Thursday, 31 August 2017

Euregio Meeting 2017

The Euregio meeting for Marcoses and Mini derivatives took place on the sunniest day of this year, last weekend. The location? The far south-west of The Netherlands, where the country rubs shoulders with the sea and with Belgium. And so a group of Maximum Minis crossed the border several times...

Joost van Dien organized the trip for this year. He currently owns three Mini Marcoses and this is the Mk3 he built up from scratch as a fast road car. I co-drove him during the ride and was much impressed
Picture Jeroen Booij

Keith Rose had come over from Somerset in his GTM Rossa. His latest buy is a Minus Maxi!
Picture Jeroen Booij

You may not see it at first sight, but this is one very rare and probably unique fiberglass bodied Mini derivative. I'll write a separate article on it here soon
Picture Jeroen Booij

What would a Mini Marcos meeting be without Richard Porter? He came over in his faithful Mini Jem
Picture Jeroen Booij

And flying the flag for Maximum Mini, too, just in colour with the car. Thank you Richard!
Picture Jeroen Booij

Aad van Beekum had his Mk3 Mini Marcos finished just in time for the event two years ago. And he was there this time. The car still looking immaculate
Picture Jeroen Booij

We were so close to the Belgium border that Bart van Reusel and his Schmitt had to be there…
Picture Jeroen Booij

Beach bunnies? Bart's Schmitt pairs up with co-organizer Rolf Roozeboom's Domino Pimlico
Picture Jeroen Booij

Another regular on the Euregio meetings: Ed 'the Hat' Darwinkel with his trusty Midas. He'd just fitted leds, which gave an impressive light show even during the day
Picture Jeroen Booij

Not a Mini, but Robin Hughes and his son Sam in the big Marcos are very enthusiastic about Mini Marcoses, too. Thanks for coming over chaps!
Picture Jeroen Booij

We missed several regulars with their Mini Marcoses this year, but not Raymond van der Klugt. He owns a Mini Marcos, too, but prefers to come in his lovely GTM Coupe
Picture Jeroen Booij

Take a couple of Brits to a field and they'll start a picnic!
Picture Jeroen Booij

Monday, 28 August 2017

Gyro-X wins Dean Batchelor Trophy

Now that the crazy Alex tremulis designed and Mini Cooper powered Gyro-X prototype is fully restored and presented at Pebble Beach, we'd like to see it in motion, don't we? Over to Wayne Hadfield who sent me a little video of the thing on the move, see below. It's great to see the gyroscope really working so well (more about the restoration here) and it looks like Jeff Lane and his team at the Lane Motor Museum have done a terrific job. The car didn't win its class of 'American Dream Cars of the 1960s' but did get home to Tennessee with the Dean Batchelor Trophy, named after the late American hot rodder and motoring journalist with the same name. Congratulations!

It works! Gyro-X in motion. The Mini engine makes it move, the gyroscope keeps it in balance
Video through Wayne Hadfield

The crazy car won the Dean Batchelor Trophy at the Pebble Beach concours d'elegance 
Picture Automobilemag.com

Seen here is an early sketch of the 1967 car by designer Alex Tremulis
Picture Lane Motor Museum


Friday, 25 August 2017

Broadspeed GTs flood the market

Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration. But it's been a long time since any Broadspeed GTs were offered for sale and thats quite different at this moment. Two of them are original cars, two others are replicas or perhaps I should say 'cars built in the spirit of the GT'. To start with the real cars: these are the factory demonstrator as well as the GTS racer, both shown in the well-known Broadspeed brochure and now both to be found by JD Classics in Essex. They were of course restored by Chris Wooden over a long period of time (beautifully, for sure) and I have asked Chris why on earth he wants to split with them. He didn't want to respond to that, which may indicate he doesn't like to see them go?
The white GT 'EOP 89D' is the road going version, seen at the 1966 Racing Car Show (here) and owned by Barrie Smith and later by Greg Jones (story here) ; the burgundy and silver GTS 'EOP 88D' is the racer with all possible lightweight and competition parts including a highly tuned 1366cc engine. Images and some film footage here and here. When you are interested in buying click here if you dare to see the both of them for sale at JD Classics. Last time they were seen for sale together, they must have been remarkably cheaper!

