Friday, 7 August 2020

Building a Jimini back in 1977

It is many years ago when I was looking for a suitable Jimini of the first generation to photograph for my book Maximum Mini 2 and when I got in touch with Jim Meikle. Jim had built an early Jimini back in the 1970s but unfortunately he'd just sold the car when I contacted him. He did have some lovely pictures of the car's built though and sent these over. I thought it was about time to show these here after I came across Jim's old car recently as it was offered for sale once more (see the ad here - the car is hard to recognize though!). 

At the time Jim wrote to me: "These pictures were taken when I took delivery of the JiMiNi in April 1977, and when it was complete and road legal in July 1977. The last one was taken last year, after I bought my replacement - The Quantum H4 - which was the main reason that I sold the JiMiNi (Sob-Sob). Incidentally, the attached photo of my JiMiNi, being driven into a van, was taken when we 
moved home from the south of England, to Scotland, in 1983. I do have many more photos, taken over the 30 odd years of ownership, some in the original orange, and the newer blue colour."

That's how the customer received his painted shell from Jimini, ready to be built
Picture Jeroen Booij archive / Jim Meikle
All you needed now was a suitable Mini to rob of its mechanicals. Jim had just that
Picture Jeroen Booij archive / Jim Meikle

Et voila! A brand new Jimini, recycling the Mini's driving gear and its registration
Picture Jim Meikle / Jeroen Booij archive

And ready to be enjoyed by the whole family. This car surely looks to hav been loved
Picture Jim Meikle / Jeroen Booij archive

It went with the family when they moved from England to Scotland back in 1983
Picture Jim Meikle / Jeroen Booij archive
Jim sold the Jimini in 2013 to make place for a Quantum. The Jimini has come up for sale again now
Picture Jim Meikle / Jeroen Booij archive

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Who ever saw a Biota bonnet or boot?

Regular Rob Mellaart sent me a cool photograph that he took next to the Biota work shop in Dinnington when he worked for Biota manufacturer Houghton Coldwell for nearly two years. What we see is a chopped Mini with a Biota bonnet section grafted onto it. I wonder if it was equipped with the Biota boot also, as seen in period advertisements? Rob couldn't remember.

Apart from the ads I found in the files I came across just one more (sketchy) picture of a car which uses a Biota front and I believe it to be a Mini Marcos. Now that's a rare breed! Who ever saw any other Mini or derivative with Biota bonnet or boot fitted? 

Spotted at the Biota factory in 1970 - a chopped Mini with Biota bonnet
Picture courtesy Robert Mellaart

Here's another Biota bonnet but now it is fitted to a Mini Marcos (I think)!
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

'The Bonnet Beautiful' is how Houghton Coldwell marketed its Biota nose
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

And another great pay-off: 'Fresh as the decade - Cars for the Seventies people'!
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Apart from the bonnet, Houghton Coldwell also offered a Biota boot for Minis. I've never seen one
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Monday, 3 August 2020

The Prisoner Moke can now be yours

To get in the mood for this message, may I recommend you to watch this first? Yes boys and girls, that's the opening theme to that great 1960s series 'The Prisoner'. This series had such an impact that the very confusing ending led to troubles. The late Patrick McGoohan, who played the lead, said later: "The switchboard at ATV was jammed overnight, my children were molested coming from school and people were beating on the door with malice. We had to go to Wales for a couple of weeks with no telephones or contacts or whatsoever to the outside world." When fiction becomes fact... 

But apart from McGoohan the stars of the show were perhaps the village of Portmeirion in Wales and a couple of converted Mini Mokes. Just one of the Mokes was believed to survive until one time warp car was found back in 2011, which turned out to be the original and first one, too (unfortunately not by me but in my home country! - click here). It ended up in the possession of Phil Caunt who beautifully restored it. When it was finished the car was fully featured in MiniWorld and Classic & Sports Car magazine in 2018 and still is in an immaculate condition. Phil, however, hasn't been getting any better himself and has now decided to sell it. He wrote: "I wouldn't be selling but my health is not good. It is with a heavy heart that I have now, after 5 years of ownership, decided to sell the car."

Here's the outline that he wrote. 'The Prisoner Moke' is HLT 709C, the fully restored original Mini Moke as seen in several episodes of the series, and once showing its true registration number in the episode 'Living in Harmony'. McGoohan himself drove it in the famous chase scene on the beach in Portmerion. Indeed, it appears in most ' Portmeirion' episodes as well as the later studio based ones, finally appearing at the famous press launch at MGM Studio's at Borehamwood. Built in May 1965, and registered in June in London, the car was converted by Wood & Pickett to a design which resembled a 'beach buggy'. It is unknown who commissioned the car but the company 'Weircrest' were to market it... It was used in brochures, photo-shoots and publicity material, and by the London Hilton Hotel. One has to assume it was spotted by a member of the production crew as what they needed for the upcoming TV show 'The Prisoner'. Based on this another three Mokes were converted to resemble this one, including CFC 916C, which was owned by Max Hora the owner of the Prisoner shop in the 1980s and 1990s. Indeed I owned and restored this Moke back in the 1990's, this vehicle now resides in Los Angeles with a Prisoner fan and Moke enthusiast.

