Thursday, 11 August 2022

Roamer in Germany

The Roamer, which was also known briefly under the names Arividerci Winchester and Moon's Moke remains a bit of a mystery. I have asked for more information about the cars before (here), but don't seem to get any further. 

One of the Roamers has been in Germany for quite some time now and I receive a message about it every now and then. Daniel Schultheimm wrote two years ago: "Hi Jeroen, I was looking for some information about the Roamer, a Metro based kit car, and found an article from you on Maximum Mini about these cars and there is a picture of one which seems to be the same as the one a friend of me bought last week and now we are looking for some history of it. It was stored for about 15 years in a shed in Germany."

More recently I received another message about it from its current owner. He wrote: "Hello Jeroen, I bought a strange car based on Mini-Metro called 'Roamer'. Yesterday I started the restoration. I tried to fill the hydrolastic system and fortunately I was successful. Today I will take out the engine. Kind regards, Turhan." 

I understand that previous owners have had troubles trying to register it, although I did find a picture of the car on German plates also. Let's hope this Roamer will get on the road at one point, meanwhile all information about thee vehicles is still very welcome.

Turhan's Roamer is undergoing a restoration in Germany but it remains a bit of a mystery
Picture Turhan

Engine will be out by this time, but it's the registration which causes trouble
Picture Turhan

Earlier picture if the same car 'It was stored for about 15 years in a shed in Germany'
Picture Daniel Schultheimm

I also received this picture of the car. That's surely a German plate. Maybe a temporary one?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Unipower GT finally freed from Japanese warehouse

One article that keeps arousing interest here since it was published in 2016 is about the Unipower GT in the Japanese warehouse. Read it here if you forgot. This GT car was originally registered 'NPN 16F' in the UK in early 1968 and made a regular entrance at shows in the 1980s before it went to Japan in 1988. It was only driven a few years there before being stored in the now-infamous Pro Auto warehouse in Gifu without moving a wheel in decades to come.

Well, it has now! A customer of Yuji Kagawa, who runs Mini specialist shop Miniflag in Japan, has freed it from it long-term hiding and Yuji gave it some much needed tender loving care in the last months or so. His shop Miniflag is based in Hashima, just 10 miles down the road from the Pro Auto warehouse in Gifu.

Yuji wrote: "The current owner rescued it from Pro Auto Service and he also rescued the Janspeed racer 'JAN 4'. The Pro Auto shop is in chaos and there is so much clutter that there is nowhere to walk. There is a tremendous number of cars and parts (so much so that the world market price changes)." And about the Unipower: "Of course there are places to fix, but I think it is a valuable Unipower GT with a very high degree of originality. The car has recently had its exterior reworked and maintained, but it has not undergone a full restoration, making it a very rare Unipower with many original parts remaining. The engine is not a 998 Cooper unit, just a regular mini 998 with double SU carburettors and Janspeed exhaust. Maybe it is original. There is also a rare and genuine storage compartment. The instrument panel seems to be the original and I'm pretty sure the seats are original. I think it's the same with the Kangol seatbelts. Best regards, Yuji."

The Unipower is now offered for sale on behalf of the owner. A great chance to purchase what seems to be a lovely car. Click here to visit the Miniflag website and here for the Unipower ad.

This Unipower GT spent the last decades in a derelict car collection in Gifu, Japan
Picture Yuji Kagawa / Miniflag

Amazingly, it has come out now, and survives particularly good having only had a respray and some tlc recently. Note that rear light have been modified earlier in its life
Picture Yuji Kagawa / Miniflag

According to Yuji Kagawa the car comes with a very high degree of originality
Picture Yuji Kagawa / Miniflag

He thinks the engine is not a 998 Cooper unit though but a regular Mini 998 with twin SUs
Picture Yuji Kagawa / Miniflag

But it comes with this - the rarely seen luggage compartment that can be taken out...
Picture Yuji Kagawa / Miniflag