Broadspeed GT 'EOP 89D' is the ex-factory demonstrator that was restored by Chris Wooden
Picture JD Classics

Broadspeed GTS 'EOP 88D' is the works racer, found by your's truly in Holland in the late 1990s
Picture JD Classics

Over to the replicas then. First of them is the car built by Olivier Filliettaz in the south-west of France. The car was based around a 1964 Mini Cooper 998 shell and Olivier carried out all of the construction himself, using fiberglass for the roof construction. It comes with a 1293 engine with Longman head and split Webers, or if you prefer he sells it without the engine. You can find some more information and photographs taken during the built here. The price is on request, see the ad here

French built Broadspeed GT replica is now for sale. The owner prefers to call it 'Broadsprint'
Picture Olivier Filliettaz

Our final candidate is the Mini GTO or Marspeed GTO built by Church Green in the UK in the early 1990s as a tribute to the Broadspeed. There were just two more GTOs with both of these now in Japan. This example was built up using a new (1991) Mini Cooper with 1300 carburettor engine, bored out to 1380cc and mated to a 5-speed Jack Knight gearbox. The car has been owned by Minispeed in Germany since it was finished but they want to part with it now. Asking price? €85,000. "Yes. A lot of money. But I am worth every penny of it.", states the seller… See his ad here

While this one was one of three 'Marspeed GTOs' built in the UK, but in Germany since new
Picture MiniSpeed


Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Le Mans Mini Marcos project gets ACO approval

Today is a grand day for the Le Mans Mini Marcos project as I received a parcel from France that had been eagerly awaited, putting things pretty mildly. It comes from the ACO (Automobile Club de l'Ouest), which is the organizer of the 24 hours of Le Mans race since human memory. It contains a copy of their full file on my car. This means all the documents are there, from the very first application form to all the official records that they took at the 12 different posts where they checked, verified, measured and weighed the car prior to the race on June 18, 1966. It's all dated and full of technical detail. It is a gold mine for the restoration.

It's even more than that as it also means the ACO have now officially approved my car as the real deal. And to say they take things seriously, certainly is no exaggeration. To get to this point, I had to send all of the possible evidence that I had over to an ACO jury. When the head of the club's Heritage Service contacted me six weeks later with the now classic words 'It's good' it made my day!
I'd like to thank Gérard Boulin for getting me in touch with the right person in the first place plus Stéphanie Lopé and Antoine Letrésor at the Automobile Club de l'Ouest for their support and enthusiasm.

The filing map that came in the post today from the Automobile Club de l'Ouest
Picture Jeroen Booij

It contains all the official documents that came with the car's entry at Le Mans in 1966. Seen here is the 'Carnet de pesage', showing the approval signatures for all the 12 posts the car had to go through
Picture Jeroen Booij

Monday, 21 August 2017

Hrubon Schmitt restored, now for sale

I received a message from Samuel Fanouillere, who just finished the restoration of his 1982 Schmitt. He wrote: "Hello Mr. Booij, I am French and a great fan of your books about Mini derivatives. My job is to restore, tune and service classic cars, mostly English ones and I am also a mini collector in a Mini collectors family... I have a 1964 Mk1 8-port Cooper 'S' under restoration and a Mk3 1460cc 7-port race Mini. My girlfriend has a 1998 sportspack Mini while my father's got a 1966 Mk1 Cooper 'S', a 1971 Mk3 Cooper 'S', three 1275 GTs and a 1991 carburettor Cooper. The most interesting for you, however, may be his Hrubon Schmitt on which on I just finished a restoration to make it look good and be reliable. As well explained in your second book, it is the one that was made in the Alsace and its 16,000 kms on the clock are certified from new."