HLT 709C was taken down to Portmeirion in late 1966 to begin filming, closely followed by the other three. Whilst filming it sustained damage to the front and had to be returned to London for repairs, the other Mokes covered its absence. After its fame in The Prisoner the car disappeared and its whereabouts were unknown, it appears to have spent time in the Sheffield area in the 1970's but after that the trail goes cold. It is rumoured to have been owned by a member of the production company although I have not been able to confirm this. In 2011 it was discovered in a farm building in Holland by a Mini enthusiast, still with its UK number plates, 'candy stripe roof' and Penny Farthing bonnet logo intact but obviously worse for wear. On to 2015 and the owner decides to sell and the car goes to auction. Upon taking delivery of the car ( I did not view it before buying... sometimes you just know you want it!), I assessed what was needed for a full but sympathetic restoration, keeping everything I could to keep the car as original as possible, whilst obtaining anything else to bring it back to how it looked in 1966. 

Perhaps the most famous of all Mini Mokes - converted by Wood & Pickett in 1965
Picture courtesy Phil Caunt

The car was used by Patrick McGoohan in the television series The Prisoner back in 1966
A famous scene reenacted for this picture on the beach of Portmeirion, Wales
Picture courtesy Phil Caunt

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Unipower GT to be restored

And another Unipower GT is being restored! Howard Darby dropped me a line asking for some information and attaching a few photos. He added: "Dear Jeroen, I hope you do not mind me contacting you but myself, Howard Darby and Bob Neville (RJN Motorsport) now own the ex-Peter Filby Unipower GT. The car at the moment is in the process of a complete rebuild."
I certainly do not mind and hope to learn a bit more about your restoration in the near future Howard, thank you!

This Unipower GT was owned by Peter Filby before being turned into a hill climb car in the 1980s
Picture Howard Darby

Howard Darby and Bob Neville are the new owners and have now started a full restoration
Picture Howard Darby

This photo was taken last week at the workshop where the body is being prepared for painting. 
Colour is going to be 'Autofarm Porsche Carrera Yellow', Howard added
Picture Howard Darby

It was a Ford yellow colour when owned by the great Filby. Here at Donington in 1977 
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

And again at around the same time, on a shoot with the works Mk4 Mini Marcos demonstrator
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Monday, 27 July 2020

The Bee Gees Broadspeed (4)

The Broadspeed GT owned by Bee Gees drummer Colin Petersen has come by here several times since 2013 (first time here, second time here, third time here). And speculation about the car's possible survival has been going on since. One former Broadspeed GT owner suggested it may have been burnt out and scrapped, saying: "I did have a conversation many years ago with a chap who saw mine at a meeting and said his brother's yellow Broadspeed caught fire on a trip to Spain and was scrapped."

But who better to ask then the Bee Gees drummer himself? Another reader who is friends with Petersen did just that, and wrote some time ago: "He told me he tried to sell the Broadspeed to Peter Sellers, but Peter said he already had many cars and turned it down. Next time I see Colin I'll ask him if he remembers who bought it from him." And he did: "I finally caught up with Colin again last week and he doesn't know where it went but had heard about the one in Spain. It was probably the only one in that colour so unfortunately it seems to have been scrapped. When he owned the Broadspeed, it needed repair and repainting and he chose the colour to match his drum kit, which you can see in some photos of the Bee Gees."

That makes me also wonder what colour the car previously had? White, as I believe I can see on the picture below? One day we will find the answers, I'm sure!

Bee Gees drummer Colin Petersen with the Broadspeed GT that he had back in 1969
Picture Getty Images

Petersen lived in a London mews at the time and stored his GT in the garage below
Picture Alamy

The GT was registered 'GKV 55D' and Petersen had it repainted in an Alfa-Romeo yellow colour...
Picture Getty Images

...to match his kit of drums, it turns out now. The car is still missing. Is it gone?
Picture Society of Rock

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Cub Caravaning

Planning a holiday abroad? I think I might just stay home this year as international organizations continue to recommend staying home over traveling, since travel increases spreading corona. But wherever you are and wherever you go - I wish you a lovely summer!

