Wednesday, 29 July 2015

More about the German Landar R7

In May this year I heard about a forgotten Landar R7 that was supposedly found in a lock-up in Germany. I wasn't able to find out much about it at the time, but wrote this little feature on the find (click here). Meanwhile, I have been contacted by the car's new owner Guido Enderle. He sent over a stash of pictures of the car as he found it and came up with some lovely historical photographs, too, from the days when it was raced in the German Interseries and in German hill climbs.

As for the car's history goes it was actually the car raced by Frank Aston in the UK in 1970 and 1971 (see here). After that it came to Germany in 1972, where it was campaigned by brothers Peter and Heinz Hardt until 1975. After that they replaced it by a Landar R8 and the R7 disappeared from the radar. Guido: "I spoke to Heinz Hardt who confirmed it was him who carried out the modification to the engine and Hewland Mk8-gearbox, using an Austin-Healey Sprite-crankshaft and a special adaptor from Hewland. The engine which is actually in the car is a race engine but has "only" one Weber carburettor with a huge intake manifold. Heinz Hardt told me that they ran the car with a special cast iron 8-port head and 2 Weber-carbs, later on they used an aluminium head with 4 Amal-carbs! Is it possible to find such a cylinder head? Any help will be appreciated. Heinz Hardt was very excited that the car has reappeared."

My friend Carl Braun, who races another R7 in the States, said: "That makes four currently known and possibly all of them. In the year 2000 I talked with Peter Radnall who confirmed he thought four were built. I’ve actively raced Landar R7 (chassis number 70411) in the USA since 1999. I also have a friend in USA who owns a second R7, which is modified and now has a motorcycle engine and different body. I talked to him this evening about if he knew the serial number and original gel coat number of his car. He doesn't. We do know that John Hill, the USA importer raced it for a couple of years. Then there is the red car in Japan that Jeroen discovered (I haven't written about that on these pages but will do that - JB). That makes four. I’m not sure which car was the first. Based on info I studied yesterday my car possibly/probably was the first. I have the original design drawings and dates and based on design dates, and when me car arrived in California (April, 1970) it would almost have to be the first shipped. The factory moulds indicate four cars were built in this sequence of colour: white, blue, yellow, red. I plan to look at the photograph of the car in Germany and compare it to the original sales brochure, and to the frame in my car for differences. Anyway it is absolutely great to know this car exists!"

It surely is, and I can add now that this car wears chassis number 70912 and looks to have been blue, which both indicates that it would have to be the second R7 made, probably in September 1970.

Hidden for decades in a German lock-up, this Landar R7 came out this Spring
Picture courtesy Guido Enderle

Like body, chassis and suspension are all original as it was last raced in 1975
Picture courtesy Guido Enderle

But the engine and gearbox have been heavily modified between 1972 and 1975
Picture courtesy Guido Enderle

The original Radnall brothers suspension remains unaltered. Note ultra-short wishbone
Picture courtesy Guido Enderle

One of the Hardt brothers using the car in anger during the ADAC Rundstreckenrennen
Picture courtesy Guido Enderle

This is the car in June 1972 at the Flugplatz Rennen in Mainz-Finthen
Picture courtesy Guido Enderle

And at the Hockenheim Ring during the 1972 German Interseries finals
Picture courtesy Guido Enderle

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Sun seekers come from the south

A couple of years ago I did an article for Mini Magazine on some of the Mini based buggies. Now, when I had a better look at their histories put together it suddenly struck me that all of them were built very close to each other - on the British south coast. Evidently not a coincidence. First there was the Stimson Mini Bug from Chichester and the several version it spawned, including the mad Safari Six. But other companies soon came with ideas similar to Stimson’s. Not too far from Barry's workshop, another two Mini derivatives with bold beach buggy styling were conceived within months. From Poole came Neville Trickett’s more traditional Siva Buggy, soon to be distributed by Skyspeed's motor accessory company. Second was illustrator Mike Jupp's Nimrod, just miles further eastwards along the south coast. Then there was the Luna Bug (a Stimson clone, this time from Portsmouth - still missing); the Cirrus – a swoopy design of which a prototype was shown only once in public (in an incredible metalflake paint job) before disappearing forever (who knows more?) and the later Autocom Mini Buggy, also from the coast but now from Combe Martin in Devon. Do I miss out on any others here?