As a fan of the late Jean-Claude Hrubon's work I certainly like it. Hrubon designed the thing as a cheeky little car to beat the parking problem in central Paris. But it proved popular outside the capital, too. Before selling the project to Bernard Schmitt in the Alsace, he had his hands full on building them. He told me: "There were some rich people who bought one, which may have helped. When I moved to Saint-Tropez there were more people wanting one and some ended up up on the decks of yachts." Perhaps this one will do just that? Samuel has asked himself the question what to do with so many Minis to play with…? And with the restoration job just finished, he  has now decided to part with this pristine Schmitt. You will find the ad here. Let's hope it will find a good home very soon. Perhaps just in time to enjoy some sunny Summer drives this year?

At 2,350 mms the Schmitt is the ideal car to park in congested areas. Or near the beach…
Picture Samuel Fanouillere

Samuel's example just underwent some major surgery and looks to be fit to enjoy now
Picture Samuel Fanouillere

The engine was totally overhauled with all new bolts, gaskets, seals, some of the bearings and more
Picture Samuel Fanouillere

This Schmitt looks like new. Carb has been refitted, as has ignition, clutch, brakes, pipes et cetera… 
Picture Samuel Fanouillere

Friday, 18 August 2017

Analyzing the Le Mans Mini Marcos (7)

It was already shown to you briefly in the video I posted yesterday, but here's the story in on the radiator holes in more detail. For anyone interested I once again publish some photographs in chronological order to fully understand the stages it went through.

The car is seen here in a very early stage, being build up at Jean-Claude Hrubon's workshop in Paris. 
A modest row of holes is made in the front of the car for cooling
Picture Guy Le Page

And here on its first outing at Le Mans test on April 3, 1966. Row of holes is still the same. It must have been a cold day as they were taped over later on the day
Picture Guy Le Page

But just three weeks later at the Monza 1000 kms race on 25 April it's quite different. The row is made longer with 10 more holes on each side. Plus the lower front is now heavily drilled, too. There is an added radiator placed behind it
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Pit street of Le Mans prior to the 24 hours race on 18 June 1966. Holes are all there, clearly visible in this photograph
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

1968: Magny Cours. Top row of holes is untouched. Bottom front is blanked off. 
The car is painted 'Bleu Ciel' (light blue) here with an orange stripe
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

1970 Treffort hill climb. The car is now much modified and road registered in Nice. Much of the lower front has now been cut out, as has the middle of the top, with just four holes left on each side
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

And the car is it is now. Front is still similar as in 1970, seen above. But the four holes on each side have now been closed with fiberglass
Picture Jeroen Booij

They are, however, still visible from the inside. These are the ones on the left hand side that became visible after having removed the paint
Picture Jeroen Booij

And these are the ones on the right hand side. We also located the holes were the added radiator was bolted on the body shell, one of them visible here on the right
Picture Jeroen Booij


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

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Le Mans Mini Marcos: body work in progress

Just back from Yorkshire to meet up again with Paul and Peter at Seventies Car Restoration. Have a look at the video below to see about the current affairs on the 1966 Le Mans Marcos project, with Peter showing some of the details. In the meantime I have also traced more parts for the car and have some fantastic news from France - more on that later.

Meanwhile, my special thanks goes to DFDS Seaways who transported me once again safely to and from the UK.

UPDATE 8 March 2018: Unfortunately the cooperation didn't last long. More here.

Video: Jeroen Booij

Monday, 7 August 2017

Maximum Minis meet up

A lovely little meeting of Mini derivatives took place during the Cambridge Mini Chill last weekend. With GTM Rossas Mk1 and Mk2, a Peel Viking, Ranger Cub, Domino Pimlico, Heinz 57 Hornet, Sabre Vario and Whitby Morrison 'Batman' ice cream van, several of them having been seen here before, this was an excellent turn-out of 'Maximum Minis'. Let's hope we can show more of them at other shows, too. The photographs are all by Steve Hudson.

