Thursday, 15 February 2018

Mystery Mini derivative (49)

Unfortunately, there is no information about this car, other than that it was found in an Australian barn some three years ago. It's also believed to be Mini based, but that's all. The size would fit in with a Mini and the wheels look like they could be 10-inchers, too. It's a low two-seater roadster with the engine behind the seat and it even looks to wear a bonnet badge. But it would be good to learn more about it and its alleged Mini motorization. Somebody will know?

Unknown Aussie roadster is said to be Mini based. But is it?
Picture source unknown

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

How a Lola engineer built himself a MiniSprint

Another great message from John Fischer, who contacted me about an interesting email he received from Peter Comben, about Minis he built in the sixties. This is what Peter wrote:

"I had worked on and modified a few Minis, so was familiar with the car. The original 'MiniSprint' car, displayed here at Brands Hatch with Stirling Moss, was my inspiration to build my own version of this. It was 1966 and Minis and their spares and parts were very sought after and expensive. I found a clean body shell with roof damage and cut a decent roof off another at a scrap yard. Set up on my make-shift jig, I took one and a half inches out of both the mid-body line and the window pillars and one and a quarter inches out of the roof, removing the gutters. Front and rear bulkheads were modified to suit. All window pillars had to be realigned to match up and the whole assembly was done using a thousand pop rivets before taking the shell on a trailer to be welded. Next it was a then case of cleaning and filling all the weld joints, undercoating and top coating."

"The door panels were ground off and the bare frames were reduced in height to match the body. The panels were replaced with aluminium sheet and the window frames modified. The windscreen and all the windows were replaced with Perspex and the bonnet and boot lid were fibreglass. The engine was 1098cc from an Austin 1100 car and was re-bored +40 thou. I chose this engine because it was cheaper than Cooper ‘S’ and it was 'under-square' - its stroke was longer than its bore. This would put the torque curve lower in the rev range. The crankshaft, con-rods and lightened flywheel were cleaned smooth and balanced. I used the BMC 649 full-race camshaft. The cylinder head was skimmed to raise the compression ratio and new guides, larger valves and stronger springs were installed. The carburettor was a twin-choke downdraught Weber. Power came in at around 3000 revs with quite a kick, right up to 7000 revs (occasionally but rarely to 8000). The gearbox final drive ratio was raised to 3.44. Maximum speed through the gears was: first 30mph, second 60 mph, third 90 mph and fourth * mph! The exhaust sounded great, from chugger, chugger on tick-over to sheer howl at high revs. Cooling was with a front radiator in addition to the normal side radiator, but with no fan (sometimes a problem in London traffic)."

"Low front bucket seats were fitted, with no rear seat. A large, flat fuel tank was fitted flush in the boot floor and the rear subframe was covered underneath with aluminium sheet to improve airflow under the car. Later, a chromed side-winder exhaust was fitted. I had been working at Lola Cars for a while, but it was time to move on and sell the car, so I installed an 850cc engine with rally cam (731?) and normal exhaust, and I sprayed on a 'go faster' stripe."

And the Sprint wasn't Peter's only project car. after having finished it he soon started work on a Mini based buggy of his own design. More on that soon. Thanks Peter and John for sharing the story!

Damaged donor car was bought at a local scrap yard and mated to another Mini's roof
Picture courtesy Peter Comben

Then the tough job of sectioning the body could start. Not for the faint-hearted!
Picture courtesy Peter Comben

But the result is stunning. A DIY-MiniSprint just after the real thing had been released
Picture courtesy Peter Comben

A great picture to show the comparison with a standard Mini. It's not just a roof chop!
Picture courtesy Peter Comben

By the time the go-faster stripe was added, the highly tuned 1100 had been replaced by an 850 engine
Picture courtesy Peter Comben

Peter with the car before he sold it. He worked for Lola Cars at the time
Picture courtesy Peter Comben

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Deep Sanderson for sale at Rétromobile

Due to snow it was not easy to reach Paris yesterday, but when I finally made it to the Rétromobile show, I was happy to be reunited with an old flame: the Deep Sanderson 301 that was restored by David Ramsbotham almost a decade ago. When David had just started work, back in 2007, I had a look at it. Meanwhile, he had the car advertised here and sold it, but it ended up in auction with Coys some time later. And here it was again. And once more it is offered for sale! This time in an impressive sale by French auctioneer Artcurial during the Rétromobile show.

