Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Australian Ogle being restored and researched

A cool message from Down Under, where Neil Griffin is restoring the Ogle SX1000 previously seen here. Neil wrote: "Greetings Jeroen, a few updates on the Ogle restoration. The car is now stripped of just about everything bar the Mini chassis and Ogle body... including the blue paint which I am not sorry to see go. We have also removed some newly boxed in sections under the side sills and lower rear which had also been filled with expanding foam which I believe Arthur had done during his last 'restoration'. Fortunately the car hadn't been driven much during that time it seems and so there was little water ingress and so just superficial rusting of the underlying Mini metal work."

"So with the removal of a 'triple layered' footwell floor section, we are now pretty much at the base vehicle and ready to build it back up. Overall the Mini metal work is in pretty good condition apart from numerous holes and cuts that have been made for various purposes which will all be put right. The GRP body has a number of issues expected for the age of the vehicle and we are probably looking at replace the whole front section (forward of the A-pillar). It would probably be cheaper to get a body from Nostalgia Cars but we want to keep as much of the original Ogle as possible. Fortunately we have a highly talented GRP person on hand to do the work required."

"I had hoped to be able to tell you that we had nailed down the original owner as 'Tunku Datuk Putra Mudzaffar bin Tunku Mustapha' but after correspondence with one of his sons, I can report that Tunku Mudzaffar was not the original owner but interestingly he did remember dealing with Arthur Rogers back in the day in relation to British cars. I can only assume that Arthur had confused Tunku Mudzaffar with a 'Chinese rubber plantation owner' even though he seemed to confirm my research when I spoke to him in January.

I was so sure that Tunku Madazaffer was the owner as he had spent time in London in the early 60s at the Chelsea College of Aeronautical and Automobile Engineering in London at would have the potential of seeing an Ogle back then. 'All of the ducks were lined up' as they say. I'm sure the Dutch have a similar saying. Sadly I have to report that Arthur passed away in February, so I will not be able to pursue that line of enquiry further although I am happy I had the opportunity to speak with him that one time and that he knew his beloved Ogle was in good hands."

"Fortunately we have a highly talented GRP person on hand to do the work required", says Neil
Picture Neil Griffin

Friday, 16 March 2018

Analyzing the Le Mans Mini Marcos: the radiator

I received a multitude of messages after last week's no so good news about the Le Mans Mini Marcos project (read it here). Also: several of you suggested restoration companies or body builders who would be willing to take on the job of restoring the car's shell. Thanks very much for all that.

Meanwhile, I have some good news, too. The search for parts continues and I am happy to be able to say I have now finally secured the car's original front radiator. More about how it was mounted to the car here. You may also recall that I mentioned the survival of this radiator before, but it took some time to actually track it down. Mister José Albertini, who owned the car in 1970, told me he took it from the car at the time and kept it for many many years before selling it to Italy. Where this original Le Mans part ended up on another Mini Marcos. Question was which car that was and where it was now...

Eventually I managed to track it down with help of Philippe Quirière. Remarkably, the car that used it untill recently was one that had been turned into a replica of the 1967 Le Mans Mini Marcos! After the Italian owner, this car went to France before being sold to the UK some years ago. The current owner is rally- and race driver Martyn Spurrell from Oxfordshire. When I contacted him and asked about an unusual radiator on his car he knew exactly what I meant. Also, he told me he'd taken it off as it was such an old fashioned item, and had replaced it with a more up to date rad. Fortunately he'd kept the old thing and after he sent me some images of it, mister Albertini was happy to confirm that it was, indeed, the original radiator for my car!

And so, I agreed on a price with Martyn. And when he was in The Netherlands earlier this week, it was only a matter of meeting up, which we did. The radiator is now back to where it belongs. The brackets to mount it on the car seem to have been modified at one stage, but this will be easy to fix. One thing is for sure: it will go back on the car, just like it was back in 1966.

