The Last R52 MINI Convertible Comes off the Production Line

Official MINI Release: Style icon, global player, “value master” and now already a classic. Now that around 164,000 units have been produced, the MINI Convertible of the current generation has reached the end of its production period. As planned, the MINI plant in Oxford ceased production of the open-top four-seater. The final specimen – a MINI Cooper S Convertible Sidewalk painted in metallic White Silver has been sold to a MINI fan in the USA. In the land of limousines, the nimble little automobile with the electrically folding soft top has won over a very loyal group of fans. Only on its domestic market of Great Britain and Ireland were more units of the MINI Convertible sold in the past four years than in the USA.

Similar to the MINI and MINI Clubman, the MINI Convertible has long since established itself as a globally successful model. Although around 77 percent of the total sales in the production period are attributable to the five major automobile markets – in addition to Great Britain and Ireland plus the USA, these are Germany, Italy and Japan – there are only a few untapped areas on the map of the distribution network. Australia and Canada also rank among the top ten of the MINI Convertible bastions and particularly high growth rates were recently recorded in China and Russia. The fascination of the open-top two-door automobile enchants people everywhere – irrespective of cultural differences and weather conditions. In chilly Scandinavia, almost twice as many people drive the MINI Convertible than in fair-weathered Greece; in Austria, there are at least five-times as many MINI Convertible drivers than in sunny Portugal.

At the Oxford plant, employees said a rather emotional farewell to the MINI Convertible. “For us, this is the end of an era”, said Plant Director Oliver Zipse. “It is a great joy to build a car and know exactly how much fun customers will have with it”. Due to the constant rise in demand, the British plant has until further notice reserved its manufacturing capacities for the models MINI and MINI Clubman.

Since spring 2004, the MINI Convertible has been built with three engine variants in Oxford. With more than 79,500 units, the bestselling edition was the 85 kW/115 bhp MINI Cooper Convertible, followed by the MINI Cooper S Convertible (125 kW/170 bhp), with around 56,500 units, and the MINI One Convertible (66 kW/90 bhp), with around 28,000 vehicles.

The MINI Convertible inspires fashion designers and Hollywood stars.

Right from the outset, the MINI Convertible established itself as a guarantor for driving enjoyment that evokes desire and inspires imagination. At the market launch of the new MINI in 2001, many fans were already longing for an open-top model, which at this time was already being very carefully developed under the aegis of the BMW Group, to be launched just three years later. The new body variant added a further facet to the unique MINI feeling. The brand’s typical sporty handling was now successfully combined with stylish open-air driving enjoyment. The aura of the MINI Convertible also inspired the fashion industry. At the sales launch, designers of the Italian lifestyle label Bisazza had the idea to enrobe the MINI Convertible in a dress of tesserae. More than 30,000 glass stones were used for this purpose. The result was radiant and unique design specimens. In the following years, further lifestyle and fashion labels created special designs as a result of the inspiration of the MINI Convertible. Just one year ago, the MINI Convertible even became a Hollywood star. In the comedy “The Heartbreak Kid”, the leading roles, played by Malin Akerman and Ben Stiller, went on honeymoon with it. The open-top MINI Cooper became a stage for lively dialogues and amusing disputes between the two newlyweds.

A very special MINI, an extraordinary Convertible.

The two-door vehicle secures its position as a very special MINI and an extraordinary Convertible with numerous unique features. Thanks to an integrated sliding roof function, the soft top can be opened 40 cm wide, even while driving up to a speed of 75 mph. In just 15 seconds, the soft top can be completely folded up behind the back seat.

Under the tailgate of the MINI Convertible, when the roof is closed, there is a boot that is 165 litres in volume. Its load capacity is an impressive 400 kilograms. And with the Easy-Load-System, even bulky luggage can be effortlessly stored by folding up the back part of the top and using the large opening to the luggage compartment to pass through the luggage. In conjunction with the fold-down back seats, the storage space can even be expanded to up to 605 litres.

