Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Filby Files - and what you find in them

While in the UK earlier this month, it was also about time to fulfill an agreement I'd made some two years ago with Complete Kit Car magazine editor Ian Stent. Ian had written to me about the famous Filby Files he now owned as the caretaker of the publishing company set up by Peter Filby in the 1970s. He wrote: "I have piles of pictures still waiting to be correctly archived. There is one box of pics and paper cuttings which I have from Peter Filby, all relating to a Mini book I don’t think he ever published. These are largely on standard Mini variants (press pictures etc), but I also have quite a few pics of one-offs and also some (but sadly not all I think) of the original pictures from Peter’s Amazing Mini book. You’d be welcome to come here and use my scanner to grab the images/information that you want…" 

But meanwhile, Ian had resigned as the editor and the files had moved hundreds of miles up north with new man on the job Adam Wilkins, the magazine's current editor. Fortunately Adam was happy to have me, too. And so it happened that on a sunny Tuesday morning, while Adam was sobering up from Stoneleigh, I crashed into his office and took a deep dive into what have to be world's most famous Kit Car archives. And I was not disappointed. There were many, many photographs and documents of which the majority was really well archived, too. I recognized loads of pictures from Filby's books and magazine articles and it was really good to see the originals, sometimes in colour as opposed to the printed versions that were black and white.

Now, when you know Peter's writings you'll surely remember his tongue-in-cheek style, ever so often richly accommodated with remarks on women plus the matching photographs taken by himself. Peter was, and no doubt still is, a real ladies-man. And the ultimate proof was found after about an hour of rummaging through the files. There it was: in between the hand written notes, brochures, prints, negatives and slides: a woman's panties. I'm not making this up. It was no doubt hastily tucked away in a drawer of the filing cabinet somewhere in the 1980s. Adam and I had a great laugh about it and of course I had to take a picture of it. Up to you, Peter!

The man himself, Peter Filby with one of his Unipower GTs - he owned two of them
Picture courtesy Performance Publishing 

Typical photograph from The Filby Files, combining his passion for cars and girls. Here a Nimrod
Picture courtesy Performance Publishing 

Pictures were preferably taken in summer with the ladies scarcely clad. Here a Siva Buggy
Picture courtesy Performance Publishing 

Showing the advantages of a hatchback door… Mini Marcos Mk4 from the Filby Files
Picture courtesy Performance Publishing 

Bikini girl in a Stimson Mini Bug Mk2. Peter Filby was - and no doubt still is- a real ladies man
Picture courtesy Performance Publishing 

I'm not making this up: the panties found in the actual Filby Files earlier this month
Picture Jeroen Booij

Monday, 15 May 2017

Racing a Landar in Scotland

Scottish Maximum Mini enthusiast Al Brown got in touch with fellow Scotsman David Ross recently about his adventures with a Landar R6. What's more David wrote some of his recollections down, sent them over to Al, and so I can share them now with you, too. This is what David wrote:

"I had forgotten about the Randals. Nice people but I should not have bought such an early car. It certainly had a Mini front subframe in the rear. I went to the factory and bought the Landar, minus engine, and it was well made but the guys there knew very little about racing cars. The gear lever worked in a mirror image to the usual and at the Fintray hillclimb, I couldn’t remember what gear I was looking for or which gear I was in. It was easily fixed. Just welded in the end of a Mini remote control. Also, and this took longer to suss out, the rear hubs were wrongly engineered. On acceleration, the wheels moved forward in an ark and back when I lifted off. So it was a hopeless racer, although the works car did quite well. No doubt the problems had been fixed. They were delighted when I explained how the gear change could be made to work like a normal change. On hillclimbs, it was a different matter. The heavy engine and weight on the rear wheels gave fantastic traction and I did well, especially at Fintray. I had a real ding-dong with Keith Shellenberg’s 4.7 Cobra, just beating him by a fraction. I remember I bought the 1071cc Cooper 'S' engine from the legendary Don Moore in Cambridge. I bought several 'S' engines from him and all were fantastic. But I can’t remember what I did with the car. Must have sold it to someone. I also can’t remember if I had the Landar before or after had my Lotus Eleven. Being a roofed-in Eleven it was considered a GT car and I was up against MG Midgets and Spitfires. One other point, I started my writing career by sending an article to Cars and Car Conversions on the Cox GTM I built. I also had a Mini Jem."

