Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Mystery Mini derivative (57)

Here we have a real mystery. These two pictures were found by Roald Rakers and he was eagle eyed enough to notice the A-series engine behind the single seat. Or actually: engines behind seats, as not just the red car wearing number 77 appears to use Mini power, but also the yellow one wearing number 66. Click up to see them bigger. All we know is that these pictures were taken at the Kaldenkirchen oval in Germany in 1987. This is a track used for auto speedway, so these cars must have been entered in that, too. The red car advertises 'Roban Engineering' and I can only find a company in Port Talbot, UK with that name. The yellow car's advertising is not quite so clear - 'Plorius' perhaps. Who knows mnore?

Kaldenkirchen 1987: a Mini powered speedway racer with links to Roban Engineering
Picture via Roald Rakers

Same track (Kaldenkirchen), same year (1987), same race? Yellow car is A-series powered, too
Picture via Roald Rakers

Zoom to see it better. Like the red car it seems to have Weber carb. Is that 'Plorius' on its side?
Picture via Roald Rakers

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Will Chambers Special ever drive again?

After over twenty years of neglect, things finally looked good for the Chambers Special in December last year. The 1967 designed and 1969 registered one-off is based on Mini and 1100 mechanicals and was the brainchild of engineer Michael Chambers. It’s an interesting car with some unusual features. Among them rear seats that face backwards, a heating and ventilation system, made to blow air through eyelets in all four of the seats, doors with built-in armrests, safety locks and strengthening for side impact plus a very clever adjustable steering column.

But it had become a ghost of its former glory after having been neglected since 1997. But then it finally found its devotee late last year, who was eager to get it restored. But things started to go wrong when the car was transported from Kent to Cheshire. The company that did so, lost the car's rear hatchback door in transit. The new owner, never the less, persisted to believe the Chambers Special deserved to be brought back to its former glory, and made plans to have a new rear door refabricated. That plan is still there, but sadly the project has been put up for sale once again never the less. Will the Chambers Special ever return to the road after all?

On its way to a new owner, when the future looked bright for the Chambers Special
Picture Simon Pike

Rear hatchback door is still in place here. But it got lost somewhere between Kent and Chechire
Picture Simon Pike

Interior had been stripped out, but moulded-in seats - facing backwards at the rear - are still there
Picture Simon Pike

A new home and new plans to get it back on the road, even if a new rear door had to be made
Picture Simon Pike

Mostly complete, too, but restoration is a daring task never the less. Who is going to do it?
Picture Simon Pike

Chambers Special is now on the market once again, looking for somebody to give it some tlc
Picture Simon Pike

Friday, 22 February 2019

John J Thomas' Ranger Cubs

John J. Thomas has been involved with several Mini based cars. He was a former Broadspeed employee who was involved with Magenta cars and became an agent for Ranger cars. He built a Ranger pick-up six-wheeler which gained lots of publicity at the time and even came up with a twin engined Ranger pick up at one point (click here).

There was of course another Ranger model - the Ranger Cub. This was a three-wheeler, but very few four-wheel versions came to life also, and Thomas was involved with these, too. Some pictures came to the light recently thanks to Ken Warburton, and I thought I'd share them here too. Enjoy.

The Cub's simple chassis frame with the body next to it. Kits started at 265 GBP
Picture John J. Thomas via Ken Warburton

The Cub was marketed as 'The Mini based three-wheel kit car that gives 
cheap motoring to fun loving people'
Picture John J. Thomas via Ken Warburton

The finished three-wheeled product, all ready to tow a caravan - well, why not!?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

But that's a rare Ranger Cub 4, the four-wheeler version of which just 4 were made
Picture John J. Thomas via Ken Warburton

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Dutch Mini Marcos looking for new owner - and engine

Some cars are turned into miniatures, but it can be the other 'round also. Take Marcel van Eenennaam's Mini Marcos, which was build up with the famous Corgi Mini Marcos model in mind using a paint colour that the Americans call 'Candy Apple Red', white striping along the sills, head lamp covers and eight-spoke alloys in silver.

The car came by on these pages before when spotted at the 2016 IMM (click here and scroll down). It showed an intriguing bonnet bulge at the time, giving breathing space to a chunky twin Weber set-up to fuel a 7-port head. However, that set-up is gone now and Marcel is planning to sell the car sans engine. He is working on a lovely new project and wrote to me: "I am selling it since I simply have no time for it within the next year or so. But if it won't get sold, I'll store it and keep it." Do you have a spare engine and like the car? Then see its ad here...