The south coast (and Devon) was the place where Mini based buggies were born
Picture Google Maps

The one that started the craze: the Stimson Mini Bug - first of the Mini based buggies
Picture Jeroen Booij

Mike Jupp and daughter with the Nimrod he styled - and owned since the day it was conceived
Picture Jeroen Booij

Now off to the beach! Siva's Buggy was a Neville Trickett design, marketed by Skyspeed
Picture Jeroen Booij

The Autocom Mini Buggy came from the north Devon coast, seen here at its birthplace
Picture Jeroen Booij

While the much more obscure Cirrus was marketed by Roland Kerr of London. Who knows more?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive



Monday, 20 July 2015

MiniSprint shells back in production

Good news from ABS Motorsport's Tony Bucknall, who writes: "Hello Jeroen, I am sure you are aware, but just in case you are not, the Sprint shells are now back in production. After a long drawn out issue with a company in Scotland who 'loaned' the moulds from the previous owner to produce electric cars, but did nothing but make a few shells and damage the moulds. The moulds now belong to ourselves ABS Motorsport, have been refurbished, and are back in production." And Tony decided to offer a whole range of possibilities, from an empty shell only for space framed cars to a full carbon fibre composite body kit with all the necessary parts with prices ranging from 800- to 7,495 GBP, see here for the full product portfolio.

Meanwhile, the Peel Viking body moulds have also turned up for sale again (see here and 4 years ago, here), and I thought they were also ABS's. I was wrong, as Tony states: "I have never had the Peel Viking Moulds, we could never come to a deal over them, they are still owned by the same person who has had them for years. I brokered a deal to hire the moulds and we offered a hybrid of the Viking and a Sprint (here) as the waist line was the same so it would have been a possible conversion for us to do, but the deal was withdrawn when the moulds where apparently sold. But they are still with the same owner. I do have an interesting project that I will be playing with later this year subject to our touring car work letting me have some free time, I will try and keep you in the loop as it progresses!" Do keep us posted!

Composite Sprint shells are available now from ABS Motorsports in Loncolnshire
Picture courtesy Tony Bucknall

Fully space framed Minis remain popular and a ABS' Sprint shell is very light
Picture courtesy Tony Bucknall

The moulds for the Peel Viking are still for sale, too, but ABS have nothing to do with these
Picture courtesy Andy Carter

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Today in 1962

This could well be my favorite photograph of all time. It was taken 53 years and shows the mysterious Gitane GT on the right hand side. It is pictured on its way in France to a race that took place July 15th, 1962 at the Circuit de la Charade just outside Clermond Ferrant, called the Trophée d’Auvergne. The Gitane was driven over the road by designer/builder/entrant/driver/mechanic Gordon Fowell who supposedly lost a wheel and missed the start. What I like is the idea that you could really build your own car and race the big names on a shoestring. Just have a look at the results list of the '62 Trophée d’Auvergne here to get an idea of the competition Fowell faced...

Fowell did become a big name later in his life, supposedly racing a Ford GT40 and inventing the jogging machine which left him far from penniless. But look at the gear scattered on the road side here: wooden toolboxes, petrol cans, a pair of shoes… The Gitane was sold in the mid-1960s to Tony 'Podge' Dealey who modified it for hill climbing and had it re-registered '232 HWD'. It's missing since 1968, but I still hope to find it one day. I guess Fowell would never give up!

