Tuesday, 5 January 2016

2016 Is going to be a Unipower year

Happy New Year folks! I do not know what you are up to, but I have been overwhelmed with Unipower news in the last month or so. Where do I start?

First of all it's 50 years since the car debuted on stand number 60 at the 1966 London Racing Car Show in Olympia. The programme book mentioned the GT and a Spyder version, but I don't believe the latter ever made it to the public. To celebrate the car's 50th long-time Unipower aficionado and owner of several GT's, Gerry Hulford, is planning an anniversary meeting at around May 2016 - 50 years after the first car was delivered. Gerry has teamed up with Unipower instigator Ernie Unger to do so and is currently looking for a suitable location in the south of England. Interested parties contact Gerry on unipower2015@btinternet.com, restricting the event to current and past owners of GTs along with the principal management of the two companies who built the cars and any ex-competition drivers.

On another note, Gerry had some interesting facts to share about two cars that came by here last year. First there was the yellow one registered 'GEM 911G' and spotted in Japan by an avid reader recently (see here). Gerry says it definitely is not an ex-works race car. In fact he rebuilt the car himself using parts from a car 'that was a total wreck and whose chassis was totally rusted away'! Gerry says the then-owner planned to track the car and he deliberately made the additions unlike any original ‘race’ Unipower 'so that it would never be considered what it is not'. It used a 1340cc engine at the time but the owner sold the car soon after it was completed. The other car he knew more about was the one from Luxemburg (here). Supposedly the ex-Motor Show car of 1967 and road-driven to Luxemburg to its new owner, a Count Volpi no less, by the factory. In March 1968 the car was bought by Tom Zettinger. Gerry says it was totally stripped, body off, 20 years later in 1988 before being put up for sale at that time for £3,200. What happened to it afterwards remains unknown to him.

Back to now, you may have noticed that a 'Unipower barn find' came to the market last week. Well, that description was perhaps a tad optimistic. The Unipower in question offered on Ebay didn't exist of much more then an incomplete and damaged Mk2 body, without any identification. To turn it into a car you'll have to source or build more then just a chassis as just about anything is missing. However, the chap who bought it did contact me and it seems it is in good hands with him. He has some very nice plans with it of which I'll keep you updated here. Watch this space.

Meanwhile, a Unipower GT Facebook page was started by Blyton Park co-organizer Pete Flanagan, who so nicely restored the Janspeed car. He is hoping to be able to find out some new information and cars through this page and I've seen some very nice pictures come along on it. It may help to boost the planned 50th anniversary? Have a look here when you are interested. And keep those snippets coming.

This is the only picture I have of the Unipower GT mule, test driven by Tony Lanfranchi in 1965
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

It was 50 years ago today… The Unipower GT debuts at the Racing Car Show in London
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Time for an anniversary party in May, hopefully with a good turnout of cars
Picture Jeroen Booij archive / courtesy Tim Carpenter 

Defintely not an ex-works car - this Unipower was rebuilt from a wreck years ago by Gerry Hulford
Picture courtesy Scuderia Old Timer

'Unipower barn find' may have been an exaggeration, but who knows what this will lead to
Picture courtesy Ebay 

One of the photographs, unknown to me, that appeared on the new Unipower GT Facebook page
Picture courtesy Facebook

4 comments:

  1. Interesting photo of the 'flying bedstead' chassis mule, never seen that before and very interesting, there was still a lot of development to take place on the chassis layout from this point then and it looks like the radiator location went full circle from the mule location at the front, to the early prototype and production car in the rear next to the engine, as per the mini, and then back to the location at the front?

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  2. It would be nice to know who bought the remains of the Mk2.

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  3. Hi Jeroen. The '66 Racing Car Show actually took place on the 19th January, but I'm being pedantic now! I agree with Gerry, 'GEM' looks nothing like a works racer and is very bespoke! The photo of 'NGH' is one of mine and that's Vita's Harry Ratcliffe looking into the car and I think their team manager Brian Gillibrand to the left. I know Alec Poole eventually bought one of which I have a photo so maybe he was trying that one out? NGH was also seen around the paddock at various races as it was on loan to one of the racing commentators and performed course car duty. I'd also love a decent copy of the Lanfranchi pic at Silverstone if anyone has a better copy? Thanks for the Facebook page plug. See you at Blyton!

    Pete

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    1. Thanks for your comment Pete! I have a larger copy of the mule picture, but it's not much better in quality. Look much forwards to Blyton - some interesting 'Maximum Minis' have been conformed yet.

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