Thursday, 21 June 2018

Beach Boys Mini Surfer - only 5 made?

Reader Jeff Lehmann, who found a rare survivor of the Beach Boys Mini Surfer last Spring (click here), has been doing some work on the car, as well as some further researches. He wrote: "Got the Surfer Moke up and running this weekend. I kept it all original, replaced the hydraulics and it drives great. Will work on details like the stereo, speakers and fringed top over the next few months. I have the fur covered seat covers but put the others in just for around town."

"I Also did some research and it looks like there were only five of these made. The Beach Boys sued Capitol Records when these were made and they dropped the promotion outside the five in the pictures. I have not been able to get anything in writing with the number of cars built being twenty or five. But the Beach Boys and Capitol were not getting along throughout 1966 when the Moke promotion was happening and they sued Capitol in early 1967, see the article attached."

Thank you very much for that Jeff. The story continues.

Rare survivor of the Beach Boys Mini Surfer. Owner Jeff believes just 5 were made 
Picture Jeff Lehmann

And here are all 5 of them, as originally presented to the Beach Boys in 1966
Picture Jeff Lehmann

Here again at Barris Kustoms with more people involved. John Barris is second from left
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

But then The Beach Boys and Capitol records got caught in a major argument and the Mini Surfer deal might have gone lost in the battle, thinks Jeff
Picture Jeff Lehmann

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Le Mans Mini Marcos: the gauges

Finding the right gauges for the Le Mans Mini Marcos wasn't all too easy. I had just one photograph of the car's dashboard which dates back to 1975. This meant that things may have been changed up until then (as went for the steering wheel), but I decided it was the one to work from since there was nothing else to prove anything different. I received lots of help when I asked around what these gauges were exactly, with lots of people kindly providing possible answers. Eventually it was a matter of elimination and then they could all be named and so a proper search could be started. The Smiths gauges were fairly easy to find, although I did find out there are lots of small differences even there. The Veglia-Borletti rev counter proved to be quite a lot more difficult, and the same goes for the Jaeger oil temperature gauge, which I still do not have. Do contact me if you know of one!

The only picture I have of the car's dashboard was kindly provided to me by Michel Tasset. It dates back to 1975, when he owned it. The steering wheel here is not the one originally fitted to the car
Picture courtesy Michel Tasset 

The same picture, now with the gauges numbered in able to identify them correctly (thanks to many!)
1. Smiths Mini Cooper 'S' speedometer in km/h
2. Smiths water temperature gauge
3. Veglia-Borletti rev counter
4. Smiths oil pressure gauge
5. Smiths fuel gauge
6. Jaeger oil temperature gauge
Picture courtesy Michel Tasset 

Except for the number 6, I have all the correct gauges now. They are all restored and recalibrated, too.
The Veglia-Borletti rev counter proved to be very difficult to find, but eventually I got one from the US
Picture Jeroen Booij

When the rev counter arrived it unfortunately turned out to be broken. But I found a specialist who managed to restore it with a new print plate of his own design
Picture Jeroen Booij

The only one needed now is a Jaeger oil temperature gauge exactly like the one seen here
Picture source Leboncoin

Jaeger gauges were fitted to a number a French sports cars, but they were sold separately also, as proves this advertisement which dates back to 1965
Picture source Leboncoin

Friday, 15 June 2018

Mystery Landar R6 hides in Japan

Spotted in Japan last month by reader Danny van Giel (who sent in some shots of a Unipower GT he got uncovered there also): a Landar R6. I have no information whatsoever about this particular example other than just one more photograph of it from the front. I think it could be the same car that was spotted in the 1980s at Donington circuit, but am quite sure some of you will know more about it.

Hidden in a warehouse with the roll bar taken off - this Landar R6 is based in Japan
Picture Danny van Giel

This has to be the same car. More information would be much appreciated
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

This car was seen at Donington in the 1980s. I think this is the same car, but am not sure
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Thursday, 14 June 2018

The original Radford hatchback survives

Before I report about the Beaulieu meeting of the Mini Cooper Register (they were focussing on coachbuilt cars and Mini derivatives this year - more here), I'd like to put the spotlight on one particular car attending the event of last weekend. This was the original Radford Mini hatchback as it could be seen in the back of Radford's Transcontinental Carabus (all info here). Although in a very rough state, it's really good to see that the Mini survives. More to follow!