A French roadside near Clermont Ferrand in July 1962. The man is Gordon Fowell, the car his Gitane GT
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Monday, 13 July 2015

Two Stimson Treks reappear

Stimson Treks are like London buses: just when you decided there was no use waiting any longer for one, not one but two come along together... I hadn't seen a Trek for years when a yellow project car, which appeared on that well-know auction website before, made another brief appearance. This time in West-Yorkshire where it was sold for 350 pounds. Who knows it will be finished one day.
But just a day later, the ever enthusiastic Barry Tilbury dropped me a line to tell he'd just unearthed another one! Barry has a keen eye for finding long-lost Mini derivatives, as he proved earlier this year with another Stimson (click). It's another project car but all seems to be complete and original. What's more: Barry is in touch with the original builder, so we may expect some more historical bits and pieces to come along soon.

A rare Stimson Trek, as found by Barry Tilbury, will make it back to the roads soon
Picture courtesy Barry Tilbury

 Q Registration number may suugest it was put on the road not too long ago?
Picture courtesy Barry Tilbury

Ebay car was completely dismantled but the chassis, seen here, looks fine 
Picture courtesy Barry Tilbury

Trek body was there, too, as was the upright windscreen - it sold for 350 GBP 
Picture courtesy Barry Tilbury

Friday, 10 July 2015

Maximum Minis at Shelsley Walsh

Several Mini derivatives are expected at the Shelsley Walsh Classic (click here) on the 18th and 19th of July and Unipower GT owner and fan of this blog, Pete Flanagan, is one of them. In fact Pete worked hard to get the cars there. He wrote: "I can confirm that my self with my Unipower GT, Goff with his Mini Jem, Paul with his Fletcher Ogle and Marc with his race Cox GTM will be at the Shelsley Classic on display on July 19th. We may also have a very early race Mini Marcos as well but welcome any other competition derivatives if you know of any to join us for a 'Maximum Performance Mini' display! Catchy eh?" Catchy indeed! Unfortunately I won't be able to make it there myself, but look forwards to hearing you all about the great event I missed. Let me know if you want to join Pete and his gang and I'll get you in touch. Enjoy it!
Meanwhile, to warm you lot up I enclose some historical pictures from the archives, unseen before, taken at the same venue 47 years ago.

Tim Dyke at speed in his Landar R6 at Shelsley Walsh back in June 1968
Picture Jeroen Booij archive, courtesy Tim Dyke

Tim owned the first R6 in private hands since 1966 and campaigned it heavily
Picture Jeroen Booij archive, courtesy Tim Dyke

Here in the 'paddock'. The Landar used a Broadspeed tuned engine was very quick
Picture Jeroen Booij archive, courtesy Tim Dyke

A relaxing atmosphere has always been one of the advantages of hill climbing!
Picture Jeroen Booij archive, courtesy Tim Dyke

Friday, 3 July 2015

Euregio meeting 2015 on its way

It's been almost a year since the Euregio Meeting for Marcos cars and anything Mini based was given a new lease of life, and the organizers have decided to continue the meeting on a yearly basis. That's great news for anyone interested in 'our' kind of cars. A rehearsal was given last weekend, when some of the Euregio guys teamed up during the British Car Jumble in The Netherlands. Two Mini Marcoses joined a Stimson Mini Bug, a Midas and a Pimlico and advertised the meeting for August 30th on what they called the 'Strange Mini Square'.

The programme for the day starts on the 30th at 10.00 on the ISVW estate in Leusden, central Holland with coffee and snacks. At around noon a tour starts around the Dutch countryside, with resting place included for a picnic. The end destination is the steam depot of  the 'Veluwse Stoomtrein Maatschappij' in Beekbergen where cars and drivers arrive between 15:00 and 16:00. Guided tours at the train museum are available at €2.50 and a talk by your's truly will get you updated on anything Mini based. The day ends with a dinner in the old railway station.

Sounds impressive? You'll be exited to hear that the organizers have managed to keep the costs down to €19.50 per person only then. Okay, drinks are not included, but it will be money well spent for sure!
Want to join? Drop a line to euregiomeeting@gmail.com and you'll be welcomed. If you come from abroad they can try to help you find a suitable accomodation for the night(s), too.

Hope to see you there!