Scrutineering at Le Mans, 18 June 1966. No doubt they inspected the car's radiators, too
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Behind all these holes, a extra radiator and oil cooler were fitted. But they'd been taken off...
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

That's all there is now... But a search for the car's original radiator was started...
Picture Jeroen Booij

... and it lead to this car: a Mini Marcos currently owned by racing driver Martyn Spurell
Picture courtesy Martyn Spurrell

There it is! The original and most probably purpose-made front radiator of the Le Mans Mini Marcos
Picture Jeroen Booij

It's been modified, but former owner José Albertini confirmed it's the real deal. It'll go back on the car
Picture Jeroen Booij

Mores in this series here:

Analyzing the Le Mans Mini Marcos (2) - Holes for lights and details
Analyzing the Le Mans Mini Marcos (3) - Petrol tank, roll bar, pedals
Analyzing the Le Mans Mini Marcos (5) - Racing numbers and bonnet straps

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Found footage: Radford Mini stars in 1966 horror movie

Several years ago I got hold of some original Radford photographs. Among them two shots of what appears to be an early Radford Mini Bel Air or De Ville on Irish (Dublin?) plates. On these pictures the car seems to be parked in a studio setting and one of them strangely shows it with a flat front tyre. I had no idea what it was about but thought it may well have been used for a movie. Chances of finding it were ultra-low, I thought.

Imagine my surprise when I was looking at the 1966 movie 'The Psychopath' last week, which opens with this very car in this very setting! It also explains the flat tyre. The Psychopath is a horror movie by Amicus Productions, also known as the studio that dripped blood, and together with Hammer my all-time favorite movie producers (I have a real taste for classic British horror). The full film can be found on Youtube, and I have enclosed it in here, too. The Mini scene follows right after the opening titles. Enjoy!

This picture of a Radford Mini De Ville was a mystery for many years. It's on Irish plates
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Shown here with a flat front tyre in a studio setting, it now turns out to be part of ' The Psychopath'
Picture Jeroen Booij archive 

Video courtesy youtube.com

Friday, 9 March 2018

Beach Boys Mini Surfer survivor

Jeff Lehmann came in with some great news about a car he recently bought. It's one of very few surviving 'Mini Surfers', which were Mini Mokes modified by coachbuilder George Barris in corporation with The Beach Boys. I wrote about the cars before (here) and even saw a little glimpse of Jeff's car over a year ago (here).

Jeff wrote: "I am sure you saw the car before as it was advertised about a year ago by the owner's son. His dad passed away and he had to sell his small collection of cars. The Moke was his favorite and was the last to go. I went and looked at the car and it was in very good shape overall. No rust through anywhere. Last registered in 1985. Most of the original red stripes turned black in the Florida sun but are still red in a few spots. I have the original surfboard and fur covered seats."

"This car was given away in August 1966 in Cleveland Ohio for the WHK radio promotion and I have the original ship ticket from Capitol Records to WHK. It was shipped to them air fright on United Airlines from Hollywood California. I also have a black plate Mk1 Cooper S that is an all original survivor and plan to keep this one original as well. There is only another one known to exist but this one is the only one with original paint."

It's a fantastic addition to the Cooper 'S' Jeff! Please keep me posted on the car.

A real Mini Surfer! Apart from the personal cars for The Beach Boys, 20 more were supposedly made to be given away by radio stations throughout the US in special Beach Boys competitions 
Picture Jeff Lehmann

The stripes on Jeff's car have turned dark rather than red but they are believed to be original
Picture Jeff Lehmann

Fake air intake was another add-on for these cars. Canopy and interior was striped, too
Picture Jeff Lehmann

That's the ship ticket from Capitol Records to WHK Radio that came with the car
Picture Jeff Lehmann

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Le Mans Mini Marcos: back to square one

Last week I had to make a tough decision and decided to pick up the Mini Marcos shell from the UK. Why? Well... As you know I'd teamed up with Seventies Car Restoration as they were supposed to fully restore and paint the shell. I made a very good deal with them as I couldn't afford to pay the full price. They agreed as this car meant a lot to them and would gain plenty of promotion for them. What they hadn't thought of was that they were running behind on other (budgeted) projects that had been becoming more and more expensive. There was no time for the Marcos anytime soon, and it was becoming more and more of a burden to them. When they decided the only solution was to raise the price to normal standards, I thought it was better to come over and pick it up. And so, that's what I did. I am disappointed, yes, as I still think they would have been the perfect party to do it, but, hey, that's life. And so the car is back in The Netherlands now. I have no idea if the planned visits to Blyton Park and Le Mans Classic will still be achievable. Let's see what happens.

