Minimalist, Colour-coded interior and dependable if diminutive engine give estate all the charm of the standard mini, but Traveller’s larger boot and barn-style rear doors ensure added practicality and versatility.
In the early Sixties, the idea of a trendy lifestyle estate was decades away, so this Mini was ahead of its time. It was designed to provide more practicality than the existing two-door models, and hit the roads in 1960.
Built on a slightly longer chassis – 2,104mm compared to 2,040mm – the Austin Mini Countryman and Morris Mini Traveller both featured a pair of barn-style rear doors, as well as more boot space than in the conventional car.
The beautifully restored example seen here was a joy to drive, and a quick look in the rear view mirror out through the back doors leaves you in no doubt as to the inspiration for BMW’s modern-day Clubman. With its light steering, the Traveller feels just like the saloon from behind the wheel, and it was this ability to provide extra space without ruining the driving experience that made the model such a hit.
Some luxury variants even got external wood panelling to give them the look of the ‘woodie’ estates of the Fifties. By the time production stopped in 1969, more than 200,000 examples had been
sold overall. Even more popular was the Mini van. In essence it was a Traveller without the side windows, and it was a big success. When the curtain fell on sales in 1982, more than half-a-million had been shifted. Even so, it is the fun of the Traveller and Countryman that lives on today in the form of the MINI Clubman.
In this review
- 1IntroductionWe rank and rate the best and worst in exclusive 12-car shoot-out.
- 2Ex-Works Monte Carlo Rally MiniMonte Carlo Cooper was specially kitted out for endurance rallying, and boasts additional dials and controls. It still wears competition stickers with pride.
- 3Original Mini Minor (1959)Superb packaging gives space for four adults, although seats are tiny. Practical touches have become design classics, while on-road experience is sheer fun.
- 4MINI Cooper MkI (2001)With comfortable, well equipped cabin, 2001 car is a world away from original, although its retro styling both inside and out remains faithful to forebear.
- 5MINI JCW World Championship 50Special-edition JCW 50 pays tribute to F1 title-winning team of 1959 and bears the signature of racing legend John Cooper. It also features raft of racy upgrades.
- 6Clubman Mini 1275 GTReworked Mini GT clubman has boxy nose, 1,275cc powerplant, a more luxurious cabin and fresh instruments.
- 7Mini ClubmanFunky Clubman builds on Sixties’ rear barn-door set-up With a unique side arrangement to allow easy access for those in the back. Attention to design and engineering detail is true to original car’s revolutionary concept.
- 8Mini Traveller - currently readingMinimalist, Colour-coded interior and dependable if diminutive engine give estate all the charm of the standard mini, but Traveller’s larger boot and barn-style rear doors ensure added practicality and versatility.
- 9MINI GP WorksHigh-performance Works gp ensured the first-generation new MINI went out in style, thanks to sporty body mods, stripped-out cabin and potent powerplant.
- 10Mini MkII (1967)It may have been touted as all-new, but 1967 MkII still features spartan principles of its predecessor, including sliding windows, simple door handles and a basic dash
- 11Mini MigliaEye-catching Miglia racer’s low ride height and super stiff suspension give it incredible cornering ability. Inside, carbon fibre dash and modern race instruments provide a touring car feel.
- 12Rover Mini CooperModel shares the same cramped driving position as the original, and familiar Cooper badging ensures it looks the part.
- 13ERA Mini TurboWith potent engine and sporty modifications, ERA MINI Turbo had all the ingredients for success, but appeal of fastest classic variant was hit by recession and sold in small numbers.