It’s not every day the chance comes to hang with some rock legends, but once in a while, the stars align in mysterious ways. Mini and KISS have teamed up to help the children’s charity UNICEF. Four versions of the Countryman compact crossover have been given special KISS-style paint jobs, each one resembling a member of the band.
They will be auctioned, with the proceeds going to UNICEF, an agency that helps children in distress over all parts of the globe. These cars were introduced at the 2011 New York auto show by three members of the band, in full make-up plus leather-and-metal stage dress, hits playing in the background and an excited audience singing along and throwing horn-like hand signs into the air.
As the final power chord faded into the far corners of the exhibition center, AutoTrader calmed our pulses just long enough to fire off a couple of questions to three rock icons. It went something like this…
Hello, I’m from AutoTrader.
Gene Simmons (The Demon): Ah, the Trader.
Eric Singer (Catman): AutoTrader?
Yes, I’m sure you’ve bought many of your cars from AutoTrader.
Catman: I actually have. I like looking at it just to see what cars are for sale.
Thank you very much. So, why Mini? Why now?
Simmons: It makes perfect sense in terms of the American car that everyone wants in this country, which is great gas mileage, affordable price, looks cool, the chicks love it… it’s actually just great all around. Easy to park in big cities, certainly. Really scenic with all the windows, you can see America from coast to coast. More importantly, we’re gonna do some good, with the proceeds going to UNICEF. Our friends in Japan have had some terrible things happen. So this is a feelgood story and a story that makes a lot of sense.
Tommy Thayer (Starchild): We’re gonna personally sign these cars too. The auction on eBay starts May 29 and we’ve got a festival up in Sacramento that day that’s gonna kick the whole thing off.
Catman: The auction cars will actually have painted-on decals, but also, as an option, you’ll be able to order an aftermarket graphics kit from Mini, if you want your car to look like one of these KISS Mini cars. Any character you want, and I’m sure they’ll all choose the Cat.
Starchild: We’re actually car buffs, though, you know. We live in California and we drive around a lot, we have a lot of cars. We’re definitely into the auto scene and it’s cool that there’s a KISS Mini. It can’t be any better than that.
Starchild/Tommy was completely sincere. KISS also dig the Mini’s English heritage.
Starchild: Some of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands ever came out of England. The greatest rock ‘n’ roll band.
Simmons: The cool thing about the Mini was that The Beatles drove these things around London.
Catman: And there was The Italian Job (a cult British film from the Swinging Sixties era, starring Michael Caine and a fleet of classic Minis).
Looking at the guys’ six-inch platform soles, there seemed to be one obvious question: can you drive in those shoes?
Simmons: Of course.
Catman: Would I want to? Probably not.
Simmons: I was going to ask you about yours
They’re good old British shoes. Clarks.
Simmons: I don’t think you’re allowed to pronounce the T in British.
Do you think some sort of Mini influence will end up being in your costumes?
Simmons: The other way around.
Catman: KISS will influence Mini.
So no Union Jacks (the British national flag often found on the roofs of contemporary and classic Mini cars)?
Simmons: When we go to England, maybe.
COLIN RYAN has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.