Wednesday, 26 July 2017

The sun seekers (2)



I'm off for a holiday for some time, but not without leaving you with no Maximum Mini stories. So here's a little series on Mini based sunshine cars that I wrote some years ago for Mini Magazine. Enjoy!

Apart from the obvious Volkswagen based Beach Buggy, the Mini proved to be a great base for a fun car too. Jeroen Booij looks at the best-known Mini derivatives for sunbathers; only to find out they all came from the south coast. Evidently not a coincidence.

Not too far from Barry Stimson’s workshop, another two Mini derivatives with bold Beach Buggy styling were conceived at around the same time. From Poole came Neville Trickett’s more traditionally styled Siva Buggy. Trickett had been responsible for the sporty MiniSprint in the mid-sixties. By 1970, however, he came up with his Mini based Buggy. It hadn’t gone unnoticed to him, too, that Volkswagen based Beach Buggies were becoming a hit and as an answer he made his own version. For the price of £195 the customer bought a kit to build one himself. It included a fibreglass body and a steel tube chassis frame that carried most of the Mini’s suspension. Radius arms were lengthened while the Mini’s suspension trumpet cones were shortened. Headlights and rear lights were included too. The complete front subframe with engine from a donor Mini could be bolted in, and some more Mini-parts like instruments, pedals and wheels could be re-used. Bucket seats, a flat windscreen in an aluminium frame and black vinyl hood all were extra’s, as were 13-inch wheels that gave the Buggy a better appearance then the Mini’s standard 10-inchers.

A great example of the British-built Siva Buggy in typical seventies fashion
Picture Siva Moonbug Skyspeed register

And another in 'Beach Patrol' livery. Pity it was photographed on the tarmac though!
Picture Siva Moonbug Skyspeed register 
The Siva Buggy was marketed by Skyspeed limited of Feltham
Picture Jeroen Booij archive


These two drawings come from the rare British brochure
Picture Jeroen Booij archive


Trickett was soon fed up with his Buggy customers and decided to have the car distributed by a motor accessory company who offered it as the Skyspeed-Siva Buggy. They sold quite a few before the moulds and production rights were sold to Euromotor in Amsterdam who had been Siva-importer for some time. Euromotor started building cars offering them as the Siva Moonbug. By now purple had become the standard colour with other colours available for extra money. They carried on production until 1976 when a fire destroyed the Amstelveen (close to Amsterdam) premises and the original moulds.
Dutch-built and Dutch-registered Moonbug was built under a license in Amstelveen
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

This is another Dutch car, found much modified on a Dutch scrapyard in the 1980s
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Extract of the even rarer Dutch brochure of the Siva Moonbug
Picture Jeroen Booij archive


Then there was illustrator Mike Jupp, just further eastwards along the south coast. Jupp was asked to design a car in 1969 that had to be based on Mini-mechanicals and was supposed to be a beach buggy-style fun car too. He liked the idea of what he now calls a ‘Juppmobile’ and started drawing. Intrigued about World War II-machinery he says he was influenced by the Volkswagen Kübelwagen and Schwimmwagen so perhaps it is not surprising the Nimrod he designed had some similarities with amphibians. The Nimrod-name derived from the famous Nimrod fighter planes. Together with carpenter Ray Jay of Hunston he started working on a prototype from his parents farmhouse, but when he was half way finished the men who had come up with the idea for the car withdrew from the project, leaving Jupp and Ray behind with nothing but a half-finished car. The two now decided to put it on the road themselves. It wasn’t until 1972 that it actually was ready. The ladder frame chassis came with a floor of plywood while the roll bar was made from a scaffold tube. The fibreglass body was an open two-seater with high sills and no doors. Between the windscreen and the rear screen there was a bar to give the body a bit more strength and a black vinyl roof was attached to it. Headlights and rear lights came from the Hillman Hunter and a Minivan petrol tank was fitted. Jupp admits that he wanted to give the car as much ‘Beach Buggy looks’ as he could and designed chunky rear mud flaps to add to the impression of wide tyres! Jupp took delivery of the car and even drove it to Transylvania in 1974 with a trailer behind it to carry tent and gear. When a friend asked for a second car Jay began to think about limited production, eventually building another four Nimrods. Years later the car was offered again in 1979 by Nova Cars, but it is unknown whether they ever sold any cars. Nigel Talbott and his company ‘T.A.C.C.O.’ in Wincanton did build a few another two years later, but it is believed not more then fifteen Nimrod were build in total by 1986, by which time the car had disappeared.

