Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Lovely provenance found in Le Mans Mini Marcos' sill

Just a tiny little update about the Le Mans Mini Marcos before I come up with a more extensive news report on the car's restoration.

I picked up the shell from the body restorer yesterday and must conclude he has done a truly fantastic job. Everything is now brought back to what it was in 1966, with great attention to detail. But more about that later.

During the work, at one time, a socket fell into the body and the only way to get it out was to drill a little hole in the sill and use a magnet. While doing so, it turned out there were Portuguese newspaper cuts into the sill and a vacuum cleaner was used to get these out.
This thing came also with it, and I wanted to share it with you. It says 'Convertions J. Albertini' and it is a decal from Jose Albertini, who owned the car in 1970. When I showed it to Philippe Quiriere, who is building the car's engine and who took over the old Albertini stock, he replied: "I went to Jose's house three weeks ago, and I found some stickers, and only one like yours. It is very rare, because it is so old." It made my day! More to follow.

J. Albertini sticker was found in the car's sill. Albertini owned the car in 1970 when he hill climbed and rallied it
Picture Jeroen Booij

Engine builder Philippe happened to have found one of these old stickers three weeks ago...
Picture Philippe Quiriere

The Le Mans Mini Marcos in the 1970 Treffort hill climb, just after it was owned by Jose Albertini 
Picture Enguerrand Lecesne / Jeroen Booij archive

Monday, 19 November 2018

Mystery Mini derivative (54)

This is strange. It's not a car, but a model for one. You can see it was parked on a curb, giving away something about its size. The photographer forgot his own shadow, which is prominently visible also. But Giles Chapman, who sent it in, has reasons to believe it was meant to become a Mini based car of some sort. We can only guess. It may have hints of the Chambers Special (click here)? I would love to learn more about, and I'm sure Giles would.

Mystery model car is believed to have been meant for a Mini powered car
Picture courtesy Giles Chapman

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Swedish Ogle remains a mystery, as its importer

It's been almost five years since I wrote about an Ogle SX1000 in Sweden (click here). And I haven't found out much about it since. The article in Technikens Varld magazine dates back to 1965 and does mention an importer of the Ogle. They were called 'AB Hasselheim & Engelberg' and were based in Stockholm, from where they sold the SX1000 at 15,900 crones back in 1963. I tried to find out a bit more and to my surprise the address stated still housed a garage. I contacted them by e-mail and got an instant but short reply: "Hej. Har tyvärr inga som helst uppgifter om detta". In good English: Hi.
Sorry, no information about this.

But then I got in touch with Martin Andersson. Martin is a Swedish enthusiast, who wrote: "My dad, who was living in the Stockholm area in the early 1960s, confirms that there was indeed one Ogle SX1000 car seen around in the period. And that must have been that particular car, which was scrapped, because I have never heard of any Ogle existing elsewere in Sweden. And I'm quite informed in the Swedish Mini scene. My dad told me that the Ogle he used to see was parked outside the BMC garage where he used to service his Cooper. It was Gold in colour and this should have been between 1963-65. Maybe there was an instant respray or there was more than one Ogle imported?"

He continued: "I have tried to look up the Ogle’s registration. The suffix 'A' confirmes that it was a Stockholm area registration, but the problem is that in 1972 the numbering system was replaced with the modern ”ABC 123” style system. And all numbers from then on where put in a computerized database. To backtrack an old county type registration and possibly find out if it ever were transformed into the new system. You need to contact the respective county register, and pay them 900 Crones (88 Euros) per hour of search."

It may not lead us to something, but Martin had another surprise. More about that next week.

Swedish Ogle SX1000 was imported by AB Hasselheim & Engelbert of Stockholm
Reader's dad remembers a gold coloured one in Stockholm in the 1960s
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Landar R6 at Croft

Sabre Sprint owner Ron Palgrave already shared an image of a Cox GTM at Croft circuit in the 1960s (click here), and he has this one, too. As with the Cox, Ron has not much information about the picture other than that it was taken during the Whitsun Trophy in 1969 but, in his own words 'it is better that someone else has copies rather than they are just stuck in my files."

