Friday, 21 October 2016

Mini Gordon - it's all about name dropping

It's been a long time since I wrote about the Mini Gordon. That most unusual coachbuilt Mini, commissioned by Eric Gordon of Brussels and built by Wood & Pickett of London. Two years ago I  had a look at the car in Belgium and the then-owner told me it was all nonsense what I'd written earlier. Read it for yourself here.

However, I was quite sure about my article, but couldn't find back the Dutch magazine article, which had been my main source. And so I was relieved when Henk van Brakel sent me a copy of the same piece lately, a much better copy then I previously had. And there they were - the names I'd read about before, and even more of them. They were not made up by me! Eric Gordon certainly was fond of name dropping. This is a translation of a piece of the article, interviewing him about the car. It's unbelievably pretentious:

"I took the decision to build the car while in Spain, thanks to two Spaniards. Ylenia Vilar Sancho is a beautiful woman and dancer with the Maurice Béjart ballet. The other is named Antonio Huerta, a genius inventor who constructed a rotor engined Spanish Formula 1 car in the 1950s. The Japanese were much interested as they were also starting to work on Wankel engines at the time. Huerta is one of the popes of the European motoring underworld. He knows everyone - craftsmen, sub-contractors, designers, inventors, people who dream of surpassing impassable paths and so on."
"During my researches I also came across the Swiss designer Oulaf, who worked for the design house of Vittorio del Basso, and it was him who put the first sketches on paper."
"The whole project wasn't particularly easy, I can say. People with a good will are hard to find. I cooperated with some fifteen small British companies, but only Wood & Pickett of London and a Belgian man, Milan Marick van Omnibel, wanted to join me on this project."
"Apart from that I tried to get Hermes, Dior and Vuitton interested for the project, but all to no avail. Eventually, we based our car on Rolls-Royces as sub-contractors working for RR have carried out parts of the job, in a year's time, with typical British sobriety. It cost me over a million francs. To build a second Mini Gordon, I'd have to ask 650,000 Belgian francs. But then the car can be made to measure. You can choose for a long or short Mini, with or without the hatchback door."

Nuff said.

Oh, one more note then. When I interviewed W&P's Eddie Collins back in 2014 he said: “Eric Gordon, oh yes, that strange man. His idea was to offer a car like ours, but then shorter. We built the prototype for him. It made no sense to us but he was completely committed to the idea of a small and luxurious city car. To me it seemed like money wasted.”

Thanks Henk for the scan!

The Mini Gordon article that reveals it all. How many names can you drop?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive via Henk van Brakel

Eric Gordon with his creation in 1976. It certainly was pretentious and expensive
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The car in 2014, when I photographed it in Belgium. It has been sold to the UK since
Photograph: Jeroen Booij

...And seen at a Birmingham show last month, now with its new UK number 'BF 80'
Picture courtesy Henk van Brakel


  1. I confirm it has been sold recently. It stayed with oldteimerfarm for two years or so.

    1. Thanks Francois. I have just received some photographs of it in the UK, with new plates. Will post one here.

  2. "The other is named Antonio Huerta, a genius inventor who constructed a rotor engined Spanish Formula 1 car in the 1950s."

    That's the first I've heard of a rotary engined Spanish Formula 1 car!