...As it can be fitted in the car's opening boot behind the engine. I'd only seen one before
Picture Yuji Kagawa / Miniflag

Bucket seats and Kangol seat belts are believed to be original items also and do look good
Picture Yuji Kagawa / Miniflag

Even the original shift pattern decal survives. Gear lever is of course placed in the sill
Picture Yuji Kagawa / Miniflag

Petrol tank, servos, washer reservoir, spare wheel and of course the car's chassis plate, it's all there
Picture Yuji Kagawa / Miniflag

Monday, 8 August 2022

Larry's Unipower GT competition racer - a New York street car

I've been in touch with Larry Cieslinski of Rochester in the state of New York since a year now, after he showed me the image of the Unipower GT copied in below. Chatting to Larry is good fun since he traded, bought and sold hunderds of interesting cars, mostly in the 1970s and 1980s, the Unipower being just one of them. He added:

"It was one of five factory race cars and had a 1293 engine. I owned a company named Access Foreign Automotive at the time and sold my two Elva sports racers to buy it, one of these was a Mk2 with a Coventry Climax engine and the other a Mk4 I think or Mk5. I bought the car from a close friend of mine, Michael Grey, and used it as my street car just as I had used my Elvas. I owned 750 cars over the years and had another 500 parted out, 60 percent of them were British. We rallied a 1275 Mini and had a perfect Morris Cooper 'S'. I've led a colourful life and it isn't over yet!"

The car appears to be chassis number 23, which was raced by Ecurie Canada back in 1969 and I also found an article in 'Competition Press & Autoweek' dated October 1967 showing the same car on Lime Rock circuit next to another GT. Interestingly, the article mentions Rex Woodgate and Robin Seel as US sales representatives for the Unipower marque. The name of (the late) Rex Woodgate did ring a bell and so I got in touch with his son Chris, who wrote: "Nice of you to get in touch. I really wish I could be of more help but in 1967 I was 3 years old... I do remember seeing a Unipower running and on a trailer a few times, thinking it was 'compact' but super cool! Dad always spoke about them with great affection, but any details I am more than vague on. Mum is 96, but still pretty sharp, I will quiz her when I get a chance for further information. I have copied my Brother Neil. Being a tad older he may be able to add something ? Very Best, Chris."

Unfortunately Neil Woodgate didn't remember much more than his brother: "My recollection is equally vague. There were two of the cars but something differentiated them. Maybe the GT title or one was open top or maybe just colors. One was a mustard yellow I think. Think it was relatively short lived, no more than a couple of seasons. And concur that based on the pose, size, RayBan glasses and hint of a mustache, that’s Rex in the middle. Hadn’t heard the name Robin Seal in some time but recall he was the UK representative partnering with Rex."

It seems that the car, just like Larry, led a colourful life, too. Feel free to ad more info if you like.

Larry's Unipower GT when he owned it in the 1970s. It was formerly raced by Ecurie Canada
Picture Larry Cieslinski

The same Unipower in 1967 with US marque representatives Robin Seel and Rex Woodgate
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Friday, 5 August 2022

A Margrave Mini on Malta

Model car builder Max Derrez recently bought a book and was surprised about the sheer number of cars using the Mini's base. The one he ever came across was a Wood & Pickett Mini Margrave on the island of Malta when on holidays there years ago. "The owner told me he'd rather sell his wife than the car, or so he said to me", Max added. He didn't have any pictures of the car did he? Well as a matter of fact he did!

They arrived just a day later: "Hello Jeroen. See attached pictures of the W&P Mini that I saw on Malta back in 2001. These photos aren't very good as dawn came in when I took them. The car came with the Vauxhall grille and had all of its side seams removed, which must have been quite a job. As I wrote to you before, the owner knew he had something special. Very best, Max Derrez"

That is, of course much appreciated. Anyone here who knows more about this particular car, registered 'JAB 905' on the isle of Malta..?