That's lovely. Thanks very much to both Al as David, who wrote down some more memories you'll soon be able to read here. Now, the Landar looks to me a lot like the prototype that was also displayed at the 1966 Racing Car Show (story here), which also happened to be the one owned and raced by Tim Dyke (story here). Was it really the same car?

David Ross on the Landar at Fintray hill climb in Aberdeenshire. R6's gear change caused trouble 
Picture courtesy David Ross

Fintray hillclimb once more, although with a different starting number. Different race?
Picture courtesy David Ross

This shot was taken at Ingliston circuit in Scotland, which had only opened in '65
Picture courtesy David Ross

This is at Rufforth circuit in Yorkshire. Car behind looks like a Diva Valkyr to me
Picture courtesy David Ross


Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Analyzing the Le Mans Mini Marcos (4)

Ever since I managed to find the Le Mans Mini Marcos and bring it to here, I have been wondering what's with the floors. When you look at them, it seems like they have partly been cut out, with new pieces of fiberglass matting placed under them. But when you look at the floor from the underside it's totally flat there, with no signs of repair whatsoever.

Well… I found out what's the story behind them at Blyton Park, thanks to Gary Marlow. Gary brought over his car to the event, which is an extremely original Mk1 racer. I was really happy with see the car there as I wanted to make photographs and take measurements of its roll bar. It has the exact same as my car had before it was cut out. However, when I climbed into Gary's car to do so, the floors of it struck me, too. Gary is told his car is built up using one of only six competition shells. And these weren't just lighter: they were a lot stiffer, too. And so they came with double floors to stiffen the body. These are clearly visible when you look at the inside of Gary's car. Peter Skitt, who brought over his standard Mk1 to Blyton Park, had never seen this feature before and I had never been made aware of it either.

There is no doubt mine had this feature, too, though. Just have a look at the photographs I attach here. I think mine may have been cut out to create a bit more legroom at one point - it's the only reason I can think of. But there's no doubt that I want them back like they should be. Gary says that his car is so stiff, that when he jacks it up at one side, the body doesn't twist at all! The roll bar has to be a typical feature of the competition shells, too, as it was partly moulded in, but I'll write about that the next time. I now wonder if anyone else can identify another Mk1 with competition shell, and so I ask every Mk1 Mini Marcos owner to have a look at his floors. Are they double? Then do get in touch. 

Earlier stories:
Analyzing the Le Mans Mini Marcos (2) - Holes for lights and details
Analyzing the Le Mans Mini Marcos (3) - Petrol tank, roll bar, pedals

Cut out floors formed a big question mark for me for a long time. What did this look like originally?
Picture Jeroen Booij

The answer was provided by Gary Marlow's car: double floors. And these were supposedly 
fitted to just six cars built around competition shells
Picture Jeroen Booij

The other side. That's my car with just the bottom floors left, while the top ends were cut out
Picture Jeroen Booij

And Gary's Mk1 again. These floors cannot be found in any of the standard Mk1 Mini Marcoses, or so it seems
Picture Jeroen Booij

Closer up on the driver's foot well: double floors don't do good for the car's leg room 
Picture Jeroen Booij

And the passenger side: made to stiffen up the body shell. Are there any other surviving cars with this feature?
Picture Jeroen Booij

Monday, 8 May 2017

GTM lives on as the Hambly Coupe

It's been 50 years since the GTM came to life as Bernard Cox' original Grand Touring Mini at the 1967 Racing Car Show and so, last week, celebrations were held at Blyton Park (story here) as well as at the National Kit Car Show at Stoneleigh. Meanwhile, in the main hall at Stoneleigh, the GTM was given a new lease of life as it made its official debut as the Hambly Coupe. I bumped into Derek Hably's first attempt to revive the car back in 2016 (the yellow one below), but that was Ford powered. A year later Derek has decided to launch the car with Mini power after all, mainly due to the big wheels of a Ford donor, which simply don't fit properly, needing serious mods to the base.