The Nimrod prototype being evaluated at Ray Jay's workshop in Hunston
Picture Mike Jupp / Jeroen Booij archive

Mike Jupp looking at the Nimrod he has owned for many decades now
Picture Jeroen Booij

And the same car seen where it belongs: on the seaside. Here towing a small hover craft!
Picture Mike Jupp

Nova Cars marketed the Nimrod for a while, but they didn't produce many
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Friday, 21 July 2017

The sun seekers (1)


I'm off for a holiday for some time, but not without leaving you with no Maximum Mini stories. So here's a little series on Mini based sunshine cars that I wrote some years ago for Mini Magazine. Enjoy!

Apart from the obvious Volkswagen based Beach Buggy, the Mini proved to be a great base for a fun car too. Jeroen Booij looks at the best-known Mini derivatives for sunbathers; only to find out they all came from the south coast. Evidently not a coincidence.

First there was the Beach Car. An open top Fiat 500 or 600 named ‘Jolly’ with pastel paint job, wicker seats and a roof like a Wall’s parasol. They were totally distinct from the Beach Buggies that came much later. Beach Cars were there to carry rich people from their hotel or yacht to the Mediterranean beach or boulevard, and back. They oozed an atmosphere of Brigitte Bardot, Monte Carlo princesses and Cannes Film Festivals of the sixties’ heydays.
A Beach Buggy, of course, is for burning up and down dunes. More Steve McQueen then Grace Kelly; macho instead of elegant. The two are miles apart. But other then the coachbuilt Fiats or the Volkswagen based buggies, the Mini could be both. Styled by BMC’s chief stylist, Dick Burzi, an official Mini Beach Car went into limited production in Longbridge. No more then 16 were built, with most going to more suitable climates. Survivors are rare.

The south of England still sees of course slightly less sun than Barbados or Florida
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

John Reymondos' beautifully restored Mini Beach Car prototype at the beach in Greece
Picture John Reymondos

This example of the Beach Car series was a Motor cover car and was used by the Queen!
Picture Jeroen Booij

Another Mini Beach car on Monaco plates. It still resides in southern France today
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

And its interior. Note colour coded telephone!
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

But then there was the other side of the scale, as the Mini proved to be a terrific base for a Beach Buggy too. When the American Beach Buggy craze reached the UK in the late sixties, some folks decided to come up with a design for the home market, based on the good old Mini. Funnily they were all created on the south coast. First of them was stylist Barry Stimson, who’d happened to have seen a Volkswagen based Myers Manx buggy in Canada when he was there in 1968. He immediately liked it, saying, “I thought it was so refreshingly different so I decided to design one myself. Not Volkswagen based but around the Mini.” In the plane back to England Stimson made a first sketch and back home in Chichester he started working on a prototype. He rented a hangar in Brighton and started on a tiny budget. Stimson: anything that vaguely had the shape you needed was used. The headlamp pods were moulded from a bra.” When the first Stimson Mini Bug was finished in early 1970 the result looked surprisingly like his early sketch. Reactions were quite overwhelming and the little Bug even appeared on national television. Under the car’s doorless and roofless fibreglass body lay a simple square tube frame to which the Mini’s front subframe was mounted. The rear used the Mini’s trailing arms and motorcycle coils springs and damper units, while the floor was plywood. It was sold as a basic kit less engine for £170 and a complete car was offered from £295. Initially the car was offered with a low perspex windscreen as an extra, but when this was found illegal a more conventional glass screen was offered.
The famous first Mini Bug sketch that Barry Stimson made on the plane
Picture courtesy Barry Stimson / Jeroen Booij archive