So let's see what we can find. It's a Landar R6 for sure but I'm not sure if it is one we've seen on here before. Hang on, there is this modified Landar as seen on the circuit of Montjuich in Spain, which shares its light nose over a dark body. Could it be the same car before the modifications? But hang on once again, that car was raced in Spain by David Boler while the Cox GTM spotted by Ron appears to be this one, also raced by a mister D.E. Boler. Surely not a coincidence..?

Landar R6 seen at Croft in '69. Was this the same car raced in Spain by D.E. Boler?
Picture Ron Palgrave

Monday, 12 November 2018

Le Mans Mini Marcos project: update on the mechanicals

My engine builder, Philippe Quirière of Mini World Center in France, is a man of little words. But he did send me a couple of photographs recently on what he is working on at the moment: the gearbox and the crankshaft in particular. I'll leave the technical details to you for this time. Feel free to comment below.

As you may remember the original gearbox, as fitted to the car in June 1966 was found and is now being restored in France
Pictures Philippe Quirière

Crankshaft is pretty unusual also. It's an ultra rare New Old Stock Special Tuning item, like the one that was fitted when raced at Le Mans in '66
Pictures Philippe Quirière

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Maya GT is star of Japan Mini Day 2018

Unlike other years, it seems that not so many Mini derivatives made it to the 26th Japan Mini Day, held in Hamanako last weekend. But fortunately there was Masato Kida's fully restored Maya GT, the car previously owned by Peter Filby and known as the Maya Maynot (more about it here and here). The pictures are kindly provided by Akira Shinozaki‎. Thank you!

'RKM 473G' plates are still on the Maya GT, known as the Maya Maynot
Picture Akira Shinozaki‎

The car was thought lost for a long time but all of a sudden re-appeared last year in Japan
Picture Akira Shinozaki‎

It is now fully restored and owned by Masato Kida. Only 12 Maya GTs were made
Picture Akira Shinozaki‎

This one now comes with a full space frame chassis, but retains its Mini power
Picture Akira Shinozaki‎

The car is in the good company of an Austin A30 at its new home in Japan now
Picture Akira Shinozaki‎

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

RRS Wasp survives... and can be yours

Remember last month's Mystery Mini Derivative, known as the RRS Wasp? (click here if not). Well, I have been sent some pictures of the car taken very recently in a showroom in the Midlands. It looks to be in excellent condition and is for sale, too! The seller is open to offers. Information about its history remains unavailable though, so the hunt for its original builder continues. Who knows more about the Wasp's' past?

RRS Wasp looks in excellent condition and is currently offered for sale
Picture Rob Rutherford

 The three-wheeler was last month's Mystery Mini Derivative, but its history remains blurry
Picture Rob Rutherford

Plain simple interior certainly used 1100 bits - seats, dashboard and wheel...
Picture Rob Rutherford

And the engine is believed to have been sourced from an Austin or Morris 1100 also
Picture Rob Rutherford

The RRS Wasp is for sale. I'll get you in touch with the seller when you are interested
Picture Rob Rutherford

Monday, 5 November 2018

Beep-beep Yeah! Unique Beatles motoring document sold

A most remarkable Beatles related automobilia item was sold last weekend through a website called the Beatles Marketplace. It was a well-used and pretty scruffy 37-page sales ledger of Brydor Cars – the car brokering company set up by Beatles manager Brian Epstein in 1964.
From the seller’s blurb: “A meticulously accurate hand-written sales ledger for Brydor Cars listing all 597 cars they bought and sold during the companies history between November 1964 and January 1967.”

When studying it, it turns out that of the 597 car transactions in this period, 49 were either bought or sold by the Beatles personally and / or Beatles friends and associates, with 24 cars for John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Richard Starkey. These include all of the Beatles coachbuilt Minis.

The sales ledger, ‘condition poor’, made 1,500 pounds last weekend, which seemed not bad to me considering it is a unique document and an intriguing bit of motoring history related to the Fab Four. The seller stated: “It is the only definitive and accurate record of the cars the Beatles bought and sold during this time. It corrects and puts the record straight on a lot of errors, regarding the Beatles cars, which are stated as facts throughout the internet.” Some pictures of the pages can be found here (link removed on request by the ledger's new owner-JB).