Derek is a great GTM enthusiast, who bought his first GTM in the mid seventies, and raced it for decades. In fact he still has his old racing Heerey. He also told me the yellow car was only the first attempt he made at fiberglassing a body, and the orange Mini powered one, the second. It looked pretty good to me and with a Mini engine at the back it deserves a place here. Derek does realize that Mini donors aren't particularly cheap anymore, but he does point out that the number of second hand parts and the amount part suppliers is massive. There's no denying there. Derek also told me he has enough new old stock parts to make five more chassis', so at least five more brand new Coupes can be made. Derek is confident he will pass the IVA test with the car although it still needs some work. The conventional headlights, for that reason, are replaced by the small LEDs, but he isn't too happy with the look and thinks he found a way to use the original Mini lights now. You can read more on his website here, but I hope to keep you posted on Derek's project, too.

Derek's first Coupe was Ford Fiesta powered, but those big wheels led to several modifications
Picture Jeroen Booij

And so… it was back to Mini power once more! Derek is a trained engineer and has confidence 
that his Hambly Coupe will pass the IVA test
Picture Jeroen Booij

He now owns the moulds and the production rights. This is only the second body he made 
Picture Jeroen Booij

The Hambly Coupe is one of very few Mini powered kit cars that is still available now 
Picture Jeroen Booij

IVA regulations led to these headlights, but Derek thinks he will eventually be able to fit Mini lights
Picture Jeroen Booij

Interior looked neat, too. All was built up by Derek in a record time to get it to Stoneleigh
Picture Jeroen Booij

Friday, 5 May 2017

Blyton Park 2017: the best of the rest

After yesterday's GTM galore, let us now have a look at the rest of he Mini based cars that made it over to Blyton Park on the 30th of April for the terrific 4th Mk1 Performance / Maximum Mini Action Day. Enjoy them.

When you've read Maximum Mini 1 you may recall mention of the 4th and last of the Coldwell GTs, which is under restoration. I have asked the owner every year to bring it over… and finally there it was!
Picture Jeroen Booij

Owner Mark Needham, seen here with a bright smile, is the son of Coldwell instigator Bill Needham, who was also present at Blyton - mostly on the track
Picture Jeroen Booij

That's Bill Needham's Mini he's owned since Human memory. It is famously fitted with the twin cam cylinder head of his own design, dating back to 1967
Picture Jeroen Booij

Robert Scott is the new and very enthusiastic owner of this Mk2 Biota, which looked superb
Picture Jeroen Booij

Kevin Murray came all the way from the Scottish highlands, and treated himself to a new project on his way down south. It's a fully space framed sprinter built by Philip Oram in the 1980s
Picture Jeroen Booij

The car's body resembled a Riley Elf, but not as you know it. The race engine plus the moulds for the car's body came with the sale, too, and Kevin managed to fit them into his van. More to follow soon
Picture Jeroen Booij

There's my own little pride and joy: the Le Mans Mini Marcos, next to two siblings: the Mk1 street car of Peter Skitt on its left and the Mk1 racer of Gary Marlow on its right
Picture Jeroen Booij

What was the last time you saw three Mk1 Mini Marcoses in a row? Peter's white car has ben beautifully restored by himself over a period of time
Picture Jeroen Booij

Gary's car is quite special, too. It is completely as it was raced back in 1966 and has never been on the road. Gary told me it is one of supposedly six competition shells, of which mine has to be another. His car's roll bar and floors formed excellent reference to my car and I took a multitude of detail shots of it for that reason. I'll post some of them here, with explanations, in the near future
Picture Jeroen Booij

And… it won the Maximum Mini Award for the best Mini derivative of the day! That's Gary on the left, handed over the award by Mini racer extraordinaire Gordon Spice
Picture Jeroen Booij