From the Stimson photo books: traveling with the Mini Bug prototype to France
Picture courtesy Barry Stimson / Jeroen Booij archive

Sheep do not stop a Stimson Mini Bug on its way to southern France!
Picture courtesy Barry Stimson / Jeroen Booij archive

And plenty of attention for the car in the villages, too
Picture courtesy Barry Stimson / Jeroen Booij archive

By 1972 Barry Stimson found it time for a second model and suddenly there was the Stimson Safari Six: a twelve feet long six-wheeled pick-up, based on the Mini too. According to Stimson it was a bit of a mix between Mini Pick-up, Moke and Traveller but also Range Rover and Renault 4! It was offered for sale in 1972 at £800 all in, which meant it was even fitted with a hood that covered not driver and passenger plus the complete rear end. Like the Mini Bug, the Safari Six was based on a tubular chassis to which a Mini engine-subframe and the fibreglass body was attached. Body panels were colour impregnated in ‘pirate red’ or ‘golden yellow’. The rear four wheels used Mini swinging arms with Girling spring/damper units. It had a zip-up side screen that could be used as a door for the driver. Stimson used the Mini’s standard windscreen for the Safari Six, but placed it in a new frame to which the weather equipment could be attached with push buttons. With twelve extra inches the rear track was considerably wider then that of a Mini helping the designer to create a large pick-up rear deck with fold down bench seat and lockable under floor ‘boot’. Unfortunately, the Safari Six had been a rather big investment for Stimson and after only a few were made the company went to the receiver. The rights for building the car were taken over by a Welsh company that planned to relaunch the car with Ford Fiesta- or Peugeot engine but it never happened.

The Stimson Safari Six in its natural habitat: on the beach with at least one bikini clad girl
Picture courtesy Barry Stimson / Jeroen Booij archive

And this is the Safari Six from Maximum Mini 1. I found the car at a Buckinghamshire farm
 in 2005 or 2006. I wonder if it's still about?
Picture Jeroen Booij

Caroline and Barry Stimson in August last year with Barry's new camper. Very sunny people indeed!
Picture Jeroen Booij

Monday, 17 July 2017

Lavish Pavesi Mini turns up in the US

An unusual Pavesi Mini, turned up in the US last week. The car comes with the Pavesi signature filler cap, wooden dashboard and console but has quite a lot more frivolities, too. There's an interior that's all trimmed in a wild paisley pattern, from the seats to the doors, the armrests, the lower dashboard rail to even the full headlining. And there's an awful lot of burr walnut wood trim, too. From outside we see an unusual chrome strip and built in (and no doubt electrically operated) antenna. Supposedly a diplomat's or ambassador's car from South-Africa, the Mini turned up in Oregon recently with the same garage that has a Ranger Cub (read here). More information is welcome!




Another variant of the Pavesi Mini console in a 1970s Mini Cooper. Pavesi loved burr walnut
Picture Jeroen Booij

The same car, now with the dashboard over its full length. The clocks are placed differently here
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Thgis is another Pavesi Mini with another wooden dash, but it comes closer to that of the Oregon car
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

And here's another that's even closer, with the radio centrally placed and even more gauges. This car also has the full console 
Picture Balilla Registro Italiano (but you'd seen that)





Friday, 14 July 2017

Help me finding the right side-flasher lights

Okay, I need a little help from you lot. By now I have sourced all the correct lights for the '66 Le Mans Mini Marcos. But there is one exception, and it's the side flasher light on the car's front. I'd examined them carefully from historic images and drew the conclusion they had to be Citroen HY / DS Break sourced. These lights were made by Seima and the part number is 189 or 189B. I found a new old stock pair and bought them. But only when they arrived and fitted them on the hole in my car, it seemed to me they were too big with their 7.1 centimeters diameter. 5- or 6cm seems more like what they should be. I've asked some Citroen people if they know of a smaller variant - they don't.

