Friday, 8 December 2017

Le Mans Mini Marcos: machining the crank

While I am still hoarding parts for my Mini Marcos project car, in the south of France Philippe Quiriere has started building the car's engine. You may remember that I wrote about the crank he'd found as it being something quite special. It's an AEG 480 that was bought new by tuner Jim Whitehouse direct from BMC’s Special Tuning department in 1966. Whitehouse was the man who set up Arden Engineering and developed the 8-port head, of which he sold the patent in '67 to... BMC.

Anyway: he never used the crank and sold it in 1968 to Jose Albertini, who owned the Le Mans Mini Marcos in 1970. Albertini also never used it, but that is going to change now. Philippe (who took it over from Albertini a year or two ago) is now using it for my engine. He wrote earlier this week: "Hi Jeroen. I just received the crank and it is now almost finished. It is also the most expensive Mini crank (for me)! But a nice part for your project. I give it now for the oil passage." Meanwhile, he added a little movie of it being machined. Love it.

NOS BMC Special Tuning crank is nearly ready for assembly in the Le Mans engine
Picture courtesy Philippe Quiriere

Here you can see it being machined in France, earlier this week
Video courtesy Philippe Quiriere

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

The Green Mean Machine - that other GTM

The year is not yet over, which means it is still 50 years ago that the Cox GTM came to life. Just in time to share some more GTM photographs then. Now. The most famous of all the cars made by Bernard Cox, Howard Heerey, Patrick Fitch and Peter Beck plus all that other men who built GTM cars? Surely that red Car and Car Conversions car, right? I agree. 

But there was another GTM that could be seen in CCC's competing Hot Car magazine, and later in Custom Car magazine, too. It was nicknamed The Green Mean Machine thanks to the very green shade of paint used on its body. It actually was the first demonstrator built by Howard Heerey in 1969. He recently wrote: "The Green Mean Machine as featured in Custom Car July 1970. They loved it and reckoned it could blow the doors boot and bonnet lid off its competition. Still love the colour that I mixed, so Seventies." Thanks for that Howard, the GTM is still going strong after all these years. But does anyone know what happened to the Green Mean Machine?

Article in Hot Car magazine - they certainly loved the GTM too. Just like CCC
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

This photograph was published in Custom Car magazine - another 1970s mag to have
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

These pictures are from the Hot Car shoot, and later ended up in the famous Filby Files. 
I was kindly allowed to copy them 
Picture The Filby Files / Jeroen Booij archive

'LLG 187G' was the first demonstrator built by Howard Heerey in 1969
Picture The Filby Files / Jeroen Booij archive

That's technical editor Paul Davies behind the wheel, clearly enjoying the drive!
Picture The Filby Files / Jeroen Booij archive

Here parked in the paddock at Oulton Park. Heerey: "I reckon it looks great next to the 911"
Picture Howard Heerey

The car was seen in several advertisements, too. This one from Hot Car again
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

And one more. Now, where could the Green Mean Machine have gone to?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Monday, 4 December 2017

Fletcher GT goes rallying

We now know there have been several MiniJems that were used for auto crossing. But how about a Fletcher GT for rallying? The first of the two images below was kindly sent over by former Fletcher owner Paul Ogle, who's much loved car was sadly joy-ridden and burnt two years ago now (report here). Paul wrote: "Hi Jeroen. As Christmas is well and truly on its way, I thought I'd share a pic with you from the 1970s. This is the other running Fletcher that was the sister car to my car. I believe this was originally the 1967 racing car show car with the distinctly re-fashioned rear. This car later went rallying as apposed to track racing from what I have discovered so far. (more on the car here-JB). Have a great Christmas Jeroen Hope to catch up again at some point soon. Regards Paul."

That's lovely mate, thank you! Meanwhile, I found another shot of the car in the files at the same event. It turns out to be the Castrol National Rally of 1979 with the car being driven by Leigh MacLachlan and Nick Doughty. It would be awesome to learn a bit more.

Fletcher GT goes rallying. Note distinctive rear lights from an Austin Balanza
Picture courtesy Paul Ogle

Same car at the same event. Drivers were Leigh MacLachlan and Nick Doughty
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Who will be saving these Stimsons and Siva?

Last year a collection of three Stimson cars plus a sole Siva Buggy was seen here (click and scroll a little down). I have now learned the cars are still there, still looking sorry for themselves, and we now know the location, too. The picture was taken by Dafyn Jones, who found them by chance. He wrote: "Took a wrong turn near Accrington and saw these in a tumbledown warehouse" We see a Stimson CS+2 (BEF 216Y), a Stimson Scorcher (Q837 SOS) and a bright green Siva Buggy with no visible registration. It looks to me as if the other white Mini Bug (VOA 879K) is still hiding behind the CS+2, too. Dafyn adds: "They are at the bottom of Mill Road, Great Harwood in the remains of a collapsed industrial unit." Here you go folks. If they are worth serious money in 10 years time, don't say I didn't tell you these were rotting away right there, right now.