Just a 1965 Mini Cooper 'S' that is overdue for a mighty restoration, you think? 
Picture courtesy Stuart Watson

No way. This is the first hatchback Mini that Radford built along with an ultra-luxurious bus
Picture courtesy Stuart Watson

Originally pale blue in colour, as can still be seen on the boot. Also note 'Disabled Driver' sign
Picture courtesy Stuart Watson

Just in case you wondered if it could still open up after all those years... it can!
Picture courtesy Henk van Brakel


Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Le Mans Mini Marcos: body work commences

It was time again to catch up with my much-respected body builder, who is slowly but surely putting the shell of the Le Mans Mini Marcos back together.

Originally, the plan was to have the body shell fully restored and painted by the end of this month, pick it up and bring it over to Le Mans just for display and then carry on along the autoroute towards Pau where the engine is being built at the moment. But you may remember that things went differently (click here). So, unfortunately you won't see me or the car at Le Mans this July.

The good news is that work on the body shell commences, so let's have another look at what's happened in the last couple of weeks.

The front is further repaired. Cut out section and rain gutters are now restored
Picture Jeroen Booij

Close up of the right hand side rain gutter. Most of it had been roughly cut out
Picture Jeroen Booij

And then the floors! Now fully restored to their original specification with steel strips and balsa wood 'glassed in on both sides. A painstaking job but beautifully carried out
Picture Jeroen Booij

If you look closely you will see the balsa wood sections consist of several puzzle pieces  
Picture Jeroen Booij

They have different thicknesses, too, as can be seen here. They were lacquered before being put in
Picture Jeroen Booij

The rear end is also coming along nicely now. The fibreglass was ultra-thin here with many cracks
Picture Jeroen Booij

Flashback - this was the rear end three months ago. All the cracks have now been removed
Picture Jeroen Booij

Another crack repaired. This is where the right hand rear side screen goes 
Picture Jeroen Booij

Door post repaired. This, too, had some bad cracks
Picture Jeroen Booij

The same went for the right hand sill
Picture Jeroen Booij

Next up: the roof. This, too, is full of cracks. Unfortunately there is a thick layer of filler put over the whole of the roof. You can see that some of it has already been sanded off. All of it needs to go though
Picture Jeroen Booij

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Peel Vikings now joined

You will remember the Peel Viking GT that was found in a barn recently (click here), wont you? Well, it's found a new home now, and it's a good one too. The car is now owned by John and Elaine Fisher, who found another Viking in another Yorkshire barn some years ago (this one). In fact Mrs. Turner yellow car was put aside for decades remarkably close to the Fisher's earlier one!

John wrote: "It was one of the most stressful car purchases I have ever made and one of the most difficult recoveries of a car. The car didn't want to leave without a fight! All tyres were flat and brakes seized. It was difficult to get access to passenger side as it was tight to garage side. Managed to jack up drivers side and remove brake drums with a large hammer so we could remove brake shoes and inflate tyres. Then jacked and slid car over and did same other side but had to smash front brake drum to get it off. Can't get the bonnet open as catch is seized so don't know what lurks there yet, looks as though I will have to remove heater and other parts to get access. Lots of nice paperwork including receipts and original brochures for the Peel and other cars he was looking at. Have yet to sort through the large folder of paperwork but will send you photos when I have them. Thanks again for putting me in touch with Val."

Well done John. I'm sure it's in good hands now and hope to see it soon!