Mini derivative owners and their cars came together at the Cambridge Mini Chill last weekend
Picture Steve Hudson

GTM Rossa from Germany, Sabre Vario, Peel Viking, Ranger Cub and Batman ice cream van
Picture Steve Hudson

And there's more. Pimlico, Rossa Mk1, Heinz Hornet. What to choose? He doesn't know!
Picture Steve Hudson

Interest in Mini based cars clearly is rising. We should display more of them at shows!
Picture Steve Hudson


Friday, 4 August 2017

Gyro-X to star at Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach, no doubt the world’s most prestigious concours d’elegance, will bring together another grand parade of prestigious four-wheelers on the 20th this month at the Californian golf resort with the same name. But there is always some unexpected stuff, too. Enter this year's class ‘American Dream Cars of the 1960s’ - all about future visions of days long gone, when the imagination of car builders went wild over shapes and technologies. And it's this class that will show a Mini derivative!

It's the Gyro-X, unveiled by Gyro Transport Systems, Inc. of Northridge, California, in 1967. Jeff Lane of the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee has set himself to the task of restoring this most unusual vehicle after having found it in a rather horrid state with VW power and without the gyroscope that made it such an attraction originally. I asked Jeff to write down something on the car and this is what he sent over:

"The 1967 Gyro X is the brainchild of Thomas Summers and Alex Tremulis, respected leaders in their fields - Summers a gyroscope expert and Tremulis with automotive styling and design.
In California in 1961, Summers formed Summers Gyrocar Company as a subsidiary of Summers Gyroscope Company, which made instruments for the aircraft industry. Summers’ passion and dream was to build a practical gyroscopically-balanced car. In 1963, Summers Gyrocar Company received funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to build the Gyro Stabilized Cargo Carrier. In 1965, prototypes were completed and tested. It is believed about five were built, then the U.S. Department of Agriculture withdrew funding. Meanwhile, Alex Tremulis, acting chief of Ford’s Advanced Styling Studio, was also interested in gyroscopically-stabilized vehicles. In 1956, Tremulis conceived the Ford Gryon, and in 1961 it was built as a concept car. Tremulis wanted to make the Gyron fully functional, but a quote of approximately $135,000 (that’s over 1 million dollars today) to build the gyroscope and control system, stopped that from happening. Ford’s Gyron was displayed at the New York International Auto Show in 1961, remaining on display at the Ford Rotunda in Dearborn, Michigan until November 1962 when the building burned down, destroying the vehicle.
Around 1966, Summers and Tremulis joined forces to build the Gyro X. Summers Gyrocar Company raised $750,000 (5.7 million today) and construction soon began. Tremulis styled the car, and the shop of Troutman-Barnes built the complete car minus the gyroscope and control system, which of course was built by Summers’ company. By early 1967, the Gyro X was completed and shown at the “Wonderful World of Wheels” exhibit at the New York International Auto Show. The task of commercializing the car then started, but met with no success. Investors sued to recover the money spent to build the car, and Summers Gyrocar Company closed its doors in 1970.
Once Summers Gyrocar Company closed its doors, the next several years were filled with lawsuits. Tom Summers and Alex Tremulis remained close, as well as enthusiastic about the gyroscopically-stabilized vehicle concept. Summers retained ownership of the car and continued to promote it. He developed numerous projects around gyroscopically-stabilized vehicles in order to get additional funding; none of this work went past the concept stage.
The Gyro X appeared in Nevada in 1975, and from there Summers became involved with some shady Las Vegas promoters who promised to put the car into production. By now the car is a three wheeler (two in back) and the gyroscope is most likely gone.
The Gyro X reappears in 1994 when a Las Vegas company uses it as collateral in a business deal gone bad, and entertainer John Windsor obtains the car in that same year. The car sat on his property until 2004, when he gets it running (still a three wheeler with no gyroscope). He sold the car in 2009 to an eclectic car collector in Houston named Mark Brinker. Brinker planned to restore the car, but after two years decided restoration was unrealistic. In 2011, Brinker sold the Gyro X to Lane Motor Museum.
Lane Motor Museum spent the next six years reconstructing the car to its original configuration. Agency Impianti, an Italian company, built the gyroscope and control system that make the Gyro X a functional gyroscopically-stabilized vehicle once more."