And so I booked a night crossing from Rotterdam to Hull and back on the same ferry the next night. Picking up the car with my trusty old Saab and trailer went superb and with much of the day left I decided to pay Andy 'Ace' Harrison a visit as I was curious to his Acespeed workshop, not too far away from where I was. Andy is a great guy whose been dealing with some great cars in the past years and he was ever so exited to see the Le Mans car. He also told me of an exiting project car he is currently working on (I couldn't see it and was not allowed to write about it but it will be revealed this Summer) and he showed me a Midas Gold he'd just picked up. This was a rare factory-built car with Midas on its registration papers rather then the Q-plate Metro reg that the majority of these cars use. Andy told me he's had several Midases before, among them the factory demonstrator. Thanks for the warm welcome mate!

Oh - the good news is that I did find another top bloke to work on the shell. He is very eager and enthusiastic, too, and has proved to be more than able to carry out this job. Let's see what happens in the next couple of weeks before I start writing about his work. I've had my feet wet now, let's be a little careful. 

On the road (and sea) again. The Le Mans Mini Marcos is now back in The Netherlands
Picture Jeroen Booij

But... while in Yorkshire I visited Andy 'Ace' Harrison in his Shipley workshop
Picture Jeroen Booij

That's Andy himself with the Midas Gold he just found. He was exited about the Marcos!
Picture Jeroen Booij

The Midas needs plenty of work. I's a factory-built car with proper Midas registration
Picture Jeroen Booij

And it's not the first Midas he's had. He said he would be ever so keen to work on the Marcos, too...
Picture Jeroen Booij

But he, too, has plenty of more projects to work on. Not this, but another exiting Mini is among them
Picture Jeroen Booij

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Biota on 1970s film

Biota enthusiasts and brother Jos and Peter Niessen (this is their website) found out about another Biota car surviving recently Well, only just, as this car  - a Biota Mk1 road car registered 'SFR 943J' - appears to be in a demounted stage being stored in a garage at the moment. The good thing, however, is that owner Eric Brierley sent them some period film footage of when the car was looking splendid back in what have to be the early 1970s. I have copied it below. Thanks to all, enjoy!

Beach, boulevard, Biota. Made by the man who built the car, this home video gem oozes the 1970s
Video courtesy Eric Brierley / http://biota.jouwweb.nl

Monday, 26 February 2018

Biota's Midget comes to auction

Hey, look at that! The original Biota Midget racer has made it to the market and will be offered for sale in an auction on this Sunday March the 4th at the Five Lakes Hotel and Country Club in Ladon, Essex. Information from the auctioneer is scarce. They write: "Recently released from a deceased estate, this kit car is an unusual find. We can say is that it is one of a kind! The information we have is limited, but it was built and maintained by its previous owner."

Well, that's not the case, as the car has changed hands a couple of times before. It was built in 1970 and meant to challenge the new to form 'Formula Mini Plus', or FMP, with cars having spent a maximum of 450 pounds on them. The idea came from Biota instigator John Houghton. Houghton had been racing in a Hot Car sponsored Midget competition with a home grown Mini based car that he'd christened 'The Black Lawnmawer' with some success. It sparked the idea for a race class with more like minded. A prototype race car was built up around a 90bhp A series engine in its Mini subframe at the front, coupled to a simple chassis with four fibreglass body sections. Things looked good for low cost racing and Houghton offered replica's for budding race drivers. But negotations with RAC Competitions Department lead to no nothing and the whole class was banned.

After being entered and raced in some hill climbs and sprints, the car was stored in the attic at Biota's premises in Outgang Lane, Dinnington, Sheffield. It reappeared some ten years ago in a not very good state and without engine (one picture shown below), but some work was clearly done to it. It's good to see it's still there! Thanks for everyone tipping me off about the auction! (and keep them coming...). See the car for sale here.