The mixture of driving enjoyment, cleverly devised details, premium quality and expressive design have given the MINI Convertible a lead in the popularity stakes, which remained constant up until the end of its production period and will not wane even afterwards. The assessments of independent market experts, which give the MINI Convertible an unusually stable value rating, already indicate this. Back in 2007, the MINI Convertible was already dubbed the “value master” of all classes by the industry magazine “Auto Bild”. This was based on the pre-calculated residual value of 70 percent of the new price after three years. In the current ranking for 2008, the value stability of the MINI Convertible is only surpassed by one “competitor” from its own brand: the current MINI Cooper.

  • C4

    The R53 and R52 have now officially exited the building….

    Immortal designs. They will never be forgotten!

  • Cesar Cis

    Stupid question…

    I go to the Mini Dealer and I ask for convertible (NEW) I have to wait until next year to received it?

    Thanks

  • Max

    Truly an end of a era. I’m glad I was a part of it.

  • Rocketboy_X

    My first year MCS just got a little more special.

    (And yes, I did finally have a chance to see the new models… I hate to be the ‘it’s not what i’m used to’ guy, but it did not look as nice, so it’s extra sad to see the last R52 Convertible)

  • Sean

    my guess is that once the wrapper is fully taken off the new convertible, and it’s customized in the same way as our current convertibles, the new one will be just as amazing. (at least i hope so!)

  • bamatt

    The R57 will never be as amazing as the R52. Sorry : (

  • gokartride

    It’ll be nice to finally have a MINI cabrio that can get 40 mpg!!

  • greg

    I got my ’08 JCW convertible (May build/June delivery) in anticipation of this day. I’ll probably drive this car until the 3rd generation JCW comes out then store it for cars shows. A classic!

    There is a news source out that says Mini is done with convertibles period. They obviously don’t read MF.

  • Lee

    And all around the world the news sites are reporting that the MINI Cabrio has ended production (without mentioning that a new one will replace it next year)……

  • And so ends the lifespan of the glorious Tritec 1.6 litre supercharged engine. RIP baby, we’ll miss you … (Except those of us who are lucky enough to have one for keeps).

  • Jim W.

    That’s the last of gen 1 then? From now on, my R53 is truly a car of the past…. I feel old.

  • Paul Autry

    So, what’s all this crap about Mini discontinuing the production of their MINI Cabrio when we already know that is not the case. This is a non-story to me so why all the sobbing at the plant…give me a break!

  • rs

    Awwww, out with the old, in with the new 🙂

    They’re a little late in getting rid of that tired design. 🙂

    Whether you believe it or not, the next iteration will be better. Long live the R53, Long live MINI COOPER

  • Erikr

    Well that’s it then, the last of the supercharged MINIs. A fond farewell.

  • Hai

    The 1 thing I love about the new Coopers is the superior mpg.

  • Brian

    I just went out and gave my MINI CABRIO a big hug.

  • Brian, I just went out and gave my MINI CABRIO a big hug.

    I got mine fresh bottles of polish and wax… and some new rubber ducks for the dash. See everyone at an antique car show in 30years! I’ll be the original owner in the classic ’05. LOL

    Granted, is it not a classic now since it’s no longer produced? 😉

  • alpinamike

    I like reading the press releases, they only touch on the highlights though.

    I think the roll bars will set it apart from the second generation.

  • TSizemore3

    R.I.P. R50, R53, R52… You will be missed!

    Now if we can just speed up the mid-life refresh of the R56 and it’s interior.

  • greg

    I have a love/hate relationship with the 2nd gen Mini (R53 is all luuuuuuuv). Anyone expecting anything drastic in the “refresh” will likely be dissapointed. Remember the changes in ’05 were subtle and mostly under the hood.

    Gen 3 will be very interesting. If anyone is listening-PLEASE DON’T MAKE IT BIGGER!!!

  • GregW

    Given that only 164000 were made and take out of that the RHD numbers, this car will become rarer in all markets. Old Mini made 5 million in 42 years and look how rare they are becoming, and with the same body. Any car with a limited production run becomes a classic eventually.

