Mini Cooper Clubman S by Schmidt Revolution
The Other Mini Countryman
With MINI’s introduction in 2010 of the MINI Countryman, we need to look back 50 years to another introduction, that of the Austin Seven Countryman.
The Countryman name had been used in the Austin range of cars to denote the estates (station wagons in U.S. lingo). In September 1960, the name was applied to a Mini line just a little more than a year after the August 1959 launch of the first Minis.
By January 1960, the first long wheel base Mini, the Van, went into production and was introduced in June of that year with a 4” longer wheel base and about another 6” in rear overhang. Just a few months later in September, the second LWB Minis were introduced. The estates, clad in decorative wood, came in a Morris version called the Morris Mini-Minor Traveller (Traveller being a Morris estate name) and an Austin Seven (as the Austin Mini was known initially) version called the Countryman.
The Woodies, as they became known, were well liked (especially in the French market), but some thought the non-functional wood a bit pretentious. By April 1961, the estates were available without the wood in the export markets, and in October 1962, in England.
The Countryman was built in England during the Mini’s Mk I and II time frame, being discontinued by October 1969 when the Clubman range of cars was introduced. The Clubman was introduced in saloon/sedan form as well as an estate, unlike MINI’s recent line addition of the Clubman as an estate only. It’s a little confusing, but consider that the MINI Countryman didn’t follow tradition, either. It’s not an estate!
The estates were also built in South Africa (under the Countryman name) and in Italy, by Innocenti, where they were called the Mini T.
All told, around 210,000 Austin and Morris Mini estates were built with the Countryman accounting for slightly more than half.
Even at the extended length of just under 10’ 10” the long wheel based Mini known as the Countryman has a wheel base a foot and a half shorter than the new MINI Countryman and its overall length is just over 2 and a half feet shorter! When the new MINI Countryman’s curb weight is announced, it will be interesting to compare it with the Austin Seven Countryman’s weight of just under 1500 pound. How times have changed in 50 years!
If you are fortunate enough to own one of the originals you may want to consider joining the world wide registry set-up just for the collection of Mini that set the standards that others are not trying to copy. Join the crowd at:
Welcome to the Mini Traveller and Countryman Register site.
The aim of the register is to help preserve and locate as many Mini Estates that survive as possible.
We hope to help with specification advice and restoration advice along with the main changes that happened throughout production and to unite owners throughout the world with one another especially with the 50th anniversary fast approaching in 2010!
The register exists for both Woody and all-steel estates 1960 to 1969 from both Austin and Morris badged Austin Se7en Countryman and Morris Mini Traveller respectively and is free to join.
More Pictures, etc.
The Mini Estate was launched on 16th September 1960 . Production started in March 1960 with Austin chassis number 19126 and Morris chassis number 19101 but there had been prototypes running around in 1959 . The first models were called the Austin Se7en Countryman and Morris Mini Minor Traveller and were available in the same colours as the saloon but only in De-Luxe specification with wing mirrors and a heater.
In April 1961 the all-steel estate was launched for the overseas market only, with both Austin and Morris sharing the same chassis number 85867 but being prefixed with “A” or “M” respectively. They were introduced on to the domestic market in October 1962, at the same time the 3 clock binnacle was introduced to the whole range along with the Cooper-style corner bars to the bumpers to make them Super De-Luxe models.
The rear floor pressing of these early estates resembled that of an extended saloon with the battery being retained in its traditional Mini location in the boot only to be moved to the new location under the rear seat on the right hand side behind the driver of a right hand drive car in October 1961.
One of the most interesting things about the very early cars was the internal fuel tank on the lefthand side in the rear of the car. 12 months after the estate launch in early October 1961 the estate adopted the van-style fuel tank. The production run of the so-called “Internal Tanked” Woody was so limited that these have become the most sought after of all by early Mini fans. From October 1961 they received all the 1961 upgrades from the saloon, including the monotone interior trim and fittings which was cheaper to manufacture, doing away with the earlier saloons fleck-style interiors.
The Mk2 estate was introduced in 1967 alongside the saloon using the new squarer grille but retaining the same rear styling as the Mk1 but now with the 998cc engine and remote gear change, only 42,000 Mk2 Estates being made before the introduction of the new Clubman Estate in 1969.