Biota Midget is a one-off that was designed for stillborn 'Formula Mini Plus' class
Picture courtesy ECCA

Simple construction made it go well, or so they said, but the whole class was banned
Picture courtesy ECCA

This is what the car looked like some 10 years ago with its original 1300 engine gone
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Original press release announcing the Formula Mini Plus, issued by Biota Products Ltd.
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Newspaper clipping doing the same, suggesting Dinnington to become the centre of racing...
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Here the car is seen being test driven by John Houghton. The front hasn't changed much
Picture courtesy Rob Mellaart

And here once again photographed in its heyday at the factory in Dinnington
Picture courtesy Rob Mellaart

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Peel Viking: the Dutch demonstrator (2)

I am happy to announce that the Dutch demonstrator Peel Viking Sports GT, built by fellow-Dutchman Ben Konst in 1966/'67, has now been found back. And the best thing is that it's gone back to Ben as well! Read all about the car in part 1 here.

As you'll understand this car was one I was really keen to find, and so I asked around to anyone wanting to listen to me. I had been doing this for many years and had heard rumours of its survival more than once. But it was only in January last year that I actually learned it had survived. A Mini enthusiast told me he'd seen it in the late 1980s or early 1990s with a friend. And that friend was not the kind of guy to sell things, so he may still have it, or so he said. The friend had moved from Holland to Germany but I was able to track him down. And so I saw myself driving to his place in rural Germany over a year ago. I spoke to him extensively and he told me he'd had the car for 41 years. Eventually I was allowed to come and see the car in a barn a few miles down the road. And there it was. There was no doubt it was Ben's personal car, with the Fiat 850 rear screen and rear lights and even the number plate '88-49-EP' still on it. I was over the moon.

But did he want to sell? He did. But I had just become the owner of the Le Mans Mini Marcos, had no extra room for another Mini derivative and needed the money for my own project car. I phoned up Ben, who was much surprised to hear of my find, too. And he was interested in buying it, too. But he didn't know what kind of price to pay. I made some enquiries about that and must say the communication didn't go all too fluent. What followed was a long silence from Germany. I thought I'd blown it, until I received a message from the owner's wife. She told me her husband had passed away sadly in May 2017. He'd been ill and was just 63. Was I still interested in the car? I told her Ben was the man, and we now quickly came to an agreement.

And so, last week I went up to Germany once more. Now together with Ben in his car with a trailer behind it. Ben was absolutely delighted to see his old car back after 49 years and simply had to buy it back. He thinks he sold it in 1969. The last owner had had it since 1977, and it's still unclear what exactly happened in between. But we may still find out. The very draughty but beautiful barn where the car had been stored for such a long time contained more cars and many many more parts, and Ben and I have agreed to come back to pick up the Mini parts in the near future. Who knows what else we'll find...

January 2017: this is when I found the car back and saw it for the first time
Picture Jeroen Booij

It was owned by the last owner for 41 years and stood in this German barn for a long time
Picture Jeroen Booij

Engine was supposedly replaced by a Innocenti Cooper unit. But it came with two more engines
Picture Jeroen Booij

February 2018: back with Ben Konst, who built it in 1966, and was ready to pull it out here
Picture Jeroen Booij

Ben reunited with his own Peel Viking Sport GT, 49 years after he saw it for the last time!
Picture Jeroen Booij

In the daylight since a long, long time. Note correct registration plus Fiat 850 screen and lights
Picture Jeroen Booij

Dust, dirt and cobwebs. Just like a real barn find car should have! No hens or mice though...
Picture Jeroen Booij

There's just one Cosmic Mk1 wheel on the car now, hopefully the other three are still in the barn 
Picture Jeroen Booij

Classic Ten Auto Radio. Ben remembered very well having fitted this to the car!
Picture Jeroen Booij

The dashboard is still unmodified, too, with all the instruments still in place
Picture Jeroen Booij

Loaded up and ready to go back to Holland, to the man who built it all those years ago
Picture Jeroen Booij

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Peel Viking: the Dutch demonstrator (1)

I like the Peel Viking Sport GT, and being a Dutchman, I am intrigued by the fact that five bodies were imported from the Isle of Man to here by fellow-Dutchman Ben Konst. From his residence in Wassenaar, close to The Hague, Ben, together with his brother, marketed the cars from as early as in 1966. Ben was 21 at the time. He is 73 years now and I've known him for some 20 years. He is a lovely man, still much-involved in cars - classic cars now, with a soft spot for Austin-Healeys.