Another winner: the Maguire Mini of Barry Long which won the title of Best Track Car of the day. It was indeed beautifully prepared and could be seen/heard screaming on they track for much of the day!
Picture Jeroen Booij

The flying Dutchmen who have been supporting me since the first Blyton Park Action Day back in 2014. Thanks for coming over once again chaps!
Picture Jeroen Booij

And we had a great contingent coming over from Ireland, too. Here inspecting the 
engine bay of Goff Allen's Mk2 Mini Jem. Great to see you too, guys!
Picture Jeroen Booij

That's Goff. He gave me a short lecture on how to tackle the gell cracks on my Mini Marcos' body. 
He restored his Jem beautifully, and is currently working on another, a Mk1
Picture Jeroen Booij

Steve Burkinshaw brought over one of his Radford Minis and not the least: this is a rare Radford Traveller. He told me there may have been up to 12 built. A bit more info here
Picture Jeroen Booij

Like all of Steve's cars this one is absolutely beautifully restored with all he right bits and details
Picture Jeroen Booij

And it wasn't on its own. Unipower GT-man and Blyton's co-organizer Pete Flanagan took another Radford to the event. One he recently found in the US
Picture Jeroen Booij

It's a 1965 car that was converted by Radford in '66 into a hatchback. It comes with lovely patina and spent most of its life in sunny California. Pete is still looking for more info on its past
Picture Jeroen Booij

Tim Carpenter drove his gorgeous Unipower GT - chassis number 1 - over from London to Lincolnshire and eagerly campaigned it on the track, too. That's the spirit!
Picture Jeroen Booij

And that's my old friend Geoffrey Hunter and the Ogle SX1000 he owns since 1963!
He used it as a daily driver for many years and drove it to the event, too. Thanks Geoff
Picture Jeroen Booij

Parting shot. See you there next year!
Picture Jeroen Booij

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Blyton Park 2017: the GTMs

I survived another Mk1 Performance Conversions / Maximum Mini Action Day at Blyton Park - the fourth in a row and perhaps the best so far. We had a great turn out of Mini based vehicles on display, not in the last place thanks to the GTM owners, who had come out in force to celebrate their car's 50th anniversary. I didn't have much time to take photograps, but did some quick photo shooting in between the many lovely chats I had. Let's have a look at them here.

Packed Maximum Mini display at the Blyton Park paddock with plenty of GTMs
Picture Jeroen Booij

Two of the earliest cars at the track: Stuart Poole's and John Fisher's Cox' GTM 
Picture Jeroen Booij

Stuart and family with the turbo equipped car. They weren't very lucky this year. It didn't run due to a broken lead. They searched half of county Lincolnshire for one, to no avail, but then it was a Ford lead... 
Picture Jeroen Booij

And that's John Fisher's car. You may remember he found it in a Yorkshire barn some years ago (here). It was now up and running, although a petrol leak caused some trouble
Picture Jeroen Booij

his is another early car and another Cox GTM. It's owned by Peter Skitt who is steadily restoring it
Picture Jeroen Booij

Peter's Cox GTM is Nerus tuned. I wrote about the car some time ago, see here.
Picture Jeroen Booij

A beautiful Heerey GTM in brilliant peppermint and with 998 power was another eye catcher 
Picture Jeroen Booij

Our bearded friend Richard Hawcroft wasn't very lucky with his Heerey GTM either. But fortunately he was allowed to drive a mate's car - which he spun!
Picture Jeroen Booij

There were several GTM Coupes to be seen, of which this mid-'90s car was just one
Picture Jeroen Booij

And how about this GTM Rossa? It's a Mk1, which you don't see very often. It was bought just months earlier by Kevin Knipps who'd lovingly got it ready for the show
Picture Jeroen Booij

This is a Rossa Mk2 in roadster guise of 1991. An excellent example of the breed. GTM LIbra behind
Picture Jeroen Booij

Sweet surprise. The GTM Owners celebrated the 50th anniversary at Blyton Park with a lovely cake
Picture Jeroen Booij