Oh, it's not the first time it's in France. As I wrote before the car's history is somewhat shrouded in mystery and it may or may not have been intended to race at Le Mans in 1963, but fact is that it ended up in France until the 1980s during which time a J.M. Muratore competed it under the 'Equipe Bleue' banner. I'd still love to learn more about that. After this, the 301 was repatriated to Britain, where it sat neglected in a lock-up until rescued by David in 2002. With the help from the late Chris Lawrence a complete restoration was completed in 2009. David drove it at Goodwood in 2010 and Pau in 2011. It is still unregistered and is to be sold with no reserve tomorrow (Friday the 9th).

UPDATE 9 February 2018: just hammered down at 40,000 euros.
UPDATE 13 February 2018: Unsold, says catalogue now, which seems strange as it had 'no reserve'


This is what the body and chassis looked like back in 2007 in David Ramsbotham's garage
Note Aston Martin DB7 prototype behind...
Picture Jeroen Booij

And this is what it looks like now. The car will be auctioned in Paris tomorrow with no reserve
Picture courtesy Artcurial

Deep Sanderson 301 was a pioneer in having the Mini engine placed in the rear
Picture courtesy Artcurial

Interior is nothing more than functional. It would be a great car for Le Mans Classic
Picture courtesy Artcurial

It's always good to show the car's size in comparison to a human. I'm not a giant!
Picture Francois Tasiaux

Rear wheel suspension was Chris Lawrence's own LawrenceLink system
Picture courtesy Artcurial

Something is strange about this rear wheel, though. I'd say it's not placed right
Picture Jeroen Booij

Perhaps due to this off? This was at the Goodwood Revival in 2010. It was raced at Pau later
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Deep Sanderson is not only Chris Lawrence design offered for sale in Paris. There's this Monica, too
Picture Jeroen Booij

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Cox at Croft

Sabre Sprint owner Ron Palgrave dropped me a line about his car and mentioned, in between the lines, that he had two old photographs, too, taken at Croft in the late 1960s. The first of them is shown below. Ron wrote: "As I mentioned I have two pictures which I took at Croft, our local track here in the North of England. I have retained no information to support them, so they will have little value. But it is better that someone else has copies rather than stuck in my files."

So how about the car? Certainly an early GTM, most probably a Cox. Hang on, it looks to be this car, driven here by one D.E. Boler on Oulton Park in a near miss with an Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato... Look at the flared rear arches, wide 'reverse rims' and two-tone colour scheme. Who knows more about mister Boler and his Cox? More on Ron's Sabre and his other photo next time.

Cox GTM seen at Croft in 1969. It is probably DE Boler's car that was seen at Oulton Park, too?
Picture Ron Palgrave / Maximum Mini archive

Friday, 2 February 2018

Gecko's never die

Found in rural Oxfordshire and photographed by Tim Green: an Autobarn Gecko that's slowly becoming one with the nature surrounding it. Will it be too far gone or was the Gecko really the toughest of all Mini derivatives? (that's how they marketed it!).

Found in a field and slowly detoriating. Or not? The Autobarn Gecko was tough
Picture Tim Green

You bet it was! They car was advertised throughout the specialized press as being so
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

'Our strength is others weakness'. 88 Geckos were built between 1976 and 1992
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The company behind it was, remarkably, a Volkswagen Beetle specialist
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

This one looks more cared for. The Gecko was available in a number of variants 
Picture Jeroen Booij

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Classic Mini Coupes

There have been several coupe variants on the classic Min saloon now. I thought it would be nice to see all of them together. So... left to right:
Top row: New ERA Mini Coupe, Buckle Monaco, Ecurie de Dez 2+2
Middle row: Automotive Refabrication Coupe, ABS Mini Coupe, homebuilt creation
Below: Mini Trafalgar Coupe 

Oh - there have been several more projects... Which one is your favourite?




Friday, 26 January 2018

Market round up (winter 2018)

Another look at what's on the Mini derivatives market right now. Most of the cars seen in the selection below are for sale at the moment, although some may have been sold by this time. Any good winter projects for you? Or buy now for the Summer.... Thanks to everyone for letting me know about cars for sale. Do keep them coming!