This is a smart looking Mini Marcos Mk4. It's empty behind that big bonnet bulge though  
Picture Marcel van Eenennaam 

Correctly registered as a Mini Marcos GT and on Dutch plates, the car is now for sale
Picture Marcel van Eenennaam 

If Marcel's Mini Marcos rings a bell, it may well be because of this Corgi model!
Picture Pinterest

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Derivatives at London show plus Cilla Black's Mini Margrave

A fine selection of Mini derivatives made it to the London Classic Car show, held last weekend in Excel, London. A well-known Broadspeed GT, SHADO Jeep and Unipower GT were seen in action on the indoor parade laps, while another coachbuilt Mini owned by a British celebrity came to the auction block. This was the 1977 Wood & Pickett Mini Margrave owned by singer Cilla Black from new. This car received a mild W&P treatment back in the day, with no deseaming of the body and keeping its standard 1000 engine, but does come with a full interior in black leather with walnut dashboard, fitting in with the piano-black exterior. The car was estimated to sell for between £30- and £40,000 but I don't think it sold. Let me know if you attended the sale or just happen to know more.

Broadspeed GT demonstrator has now been sold and was seen on the London Classic Car show
Picture Mini & British Lifestyle

SHADO Jeep is used on the road regularly now, and was driven over to the show also
Picture Colin Baines

 Unipower GT is local to London but a regular at events throughout the country
Picture Mini & British Lifestyle

Cilla Black's Wood & Pickett Mini Margrave is - very fitting - all black and was for sale
Picture Coys of Kensington

Interior in full black leather looks good, note it's an automatic. Question is: did it sell? 
Picture Coys of Kensington

Engine is a no-frills 998cc and looks to both as new as bog standard
Picture Coys of Kensington

Friday, 15 February 2019

'Motor Sport tries Motorail' - the full film

It's been over eight years ago that I wrote about a promotional film named 'Motor Sport tries Motorail' about the 1968 Motorail Trophy (click here). I bought a dvd with the film at the time, showing a number of cars which were transported by train from London to Torbay to do a hill climb and an autotest event. It was filmed in early May 1968 and two cars of particular interest in the movie are Morris Bishop's clever four-wheel steered MoBi-One and a fine Camber GT / Maya GT (this one). Well... the full movie can now be found on the internet in a good quality and I thought I'd include it here also. Enjoy and have a good weekend.

Movie British Transport Films

Thursday, 14 February 2019

CariMoke instigator speaks

A message from the horse's mouth, or so to speak. Scamp builder Andrew MacLean, who took over the Jimini project in the 1990s, let me know he was behind the Barbados built CariMoke also, indeed a Jimini made under a licence as mentioned here last week (click!). He wrote:

"The old white Carimoke, no 29, is Mini based, one of about 30 manufactured, under licence from me, by Evolution cars in Barbados, but the others in the photos are Suzuki based! Sadly the new set of moulds I supplied (subcontracted to Fi-glass of Edenbridge) for the Mini based Jimini / Carimoke, developed osmosis as the moisture content leached out by the heat of the Barbadian summer. New moulds were taken off one of my UK supplied bodyshell and altered to accept Suzuki Maruti running gear as can be clearly seen in the photos. Quite a lengthy story deserving much more than the comments in Maximum Mini 2 that I took over Jimini production to kill it off!"

"The Reeves-Law family paid the Scamp Factory a visit in 1995 with a view to buying a Scamp Mk3 manufacturing franchise to take with them to Barbados, at the time I had an early 'Highlander' Jimini as well as Dave Cameron's immaculate metallic blue demonstrator and several freshly produced white GRP body tubs. They liked the slightly more curvaceous Jimini and there and then agreed a deal. I had already made many strengthening improvements to seats and seat belt mountings, with an eye on SVA specifications, spending a fortune. It was assessed by my late friend Dr George Reid from STATUS with praise. The 1990's were busy years with other Scamp manufacturing franchise sold to Jamaica and ....Nigeria. .. I look forward to your visit, it's the 50th birthday of the Scamp this year! It is quite a story. ..I'm responsible for over 400 Mini based kits....so far!"

Thank you Andrew, that does clear up things!

The old white CariMoke no. 29 - one of about 30 made by Evolution Cars of Barbados
Picture via Henk van Brakel

And another. It was a Jimini built under a licence. The initial plan was to build the Scamp
Picture P. Braun / Flickr, via Henk van Brakel 

Later CariMokes, however, used Suzuki power and were manufactured from a different mould, too
Picture P. Braun / Flickr, via Henk van Brakel

Several CariMokes are believed to survive on the island of Barbados
Picture via Henk van Brakel

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Mini Marcos racers are everywhere

A string of Mini Marcoses in racing guise has turned up for sale recently. Let's have a look at the ones that are on the market at the moment.

