalizing Z4 sales if they ever release the Triumph remake and they could also inderectly affect MINI Convertible sales, although the philosophy of the MINI convertible (4 seater) its different from that of a pure 2 seater roadster (Miata, Solstice, Triumph).

  • Anteken

    My .02 cents worth. I live near the SC plant. It has plenty of room to build a new car and excellent build quality. The Z4 is falling off rapidly, sales-wise, not to mention it won’t fit anyone over about 6′ tall. The Z4 never tempted me, (butt ugly), loved the Z3 but didn’t fit, ditto for the Miata (felt like I was trying to get in a clown car). However, my old TR6 fit me fine. When the car magazines tested the new Miata against the Solstice, only one mag noted that the Solstice was DESIGNED to fit someone 6’5″ tall…right now, this makes it the only “affordable” sports car that will fit a tall person…the S2000 is beautiful but my legs won’t even fit inside. Sigh….So here’s hoping they make a “retro” Triumph at SC that will fit a tall guy and won’t cost Porsche money…..with TR styling clues and rear wheel drive….sign me up.


  • Frank

    I know someone 6’5″ tall and he claims he could not possibly fit inside the Pontiac Solstice cockpit. By the way, he currently owns a ’02 MCS and loves the car to bits.

  • Cafejane

    My first car was a TR4 and I miss that car so badly. So, the first post about the Triumph really intrigued me. As I was passing a Z4 on the freeway the other day I pictured it with a Triumph badge on it and suddenly I liked it so much better. If it gets produced in the next few years it may arrive just in time for my next mid-life crisis. The Ducati was just a warm up.

  • I thought I should mention that due to some information I received very recently, I personally do not believe BMW will be bringing back the Triumph brand in the near future. However we’ll continue to post Triumph rumors that are reported elsewhere.

  • davido

    i agree Gabe. i think the 4th variant is a moke/suv/crossover awd on/off road traveler? sorry i missed you.

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  • DrC

    Never crazy about Triumph, preferred the more graceful lines of MG and Austin Healy although the performance of TRs admittedly triumphed over its siblings. I think Healy would be the marque to resurrect including the “bug-eye” Sprite although the later would require extensive safety revisions unfortunately. I say unfortunately because it’s spartan design is precisely what made it so appealing. Of all the BMC marques, the MG TD, TC, and TF were the penultimate expressions of British classic motoring IMO.