Celebrating 20 Years of Modern Mini, and the Pickup We Never Got

It’s 20 years since the first modern generation BMW-built Mini rolled off the production line in Oxford and, since then, more than five million Minis have been built in the UK. Factories in the Netherlands, Austria and soon China, have added to the total, but there’s only been one pickup.

While the first Mini hatchback left the factory on this day in 2001, it wasn’t until 2014 that BMW revived the much-loved Mini Pickup produced between 1961 and 1983.

The Original Mini Pickup

The original Austin Mini Pickup was built on the Mini van platform and measured just 3.4m in length. An open-top rear cargo area and a tailgate added much-needed cargo-carrying practicality, but its diminutive dimensions ensured it remained a niche product.

Austin Mini Pickup pre BMW

The sales brochure described the Mini as “fully equipped” and listed equipment such as a heater, seat belts, passenger sun visor and a laminated windscreen amongst other luxuries.

Despite selling 58,179 of the vehicles over the 22 years of production, time moved on and the Mini Pickup was eventually cancelled in 1983.

The Modern Mini Concept

Thirty years on from the Mini Pickup, a creative collaboration between young apprentices and their instructors at the BMW plants in Munich and Dingolfing produced a new vision for Mini.

Choosing the Mini Cooper S Paceman as their base model (a model built in Graz, Austria), the students transformed the car into a two-seater with a pickup style cargo area for a project in 2014.

BMW Mini Paceman Adventure Pickup

Intended to showcase the level of talent amongst the BMW Group’s young apprentices, the Mini Paceman Adventure took the 184hp engine from the Mini Cooper S, along with the ALL4 four-wheel-drive system and built a two-seater pickup around them.

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The passenger compartment is cut short, losing the rear seats, with a spacious cargo area behind, while a solid roof rack can accommodate a spare wheel. Modifications to the chassis mean the Paceman Adventure has extended ground clearance, with the short overhangs and raised suspension leading to impressive approach and departure angles. A snorkel air intake allows for river crossings, with off-road tyres providing enhanced traction.

Sadly, the Mini Paceman Adventure was a one-off concept and never saw production, although several companies will happily perform conversions, with varying degrees of success.