It's all in there: scruffy but original sales ledger of Brydor Cars Ltd.
Picture Beatles Marketplace

Brydor Cars was set up by Beatles manager Brian Epstein and handled all the Fab Four's cars
Picture Ebay.co.jp (this is a replica decal)

Friday, 2 November 2018

Spectrafloat Special - an update

In last week's Quasar Unipower piece (click here) I wrote 'I'd love to hear from the new owner'. Well, as it turns out now the car wasn't sold but was on its way to Austria for a revamp. Wolfgang Buchta, who is editor of Austro Classic magazine and the owner of a unique Mini-based roadster, the Ashley Gnat, knows all about it and contacted me. He wrote:

"Dear Jeroen, I have just seen the the entry about the Quasar Unipower in your Maximum Mini Blog which prompts me to to send you this mail. Thanks for the interesting information! May I venture two corrections: First it was not found in a French barn in 2009. This very car was 'hidden' in the South of England since at least the mid 1990 (maybe even since 1984). Secondly it not going to a new home in Germany, but to a new home in Austria."

"How do I know: This is our trailer and our Land Rover in the ferry from Dover to Calais in the afternoon of October 22nd. The Quasar Unipower has been owned since 1984 or 1995 or sometime in between by a very good (English) friend of ours. He used it only just locally in the 1990s and early 2000s. When I had a chance to drive it in 2002 it was still running but no more taxed and insured and MOT'd. Shortly afterwards it was taken off the road... Now we have agreed to put it back to the road, which hopefully it going to happen in the next few month..."

"I'll keep you updated! All the best, Wolfgang"
That's awesome, thank you!

The location was certainly not too easy to reach!
Picture courtesy Wolfgang Buchta

But there it is: the Triplex Spectrafloat Special sees the light of day after being hidden since 2002
Picture courtesy Wolfgang Buchta

Car's owner hasn't used it for many years, but stored it in his barn. Wolfgang Buchta on right
Picture courtesy Wolfgang Buchta

A Land Rover was used to drag out the Quasar Unipower 
Picture courtesy Wolfgang Buchta

It looks complete and fully intact. Buchta is going to give it some tlc though
Picture courtesy Wolfgang Buchta

On its way to Austria for a renovation. With updates to follow... 
Picture courtesy Wolfgang Buchta

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Dennis Prophet died at 87

Sadly, I am far behind on obituaries sometimes. And Rachel Nelson prompted me about one I should not have missed yesterday. I wrote about a Canadian Reptune Gullwing (here) when she contacted me to tell that Reptune's instigator Dennis Prophet had passed away almost a year ago. This happened on 29 November 2017 when Dennis died at the age of 87 in his native Keswick, Canada.

British-born Prophet worked for BMC's Competitions Department before coming to Canada in 1963 and setting up the Canadian branch of BMC's tuning division there. He became responsible for the import of the Austin-Healey 3000 also and its racing activities but soon started his own business in Scarborough, Ontario: Reputation Tuning Services, or Reptune. He became a BMC and Alfa-Romeo dealer and set up import lines for the Broadspeed cars and the Ogle SX1000. He was a regular visitor of the Sebring race track with all these cars in the weekend and sold them on Mondays.

But in 1967 Prophet also launched his first Mini based car to his own design: the Reptune GT, which looked not unlike an Ogle SX1000. On the 1967 International and Universal Exposition in Montreal, Reptune had a spectacular stand with seven GT bodies hanging at various heights simulating a motoring manufacturer’s production line. Eventually 34 GTs were sold before Prophet came up with a simpler and cheaper new model: the Reptune Gullwing, of which he sold another 32. Prophet kept the Gullwing prototype, the moulds plus one production car until last year when they were sold (click here).

When I first contacted Dennis about his cars in 2010 or 2011 he was ever so enthusiastic about Maximum Mini and telephoned me regularly when he'd found new historic images, which were then scanned and sent over by a friend. With the passing of Dennis Prophet, the original Canadian chapter of Mini tuning and Mini based cars is now sadly closed.

