Friday, 22 January 2021

54 Years ago - Racing Car Show 1967

Regular contributor Karsten Stelk came across another great photograph of the London Racing Car show of January 1967, this month 54 years ago, and he was kind enough to share it. In the center of the picture we see the Marcos Components stand with three Mini Marcoses on display. I believed the show on which Marcos built a car at the spot took place in 1968, but I seem to be wrong after all as these photographs by Tommy Jaggerwal who was there, certainly seem to be taken at the same venue. Thank you Karsten!



National Hall, Olympia, London January 1967. The Racing Car Show is in full swing
Picture courtesy Karsten Stelk

That certainly looks to be the Marcos Components stand with three Mini Marcoses on display
Picture courtesy Karsten Stelk

More to see here. Which stand is that with the Minis? Deep Sanderson 301 far 
Picture courtesy Karsten Stelk

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

New Zealand MiniSprint: Crashed, rebuilt and... disappeared

Graeme Farr's messages always bring a smile on my face, and the one he sent recently did so, too. He wrote: "Did I ever send you this cool period photo of Tony Gilbertson's car after he crashed it in '67? It was rebuilt as good as new. Still hunting for the car... It's the genuine Trickett built car Tony imported to New Zealand in 1966. Best, Graeme"

As always with Graeme he had more to show, adding later: "The two photos of it in blue but without the racing livery is the rebuilt car."

That is indeed an amazing photo and it looks like the smash was one easily forgotten also and I was amazed to hear that Gilbertson walked out with only minor injuries. Who knows what happened to the rebuilt car..?

Original 1966 MiniSprint imported from the UK was crashed heavily in NZ in 1967
Picture via Graeme Farr

Crumpled up seriously - amazingly driver Gilbertson suffered minor injuries
Picture via Graeme Farr

This must have been before the race - the 1967 NZ Grand Prix at Pukekohe circuit
Picture via Graeme Farr

And another period colour photograph. Venue unknown
Picture via Graeme Farr

And again at a NZ racing venue. The car was rebuilt after the crash but where is it now? 
Picture via Graeme Farr

More from Graeme's scrapbooks. Top two pics show the car as he last saw it
Picture via Graeme Farr

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

The adventures of a happy Scamper

Over the years I spoke to many people involved in Mini based cars, but had strangely never got in touch with Scamp boss Andrew MacLean. This while the Scamp has been in production since 1969, of which the last four decades or so under MacLean's wings. So it was about time to catch up. It finally happened last year when traveling wasn't that difficult yet. And I wasn't disappointed. Andrew invited me for a full day at the Scamp headquarters and workshops in Surrey, interviewing the man, driving his works demo and with full access to the Scamp files also.

It was a lovely day with Andrew being such a fantastic storyteller also. Did you know he built Scamps in Nigeria and Jamaica as well as Jiminis on Barbados, where they were called the Evolution CariMoke? His stories were both fascinating as well as hilarious and sometimes unbelievable. Complete Kit Car magazines had such an interest in these tales that the editor decided to publish the interview in two installments. First about the history and MacLean's involvement in the Scamp Motor company (which came out last summer); the second about his adventures overseas. That has just come out now and can be found in magazine stores or here now. I'm sure you'll like it.


Andrew MacLean in an RTV that is undergoing full restoration at the Scamp works
Picture Jeroen Booij

A brand new galvanized steel Scamp chassis, ready to go to the customer
Picture Jeroen Booij

Andrew welding up another new Scamp chassis. He's built hundreds of them
Picture Jeroen Booij

This machine has been used to make all the body panels of all the Scamps since 1969!
Picture Jeroen Booij

Production abroad started in Nigeria where MacLean got to work under Chief Doctor M.O. Akinrele
Picture Jeroen Booij archive courtesy Andrew MacLean
 
Next overseas adventure was building the Scamp in Jamaica, which proved to be a real disaster
Picture Jeroen Booij archive courtesy Andrew MacLean

MacLean tried it once more by building Jiminis on the isle of Barbados: 'Lovely'
Picture Jeroen Booij archive courtesy Andrew MacLean

Friday, 15 January 2021

GRV Project X is not a Hustler. But does it survive?