What I did got hold of in the meantime is a better detail shot of the car back in 1966 with a clearer image of the side flasher in its big (rubber?) holder. That may help. So there we go - what do you think these lights were sourced from?

I was convinced the Seima 189B was the right side-flasher light for the car. Not so sure anymore now
Picture Jeroen Booij

This is what it looks like originally. Pretty similar looking to the one above, but it seems smaller. 
Oh, the big holder is a bit of a mystery, too, or is that just tape?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Le Mans pit street on June 18, 1966. I believe the car must have used transparent flasher 
lights glass with orange lamp bulbs in it
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

This is the original hole to fit the right light. Who can tell me what has to go in there?
Picture Peter Skitt

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Marples' Mini under the block

The famous hatchback Mini Cooper 'S' of the late Postmaster General and Minister of Transport (1959-1964) Ernest Marples will be auctioned on the 26th of this month by H&H Classics at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford.

Marples wasn't a particularly loved politician. He owned a civil engineering company which was heavily contracted to redevelop the motorways of the UK while being Minister of Transport, too, leading to 'Marples Must Go' painted across motorway bridges (that his company built) throughout the country as well as car decals. And there was more. A love for prostitutes, or so it is believed; the introduction of his much-hated double yellow lines and the killing off of the British railways in favor of motorways. In 1975, Marples, who had by then been made a baron, fled the country in rather a hurry... because of tax evasion.

By that time he'd traded in his Mini for a Renault 5 at Lex Garage in Maidenhead. It was rather special, though. At the London Racing Car show of 1964 Marples spoke to John Cooper and told him he would only buy a Mini if he was able to carry his golf bags or the wine stock he took from his personal vineyard in France in the back. With a request from the Minister of Transport being difficult to ignore, John Cooper organized a meeting between Marples and Alec Issigonis to assess the feasibility of the request. But Longbridge already had the prototypes. Three of them, no less, with two of these using fiberglass rear doors and one (the Marples car) with a door made in metal. Originally it was a Morris Cooper 'S' with Surf Blue paint. Once being transformed into a hatchback, it was an Almond Green Austin registered '963 LOP'.

As said, Marples kept the car until 1974 when a new registration (KMG 840B) was put on it. Lex Garage sold it for £75 and several owners followed. By the late 1970s it had been repainted metallic blue with wide rally style wheel arches fitted and the front and rear valances deseamed. And there was a badly repaired damage at one opt the rear wings, too. Mini enthusiast Alan Meaker restored it and it was ready in 1995. The car is now estimated to sell for £70- to £80,000. Worth it?

The 'Marples Mini' as offered by H&H Auctions. It's a 1964 Austin Cooper 'S' with hatchback door
Picture courtesy H&H Auctions

Photographing the interior was never easier thanks to that rear door… Originally the car was Surf Blue and Morris-badged. Also note padded dashboard rail and heater
Picture courtesy H&H Auctions

This is the car in 1995, when restored by Alan Meaker, still wearing the number it got in 1974
Picture MiniWorld magazine / Jeroen Booij archive

This is how Alan Meaker bought the car. Repainted, deseamed, with wide arches and slot mag wheels
On the right hand rear wing a badly repaired damage was found
Picture MiniWorld magazine / Jeroen Booij archive

Ernest Maples with the car in 1964. He was still an MP at the time, but a very controversial one
Picture The Autocar / Jeroen Booij archive

An Austin Mini hatchback in Longbridge. The same car or another? Door trim and hinges are different
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Three hatchback Minis were made in Longbridge, two with fiberglass rear doors; one in metal
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Dutch Scamp-ish shorty is a mystery

An interesting message this morning from Ramon Goutziers. He wrote: "Hi Jeroen. I was wondering if you knew anything about the Scamp I just bought. We bought it a couple of weeks ago but unfortunately do not know much about it. The car's nose section has been cut off and the bonnet is missing. We were wondering if you knew anything more about the car in question. Have you ever seen it before or do you know who previously owned it?  There is no registration. Best regards, Ramon.