Stimson CS+2, Stimson Mini Bug, Stimson Scorcher and Siva Buggy are still out there
Picture Dafyn Jones

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Le Mans Mini Marcos: leaky tank now skillfully restored

In the last couple of months I have become a real hoarder of classic parts and by now the post man knows me by name. I am planning to put all of them together for one picture when all have arrived or have been finished. Well, that's all bar the body and the engine and suspension as these are currently not with me. You will remember the body is in Yorkshire, UK, with Peter and Paul of Seventies Car Restoration, while the mechanicals are currently being built by Philippe Quiriere of Mini World Center in Pau, France. The plan is to have the body finished and painted by next July, then take it over to Le Mans Classic somewhere from 6 to 8 July 2018 and then drive on to Pau in south-western France to fit the mechanicals at Philippe's.

Meanwhile, I had some troubles with the petrol tank. The idea was to use electrolysis in order to de-rust the inside. I’d heard about this, had a look at some DIY movies on Youtube and it all seemed pretty straightforward. Well, I had all the ingredients necessary, had the sender unit in the tank closed and had the set-up ready. But when I filled up the tank with water I soon found that it wasn’t as good as I’d expected. Water leaked from three places on the seal and I had to give up the whole electrolysis plan. Blast! And so I decided there was only one way to go: order a new Mini Van petrol tank (this was used as a base for my tank), cut the old one open, do the same with the new one and weld the bottom half of the new one to the top half of the original one. I contacted my friends at MiniSpares North and they were ever so helpful. They sent over a new Van tank at a special price and it came quickly, too.

Now, welding up a tank isn’t too easy and I was lucky when an old acquaintance told me he new just the man for the job. Martin is an old blacksmith who has been dealing with this sort of job for decades. I called him, drove over to his wonderful workshop where he examined the tank. He saw immediately that it had been autogenously welded and he agreed to do it exactly similar. And he did a marvellous job. He cut the old tank open on the exact seem where it had been welded by Jean-Claude Hrubon all those years ago and placed it together right there, too. He also replaced the old drain plug, blasted the inside and sprayed the outside beautifully in the correct paint. Job done! Meanwhile, I used my electrolysis set-up to de-rust the paddle box and its separate pedals and the few steering column bits that I had. It worked beautifully, too. Stay tuned.

Big petrol tank is visible through the car's rear screen, seen at the Le Mans pit here
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Ready for action, with the tank closed up and about to be filled with water and soda mixture
Picture Jeroen Booij

Ouch! Leaks stopped play and there was no way I could use my electrolysis set-up here anymore
Picture Jeroen Booij

The original tank had to be cut open, just as well as a brand new one. With the genuine piece of Le Mans history seen above now not being used anymore
Picture Jeroen Booij

But here's Blacksmith Martin with the original top and new bottom mated together again. He welded them up just like Jean Claude Hrubon did over 50 years ago
Picture Jeroen Booij

Friday, 24 November 2017

Mystery Mini derivative (47)

Believed to have been photographed at the Earl's Court London Motor Show on the stand of BACO Aluminium in 1963, this is an intriguing one. I was sent the picture by arch-enthusiast Miguel Plano, who asked me: "Could it be Mini based?" I think it could, judging from the wheels and that tall engine space. I'm not so sure about the year though, as it all shouts late 1960s / early 1970s to me. BACO (for British Aluminium Company Ltd.) does not exist anymore, so we cannot ask them. But somebody should surely know more about this car?

BACO Aluminium built their own car and showed it at Earl's Court. Was it Mini based?
Picture via Miguel Plano

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Mini Trafalgar Coupe unveiled

It's not too often nowadays that a brand new Mini based car is launched, but it's the case now with the Mini Trafalgar Coupe, built and marketed by Garage Minimum of Kanazawa in Japan.

The car made its debut at the 25th Japan Mini Day last weekend. As you can see it is a fastback Mini in the style of the Buckle Monaco, Ecurie de Dez 2+2, New ERA Mini Coupe, Automotive Refabrication Fastback Mini and ABS Mini Coupe. But it's fully built by Garage Minimum itself, which based its demonstrator on a 1994 Mini Mpi. It certainly looks good. First the roof of the donor Mini was cut off half ways, the rear screen pillars were slightly raked, and the shape of the new roof was made using steel strips, sheet metal and filler. Next a mould was made from that to fabricate the actual roofs in fibreglass.

Garage Minimum now offers replicas to customers, priced at ¥ 700,000 for the conversion. Contact them here for more information.

UPDATE 12:20: Another message from the manufacturer: "I am now manufacturing No. 2 car. It is planned to sell with a complete car. I think that it will be finished around January next year. Car No. 3 is ordered by another customer, and it will be produced after that."


