Beachcomber Still in the Cards

AutoExpress had a chance to speak with Ian Robertson, Director of BMW Marketing and Sales, at the Geneva Motor Show this year. One of their questions asked if two of MINI’s more outlandish concepts — the Rocketman and the Beachcomber — might ever see the light of day. For those hoping for a Beachcomber, what Mr. Robertson had to say may be relevant to your interests.

“Strictly speaking the Rocketman is just a concept, we’re saying nothing at this stage, but it does prove that we are experts at looking at our history and interpreting a future for it. The packaging, doors and boot are all nods to the original Mini, but the Rocketman definitely has its own personality.

There’s been some difficulties getting the Beachcomber through crash regulations, specifically side impacts. We could bolster up the side protection but that would ruin the point of the car. Let’s say that it hasn’t been ruled out.”

We at MotoringFile aren’t exactly optimistic that a small crossover with no doors would ever make our shores, but that it’s still on Mr. Robertson’s radar is very exciting. Would you like to see the Beachcomber become a reality? Sound off in the comments.

  • Drill

    While I like the idea of the Beachcomber, it’s not a vehicle that I would purchase.

  • slap

    It has no doors. Not exactly something to park just anywhere.

  • rhawth99

    I agree with Drill and I doubt that MINI could sell enough of these to justify the development costs. I can’t see it ever passing U.S. crash requirements.

  • jbkONE

    If a Jeep can pass, MINI can find a way – it may have to have metal removable doors a-la Jeep, but there’s a way. I might buy one. I’m not an SUV kinda guy – I love sports cars – but I’ve always had a secret fondness for Jeep Wranglers and if it were a MINI I’d seriously consider it to sit beside my R50. While I don’t think they’d sell many of them, I might be one of the few – and how cool would that be!

  • Chris

    As a surfer I always loved the Surf wagon feel of the Countryman. However, it is to polished to be a true little surf truck. However, a beachcomber similar to a Jeep Wrangler? I love it. Would probably only really work in California and Ozz.

    Nonetheless, I am in!

  • Gerard>

    Have always thought the Beachcomber an idea of the future whose time has passed. Would not buy one.

  • Mike

    I for one would like to avoid dying from a side impact… Bolster the hell out of it, perhaps make them removable – that way if someone has a death wish, they can remove them.

  • Bilbo Bagginjs

    I’d love to rent one while visiting in Hawaii or the Caribbean. Just not practical here in the Shire. What with Mordor right next door and all of the Trolls, Orcs, Ringwraiths and a Balrog running about. Not to mention one mighty big spider.

    For now I’ll stick to my MCS hatch.

  • TheDude

    Stick to small cars and leave SUV’s like this to Jeep………

  • mfeidler

    I’ll take one with removable doors! I came to the MINI brand from a Jeep back in 2003.

  • dave

    I second that with the removable doors. I’ve got a Jeep cherokee at home and taken the doors off for offroading. I’d love to see this model scaling a rock cliff.

  • Blackballed

    I wouldn’t buy one but think it’s much cooler that the other attempts to branch out.

  • Aurel

    Yeah, let’s just skip this one and put those resources to make the other models happen asap.

  • Jason

    I would put money down for one today. Just like a soft top Jeep, just don’t leave anything valuable inside. I don’t see a big difference in practicality b/t a car with no doors and one with doors that unzip. Please build.

  • JonPD

    I am sure if you spend anytime looking at the side impact results for the Wrangler you would see the issue. I am quite certain that MINI does not want anything with that low of a side impact rating.

  • Noel

    I owned a softtop jeep for almost 15 years and the idea of a Beachcomber MINI would be great. Having the short steel doors with removable side/back windows is a great idea. Couple that with the handling and fun factor, I think it would be a welcome addition to the ‘family’. The idea of having a number of choices in the MINI lineup just increases the popularity of the brand.