  • R56, no no no.

    Gen 3 worries me a lot. Gen 2 was a step back in terms of the quality of the materials used, the plastics were cheaper, you could see screws at the bottom of the cup holders (A premium small car should have no screwheads exposed), there wasn’t enough carpet in the footwells to go under the dash, so you could see the foam on the underside when you pushed it down with your foot, there were cheap dashboard plastics, the chrome waistline on the exterior is at different heights on every panel – even after adjustment, the vinyl on the armrests was cheap, the 1/2 leather was reduced to 1/16th leather as there was only a tiny amount used this time, etc ad nauseum. Gen 1 was built to last, Gen 2 is built to be recycled.

    Gen 3 will be the start of platform sharing with FIAT, which means more cost reductions all in the name of profit, and it worries the hell out of me. I’ve had ownership of an R56 S for 4 months, and my R53 works is a vastly superior car, in terms of styling, feedback, build quality, and purpose. MINI need to refocus on the premium part of their product, since this is what they push so highly as a differentiator between their cars, and others.

  • Vanwall

    The last of the MINIs with Frank’s limning – the first gens were and are a brilliant success, mostly due to their iconic look that Frank was wise enough to bring carefully into the 21st century. Things are changing fast and far in our automobile world, and the R50, R52, R53 are some of the primary reasons – anybody motoring in one oughta be pretty damn proud.

  • robble

    So when will the 2009 models become available for order? When does mass production start? The website still shows 2008 models for the convertible.

  • We’ve got lots of information (and answers to your questions) from the past year on the next generation convertible in the R57 section. You can check it out by clicking the browse by category section above.

  • Jason

    Hmm; I’m guessing that the first picture above isn’t an actual photo of the last R52 since the interior is black, not brown- considering that the last car was a sidewalk!

  • C4

    Yes I would say that MINI went cheap in certain areas of the second gen MINI. For example, no water temp gauge, no height adjustable headrests, plasticky center console, inferior factory stereo, no rear reading lamps, etc.

    However, the car, as a whole, is well worth it of the emblem on the bonnet and the car is still a very solid offering vs the competition.

    I also think the R53 was “Overengineered” in many ways and that the car was built like a tank. I find the interior and dash of the 1st gen MINI to be very good quality with very nice materials. I personally never understood some of the complaints about the 1st gen interior being cheap and low rent vs the new car.

    I like the seats of the new car much better but in the big picture, the 1st gen MINI was and still is an amazing package that embodies most accurately the spirit and demeanor of the original Mini.

  • C4

    I mean to say, “No height adjustable front seatbelts”.

  • goat

    i am not a religious man, but i can only say ‘amen’ to c4’s post. 🙂 i’ll add that i think MINI will be back on their game with the 3rd gen (i’d love to peek into their “lessons learned database”), hopefully even getting closer to their A game with the R56 mid-cycle refresh.

  • Michael

    I’m really glad I got in during the 1st generation after seeing the awkward looking headlights and center console that screams CHEAP in the 2nd gen models. My wallet stays closed until they fix these sins against Frank’s design!

  • Cabriopilot

    I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am that I purchased my R52 when I did. Now I am part of an exclusive club full of first Gen MINI’s, I am so proud to be the owner of my R52 that I’m beside myself. Now if I can only get the money to upgrade my baby to JCW (tuning kit)before they are all gone, I’ll be set.

    Topless and lovin every second of it…

  • dave

    some of those photos, the ones of an mc cabrio, are clearly NOT the FINAL r52 as it’s supposed to be an s. who do they think they’re fooling?

    the last of the original new minis…as someone else said, there were absolutely brilliant. r50/r52/r53 will always be my favorite

  • Aaron

    Any idea when the R57 will hit the configurator? I’m dreaming of the space blue comeback (my 06 R53 is of the space blue/silver variety). And since I’m moving to California…

  • akwaba

    Hi,

    My sidewalk S is absolutely fantastic, like a dream. How many sidewalk S over the world ??