Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Le Mans Mini Marcos: preparing for paint (2)

So... I spent much of December in dust (click here). But after that it was time for some actual painting. Joost and I drove over to Ghent in Belgium one afternoon where we had primer mixed in colour by a real paint guru. The only original paint left was (and still is) to be found behind the car’s door locks, which is excellently conserved and thus perfect for colour matching.

Christmas came and was spent back home and after Boxing Day I drove over to the spray booth again (eventually clocking up over 2,500 kms in a week’s time). All the holes and open spaces on the smoothed shell were now covered with adhesive tape in order to protect them against spray mist and Joost took the spray gun. It was like magic to see the car’s rather messy patchwork outfit change into one smooth suit of blue. Pretty much how it will look like when the actual paint is applied. It wasn’t for long though. Joost taught me to fill in all the tiny little pinholes with filler and sand these down first before applying spray filler. So that’s what we did the next day. Three layers of spray filler were applied to the shell next and that’s the condition it is in right now. The advice is to wait for some six months to have the layers harden out and then we’ll have to lock ourselves in for another week or so, and sand most away once again. I look forwards to it already!

Fully prepared for primer and all masked up. The Le mans Mini Marcos reaches its next stage
Picture Jeroen Booij

To prepare it we had locked ourselves up with filler and sand paper for a week first
Picture Jeroen Booij

We had the colour for primer matched from the original blue, which is still hidden behind the car's door locks (note: actual colour is quite different from the hue on the picture)
Picture Jeroen Booij

And there we go! A fresh coat of primer being applied over the patchwork
Picture Jeroen Booij

It was like magic to see the car turn into one colour once again. Joost is at the spray gun
Picture Jeroen Booij

And blue once more! Not for long though, as this is just a coat of primer
Picture Jeroen Booij

Rear wheel arches received the same treatment after having been made to fit the body
Picture Jeroen Booij

Next step: filling all the tiny little pinholes with filler. Hundreds of them!
Picture Jeroen Booij

And sanding them out once more... Joost is degreasing the roof here
Picture Jeroen Booij

Rear wheel arches needed some serious filling as well...
Picture Jeroen Booij 

Bye-bye blue, this is the first coat of spray filler applied over the blue primer
Picture Jeroen Booij

And another one in a different hue to make things easier when we sand the whole body once more
Picture Jeroen Booij

And a third and final coat of spray filler, again in another hue to differentiate them
Picture Jeroen Booij

A happy spray painter! Joost applied some ultra-thinned blue paint 'to get it into its pores' 
Picture Jeroen Booij

And ready to go back home again. Six long months of drying is the recipe now...
Picture Jeroen Booij

Monday, 14 January 2019

Blue Peter Wood & Pickett Mini Margrave - a survivor?

This lovely little video was uploaded by the BBC archive earlier this week. It's a clip from 'Blue Peter' and shows a 1975 Wood & Pickett Mini in all its glory. I wondered if the car survived and Ole O Pedersen got back to that question with some pictures of a W&P Mini that was seen for sale several years ago, probably in 2010. It certainly looks to be the same car to me. Anyone knows of its current whereabouts?

Video BBC archive

Wood & Pickett Mini Margrave then and now (well, almost). Where is it now?
Picture BBC archive / Ole O Pedersen

Interior certainly looks similar, just take a look at the bottom right dash switches
Picture BBC archive / Ole O Pedersen

Car is worse for fear, or was when offered for sale some years ago
Picture BBC archive / Ole O Pedersen


Friday, 11 January 2019

Le Mans Mini Marcos: preparing for paint (1)

Have you ever painted a car? I hadn't and only had a rough idea on how to prepare a body for painting. But by now I know much of the ins and outs, thanks to fellow Dutchman and fellow (and multiple) Mini Marcos owner Joost van Diën, who is an excellent painter also. Joost happened to be in between jobs and managed to hire a professional spray booth to help me, and so we locked ourselves in for a week and spent most of the Christmas holidays in dust, working to get the body straight. Oh, I enjoyed every minute!

We also scratched our heads on how to fit the rear wheel arches properly. The ones I had refabricated needed trimming and finishing, but didn’t seem to fit perfectly to the body’s shapes. Historical photographs learned us that the edge where they touch the car’s body was originally thicker, also. We found a clever way to overcome all this. After having cut the arches to the right size, we taped in the wings where the arches touch the body, put a small stroke of filler on the arches, fitted them quickly and had the filler dry out. After an hour or so we removed the arches plus the tape and sanded all of the filler away, except for the edge. They now fit on to the body perfectly and have exactly the right thickness. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn when they were fitted the same way originally, too!

After days of sanding we were really happy with the result and both went home to celebrate Christmas. After Christmas we drove over once again to mask off all the holes and actually start applying the primer we had made by a real paint guru in Belgium, using the only original paint left now, to be found behind the car’s door locks, which is excellently conserved and thus perfect for colour matching. But that's for next week (with some videos, too).

Ready for action. Me in overals, Joost below. We used Gapol filler in two different colours, black first...
Picture Jeroen Booij (self-timing function...)

