Tuesday, 15 April 2014

4 Updates: SHADO Jeep; Wildgoose; Unipower; Beach Boys

Over a week of no single update, so here's four in one:

- The SHADO Jeep that was found in a Tenerife scrap yard has been saved. Well done ElStellino and we look forwards to updates on this interesting project!

- The Wildgoose Brent that was offered for sale in auction made 7,700 GBP. With commission (12.5%) and VAT that not a bad price for a - erm - well-ripe little camper!

 - The slightly more thorough then expected fresh-up of Gerry Hulford's Unipower GT is finished and the car is ready for Blyton Park on Sunday May 4.

- The pictures of the Beach Boys and their Moke based 'Mini Surfers' do not show Brian Wilson, but his brother Carl Wilson instead. Here's another with Brian (left), or is it Carl again?


Thursday, 3 April 2014

The Beach Boys and their Mini Surfers

Celebrity time once more, here on Maximum Mini. I just happened to come across some pictures of one of my favorite bands: the Beach Boys. This time with modified Mini Mokes, which made me wonder whatever happened to these cars. The built of the special Mokes was commissioned by Capitol Records and carried out by 'King of Kustom Kars' George Barris in 1966 (Barris had previously built the Mini based Surfite - click here). Supposedly 5 were built for the boys themselves and they were called 'Mini Surfers'. 

These special Mokes came with candy stripes both in and outside, a special fringed canopy, golden record wheel discs, 8-track sound systems with removable speakers, chromed bumpers and fake air intakes on the bonnet. But that wasn't all. Supposedly another 20 were built to give away to radio stations throughout the US to be raffled in special Beach Boys competitions. One of them was auctioned off in the 1970s together with more Barris creations. But whatever happened to the rest of them?

The Mini Surfer certainly had some unusual features such as golden records for wheel discs
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

A Moke for all of the Beach Boys. left to right: Brian Carl, Dennis, Mike and Bruce. Al on top
Picture courtesy George Barris

Barris and the Beach Boys were in their heydays in '66. What happened to these cars?
Picture courtesy George Barris

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The Summer of '69 - Unipower galore

45 Years ago a Unipower GT thundered along the Le Mans track during test day. Click here for it's full story. It's the car you'll be able to see in full splendor, fresh from a restoration, at Blyton Park on May 4. Meanwhile reader Peter Camping came across an old article of the car in a 1969 copy of l'Automobile magazine, of which the pictures are shown below. I especially like the drawing as I suspect the artist never to have seen the car from its rear. He's made the GT look even more like a miniature GT40!

Least as interesting is a picture coming from Spain. It was send over to me by Christian Sanmartin Castro who was wondering if I knew anything more about the car on it. All he knows is that it was photographed at Jarama racing track in 1969. Strangely I cannot find anything on a Unipower racing there in '69. Fact is that a Unipower was raced there two years before (and that, too, will make it to Blyton Park - click here), but that clearly is a different one. So which one could this one be? One of the Spanish cars, or perhaps a Portugese one?

A Unipower GT at Jarama race track in 1969. That's all we know about this one
Picture courtesy Christian Sanmartin Castro

The artist who made this drawing for l'Automobile magazine probably didn't see the car
Picture courtesy l'Automobile

Rare but sketchy image of the Unipower GT Le Mans car's power train as it was in 1969
Picture courtesy l'Automobile

At speed during the qualification for Le Mans on March 30, 1969. You can see it in May
Picture courtesy l'Automobile

Friday, 28 March 2014

SHADO Jeep found in a scrap yard

Well, well… We have a good contender for Find of the Year 2014! Thanks to several readers who made me aware of some pictures that appeared yesterday. These pictures were taken on a scrap yard on the Canary Islands where, in between abandoned old boats and cars, one remarkable vehicle surfaced. Photographer ElStellino wrote: "What the … was this? An amphibious 6-wheeler?"

