The MINI Meets the Airstream

Retro-futurists (like me), take note: the MINI Cooper has teamed with the all-American Airstream company for a design combination aimed at proving that form can follow function—even if it means a tiny car hauling a trailer. The unlikely couple were shown at an auto show that ended last week in Italy.

According to a corporate statement, the MINI Cooper S Clubman pairs with an Airstream custom designed by a Danish furniture firm. The MINI Cooper S Clubman is a four-cylinder, 175 horsepower car, with a twin-scroll turbocharger and direct gasoline injection. This edition—styled in retro surfer style for the summer—is jet black with neoprene “wetsuit” accents and green trim. Apparently, it can pull a 22-foot mini-Airstream trailer with a matching exterior.

The familiar aluminum trailer’s interior is wood-paneled, waterproofed and stocked with a modernist table and four chairs, and a pull-down sunbathing bed.

Both brands were forged of necessity by single-minded car guys. Ohio-based Airstream, Inc. says the trailer began in 1929 when creator Wally Byam purchased a Model T Ford chassis, built a platform on it, and towed it with his car to a campsite. Today, Airstream is the oldest recreational vehicle (RV) manufacturer in the world, known for retro exteriors, luxurious interiors, and practical, rugged construction.

MINI began as an offshoot of the British Motor Corporation. After an Arab dictator cut off the flow of British oil in the Suez Canal in 1956, the company asked designer Alec Issigonis to create a fuel-efficient microcar. The classic Mini went on sale a few years later and it sold in the U.S. until the government's environmentalist emissions regulations forced the company to stop selling the car in the U.S. in 1968. A revamped MINI Cooper reappeared in the 21st century.

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