He often told me about the the Peel Vikings. Of picking up the bodies on the Isle of Man, of having dinner with Peel-boss Cyril Cannell and of building his first Peel. This first car became his personal daily driver and also the company's demonstrator. Ben told me it was a real pain to get it road registered at the time, but perseverance paid off and in late 1967 the car was road registered and given the registration '88-49-EP' in Holland. Still without the registration it got featured on the Dutch brochure he had made but once road legal it was road tested by Autovisie magazine, which wrote: "The car that we had on loan from the importer is really nicely equipped with bucket seats and a very complete dashboard. The interior has been beautifully trimmed and the result is a remarkably good little sports car." By that time Ben had gone to the UK to buy Cosmic Mk1 wheels for the car and modified several things, too. Initially he'd build up the car with as many parts as he could re-use from the donor-Mini: an 850 saloon he took from the local scrapyard with frontal damage. But once using it as an everyday car, he didn't like the narrow Mini rear screen and small rear lights and decided to fit the bigger screen and round light clusters from a Fiat 850. He also fitted rear bumpers.

In the summer of 1968 he took the car, together with a friend, for a little holiday to Knokke, Belgium. Once they arrived there and had set themselves at the local camping place, they spotted signs for a concours d'elegance. Being car fans they had to have a look, and took the Peel to the place which was full of Ferraris and Jaguars. To their own amazement they were greeted with lots of enthusiasm and asked to join the festivities. Only trouble: a woman was to drive the car on to the Knokke boulevard and stop in front of the judges, but Ben and his pal were on their own. Nothing to worry: the organizers would mobilize one of the Shell-girls present at the event and she was to drive it. However, when the moment was there, there was no Shell-girl to be found and so eventually Ben had to drive the car himself. Although sleeping in a tent, he'd been fortunate enough to have brought a jacket and a tie, and hastily put these on. The crowds cheered and they were both invited to the prize-giving dinner, too, that same night in the Knokke Casino. A very posh place, and Ben remembers well how he had a look at the drinks menu and decided to order the cheapest drink available - which was still mighty expensive - share that with his mate and try to sip as slowly as possible from it. This while all the other people attending looked to be ordering bottles of wine and Champagne! Imagine their surprise when 'Monsieur Konst' was asked to come over to the podium to be provided with a first prize in class! He still has the certificate at home, but I haven't been able to copy that.

So, what happened to the car afterwards? Ben sold it in - he thinks - 1969, but there every trace ends. Could it have survived the next 49 years? Stay tuned, as I have some great news coming up.

Just ready, no registration yet: Ben proudly standing next to the Peel Viking Sports GT on the cover of the Dutch brochure for the car. He is 21 years old here
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

A newspaper ad for the car. Ben had become importer for the Peel Viking and had brought over the bodies from the Isle of Man by himself
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

In late 1967 the car was finally road-registered in Holland. Ben brought the Cosmic wheels over from the UK and had now made some modifications to the car's body
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Dutch motoring magazine Autovisie did a road test on the car and liked it. Note modified rear end with Fiat 850 screen and rear lights plus bumpers
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Summer 1968 on the boulevard of Knokke. Ben just got out of the car in front of the jury
Picture courtesy Ben Konst

This was a prestigious concours d'elegance where the Peel Viking Sports GT won first in class!
Picture courtesy Ben Konst

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Mystery Mini derivative (49)

Unfortunately, there is no information about this car, other than that it was found in an Australian barn some three years ago. It's also believed to be Mini based, but that's all. The size would fit in with a Mini and the wheels look like they could be 10-inchers, too. It's a low two-seater roadster with the engine behind the seat and it even looks to wear a bonnet badge. But it would be good to learn more about it and its alleged Mini motorization. Somebody will know?

Unknown Aussie roadster is said to be Mini based. But is it?
Picture source unknown