UPDATE 13:00: Other fellow-Dutchman Henk van Brakel photographed the same car on the island of Malta in 1997 when it was still on its British plate: 'FOX 767L', added below now. Thank you!

Reader Max Derrez spotted this Wood & Pickett Mini Margrave on Malta back in 2001
Picture Max Derrez

Max wrote: "The owner told me he'd rather sell his wife than the car, or so he said"
Picture Max Derrez

Dark shadowlite windows, deseamed, fabric roof, Webasto and more... Do we know this car?
Picture Max Derrez

The car must have been a UK-import as Henk van Brakel spotted it on Malta on its British plate
Picture Henk van Brakel

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Summer 2022 - the show is on

It's summer and it's showtime once again! I have been sent lots of pictures of cars making it to shows in the last month or so and share some of the best of these here, together with some more bits and pieces that may interest you folk. I hope you'll enjoy them - and keep those pictures coming. 

Over in Australia this Jem was spotted last month by a friend of Ogle owner Neil Griffin. Neil wrote: "Jeroen, a friend who now lives in South Australia saw this at an impromptu car show over there." 
I think it's a Taylorspeed built car?
Picture via Neil Griffin

Neil Kilbane of Ireland spotted this 1977 Jimini Mk1 "Came upon it at a car boot sale about 25km from me. The guy said he had it for 20 years but never had it on the road. He was looking for €3500 for it!"
Picture Neil Kilbane

Not one but two Mini Ice cream vans with 'Batman' bodies by Whitby Morrison. One of them is owned by Andy McPail, who took this picture on a show at the British Motor Heritage Centre in Gaydon
Picture Andy McPhail

US reader Burton Reif attended the Mini Meet West in Kingston, Washington with his Ranger Cub, which he drove from Portland Oregon (previously seen here). He was surprised to see a Mini Marcos Mk4 driven all the way from Sacramento, California!
Picture Burton Reif

And a picture from the other side, giving a better view on Burton's Ranger. This photo was taken by the Marcos' owner Michael Kimball who is a keen Mini Marcos promotor in the US
Picture Michael Kimball

Three coachbuilts in a row! Gorgeous Radford Mini De Villes left and right with a Wood & Pickett Mini Margrave in between them, all three absolutely stunning cars owned by one and the same enthusiast
Picture George Knight

Mini Jem racer Pete Crudgington took this picture at Castle Combe of his own racer (left) back to back to the Mini Marcos Mk3 of Sam Polley. Both race in the CSCC Swinging 60’s Series
Picture Pete Crudgington

Ever saw a Status 365 from the underside? I hadn't! Stimson-fan Paul Wylde took this picture while his mate's Status was placed on the lift for some work to be carried out
Picture Paul Wylde

Another Mosquito came out of its hiding in July. Damien Lescroart wrote: "I knew about the existence of this Mosquito for years but never found any info or pictures of it. It appeared today"
Picture via Damien Lescroart

Mark Glasher's pretty Unipower GT made it to the prestigious concours d'elegance of the Goodwood Festival of Speed in June. It came out in a class for mid-engined 1960s cars
 Picture DrGrumoLunatic / Youtube

A well-used Birchall McCoy was seen at a show not far from my place in The Netherlands recently. It's the only McCoy that I have ever heard of in my country, and I really should have been there!
Picture Erik van den Eijnden

Also in The Netherlands, this Ogle SX1000 is in for a brake overhaul. Oh, hang on, it's my own car!
The full Cooper 'S' braking system was incomplete and clogged but works fine again by now
Picture Sipke Blom

Maximum Mini fan Barry Tilbury has been collecting Mini variants for years now. But it was only recently that he managed to find a place to put them all together. Scamps and more here...
Picture Barry Tilbury

...And more! Hat tip to anyone who can identify all of them under those covers, they're all Mini derivatives... Barry wrote: "When are you in the UK next I would love you to visit" Great!
Picture Barry Tilbury