It isn't. But it's something strange indeed: it's a 'SHADO Jeep' used for the British 1970s television series U.F.O. As a matter of fact it was originally built by Space Models of Feltham for the 1969 Sci-Fi flick 'Doppelgänger' (more information here) but became more famous through its later tv appearances. These cars were based on Mini Mokes with an extra rear subframe and although it's unknown to me how many of them were built, there must have been at least two. One survives in Italy with a U.F.O. fan, while another was used as an advertisement sign for a garage in the UK for many years. Or could that be one and the same car? (more info here). Fact is that this is another. How it ever reached the Canaries is unknown, as it remains a mystery who owns the yard and its content. I am sure however, it won't be long before somebody will find out!

A holy grail for cult Science Fiction fans? A SHADO Jeep in a Canary scrap yard
Picture courtesy ElStellino

Apart from wheels, the SHADO Jeep looks to be complete, even the side panels are there
Picture courtesy ElStellino

The original design sketch by Derek Meddings, who was responsible for 'FAB1', too
Picture courtesy Derek Meddings

And a photograph taken on the set while filming an on-board scene in one of the cars
Jeroen Booij archive

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Rediscovered Wildgoose is for sale

Making plans for the Summer holiday yet? How about this project? A nice little Wildgoose Popular, supposed to be the 11th known survivor, which has just been rediscovered in a North Yorkshire barn. (click here to see most of the other survivors) It's up for auction with no reserve on April, 12 with Silverstone Auctions at their NEC auction. The last Popular seen for sale (click here) had a whopping asking price of 25,000 Euros a year and a half ago, but I doubt if that found a new owner for that money. It'll be interesting to see what this one fetches, though.

This particular Popular, Willow Green / Snowberry white in colour, was built on 5 December 1967 and delivered to Stringer Motors in Brighton, which registered it on 15 May 1968. According to the auctioneers it has never seen a welding torch and retains all of its original features (including table, cooker and kitchen sink) and is complete with its original engine and 'magic wand' gearbox. It has covered 69,398 miles and last passed an M.O.T in 1990. Click here for the full auction description.

A Wildgoose is quite rare and this one looks to be a nice restoration project
Picture courtesy Silverstone auctions 

Supposedly complete and dry stored for the last 16 years. When will we see it again?
Picture courtesy Silverstone auctions

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

A designer's view at BMC's Mini coupe

As a reader of this blog you will be aware that there have been umpteen efforts to turn the good old Mini into a nice little coupe. You may also be aware that BMC, at one stage, planned to come up with a version of their own, too. It led to a prototype dubbed ADO 35, which came about in a collaboration with Pininfarina. I tracked down the remaining car and wrote about it earlier, here.
Anyway: One person with a more than average interest into this car is designer David Beasley. He wrote: "Hi Jeroen. Firstly, I'm a huge fan of your work and your Mini site. I regularly check to see new stories and to feed my cravings! Second of all, I'm a car designer, working for Nissan in the UK, but I've previously worked for MINI (BMW in Munich) and Pininfarina in Turin, where my daily drive was a Japanese spec 1.3 Spi in Almond Green... just the thing to dash around Turin in!"

"I saw recently your article about the ADO 35 coupe from Pinin and how you tracked the owner down. Since he's not letting any photos out, I thought I'd create some artwork to fill in the gap, so please enjoy the attached image."
"BMC and Pininfarina have had a long history together, having first explored themes in the very early 50's. Stylists at Pinin would have been working with other brands and so you can see a Pinin style in most cars and proposals all the way through. In this case, the design was probable executed by the same individuals resposible for the 404 / 504 Peugeots (and this being Italy and a consultancy...), some Alfa's, Lancia's, Corvairs and even Agnelli's 410 special. Little elements of the designs are give aways (such as the way each individual has a preference for particular design detailing like vents, wheel arch lips, etc) and so general themes were reused time and time again."