The Viking in the barn, since 1981. And it didn't want to leave without a fight!
Picture John Fisher

Freed after 37 years. That's Val Turner with the car she shared so many memories with
Picture John Fisher

Original receipt from Peel Engineering and broad correspondence came with it
Picture John Fisher

Like the outside, the car's interior is still all original, too. Nice wheel also!
Picture John Fisher

Note towbar. The car was used for family holidays. Neighbour was curious, too!
Picture John Fisher

There's a big file with paperwork from the car. Mister Turner didn't throw anything away
Picture John Fisher

New caretakers are John and Elaine Fisher, who previously found a Viking close-by
Picture John Fisher

The yellow Viking now joins John and Elaine's other red Viking. A unique set!
Picture John Fisher

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Mystery Mini derivative (50)

Time for the fiftieth (50!) Mystery Mini derivative, which is as a matter of fact a nose section bolted onto a Mini just like the ones by Scorpion and Ridgway (click here) as well as Biota. But those are all pretty much different from the one seen here, with its long pointed nose and sharp recesses for the headlights. Do you know..?

Bolt-on nose section transformed your Mini into, well, something different
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Monday, 4 June 2018

More British motoring history up for grabs

After this piece of genuine British motoring history was sold last week for ridiculously little money, you'll have another chance tomorrow. The very last project to be designed and built by the late Frank Costin has made it to the market and is up for auction with H&H. Aerodynamicist Costin was of course the co-founder of Marcos cars and Cosworth Engineering, but also worked for De Haviland, Lotus, Jaguar, Vanwall and Maserati for which he designed some awesome vehicles. He was the first to use a NACA duct in a car.

This car came in 1991 and was a testbed for the new Costin Roadster. It used a spaceframe chassis and a 998 Mini engine, which was placed just in front of the car's rear wheels. The car became affectionately known as 'The Dustbin'. According to the seller's information it was built in collaboration with Simon Garrett, who went on to design the Bluebird that broke the World Land Speed record for electric vehicles at Pendine in 2000. From the seller's blurb: "Registered on a Q plate and always dry stored, this fascinating Costin prototype is currently a non-runner, so will require a degree of recommissioning before taking to the roads once more. It comes complete with a current-type V5 log book." See it here.

Interestingly, its successor is offered in the same sale, too: the second prototype, now with Rover K-series power, built two years before Costin's death in 1995. And the moulds and a spare body plus chassis frame are there, too...

Ultra lightweight 1991 Costin roadster prototype is better known as The Dustbin
Picture courtesy H&H Auctioneers

The car is registered on a Q-plate but needs recommissioning now
Picture courtesy H&H Auctioneers

Space framed, aluminium bodied, Mini engined and Frank Costin designed
Picture courtesy H&H Auctioneers

Please don't say it's ugly. I don't think that's the point of this creature
Picture courtesy H&H Auctioneers

There's no doubt this is a two-seater. Cockpit does look a little cramped
Picture courtesy H&H Auctioneers

I've only known it with a 998 Mini engine with single HS6 carb. This looks like a Weber though
Picture courtesy H&H Auctioneers

This is what it was meant to look like in production. But Costin's death spelled the end
Picture courtesy H&H Auctioneers

This prototype dates from 1993, two years before the MGF came out. I know which one I'd prefer!
Picture courtesy H&H Auctioneers

The second prototype was, however, never finished. Note lack of doors. And floors
Picture courtesy H&H Auctioneers

Spare chassis frame is up for auction, too. It's said to be able to withstand 300bhp-plus
Picture courtesy H&H Auctioneers

As are the body moulds and an extra body shell for the Roadster
Picture courtesy H&H Auctioneers

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

What is the earliest Mini derivative?

Research never stops, and so I carry on researching Mini derivatives. Sometimes people ask me which was the very first Mini based car that ever came about. It's a question that I have asked myself every so often before. The answer is not so straightforward as you may think it would be. And so I took another deep dive into the subject for The Automobile magazine, only to conclude that several cars were based on 1959 Minis, some of them having been converted from as early as... 1959. But even that can be beaten, or so it seems. Want to know the answer to this intriguing question? Then buy the current issue of The Automobile magazine. 

The Automobile magazine of May 2018 provides the answer to an intriguing question
Picture Jeroen Booij

What is or was the earliest of Mini based car ever? The answer will surprise you
Picture Jeroen Booij