How to tell a good towing vehicle from a bad one? A Ranger Cub just fits the bill perfectly
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

TW Models Broadspeed GT and Mini Marcos

Nicholas Lightbown wanted to advertise on Maximum Mini Market, but I thought a place here might be better. He wrote: "Hello Jeroen. I wondered whether you might be kind enough to insert a 'classified ad' on my behalf? I'm hoping to sell a matching Mini Marcos and Broadspeed GT - with a difference! They are both white metal scale (1/43) models based on artisan kits produced in very small numbers by a gentleman named Trevor Wright ('TW Models'). My examples reflect two of Mr Wright's better castings (he also made Ogle SX 1000 and Unipower GT model kits, the latter of which was so 'rustic artisan' as to be almost unrecognizable!)."

"In all probability my examples are perhaps the best example of each model in the world as David did a superb job completing them to my unique specifications: metallic 'morello cherry' paint finish, use of model 'Minilite' wheels and 'glazing' - not normally associated with kits created by Trevor Wright! I'm asking £210 for each model (which might sound expensive although vastly inferior examples of each sold for a similar sums on Ebay within the preceding twelve months or so). Given their 'twin' specification, I'd ideally like the pair to remain together." Well, there you go, Nicholas. I usually don't do this but if you are interested, contact the man at nicholaslightbown@msn.com.





Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Mystery Mini Derivative (67)

This is a Mystery Mini Derivative from South-Africa that's been seen here before (click here). I'm sure there are people out here who will know it and who will be able to tell more about it. However, since I've posted about the car last time back in 2011, I thought it was about time to give it another go.

There is a little bit of extra information since Ryno Verster wrote: “I first saw it on pictures taken at the Mini’s 30th birthday in August 1989. The car was on a trailer at the event and the text in the Mini Owners’ Club scrapbook mentioned that it was manufactured by The Mini Man in Benoni. I believe the owner/builder has since left the country but the car has stayed here.” I haven't been able to find out more about this Benoni based garage but somebody else will know?

I am also thinking its base may have been inspired by or based on a Cox or Heerey GTM or even a Jackson Sportster as made by Jeff Jackson in South Africa in the late 1970s. So here we go again: who knows more?

UPDATE 23 July 2020: There is no link to the Jackson Sportster, as confirmed by Jeff Jackson himself: "Hi Jeroen, Great to hear from you and I am happy to hear that you are still pursueing your interest in mini derivatives. No, I do not know anything about that car this is the first time that I have heard about it. Sorry that I cannot be of more assistance. I will cc some of my old friends in SA and if I get any leads will forward them on to you. It looks great, nice design. Recently I was showing my grandchildren the article in your book about our Jackson Sportster and they loved the book. Thanks again for including the car. Best Regards, Jeff Jackson."

As spotted in Johannesburgh in 1989. Sporty Mini based car is said to hail from Benoni
Picture Ryno Verster

 Note smooth body and large windscreen. Who knows more about South-African mystery car?
Picture Ryno Verster

Seen here later in 2004 and now with bumpers, registration and Ferrari badging...
Picture Ryno Verster

Friday, 17 July 2020

Davenport Special - where are you?

Now that the Micron GT has successfully been found (more here), how about some other Mini based Specials from the same era? I'm sure there'll be more survivors, and perhaps the Davenport Special is a good one to start with. Remember the car? This is what I wrote about it in Maximum Mini 3:

What do you do when you want a GTM for drag racing but can’t afford a kit? You build your own car of course. That’s at least what Derek Davenport of Birmingham did in 1974. He built a space frame chassis from square section tubing to fit two front Mini subframes at the front and the back. For the body he made a model in plaster and polystyrene and used that to directly laminate the body parts in fiberglass. Next Davenport took a 1300 engine, honed it, fitted oversized pistons and Cooper ‘S’ rods, a hot camshaft and Stage 3 head and fitted a double Weber carburetor plus Shorrocks C75B supercharger. Hot Car magazine was impressed and wrote: “The finished article is superb. Much better than many kit car bodies we have seen. Looking at the car, it is difficult to believe that it was completely home built.” They even placed it on their December 1975 cover. Does it survive?

I still haven't heard a thing about its possible survival and still wonder if it does. The DVLA does not recognize the car's registration 'JOH 235N', but that does not say all, does it? It must have been an impressive machine with that engine spec. Another man involved with the body who was named in the article is Roger Hamilton. Birmingham man Derek Davenport would be around 70 years old now, I should think. Could he still have it tucked away in a Brum barn..? 


The Davenport Special - built by Derek Davenport in 1975. Does it survive?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

On the cover of Hot Car magazine. Davenport and his Special, registered 'JOH 235N'
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Under the Biota prototype's aluminium body

Just a lovely photograph from the files to share here with you, of the aluminium bodied Biota prototype without its bonnet. The big split Weber carburetor is well visible here. I also attach a unique picture of the same light green car debuting at the 1968 Racing car Show in London.

Biota prototype without its aluminium bonnet, showing its space frame chassis and Mini power
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Unique picture of the same car seen at the 1968 Racing car Show in London 
Picture Jeroen Booij archive