Junkyard Gem: 2011 MINI Cooper Clubman

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The original BMC Mini changed the automotive world forever in 1959, staying in production in essentially the same form all the way through 2000. Its innovative transverse-mounted engine and front-wheel-drive transaxle became the layout for most cars built in the world today, and its cheap price tag put millions of new drivers on wheels for the first time. Like the Volkswagen Beetle and Fiat 500, it was inevitable that the shape of such an iconic machine would be applied to a modern platform for the retro-ization craze of the late 1990s and early 2000s, and that's just what happened when BMW ended up owning the Rover Group. The BMW-built MINI Hardtop first appeared on our shores for the 2002 model year, and used-up examples of these cars are now extremely plentiful in self-service wrecking yards across the continent. The Cooper Clubman, which debuted here for the 2008 model year, has been a rare sight during my junkyard travels, and so I documented this one in Denver a few weeks ago.

The Clubman wasn't quite as nimble and easy to park as the regular Cooper, but its increased cargo capacity and split rear doors made it a lot more useful for trips to the big-box store.

It also offered more space for rear-seat passengers, and the right-side suicide rear door made it much easier to get into the back seat (on that side). The new MINI started out much larger than the clown-car-tiny old Mini, anyway.

The added usefulness and more recent release of the Clubman have made it an uncommon sight in American car graveyards. This one was uncrashed and still had the original manuals inside, which suggests that some owners of first-generation (2008-2014) Clubmen are no longer willing to pay for major mechanical repairs when needed. We'll see how this sorts out during the next few years.

As the owner of a 2000s wagon with a manual transmission, I applaud the original purchaser of this wagon for the choice of three-pedal setup.

The interior looks to have been fairly tidy before junkyard shoppers tore it apart.

The Colorado toll-road transponder suggests that this machine was a well-cared-for commuter for its decade on the road, but proved to be not worth repairing when some major component failed.

The future will look exactly like the MINI CLUBMANIA human-scale pinball machine.

Of course, Toyota USA beat MINI to the pinball-machine TV commercial idea, back in 1985. In this case, the car itself is the ball.

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