A brand new Mini based car: the Mini Trafalgar Coupe by Garage Minimum
Picture courtesy Garage Minimum

Fibreglass roof is one part and is beautifully fitted to cut and shut Mini shell
Picture courtesy Garage Minimum

Smooth conversion with no roof guttering and seams at the back
Picture courtesy Garage Minimum

Mini based coupes came from the UK and Australia - this one is Japanese
Picture courtesy Garage Minimum

Donor vehicle was a 1994 Mini Mpi, roof was cut half ways and rear screen raked
Picture courtesy Garage Minimum

The new roof shape was now fabricated. Note modified rain gutter
Picture courtesy Garage Minimum

Next, a mould was made to reproduce more Trafalgar Coupe roofs
Picture courtesy Garage Minimum

Seen here fitted to the demonstrator before being painted and finished
Picture courtesy Garage Minimum

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Japan Mini Day 2017

Japan Mini Day is always good for some Mini derivatives. And with the show in its 25th year it was bound to become a good one this year, at the shores of Lake Hamanako in the Shizuoka prefecture. The majority of the pictures below come from the Young Mini Club of Hong Kong. Thank you so much for uploading them!
Is this four-door car a Mini Mengers creation? I don't think so, but you may know?
Picture Piyo Yee / Young Mini Club

And how about this cool Mini coupe? A Buckle Monaco? An ABS Coupe? I'd love to know
UPDATE 23 november: it's a brand new Mini derivative! All here
Picture Piyo Yee / Young Mini Club

Heerey GTM 1-3 has to be a rare sight in Japan. This is a 1970 car
Picture Piyo Yee / Young Mini Club

And is that an Ibis or an RD Wasp? I think the latter. Here is an Ibis that made its way to Japan
Picture Piyo Yee / Young Mini Club

There were several Mokes with hardtops. I think this one is by Fibreglass Canopy Sales of Wahroonga, Australia
Picture Piyo Yee / Young Mini Club

And another one. This one looks to be a Duncan Hamilton variant of the late 1980s?
Picture Piyo Yee / Young Mini Club

These ladies sell ice cream from a very fitting Whitby Morrison Mini ice cream van
Picture Nobuhiro Okitsu

Mister Maruyama's well-know Mini Marcos may be Ford powered, it's a lovely thing!
Picture Piyo Yee / Young Mini Club

This car is another regular at Japan's Mini meets. The (Mk4) body is said to be fully carbon fibre
Picture Piyo Yee / Young Mini Club

Japan Mini Day would not be Japan Mini Day without at least some MiniSprints!
Picture Piyo Yee / Young Mini Club

The number of MiniSprints in Japan is remarkably high. Who built all these cars?
Picture JMSA

And another, now clearly based on a younger shell. Note that all wear wide arches
Picture Piyo Yee / Young Mini Club

Bonus photograph: this Unipower GT was also seen at another meeting in Japan last weekend
Picture Yoshi Tsuji

Monday, 20 November 2017

Maximum Mini Christmas offer 2017


Make a start on your Christmas shopping with the perfect gift: Maximum Mini books, of course. Now you can take advantage of a 25% discount on Maximum Mini 2 and 3. I have also been able to track down 5 more copies of the original hardback Maximum Mini 1, as published in 2009, which I sell with 40% discount on the standard £250 price - £150. These will surely go quickly as I don't think I'll find new ones anywhere!

All prices below include postage and packing in a purpose made box. Drop me a line on jeroen at jeroenbooij.com with your wishes and I'll send you a payment request.

This offer start on Wednesday 22 November 2017 and runs until 25 December 2017.


To the UK

£26.25 for Maximum Mini 2
£30.00 for Maximum Mini 3
£52.50 for Maximum Mini 2 & 3
£150.00 for the original hardback Maximum Mini 1


To Europe

€33.95 for Maximum Mini 2
€37.50 for Maximum Mini 3
€63.75 for Maximum Mini 2 & 3
€169.00 for the original hardback Maximum Mini 1


To the US

$46.50 for Maximum Mini 2
$52.50 for Maximum Mini 3
$93.75 for Maximum Mini 2 & 3
$199.00 for the original hardback Maximum Mini 1


To Japan

¥5,500 for Maximum Mini 2
¥6,000 for Maximum Mini 3
¥10,500 for Maximum Mini 2 & 3
¥22,500 for the original hardback Maximum Mini 1

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Mystery Mini derivative (46)

Another mystery Mini derivative and yet another autocross Special. No information is known about this one, so feel free to help with anything. People, location, details. All I recognize is the A-series engine and the Dunlop wheels. Most of this autocross Special is also still shrouded in mystery, as is this one and this one...

A Mini based autocross Special, somewhere in the UK in the late 1960s / early 1970s
Picture Jeroen Booij archive