John B. Orson is the membership secretary of the Midas owners club, but was involved as a teacher with another one-off Mini based car 38 years ago and he was kind enough to share its story. He wrote: 

"Jeroen, I messaged you about a car one of my students made. The car was built in 1983 by Simon Goodliff who at the time was taking his GCSE exams, so 15 or 16 years old. The car was built mainly at the workshops of GRV in Littleborough near Rochdale. Simon's father Jeff built the Vita Mini hill climb car amongst others. Simon's car was quite heavily influenced by William Towns Hustler in terms of chassis construction having a top and bottom half. Using components from a Mini Van with another rear subframe and components sourced to match the design, the car was completed in just under 12 months. The car was delivered each week on a trailer to an area outside the school workshops for some of the construction work the rest being done at GRV."

"Models were made of both the chassis and body to help finalize the design. The body panels were resin bonded ply, finished with a two-pack paint. The Tee bar roof was an interesting feature, maintaining structural strength yet giving an open topped feel. I had a very simple arrangement with both Simon and Geoff that I could turn up at GRV to check progress at any time, ensuring the project would be all his own work. The car went with Simon to his interview for a technical apprenticeship at Ford (where he still works)."

Of course my first question to John was wether he knew of the car's survival. He came back: "It looks as if the car no longer exists. It was last taxed in 1990 and has no MOT record with the DVLA. The car, as you may have guessed from the pictures, was called 'Project X'" 
Not to be confused with the Project X from Australia, which was finally found last year and became the Maximum Mini Best Find of 2019 (click), I wonder if there is anyone who knows more about this British Project X?


This is not a Hustler - GRV Project X was a one-off made by student Simon Goodliff
Picture John B Orson

Simon's father Geoff Goodliff had been involved in a number of infamous Mini (based) cars, too
Picture John B Orson

The car was built at the workshop of GRV in Littleborough near Rochdale in 1983
Picture John B Orson

Body panels were resin bonded ply and finished with a two-pack paint
Picture John B Orson

HVH 844N is believed to have been lost. You may know different though?
Picture John B Orson

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Mini Marcos Mk1 competition car started (well... almost)

When I was looking at Mk1 Mini Marcoses with competition shells lately I came across this video in the files, which I'd totally forgotten about. What we see is Gary Marlow's incredibly original car, which remains just about similar to what it looked like in 1966. I visited Gary some three years ago to see the Marcos' rear wheel arches as the ones on my car were too far gone to be saved. Gary suggested to start it up and I thought it was an idea to film that, expecting some very noisy moments with its side pipe. Well, the Marcos didn't start and Gary's neighbors remained friends. A nice snippet never the less!


Mk1 Mini Marcos remains just as it was raced by Barry Price in 1966. It didn't start though...
Video Jeroen Booij

Monday, 11 January 2021

Ben and the Dutch Peel Viking GT

One of the first to phone me up in the new year was Ben Konst - the man who'd imported the Peel Viking GT to The Netherlands in the 1960s, and who bought back his old demonstrator some two years ago now (several articles here). 

Ben, 79 years at the moment but ever so spritely, had a few questions. He will be going to the Dutch authorities later this week to get the car's registration back on track. As I was around a week later I thought I'd pop in to say hello. And I was pleasantly surprised. The last two years or so Ben had several other cars to work on, but by this time he has started work on the Viking and has managed to buy several parts that had gone missing after we found the car in a German shed. Among them a correct engine with 'magic wand' gearbox, since it had been fitted with a later Innocenti engine with remote type gearbox. 

He is still looking for some parts, among them a set of Mk1 Cosmic wheels, as his car now comes with just one, so if you happen to have a few lying around and want to part with them, let me know. For now: best of luck at the registration office!

UPDATE 14 January 2021: Approved!


Ben Konst, 79 years young, has now started work on the Peel he built 54 years ago
Picture Jeroen Booij

He owns the Healey on the left about as long and raced that throughout Europe
Picture Jeroen Booij

Rear lights and rear window were modified by Ben in '68. He sourced them from a Fiat
Picture Jeroen Booij

Cleaned up now, the interior is still just like it was, including the 'Classic Ten' radio
Picture Jeroen Booij

Innocenti-engine that was fitted is now out. Subframes will soon be painted black again
Picture Jeroen Booij

Ben already found a period correct engine with the 'magic wand' gearbox
Picture Jeroen Booij

This decal can be found on a much-worn rear side screen. Anyone who knows Ronald Lagarde?
Picture Jeroen Booij

Ben bought a set of Mk1 Cosmic wheels in 1968 and fitted them to the Peel, but three of them are now missing. Who can help him out?
Picture Jeroen Booij


Thursday, 7 January 2021

ABC Tricars - how many left?