Last year's car of the day, for me, was Aad van Beekum's freshly restored Mini Marcos Mk3
Picture Jeroen Booij

The 'Strange Mini Square' last weekend during the British Auto Jumble set the tone for August 30th
Picture Rolf Roozeboom

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Collecting Mini specials

It's good to hear of people who have been involved with Mini based cars much longer than I have and Tim Harber clearly is one of them. Tim runs MiniMail in Gloucestershire and is a real 'Oddball Mini-based fan' as he says, having owned and driven a plethora of specials and kits. From Marcos to Hustler, from GTM to Status and from Jem to a rather special Special called the Sludgerunner (I'm saving the details on that one for Maximum Mini 3).

He now sent me some fascinating pictures from someone else's collection, saying: "I’ve enclosed some pics of the Status (and the Marcos shell) and also a few of his Biota and Jem. There’s also one of his spare bonnet on the roof of one of his barns! The Status is still up for grabs and I hope we have a home for the Marcos shell". Any takers? Let me know and I'll get you in touch with Tim.

That's a nice Biota Mk2 and one that's not on the register as far as I can see
Picture courtesy Tim Harber

Mk4 Mini Marcos shell uses the rear door for easy access. It's for sale...
Picture courtesy Tim Harber

…As is the Status 365 shell behind. Another 365 that was never completed!
Picture courtesy Tim Harber

Spot the Biota nose. That's a Mk1 bit - did it belong to the same car? 
Picture courtesy Tim Harber


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

An early Mini Marcos in Rotterdam

I am a sucker for an early Mini Marcos and so when I came across the pictures below I became intrigued. What we see is a Mini Marcos parked in front of the Speed Centre in Rotterdam, The Netherlands (full 1960s catalogue with all the Mini accessories you can dream of here).

There's no doubt it's a Mk1 car with all the right features for that particular model, from the notched wheel arches to the sliding side windows and narrow front number plate panel and it comes with lovely early Cosmic alloys. The Speed Centre shop is long gone (now a collection agency which doesn't like people to look inside), but how about the Mini Marcos? The registration is unknown to the Dutch authorities but was issued in late 1966 or early 1967. Who knows more about this car?

A Mk1 Mini Marcos in front of Rotterdam's Speed Centre in what have to be the '60s
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

All the right features for a Mk1 car and a number plate issued in late '66 / early '67
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Monday, 22 June 2015

An ABS Freestyle down the street

I would never have believed that a Mini based buggy has been lurking in a barn about a mile from my house, but it turned out to be just so! Some years ago I came across a local Mk1 Mini Marcos and found another Mk1 a year later, which lives in Finland now, but both of these weren't as close by as the car below. A neighbor told me last week about it. He'd been chatting to a local man with a project car - Mini powered and rear engined - in his garage very, very local to where I live. I had no idea what to expect but was hoping for a good old DIY design, the quirkier the better. You can imagine my curiosity when we went there to have a look. I was somewhat disappointed when the car in question turned out to be an unfinished ABS Freestyle, but had to admit this was all rather nice to see one such car so close by.

The project was started at around 1999 or 2000 by Wim Lubbers in his father's garage. Wim's dad Martin even built a little extension for him to work on the ABS. Wim got quite far and placed a 1275 engine, fitted all of the suspension, brakes and steering. He also sourced headlights, ATS 13" wheels and most of the other parts necessary. But then he got married, had children and the project stalled. The wiring loom was never fitted and the plans to take it over to the UK for registration never materialized. And so the Freestyle, some fifteen years later, still resides in the purpose made extension while it never turned a wheel under its own power. Wim may finish it one day, he's not sure yet. If he decides to sell it, I'll let you know. Meanwhile, have a good look around your place - you never know what to expect.

An ABS Freestyle on a mile's distance from my house - I wouldn't have believed it!
Picture Jeroen Booij

Wim Lubbers started the project of building it in 1999 or 2000 but never finished it
Picture Jeroen Booij

All of the suspension in place, although rubbers may need replacing after another 15 years…
Picture Jeroen Booij

Clutch, brakes and steering rack are all fitted in ABS' frame but need finishing touches
Picture Jeroen Booij

Engine is a 1275 and is just about ready to be fired up. The Freestyle never ran
Picture Jeroen Booij