  • MikeJCW

    I say build it! Removable doors would be awesome. I have confidence that BMW/MINI could design and build a safer (better) alternative to the Wrangler. Integrate elements from the classic Moke and new Countryman to maintain MINI-ness.

  • MINIBro

    Yes but they should take some cues from the Jeep Wrangler. I know a major difference though is the the Jeep is a body on frome design versus the MINI being a Unibody Construction. The no doors thing I’m sure is a lot more difficult.

  • Bor

    removable doors and sign me up!

  • Glen

    If the lack of doors is the big problem, why not give it real doors but make it a soft-top with a roll bar? The modern thinking person’s alternative to the soft-top versions of the Wrangler or Land Rover Defender. I would rather have doors and no roof than a roof and no doors. I would buy one of those in a heartbeat.

  • MINIme

    It is the #1 vehicle from MINI that I would be interested in purchasing. In fact, I want to purchase the prototype. Put in in touch with the right folks. Please…

  • Nikkos

    Integrate a lower rail/step reinforcement but you still are going to have some sort of soft/removable door for weather. Going doorless or topless is an awesome thing until the weather goes to $hit, you dont want to be the guy driving down the road wearing a trash sack during downpour. Negative cool points.

  • glangford

    If I wanted a Jeep, I’d buy a Jeep. Forget the Beachcomber.

  • oddrockinegg

    Go Beachcomber!!!

  • TheDude

    Agreed glangford!!!!!! I really don’t care who MINI’s parent company is, they will never compete with Jeep. Hummer tried and failed and so will MINI if this thing comes out….

  • Glen

    Jeep Wranglers are living fossils with 1940s technology, terrible on-road handling and terrible gas mileage. They are ripe for a more modern competitor to grab some of their market share, but there are no direct competitors. Hummers are much larger and more expensive, and have even worse mileage. Ditto for Land Rover Defender. Toyota FJ Cruisers are closer, but still larger with similarly poor handling and mileage.

    The Beachcomber or something like it offers the potential for a vehicle that approaches the Wrangler in off-road capability, but with much better on-road performance and mileage. The Beachcomber could also compete with the Subaru Outback and Forester, which probably have the best off-road capability among current crossovers, and sell like hotcakes. I think there is a market for such a vehicle. Whether the market is big enough to justify building the Beachcomber, I don’t know, but I hope so.

  • MINIme

    I see the Beachcomber as having the potential to be the second coming of the Suzuki Samurai. Well, probably not as good off-road, but open air fun for sure.

  • TheDude

    Jeep Wranglers are living fossils? How? They have there own niche that nobody can touch. I like my MINI but MINI will never, I repeat, NEVER come close to Jeep in the SUV market. The Countryman is cool but when it comes down to it, 30-35k will get you a WAY better vehicle from Jeep in the SUV market. No? Take that Countryman offroad and take a Jeep offroad and see what performs the best. Thats what an SUV is made for right?

  • RAugie

    I have a good friend with a jeep and there just isnt any feeling like driving a jeep with the doors of and the top down on a sunny day. If mini can pull this off, they would be smart to include removable doors and make it somewhat offroadable, not quite like a wrangler, but something that can tackle trails and the beach, just like the name suggests.I personally would buy one as soon as i hear the green light for production!

  • BwanaYak

    Forget the Beachcomber, bring on the RocketMan!

  • Glen
    Jeep Wranglers are living fossils? How? They have there own niche that nobody can touch. I like my MINI but MINI will never, I repeat, NEVER come close to Jeep in the SUV market. The Countryman is cool but when it comes down to it, 30-35k will get you a WAY better vehicle from Jeep in the SUV market. No? Take that Countryman offroad and take a Jeep offroad and see what performs the best. Thats what an SUV is made for right?