...and the slightly softer green later. Roof needed most filler, but we kept a slight dent that had always been there and could be seen on old photographs
Picture Jeroen Booij 

Joost wasn't 100% happy with a repair carried out on the front and got out his fibreglass matting to do it again
Picture Jeroen Booij 

The same went for the back end, which needed just a little more fine tuning on one spot before we'd get out the filler once more
Picture Jeroen Booij 

Holes for spot lights needed repair also, carried out beautifully now. These were really difficult places to sand, especially after the epoxy resin had hardened out!
Picture Jeroen Booij 

There was still original paint left on some places, amongst others in the louvres on the c-post. I did my utter best to get all out without damaging the original shapes
Picture Jeroen Booij 

We found a clever way to fit the rear wheel arches perfectly. They had to be cut just a little first (lined out)
Picture Jeroen Booij 

Measuring up the holes to pop rivet them on later. They all need to be similar in diamater
Picture Jeroen Booij 

While removing some more paint leftovers on the door sill, a few bubble holes fell in the gellcoat. Although these have always been there, they were repaired as well
Picture Jeroen Booij 

Joost's dad Cor enlighted us with some elbow grease, too. Thanks Cor!
Picture Jeroen Booij 

Finished after a week of hard work and almost ready to receive its coat of primer
Picture Jeroen Booij 

I had a fabulous time with Joost preparing the car for painting and learned an awful lot
Picture Jeroen Booij 

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Mystery Mini derivative (55)

Let's continue 2019 with more mystery Mini derivatives. I do not know anything about this odd three-wheeler other than that it is Mini powered, rather long and very low. It is registered 'NFO 966' and is supposedly based on a 1962 Mk1 Mini. Let's hope anyone else does recognize it.

A Mini based three-wheeler. But it's a mystery
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Odnik sketch found

You guys know I am a sucker for new discoveries. And there are several cars which I'd love to find one day. One of them is 'Odnik': an Irish-built Mini based roadster, raced (and built I'd say) by Jack O'Donoghue in 1961. What's so special about it? Well, I really believe this car was based on a 1958 Mini prototype of which not a single copy is known to survive. You can read more about it here and here.

Now. So far, all traces to the car itself have led to dead ends. But at the end of the year I was contacted by Trevor Ripley, who'd just bought an old Austin Seven 850 dealer pack and found something interesting in it... Trevor wrote:

"Hi Jeroen. I bought an old Austin Seven 850 dealer pack off an ex Longbridge employee. Included with it were these original photos of what you call the DGS firecrest / Special (more about these later-JB). I have just been going through the dealer pack and discovered on a blank page a pencil sketch of a similar car. From my memory I have seen a picture of another soft top Mini derivative a while ago, also registered in Ireland. A similar car to the Donald Healey car (chassis 102). Could this car be connected with Doug Glover? The pencil drawing looks very similar with an ordinary Mini front and rear styling similar to 102. Best regards, Trevor."

Well, well, if that isn't Odnik! Note the cut doors, elongated bonnet, soft top and of course that much-modified rear end. Fact is now that it was not based on an early Van. All this got Trevor exited, and me too! Trevor came back on it: "It would not surprise me at all if Odnik was originally a prototype. BMC would certainly have initially sent a Mini to Lincoln & Nolan as a sample to set up the assembly line. One of the prototypes which were not longer required at Longbridge would make sense." Trevor also got back to the man he bought the dealer pack off: "I have just telephoned the guy I got it all from, Les Gammon, to check if there was anything else he could remember but he has already told me all he knows." So there we go. It only strengthens my thought about Odnik being a 1958 Mini. The question remains: could it survive..?

The Odnik sketch found in a an old dealer pack formerly owned by a Longbridge employee
Picture Maximum Mini archive via Trevor Ripley

The dealer pack in question, signed by... Jack O'Donoghue....
Picture Maximum Mini archive via Trevor Ripley

The only picture I can find of Jack O'Donoghue (center) is taken in September 1960
Who knows more about this man, who was PR Officer at Lincoln & Nolan in Dublin?
Picture Irish Photo Archive

Friday, 4 January 2019

Peel Mini and moulds survive on the Isle of Man

You may recognize the pictures below as they have been on this site before, although something went wrong. So here again.

Peel discoveries continue to turn up, this time right from its birthplace: the Isle of Man, where RTV owner and Maximum Mini reader Ian Sims lives. He wrote: "Hi Jeroen. Here are the images that I have of the fibreglass Mini that I mentioned. It was very hard to get to as it has been sat in the orchard for many years and everything over grown. It was never built into a running Mini. I believe this guy had the original mouldings and this was the last one out as it was in the mouldings when he got them. No real evidence of all this but I’m lead to believe it is true. The original moulding again I’m told are in a collapsed shed on the same site but I have never been able to get close enough to investigate."

Thank you Ian. That's an interesting discovery for sure. Now, here's hopin' that some day somebody will save it.