When I was looking for a proper ABC Tricar to photograph for Maximum Mini 2 ages ago, I made a little list with cars known (see it here). But as this is some 10 years now (!) I thought it would be time for an update, as there is much more known now and with recent Tricar activity stirring it up, too.

So here we go. This is the list of cars that I know of now - a total of 13 cars, while 24 were supposedly made. Who can ad more?

TFD 47G - The prototype. This car has been found and is under restoration now. (more here)
XFD 90H - This was the company's demonstrator. I understand it survives but haven't seen it
AFD 95J - Bronze yellow - no further information
BFD 41J - Bronze yellow - no further information
BFD 88J - Red - Clubman nose, owned by ABC's Trevor Powell's son when new (more here)
CFD 39J - Light Blue - body almost unrecognizably modified
CFD 40J - Red - No further information
RFD 654K - Green - Clubman style nose. Advertised in 2011, current whereabouts unknown
HFD 601K - Red - fully restored by Roy Kirkham, featured in Maximum Mini 2 (here)
JFD 358L - Originally Bronze Yellow, now bright yellow and fully restored (more here and here)
LFD 504L - Bronze yellow - now in the USA in a brighter yellow colour
LFD 984L - Green - Rear end after crash in the late-1970s
Unknown black car - Said to be a Tricar but I'm not sure


TFD 47G

XFD 90H

AFD 95J

BFD 41J

BFD 88J

CFD 39J

CFD 40J

EFD 654K

HFD 601K

JFD 358L

LFD 504L

LFD 984L

Unknown car, believed to be a modified ABC Tricar also

Monday, 4 January 2021

Fisher GT is Find of 2020

First of all: happy 2021 to you all! 

Let's hope the new year will be a good one for all and perhaps slightly less challenging...

Unfortunately I received very few votes for the 'Maximum Mini Find of the Year' election, and wonder if you guys want me to stop the tradition. In past years I received well over 100 votes, but this time there were just 20 or so, making it in my opinion not a very exiting poll. I'd almost forgot to mention that the Lotus-Fisher GT won. Congratulations to Dan Stokes, who found the car in Southampton in October!

Oh - I also had a Find of the Decade poll when Maximum Mini had its 10th anniversary as a blog. Again, a disappointing number of votes but still 44. The Le Mans Mini Marcos (found 2016) won with 18 votes. 


Lost and found: the Fisher GT was rediscovered last year. It's the Maximum Mini Find of 2020
Picture: Dan Stokes / Maximum Mini archive

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

An ABC Tricar for Christmas (2)

I hope you liked yesterday's little Christmas story. Here's how it ended.

After an ABC Tricar had been purchased by the Weatherhead family in August 1976 and used as a daily driver for several years, it was parked up decades ago and almost forgotten about. Until son Dean restored it in a record time preceding Christmas. Dean drove it over to his parental house on Christmas day 2020, where his mom Kathleen and dad Vic were totally surprised and his brother Karl filmed it all. Vic is seen speechless and Dean told me "Later on he broke down crying. He said it just didn't sink in. It was all worth it in the end!" 

Dean wants to thank his friends Joe Bellis and Anthony Downes again as well as his brother Karl: "Joe did all the welding on it, Antony body work and paint while Karl did the wiring and the spanner work together with me. They put so many late nights into it that I feel they deserve more of a saying than me." Well done to you all guys, I hope the Tricar will be enjoyed for many years to come!