"How a Gyroscopically-Balanced Car Works and Some Basic Specifications on the Gyro X
In the simplest terms, a large flywheel spins to balance the car. Sensors in the car measure its angle of lean, and when the car goes around a corner, a hydraulic ram moves the spinning flywheel on its vertical axis to change the lean angle of the car.
The 1967 Gyro X is 44” wide, 180” long, and 48” high. It is powered by a 4-cylinder, 80bhp Austin Mini Cooper S engine. The car was promoted as a 2-seater, but they would have to be two small people! The motor drives the rear wheel through a 4-speed transmission and powers hydraulic pumps driven by the engine. The hydraulically-driven gyroscope is in the front where one’s feet are.
Specifications of the Gyroscope:
1. Flywheel diameter is 17.1”
2. Flywheel weight is 230 lbs.
3. The flywheel must spin at a minimum speed of 2,400 RPM to balance the car, and its normal operational speed is 3,000 RPM. It takes about four minutes to spin the gyro to operational speed. Once the engine is shut off, it takes about two hours for the gyro to stop spinning. Spinning at 3,000 RPM, the gyro has as much energy as a 2,000 lb. car going 30 mph."

"Was the Gyro X Practical?
In theory, a gyroscopically-balanced car sounds great. In reality, it is a very complex system with a great deal of stored energy. If something goes wrong, it could be very dangerous. The 1967 Gyro X was a functional car, although it seems the high-speed stability was questionable. Even now, 50 years later, with more advanced electronics and a better control system, the car remains very complicated. The gyroscope and surrounding control system together weigh about 900 lbs., which includes three hydraulic pumps and 100 ft. of hydraulic tubing. It’s hard to see how this could ever be financially feasible as a mass market car."

Thanks so much for that, Jeff. Let's hope the car receives the attention as it deserves as this has been such a challenging restoration. For some original film footage of the car in movement, click here. Good luck to Jeff and the team of the Lane Motor Museum. The 'American Dream Cars of the 1960s' class boasts another 9 cars, all fantastic on their own:

the 1960 DiDia 150 built for Bobby Darin
the 1962 Studebaker Sceptre Concept Coupe by Brooks Stevens
the 1963 Tex Smith XR6 Custom Roadster
the 1963 Mantaray by Dean Jeffries
the 1965 Reactor by Gene Winfield
the 1965 Bugatti T101C Roadster by Virgil Exner/Carrozzeria Ghia
the 1965 Pontiac Vivant Roadster by Herb Adams
the 1966 Bosley Mk2 Interstate Coupe
the 1969 Farago CF 428 Coupe by Paul Farago

It worked! Gyro X prototype back in its heyday in 1967. Its restoration is a real challenge
Picture courtesy Lane Motor Museum

This is how the car looks at the moment, with under two weeks to finish it for Pebble Beach
Picture Jeff Lane

The Gyro X is known for its gyroscope, seen here as refabricated to the original specs by Impianti in Italy. Jeff wrote: "Even now, 50 years later, with more advanced electronics and a better control system, it remains very complicated. If something goes wrong, it could be very dangerous"
Picture Jeff Lane

But… what drives the car is a Mini Cooper 'S' engine, placed behind the seats
Picture Jeff Lane

The Gyroscope closer up. Once the Mini engine is shut off, it takes about two 
hours for the gyro to stop spinning
Picture Jeff Lane

The Gyro X under construction at Gyro Transport Systems, Inc. of Northridge, California
Picture courtesy Lane Motor Museum

With Alex Tremulis in 1967. He was a former designer of Duesenberg, Ford, Tucker, Cord and Chrysler
Picture courtesy Lane Motor Museum