That's a Peel Mini for sure. The car was made by Peel Engineering on the Isle of Man
Picture courtesy Ian Sims

 The car was made after BMC saw the Peel Viking and believed Peel Engineering was the best partner to develop a fibreglass bodied Mini
Picture courtesy Ian Sims

 Supposedly just six were made before the whole project was moved to Chile
Picture courtesy Ian Sims

 The quality of these bodies is believed to be excellent. One was crash tested at MIRA (see here)
Picture courtesy Ian Sims

 This one was never build and remains on the island. Together with the original moulds
Picture courtesy Ian Sims

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Japanese reader is a real 3-wheeler fan

Reader Eiji Watanabe continues to surprise me with Mini based cars he spots in his native Japan (some of his finds here). Or ones he owned, like now. He wrote to me: "Hi, Jeroen. Here a mail after a long absence. My hobby car is a 1960 model Berkeley T60, which was modified to subframe and engine of a Mini in the 1970s. I love 3-wheeled cars and Minis and I owned several 3-wheelers and Minis in the past 25 years time, but now it's only the yellow Berkeley, the car that fits best to me. I hope to continue ownership for a lifetime. I look forward to your site in the future and pray for your happy New Year. Eiji."
He also sent me links to his websites, and I was surprised to learn that he prevoiously owned a Heerey GTM, a GTM Rossa and a Mini based Earl three-wheeler built by J.F. Earl of Wootton, Bedfordshire also! See his website here. Thank you, too Eiji, and please keep in touch. 

The Berkeley T60 of reader Eiji Watanabe uses Mini power since the 1970s
Picture Eiji Watanabe

  Eiji owned several Mini based cars, but says the Berkeley 'is the car that fits best to me'
Beautiful picture of it shows Mount Fuji in the background
Picture Eiji Watanabe

Another Mini based three-wheeler owned by Eiji was an Earl Special, built in the mid-1980s
Picture Eiji Watanabe 

...As well as a very good looking Heerey GTM. It was previously seen here
Picture Eiji Watanabe

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Happy 2019 from Maximum Mini

A new year and plenty of new plans. But let's start 2019 with a little look back. At the Christmas Puzzle and the Find of the Year poll respectively. With 42% of the votes you chose the 'Dutch demonstrator' Peel Viking as the best find of 2018 (the Radford came 2nd with 21%, Moke and Quasar 3rd and 4th with both 16% and the GTM 5th with 5%).

Find of the Year 2018: the Peel Viking known as 'the Dutch Demonstrator'
Picture Jeroen Booij

Then there was the Christmas puzzle. Avid puzzle player and consecutive winner Neil Kilbane was the only one who sent in a full list of answers. They weren't all what I was looking for, but I think Neil deserves the price never the less. Once again. Congratulations Neil!

The answers were (and I have based them on Neil's)

1. Monica 560 - developed by Chris Lawerence, who was the man behind the Deep Sandersons 105 and 301 plus one of the drivers of the 1967 Le Mans Mini Marcos.

The late Chris Lawrence in 2005, with one of his designs: the Deep Sanderson 301
Picture Jeroen Booij

2. Austin-Healey 100-6 – Donald Healey also designed a Mini based roadster, which never reached production

3. Tucker 48 – this car was styled by Alex Tremulis, the designer of the wacky Mini-powered Gyro-X.

4. Pavesi Ferrari 400i convertible – Italian coachbuilder Pavesi also came up with coachbuilt Mini Coopers and Mini Mokes.

5. Hrubon Thélème – the brainchild of Jean-Claude Hrubon, the man behind the 1966 Le Mans Mini Marcos entry, and also responsible for the Hrubon Phaeton and Schmitt.

6. Méan Liberta – Méan also manufactured the Sonora of which one example was powered by a BMC Mini engine.

7. Ed Straker’s car from the tv-series UFO – also in the series were the SHADO Jeeps, which were Mini Moke based.

A SHADO Jeep in its fully restored splendour, as photographed in 2016
Picture Jeroen Booij

8. Bentley Continental R – former head of Bentley, Graham Hull, designed and built the Mini based Graham Hull Special in his spare time.

9. Aston Martin Lagonda – from the pen of William Towns. Other cars he designed were the Hustler series of cars, the Minissima, Tracer and the Microdot, which sprouted the Elswick Envoy, all of which were Mini based.

Some of William Towns' designs: the Minissima, Tracer and Microdot in 2011
Picture Jeroen Booij

10. Donkervoort D8 GTO – ex-Donkervoort man Edgar Salwegter moved to New Zealand where he designed the Status Minipower based ESC.

11. Banham Jaguar XJS-S – from Paul Banham, the man who gave us the Banham Sprint and Roadster.

12. Reliant Scimitar GTE – designed by David Ogle the father of the Ogle SX1000.

13. Singer Gazelle Series II – this car is the source for the rear lights on the Broadspeed GT.

A Broadspeed GT, using the rear lights of the Singer Gazelle
Picture Jeroen Booij

14. AC 3000ME – designed by Bohanna & Stables who were the designers of a Unipower GT successor that never saw production.

15. Foers Ibex – two of the companies earlier productions were the Mini based Foers Nomad and Metro based Foers Triton.

16. Owens Sedanca – Designed by Chris Humberstone who also came up with the Humberstone Mini as well as the revived Radford Mini de Ville of the mid-1990s.