Christmas Day 2020: Dean drives over the restored ABC Tricar to his unsuspecting mom and dad
Video Karl Weatherhead


Vic Weatherhead with the restored Tricar on Christmas Day. "It just didn't sink in"
Picture Dean Weatherhead

Monday, 28 December 2020

An ABC Tricar for Christmas (1)

It's almost two years ago since I was contacted by Dean Weatherhead, who wrote at the time: "Hi I’m sorry to bother you but I have found your email address on Google when I searched ABC Tricar Mini. My mum and dad have two of them and my mum has recently fell ill and I would like to restore them before she gets any worse. I was wondering if you know where I could get a replica of the body as her one was hit in the rear many years ago (before I was born), if not I was hoping to find some one that can fibreglass mould the rear end of my dads one and will stitch it back into the original body work. Many thanks, Dean."

Unfortunately I couldn't help Dean to a new body, but he persevered in restoring one of the two Tricars and over the time a dear contact developed. I received updates on the restoration on a regular basis and tried to help when I could. Unfortunately I could not write about the restoration job as Dean had made a rather special plan. He wanted to restore the car in secrecy and have it ready for Christmas 2019 to give to his mum and dad, adding: "If you can keep these to yourself, just because my mum is a bit of a wiz on the internet and I don’t want her finding these pictures!" That is of course what I did. But Christmas 2019 passed and Dean was busy with other things. His dad fell ill, too, which didn't help. But then Christmas 2020 came nearer and Dean sped up things at an incredible pace. In the last 3 or 4 weeks I received updates every day and was amazed by the amount of work he managed to carry out in such a short period of time. 

Dean did everything, from a complete engine and gearbox overhaul to all the suspension and brake bits, the full body repair and the the electrics. In late november he wrote: "The car ended up worse then we thought", showing me pictures of the badly rusted body and chassis which he'd just taken apart. Could he really get it ready for Christmas? His mates Joe Bellis and Anthony Downes and his brother Karl came to the rescue and offered help. But there were also troubles in finding piston rings, bearings and gaskets for the 850 engine in time. But that all didn't stop our man Dean. Two weeks before Christmas he wrote: "Coming along now. I try not to look at the pile of parts I have to refurb and just get one at a time. Doesn’t seem so much work then." Then, a week before Christmas he came back: "Sorry, I have not updated you a few days, but these have been a bit of a blur." But by that time the body had been repainted and the engine was ready to get in. And he didn't stop work until Christmas eve. The next morning he drove over the freshly restored car to his mum's and dad's house. I've asked him to make a video of that, which I'm very glad he did. But that is for tomorrow.

UPDATE 29 December 2020: See it here now - click


That's how the ABC Tricar was stored away for decades
Picture Dean Weatherhead

Dean's parents own it since 1976 and have very fond memories of it
Picture Dean Weatherhead

Step 1: engine and suspension out. All okay so far 
Picture Dean Weatherhead

Body taken apart and the sanding could begin
Picture Dean Weatherhead

But chassis turned out to be "worse then we thought"...
Picture Dean Weatherhead

And the same went for the floors, rot and bodge repairs everywhere
Picture Dean Weatherhead

And so Dean started cutting out all the rust and rot. Mind you: this was just weeks ago
Picture Dean Weatherhead

New floor parts ordered, a few mates were found to offer help welding
Picture Dean Weatherhead

And in they went! Looks easy, isn't necessarily that...
Picture Dean Weatherhead

But look at that! Chassis and floors are now rot-free once again
Picture Dean Weatherhead

A fresh coat of undersealing was applied next
Picture Dean Weatherhead

Body parts ready from preparing and test-fitted onto chassis
Picture Dean Weatherhead

Primed and in the spray booth here. Christmas is nearing
Picture Dean Weatherhead

Meanwhile, the 850 engine and its gearbox were both taken fully apart...
Picture Dean Weatherhead

...And all the bits were renovated by Dean, too. Fresh coat of correct green
Picture Dean Weatherhead

Piston rings, crank bearings and head gasket came in just in time...
Picture Dean Weatherhead

And the ABC Tricar is in its paint again! Another milestone
Picture Dean Weatherhead

Burning the midnight oil, putting all the parts back in place...
Picture Dean Weatherhead

Dean made a special dashboard commemorating his uncle and the family dog
Picture Dean Weatherhead

Original ABC badge could be saved and was refurbished, too
Picture Dean Weatherhead

And just about ready. Would you believe this was on Christmas eve..?
Tomorrow I'll post a video of how Dean drove it over to his dad on Christmas day
Picture Dean Weatherhead