The famous 1976 TransXL Mini Marcos, a Mk4, has come up for sale once again...
Picture Silverstone Auctions

It proved unbeatable in the hands of Steve Roberts and will be auctioned soon with no reserve
See it for sale here
Picture Silverstone Auctions

A Mk3 in lovely colour scheme and fully prepared is seen for sale in Italy. It is said to be a 1965 car, which it surely isn't. See the ad here.
Picture Luigi Moreschi Motorsport

Another Mini Marcos for sale in Italy. Now advertised as a 1966 Mk2, but again I don't think so. This looks like another Mk3 to me... See it for sale here
Picture carandclassic.co.uk

1970 (Mk3) Mini Marcos GT Racer with 1340cc and 105bhp of power plus ultra wide body
See it offered for sale here
Picture carandclassic.co.uk

This is a Mk4 seen for sale in France with an extra 1380cc engine and lots of spares
See the ad here
Picture leboncoin.fr

Bonus picture: this car was seen at the Retromobile show in Paris last weekend
I don't think it is for sale though
Picture through Flickr

Despite a sign saying it was a 1966 car, this is a Mk4 of the 1970s. Please get those years right!
Picture through Flickr

UPDATE 15 February: Reader Eiji Watanabe came across a Mini Marcos racing car that has just made it to the market in Japan. It's another Mk4, an early one, but not as we know it!

Ultra wide Mk4 Mini Marcos with massive spoilers is for sale in Japan now
See the ad by clicking here.
Picture auctions.yahoo.co.jp

Monday, 11 February 2019

More Quasar footage from BBC

More film footage from the BBC Archives, now of the Quasar Unipower. The prototype even, easily recognizable with its transparant inflatable seats and driven in Perivale. The comment is lovely, too:
"Admittedly there is a feeling of insecurity when you're batting along in a four-speed glass case that can do 50 miles an hour. It has an 1100 cc engine and can at least 35 miles to the gallon. A gallon of petrol of course, not milk."


Quasar Unipower prototype in loverly BBC footage. Who recognizes the driver?
Video BBC Archive

Friday, 8 February 2019

New Nimrod picture emerges

This lovely picture, with a man admiring the shapes of a Nimrod in a Reading street, turned up recently and was sent over to me by Jono Barber. The Nimrod seems to be a new one to me. The number plate is hardly visible, but from what I can see it doesn't look to be any of the others that I have in the files. The picture was made in about 1975 in Reading's London Street. The building in the backdrop is Huntley Boorne & Stevens Ltd, which manufactured biscuit tins.

The Nimrod registration numbers I have been able to find on photographs are:

75 RYD
KPN 438E
WPJ 596G
WPN 438G (I think)
ARR 132H
MBD 475K
GPG 649K
ORX 677K
APX 37L
Q24 NYA

Anyone who is eagle eyed enough to decipher this one?

UPDATE 11 February: Alan Brown knows of another car (MBD 475K) and sends over a photograph. Thank you Alan, it's added in the little list above now, too. Suggestions for the number plate seen below are: LAQ 72## ; LRC 729K ; LRG 729K and URG 729H. 

London Street, Reading 1975. That's a rare and red Nimrod being admired 
Picture Lyn Ford via Jono Barber

Zoom in and see if you can read the car's registration number...
Picture Lyn Ford via Jono Barber

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Swedish Mini Marcoses, built in Kälarne not Stockholm

When Neil Griffin wrote to me that a Swedish classic car magazine had published something about locally-built Mini Marcoses, my interest was awoken. I asked my friend Rainier de Klark, who lives in Sweden, if he knew more and was much-surprised when I found the February 2019 issue of Motor Classic on my door mat today, including a full translation of the article! Thank you so much Neil and Rainier. It's an interesting little snippet, asking for more information about Swedish-built Mini Marcoses. It reads the following:

"Will the extension of a workshop bring more work to the Kälarne municipality in Jämtland, which it needs so hard? Local press asked that question some 50 years ago. "Yes", said local rally driver Stig Göran Salommonsson enthusiastically. 'I have faith in this idea for the full 100%. We should take every opportunity to create a small industry to help a number of people to jobs'."

"Stig Göran, a successful racing driver and Swedish championship winner, was working on, was nothing less than an assembly factory for sports cars in Kälarne. And by Spring 1969 the results of his efforts were shown. With BMC parts, the English Mini was used as a base, four examples of the Mini Marcos were built here. The Ferrari-inspired sports car offered room for two, equipped with bodies of fibreglass and weighing just 420 kgs. A top speed of around 200 km/h was measured at test runs in the Kälarne area, using BMC's 1300cc 'S' engine."