    @TheDude – By “living fossils” I meant that Wranglers have primitive engines and suspensions that give them poor mileage and on-road handling (two of Mini’s strongest traits). I agree that Wranglers have very good off-road capability, but that (and maybe historic character) is their only strong suit. I also agree that they have their own niche – as I said, they have no direct competitors – but I disagree that nobody can touch them. I think a vehicle with a better balance between off-road capability, on-road handling and mileage could take a bite out of the Wrangler’s market share, especially as gas prices are rising.

    I agree that the Countryman doesn’t compete with the Wrangler, but who said anything about the Countryman? I was talking about the Beachcomber, which appears to have significantly better ground clearance, off-road wheels and tires, and, hopefully, a beefier all-wheel drive system. I don’t expect the Beachcomber to be as strong off-road as the Wrangler, but the combination of good off-road capability, on-road handling, and mileage could be an effective competitor for Jeep (and Subaru).

  • MINIme

    Check out the pic of the prospective new open-top Jeep and then open your mind about the Beachcomber.

  • TheDude

    Your crazy, MINI will never make a vehicle with a beefier all-wheel drive system. MINI is a ROAD vehicle with very limited off road capabilities. Jeep is an off-road vehicle that you can drive on the roads. Nothing that MINI can come up with will compete with the Dana44 front and rear with electronic lockers to boot. Not to mention live axles front and rear. And ground clearance? Come on? Do you, or have you ever owned a 4 wheel drive and actually used it? MINI will never touch Jeep in there segment of the market. People interested in it would be taken from the Rav4, CRV, and other small SUV market. My Rubicon will outdo anything MINI or BMW can create….Stay on the porch and let the big boys play……

  • GregW

    If you really want onwe just take the doors off your current MINI and drive around for a while to get a feel for it. The Original Moke was designed for the British and American army – a la Jeep.

  • MINIme

    I have owned many SUVs, including a highly modified 2001 Jeep Wrangler with air lockers, a 1994 Land Rover Defender, a 1995 Land Rover Defender, a 1994 Suzuki Samurai (heavily modified and could outperform any Jeep), a 1990 Samurai (ditto), a 1992 Samurai, a 1983 Toyota FJ40 Landcruiser, 2000 Nissan Xterra, 1989 Mitsubishi Montero, 2001 Mitsubishi Montero, 1993 Hummer, and a VW Type 181 (Thing). All of these could outperform anything MINI will ever build offroad, but that does not mean I am not interested in the possibilities of the Beachcomber. I do not believe MINI has its sights set on Jeep, from an off-road capability perspective. They may want to steal some of the market share from the college crowd who just want drop-top capability and open air driving.

  • TheDude

    My buddy has a Samurai that has been so modded that its basically a shell sitting on a custom frame and a 502. You can’t get those things stuck even in stock form with a simple lift and 33’s…..

  • Glen

    @TheDude – You’re arguing against a point that I never made. As I said in my last post, I don’t expect the Beachcomber to be as strong off-road as the Wrangler, but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t take some sales away from Jeep. Currently, if you want a new, small, SUV-type vehicle (meaning you don’t want a larger SUV, a pickup, or a used Samurai or old Landcruiser) with some off-road capability and ideally with a drop-top or doorless option, your only choices in the US are a Wrangler or a small crossover, such as a Subaru Outback or Forester. The Wrangler is overkill in terms of off-road capability for many people, and you pay a heavy penalty in terms of on-road handling and mileage. The Subaru has better handling and mileage, but much less off-road capability, and doesn’t offer an open-air option. So if the Beachcomber’s off-road capability is less than a Wrangler’s but better than a Subaru, it could slot in-between those two options and take sales from both sides. Mileage and handling, even with off-road tires, is likely to be at least as good as a Subaru and much better than a Wrangler, because its a Mini.

  • Jerry W. Van Allen

    Yes!  I work at a Mini dealership, in Cordova, TN, and I have spoken with many clients, who have all said that they would buy the “Beachcomber” as soon as it became available.  It is an awesome design!  Mini is on the right path of surpassing all of the competition.