The newest member of the ever-expanding MINI family has more links to its famous forebears than first meets the eye. Adam Sloman investigates the Clubvan Camper’s history.
The MINI brand seems to know no bounds.
With each new model the marque grows bigger, arguably further away from the inventive baby saloon that started it all.
And for every sales success that a new MINI variant racks up, there remains plenty of nay-sayers to decry the brand’s success. So, imagine the howls of derision when MINI unveiled not one, but two Camper concepts based on the Clubvan and Countryman.
The first model, is based on the Countryman which, thanks to a combination of roof-rack and modified roof box, carries a two-man tent.
The concept boasts four-wheel drive and a bike rack on the back, but MINI are quick to point out that this system could just as easily be fitted to a Clubman or MINI hatch.
The real interest though, comes with the Clubvan Camper. Sleeping in a Mini is nothing new. Enthusiasts have done it at more than a few Mini shows, but the Clubvan marks the first time since Mini became MINI that a genuine attempt has been made to turn the Clubman, in van form, into a camper.
The company describe it as ‘the world’s smallest luxury camper’ with sleeping for one, an extendible kitchenette, stove and fridge.
Elsewhere, there’s a television and an additional heater to keep you warm in the winter, while MINI says the glass roof is perfect for star-gazing, though perhaps not in summer months when the sun rises at 5am!
Only a concept, it also features a hand-held shower, with a fresh water tank hidden in the van’s floor.
Turn the clock back to 1965 and a Mini-based camper wasn’t a concept – it was a reality. The Mini Wildgoose, by Wildgoose of Worthing took the basic, utilitarian Mini van and turned it into a fully-fledged motorhome.
With a claimed top speed of 70mph, the Wildgoose would certainly have seemed nippy, but that figure was probably closer to 45-50mph, given the strain put on the van’s 848cc petrol engine.
Compare that with the 110bhp offered by the Cooper D of today’s Camper and it’s easy to see how far things have come.
Two versions of the Wildgoose were built, one with a fabric pop-top found on many campers and a more advanced conversion (pictured), where the back of the Wildgoose extended vertically.
It added hugely to the van’s internal space allowing room for a six-foot double bed, and a pair of five-foot children’s bunks – impressive stuff!
Unlike contemporary 60s commercial-based campers from Commer or Volkswagen, the Wildgoose sold in tiny numbers.
Around 100 conversions were sold and less than a dozen examples survive today.