Barry's latest purchase is a very interesting Mk1 Biota, which now joins the others. The car was seen here before when it was found on a peacock farm in Wales back in 2014 (click here)
Picture Barry Tilbury

Saturday, 23 July 2022

12 Little Navajos - how many left?

When a Navajo, or Langridge Navajo, was offered for sale recently I received a great number of messages about it and dug out the files again. The Navajo really was an interesting little car built between 1984 and 1985 by racing car builder Alan Langridge in his ‘Image Race Cars’ workshop at the Super Shell building, on the Goodwood grounds and just next to the track. The Duke of Richmond was a backer of the project and worked with Alan Langridge to get the Navajo on to the road. The car was originally based on the 1100 or 1300 but Langridge reputedly didn’t like the Hydrolastic suspension and converted the cars back to coil shock absorbers. A basic kit consisted of a mig-welded and zinc-plated monocoque with a fibreglass bonnet, windscreen, and all the necessary mountings, brackets, fixings, nuts and bolts. The Duke of Richmond was quoted: “I could have a lot of fun around the estate with this car”, but it’s unknown whether he ever had one. Langridge moved to South Africa in the late 1980s and later to France.

I wondered wether the car for sale was one I'd seen before. It wasn't and I decided to make a list of cars that I know about. Supposedly 12 Navajos were made and have pictures of 10 of them, while one of these - the prototype - has been confirmed scrapped. Know more? Let me know.

SWY 185 was the Navajo demonstrator / brochure car. It's been scrapped
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The Navajos were built by Langridge's Image Race Cars in Goodwood's Super Shell building
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

SWY 185

ADE 378A

TSN 442M

Q279 EGV

Q413 NTR

Q494 XUX

Q580 CGY

Q621 FVT

Q683 CGY

Q627 ODW

Wednesday, 20 July 2022

ABS to relaunch Alto Boxer kits

Don't think the Mini derivative is dead. After last week's launch of the Mengers Beach Mini (click) it is time for the next relaunch: that of the Alto Boxer. You will know by now that ABS Motorsport boss Tony Bucknall has a great ability of tracking down long-lost Mini based kit cars or their moulds, and he did just that with the moulds for the Boxer a while ago. He wrote: "They were stored in a lockup/garage, which was collapsing and it was at a point it had to be cleared."

Remarkably, an extra front end that came with the set is different to how we know it. Tony: "That front end mould isn’t the Boxer, but yes it's certainly for a Mini, the door and scuttle all look right. And yes there will be enough height clearance where the rocker top is. I don’t recall such a front end ever being on the market though." Same here.

The Alto Boxer never was a great seller but Tony never the less made a set from the complete moulds and will be happy to sell you one if you like. He continued: "I am going to offer the Boxer composites separately and as base kits for people to do their own cabrio conversion if they choose to. The actual body kit will work with out the Mini being cabrio’d however I am not sure how it would look! I have set up a section on the website for Mini based kit car composites, and will add the pieces as I get time (click here). I will also add the Stimson bug and the McCoy parts as I get time...       

Kudos to you Tony!

The Alto Boxer was a Targa conversion with a wild body kit of the 1990s
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Ultimate conversion? Very few were sold up until 1997 when production was stopped
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

But ABS boss Tony Bucknall found the kit's complete set of moulds recently
Picture Tony Bucknall

This is the mystery mould coming with the lot. Tony and I have never seen it before
Picture Tony Bucknall

A brand new set laminated from the moulds - kits are being offered by ABS now
Picture Tony Bucknall

All the different body parts for the Alto Boxer are there, including the hardtop
Picture Tony Bucknall

The kit exists of a great number of bits. The Boxer used Peugeot 205 rear lights
Picture Tony Bucknall

Rare example of a Alto Boxer Mini with not the full kit fitted to it. 
This one was restored over a long period of time by Scotsman Andy Middleditch
Picture courtesy Andy Middleditch