"I imagine in this case a body style was scaled to fit. It is quite normal that a major company would want to cross their t's and dot their i's, so BMC would have put out to tender a design like this to compete with their own stylists. It might have been that in this case it confirmed an internal theme being developed for the Midget and upcoming MGB and therefore would not have been continued. The Austin 1100 was a Pininfarina design and those who know will recognise that the MGB GT was thus completeing the circle."
"Kindest regards and feel free to post this little image on your site to share with the community!"


A designer's look at how the Pininfarina/BMC ADO 35 Mini coupe should look like
Rendering courtesy David Beasley

A rare but well-known picture of the real thing before it was fully restored
Picture source unknown
BMC's Mini coupe wore a MG grille, but could have become an Austin or Morris, too
Picture source unknown

Monday, 24 March 2014

'The Banana Split' in period - and colour

Josh Willis, who repatriated the Maya GT from a Sussex field last year (click here), hasn't started restoration on the car, but never the less intends to trailer it over to Blyton Park on May 4. A great chance to see one of those rare cars in the flesh. I've also asked another Camber GT owner but since he hasn't come back to me I'm unsure whether he will make it. Le me know if you do Bryan!

Meanwhile, I received a nice message about another surviving car, at one time known as 'The Banana Split' thanks to its colour scheme. It was described here earlier (click here) and a message from the original owner Derek followed soon (here). Now, a chap named Jim dropped me a line, writing: "Looking at this Blog about Mini derivatives (I'm interested in anything Mini, I have a 1960 Morris myself), reminded me about Derek's Camber. I used to work with him way back and remember this car and even found this picture of it." Thanks for sharing that Jim!

Derek's car was known as the 'Banana Split'. It is still with us, although buried deep in a garage
Picture courtesy Jim

Friday, 21 March 2014

Maximum Mini 2 is on its way!

Well, well. It's been very quiet here. For two weeks I didn't post a single piece and hardly answered any messages. Shame on me, yes. But hang on, there was a good reason for that and I'm sure you'll understand. As a matter of fact I have been working frantically to get Maximum Mini 2 ready to go to the printer - today! And things look swell.

Below you will find a sneak preview of what the cover is going to look like. The new book will cover another 60 Mini derivatives in full detail, and I can assure you I have recovered some new gems you won't have heard of before. Like the original, this book will contain once more over 500 photographs that have never previously been seen in print. It will be available from June this year, but I hope to have a few advance copies at hand during the show at Blyton Park on Sunday they 4th of May.

If you want I can put your name on a pre-order list. Just let me know through jeroen@jeroenbooij.com


Another 5 years of sleuthing! Maximum Mini 2 will be available from June 2014
Picture copyright Jeroen Booij

Friday, 7 March 2014

Another Biota delivery

The Biota car company and many of its belongings remain unsold (advertisement here), but don't worry: the seller is not in a rush. Meanwhile, a picture from Biota's days passed came by, thanks to Peter Niessen. Peter is a Dutch Biota enthusiast and owner, who runs his own Biota website (click). He got the photograph through the son of the Dutch Biota concessionaire. This company, named Prescott Hill, also took care of TVR in the Low Countries from their humble premises. Peter adds: "The cars were delivered to them by John Houghton himself. I think my car is one of the two." Thanks Peter!

Another Biota delivery to the Dutch concessionaire, delivered by the boss himself
Picture courtesy Rene Sontrop

Monday, 3 March 2014

Siva Buggies to unite… on the beach

One of the advantages of the world wide web is that it makes it a lot easier to track down owners and their cars. Damien Lescroart came up with the idea to form a register for the Siva Buggy, also known as Siva Moonbug and/or Skyspeed Buggy. He created a group on Facebook and within weeks found owners throughout Europe. And you guessed it: the next plan is to meet up. Where? Well, the buggy boys do not yet know, but there has to be a beach for sure!

Mike Raw's Siva in Scarborough, North Yorks. It's Cooper 'S' powered
Picture courtesy Mike Raw
The Siva Register's first member was Matt Butler. That's his car on a sunny day
Picture courtesy Matt Butler
Scottish member Norrie Wilson pictured his' with the Isle of Skye in the background
Picture courtesy Norrie Wilson