"'Plans were even there to produce the larger Marcos 1600 model with its 100bhp engine', Stig Göran Salomonsson revealed in a newspaper. But it was never to be. On August 3, 1969, Salomonsson died in a boat accident."

"Today, early Marcos cars that were manufactured in England are sought after collectibles. The cars even have their own club. But what happened to the cars that were made in Kälarne? It is reported that more than four copies left the factory. Are there any left? This is what classic car enthusiasts in Sweden ask themselves, among them Sten Dahllöw, who sent in the question. Anyone who knows something can contact the Classic Motors editorial office."

That is surely interesting. Fact is there are several Mini Marcoses in Sweden. I noticed that the car seen in the newspaper clipping, wearing number 68 on its door, also wore a decal of Elmhorn-Troberg Racing Service of Stockholm and I remember seeing a Swedish Mini Marcos with that very same decal some years ago. So impossible to be one from Salomonsson's production line? This car was a Mk4, which raises more questions about its production. I have sent my pictures over to Motor Classic magazine, but would love to learn more.

From Classic Motor magazine of February 2019. 'Mini Marcos - sports cars from Jämtland'
Classic Motor magazine

A newspaper clipping of 50 years ago, mentioning Mini Marcos production in Sweden. But not in Stockholm. Note decal on its wing
Classic Motor magazine

Two more clippings from the article. 'Unfortunately these are too small to read and translate' wrote Rainier de Klark, who sent the magazine over from Sweden
Classic Motor magazine

Stig Göran Salomonsson started Mini Marcos production in Kälarne. He drove for the JönKöpings Motor Club and won the Swedish ice racing championship using a Mini
Classic Motor magazine

Swedish Mini Marcos seen in 2015 in Lithuania. Was this a Kälarne built car? 
Picture Jeroen Booij

I don't think it was, since this is a Mk4 version, which wasn't around before 1971. And so it can't have come to Sweden for Stig Göran Salomonsson, who died in 1969...
Picture Jeroen Booij

It does wear the Elmhorn-Troberg Racing Service AB decal, which was also importing the Mini Marcos to Sweden, possibly after Salomonsson died and his Kälarne workshop closed?
Picture Jeroen Booij

Elmhorn-Troberg, run by Bo Elmhorn was run in Stockholm. Lovely period brochure seen here. Kälarne-built car wears its decal, too, though. Did the two Swedish Mini Marcos concessionaires collaborate?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

CariMoke: the Jimini of Barbados

Did I know about a Moke copy from Barbados called the CariMoke? Reader Henk van Brakel asked me this and I had to admit I'd never heard of it. But I when I had a look at the pictures that Henk attached it seemed clear to me that this was a Jimini 2 with another name. Or was it? A closer look to the photographs of the car being built by a company named Evolution Cars showed that the bodies were actually made there, too. So a different car after all, not even assembled locally but scratch-built or so it seems. Still probably a Jimini 2 built under a licence? The factory pictures are made by P. Braun in 1998 on the island of Barbados. I would love to find out a little more about these cars.
They do remind me of that other Caribbean built Moke interpretation, seen previously here and here...

A Jimini 2 on Barbados. But actually it is a Evolution Cars CariMoke, built locally
Picture P. Braun / Flickr, via Henk van Brakel

Freshly laminated bodies ready to receive their mechanicals on Barbados in 1998
Picture P. Braun / Flickr, via Henk van Brakel

Mini engines and front suspensions in their subframes ready to go in in Evolution Cars' factory
Update: Hang on, they aren't Mini mechanicals! What are they, and were these used for the CariMoke or did that come with Mini engines after all?
Picture P. Braun / Flickr, via Henk van Brakel

Evolution Cars of Barbados appeared to fully produce these cars, probably under a licence?
Picture P. Braun / Flickr, via Henk van Brakel

Moulds seem to suggest that even the bodies were made locally on the island of Barbados
Picture P. Braun / Flickr, via Henk van Brakel

The finished product: the CariMoke is different in detail to the Jimini 2. Note tall windscreen
Picture P. Braun / Flickr, via Henk van Brakel

This CariMoke uses the same grille shape and simple front bumper as a Jimini. Other (later?) cars appear to have an oval shaped grille and moulded bumpers, as well as a different windscreen (above)
Picture via Henk van Brakel

Chassis plate shows Evolution Cars Ltd. Chassis number 10029 suggests at least 29 cars were made
Picture via Henk van Brakel