Well. The answer is yes and no. I do have a picture of it in the files that was sent to me years ago by Roald Rakers. He, too, didn't know more then that it was supposedly built in The Netherlands in the 1980s. We do see the original nose of the car on it, which could help Ramon reconstruct the car. It does also certainly seem to be (short chassis) Scamp based, although it could be a copy, too. So there we go. Any more information will be much appreciated by Ramon and myself!

Short chassis'd, Mini engined and supposedly Dutch built. But what exactly is this car?
Picture Ramon Goutziers

The car's nose was cut off and the bonnet is missing. That didn't withhold Ramon to buy it though!
Picture Ramon Goutziers

Mini engine in its original subframe. Unfortunately there is no registration or history file
Picture Ramon Goutziers

But… this picture shows it how the bonnet looked when it was still there. Who knows more?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive via Roald Rakers

Monday, 3 July 2017

Maximum Mini is back in print

So many people have asked me if a reprint of Maximum Mini was on the roll, but so far I all had to disappoint them. But the good news is that I can now tell you it's there! Eight years after being published the reprint has now arrived. It's a soft cover with matt paper used inside and also smaller in size. Dimensions now are 225 x 225 mm rather then 256 x 256 mm of the earlier books. Why? Other then Maximum Mini 2 and Maximum Mini 3 it's not my own publication - like the original Maximum Mini book of 2009 Veloce Publishing is behind this one, too. I must say was rather skeptical about it when they told me the news of a softcover reprint, but now that it's here I do quite like it. If you are not prepared to pay hundreds of pounds/dollars/euros for the original Maximum Mini but would like to read it, this is the book for you. It certainly is cheap. If you do want to complete your collection and want to fit them in with the other volumes and are prepared to pay more, contact me. I may just have one or two of the very last hardcover books left...

Maximum Mini reprint is a softback with matt paper inside and is smaller in size
Picture Jeroen Booij

It doesn't fit in with the other volumes of Maximum Mini, but all the info is there
Picture Jeroen Booij

The 2nd printing comes from Veloce and is part of their Classic Reprint Series 
Picture Jeroen Booij


Friday, 30 June 2017

Analyzing the Le Mans Mini Marcos (6)

Another nice little clou of the Le Mans Mini Marcos' racing heritage has been unearthed by Seventies Car Restoration this week: the wing mirror mystery! While sanding down the left hand front wing the holes for a mirror came to the surface. However, it seemed that it had two different mirrors at some point. I took a dive into the archive to find out more about it, and you guessed it: it made sense. Have a look for yourself with some nice pictorial proof. 

Sanding down the left hand wing unearthed four filled-in holes. What were they for?
Picture Peter Skitt

Wing mirrors, obviously. But did it have two mirrors then? It did, carry on to below to find out
Picture Peter Skitt

Le Mans test day on April 3, 1966. The car does not wear a mirror on its left hand wing
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

And again, now clearer. This is taken on the same day: Le Mans test on April 3, 1966
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Three weeks later: Monza 1000 kms race on April 25, 1966. There is now a bullet mirror on the wing
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

June 18, 1966: on the weigh bridge before the start of the Le Mans 24 hours race. Mirror is still there
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

But then - in the pit street just prior to the race: the mirror is gone and the holes are taped off
Picture Philip Hazen / Jeroen Booij archive

And the whole 24 hours race is driven without the bullet mirror on the car's wing
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

4 months later: Paris 1000 kms race on October 16, 1966: no mirror, holes are filled and painted over
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

1967: the car has been repainted in 'Bleu Ciel' with an orange stripe and still there is no mirror
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

But… in 1975, prior to being stolen, it does wear a new wing mirror with particularly large pole. This one is placed differently, slightly higher up the wing and further to the front. It fits in perfectly
Picture Michel Tasset / Jeroen Booij archive


Like this? Mores in this series here:

Analyzing the Le Mans Mini Marcos (2) - Holes for lights and details
Analyzing the Le Mans Mini Marcos (3) - Petrol tank, roll bar, pedals
Analyzing the Le Mans Mini Marcos (5) - Racing numbers and bonnet straps