Dennis Prophet with one of his Reptune Gullwing cars in 1968. He was such a great enthusiast
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Dennis Prophet a couple of years ago with one of the Reptune Gullwing cars he'd kept
Picture Norm Mort / Jeroen Booij archive

Six of the seven Reptune GT's that were used for the 1967 exhibition 'Man the Producer' in Montreal
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

One of the 34 Reptune GTs being almost finished in a rare 1967 colour photograph
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Reptune of Scarborough, Ontario offered a wide range of tuning accessories also
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The first tuning shop set up by Dennis Prophet shortly after emigrating to Canada in 1963
He was a dealer for Broadspeed and imported the Ogle SX1000 to Canada
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Reptune's team cars on display at the Toronto Motor Show of 1964. Note the awards!
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Forest find: Reptune Gullwing

These moody pictures were sent years ago to me by British ex-pat George Allen, who lives near Toronto in Canada. They show a rare Reptune Gullwing - the Canadian Mini based sports car designed and marketed by Reptune (or 'Reputation Tuning Services'), set up by Dennis Prophet in Scarborough, Canada. The pictures were taken in the woods near Flesherton, some 70 miles northwest of Toronto. I wonder what happened to it? Is it still out there?

Reptune Gullwing without its gullwing doors was found in Flesherton forest
Picture George Allen / Jeroen Booij archive

The 'on tow' lettering suggests it didn't reach the forest under its own steam
Picture George Allen / Jeroen Booij archive

Perspex rear screen has dropped out, floors seem rusty. But it's one of only 12 built!
Picture George Allen / Jeroen Booij archive

Mini rear bumper and rear lights. The Reptune Gullwing was supposed to be an easy to build kit car
Picture George Allen / Jeroen Booij archive

Mini engine block is still there - cylinder head is gone. Anyone who can see what engine it is?
Picture George Allen / Jeroen Booij archive

Faded and forgotten. But not here, at Maximum Mini! Is this car still out there?
Picture George Allen / Jeroen Booij archive

Monday, 29 October 2018

1967 works Mini Marcos: an update

Thank you all for the comments coming in on last week's article about the Mini Marcos, believed to be the 1967 ex-works racer and Le Mans car (click here when you have missed it). Well, it seems it is not that, although it is an ex-works car. This is how the nut was cracked.

The other car, you ask? Yes, there was a second works racer built to the same specifications. Works mechanic Mike Treutlein told me back in 2011 that they built two near-identical cars, one metallic green and one primrose yellow. The first was used by a men's team and became the 1967 Le Mans car. But the second was never used at Le Mans. It was raced by a ladies team: FLIRT - for First Ladies International Racing Team. Drivers were with Jackie Bond-Smith, Joey Cook and Jacqui Smith. It was raced at the Nurburgring in Germany, Mugello in Italy, Phoenix Park in Ireland and probably at several more venues.

It is recognizable by its squarish front wheel arches, just have a look at the several pictures in the previous article and below here. Both cars were raced at the 1967 Nurburgring 500 kms race, as at Mugello. Reader Edward Fitzgerald adds that they were also both seen at a race at Phoenix Park in Ireland in September 1967. Fitzgerald: "Jem Marsh drove this car at Phoenix Park September 67; Tim Lalonde drove the green car."

I now also know that the car was sold in 1968 to Macau and sold once again to Japan in 1971. In fact the Japanese owner contacted me also, writing: "I seemed to buy this Marcos in Macao in 1971. He sent a photograph of it also, but added: "Because it is a publication, please do not publicize it." I won't. But it's good to know more about it now. And it does indeed seem that both cars built by Marcos Cars had their windscreens changed. The green Le Mans car first, the primrose yellow FLIRT car soon after it.

This is the picture that made the ball go rolling. This is the ex-works car at the Macau Grand Prix in 1967, but is the FLIRT car and not the Le Mans car
Picture Carros Classicos de Macau

Only colour picture of the car that I know of. Here at the Nurburgring 500kms in 1967.
The windscreen is not yet modified here
Picture Werner Ullrich

But look carefully and you will see it is here. This picture was taken at Phoenix Park, Ireland, in September 1967. The other works racer was supposedly raced in the same race by Jem Marsh
Picture via Edward Fitzgerald 

The girls from FLIRT: Jackie Bond-Smith, Joey Cook and Jacqui Smith in 1967
Picture still from British Pathe movie

Once more at the Phoenix Park race in 1967. The other works racer, the green 
1967 Le Mans car, was there also, says reader
Picture Irish Photo Archive