Good looking Scamp Mk3 with 955 miles from new. In London. See it for sale here


A Midas from France, believed to have 145bhp under the bonnet. See it for sale here


1985 registered Vendavans Ice Star in fully functioning form. See it for sale here


Nice 1987 Andersen Cub, first registered in '89. See it for sale here


Another Cub but this kit has never been built. See it for sale here


Ranger Pick-up said to have 1300 with Cooper 'S' head. See it for sale here


Or... a 1980 Triad Warrior, said to be Cooper-based. See it for sale here


A Hrubon Phaeton, made in Paris by Jean-Claude Hrubon. See it for sale here


Or later incarnation of the Phaeton: a Schmitt. In Cannes and not cheap! See it here 


Newly made from the rediscovered Raubenheimer moulds: Mk3 Mini Marcos shell. For sale here


Another Mk3 Mini Marcos shell with distinctive rear spoiler, in Belgium. For sale here


Or... one that's on its wheels already. Comes with 1275 engine. See it for sale here


A Siva Buggy needing some work, but cheap. In West Wales. See it for sale here


Rare! An AEM Commanchero Six, believed to have been used for falconry. See it here


Foers Nomad pick up, comes with trailer in Nottingham on Irish plates. See it for sale here


Unfinished 1982 GTM Coupe rolling chassis with 1966 papers. See it for sale here


Remarkably tidy Jiffy Pick Up with 1275 engine in South Wales. See it for sale here


Lightspeed Magenta needing much attention, rescued from Yorks barn. See it for sale here

Thursday, 25 January 2018

The Nevill's Landar R6 - now in pictures

It's almost two years ago that I posted about the Landar R6 of Graham Nevill's dad Gordon Nevill. Back then, Graham sent me some great film footage of the car in action back in 1973 (see it here). Meanwhile, he had another look in the attic and out came some images, too. Graham wrote: "Hello again Jeroen, I have scanned in a few prints of our old Landar R6 which I hope you may find useful to add to the stock, it’s the same car you alerted subscribers to some time ago when I posted the youtube footage. To recap, this is from about 1973 and is the last R6 Landar built which my dad bought new from the Radnalls that year. The phrase ‘where is it now?' always springs to mind... Best wishes, Graham."

Meanwhile, I also asked Mr. Maruyama if it could be his car - as I suggested last time. He wrote: "I think that it is the same car. Same colour and characteristic rear view mirror and the passenger seat oil cooler" He also sent me a copy of the car's V5 document which learned me it had been registered as 'AAB 6D' when in the UK.

But that didn't ring any bells with Graham, who replied: "Thanks for the follow up. I'd seen this R6 before as it’s the one featured in your first book and I did wonder if it was the same one but the wheels put me off. Ours had black Revolutions I think, although it does have those similarities as mentioned. The oil cooler does sit a lot higher on ours and most R6s have the mirror centrally mounted in some form and this one does have a similar shape to ours. This one however does not have lights and neither did ours whereas a lot, at least in the pics available, have headlights fitted. Obviously a lot can change over the years."


The last of the Landar R6s, when owned by Gordon Nevill back in 1973
Picture courtesy Graham Nevill

It could be the car that is now in the Maruyama collection in Japan, or is it?
Picture courtesy Graham Nevill

Several similarities, although roll bar and rear view mirror are different though
Picture courtesy Graham Nevill

On the drive in 1973. It's one of only 10 Landar R6s built by the Radnall brothers
Picture courtesy Graham Nevill

Maruyama's car was registered 'AAB 6D' at one point, but that doesn't ring bells with Graham
Picture Jeroen Booij

Friday, 19 January 2018

Magenta goes rallying

Remember the works-Lightspeed Magenta that was entered in the London to Sydney Marathon back in 1977? Its builder and driver Philip Young passed away, but the car survives and was reunited with Magenta man Steve Johnson back in 2012.

Anyway: the Marathon car was not the only Magenta being rallied. John Hendley navigated Clive Edward Pace in one from 1978 to 1982. This was a 1293 powered car, which they entered in the Manx National and on the Uniband Stages Rally to name just two. Thanks for the photographs John!

Pace/Hendley entered Magenta was a regular in the rally scene in the late 1970s/early 1980s
Picture courtesy John Hendley

Kicking up some dust. Like the London-Sydney works car it used a now rare hardtop, too
Picture courtesy John Hendley

This picture was taken on the Manx National Rally over Starvey Jump back in 1981
Picture courtesy John Hendley

This also is the isle of Man in 1981. The island is always good for some fording!
Picture courtesy John Hendley

And the Magenta managed to control the water of the infamous Spitfire Bottoms, too
Picture courtesy John Hendley