Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Taylorspeed Mini Jem moulds for sale Down Under

The moulds to produce bodies for the Taylorspeed Mini Jem have made it to the market in Australia. Phil Huxtable, who offers them for sale got in touch, writing: "Hi Jeroen. My moulds are the Australian built ones from a Jem imported from the UK. They are Mk1 Jems and all cars made here are obviously Mk1's. I have had the moulds for about 20 years and I have made 2 cars. In total 12 cars have been made from the moulds. They are complete with a drilling jig and roof holding frame. There are many parts to the moulds including dash, doors (2 sets), bonnet (2 different styles), seat, inside, under and various bolt-in parts. There are about 33 separate mould parts of various size. This is the only complete Mk1 set in the world. I am only getting rid of them because being 70, I can't see me using them much more. I estimate there is over A$7000 in fibre glass alone plus labour to make frames for main mould and drilling jig. Also you may notice that I have removed the bulge in the tunnel for the 850 starter button. Makes a neater plan."

"I also send you some pictures of my 2 Jems, made out of the moulds. The orange Jem has a 1300 Mini engine, the black one a 1300 turbo twin cam Toyota engine and 5-speed gearbox. Phil."
Parties interested can get in touch here.

Two Mini Jems made by Phil from the Taylorspeed moulds he now offers for sale
Picture Phil Huxtable

Plan to built Mini Jems yourself? Then this set of moulds is a must-have 
Picture Phil Huxtable

Just 12 Mini Jems have been made from this set, which seems to be still in a good condition
Picture Phil Huxtable

With the set of moulds also comes a drilling jig and all the parts necessary 
Picture Phil Huxtable

According to Phil the set consists of about 33 separate mould parts of various size
Picture Phil Huxtable

Nose section can be fitted with two different bonnet styles, both available
Picture Phil Huxtable

Wide wheel arches come separately also, so it's up to you to fit these on the car 
Picture Phil Huxtable

One of the two cars that Phil built from the set uses a 1300 Mini engine...
Picture Phil Huxtable

...While the other one comes with Toyota-sourced 1300 with turbo and twin cam 
Picture Phil Huxtable

Friday, 18 September 2020

The cars of Paul Banham

In the last few weeks a couple of cars from the Banham Conversion stables made it to the market and I thought that made it about time to show some of the creations of Paul Banham here also. I believe that Banham ceased trading by this time, but he used to be a particularly prolific designer who pumped out a great of number of kits and conversions, ranging from Aston Martin- and Bentley convertibles to Porsche 550 Spyder and Ford RS200 replicas. 

Best known became perhaps his clever Banham Sprint which replicated the Austin-Healey Sprite Mk1 and closely resembled it, too, despite having a Mini base. Banham reputedly found out that the Sprite Mk1 was originally meant to be Mini-based, which gave him the idea. Banham reputedly sold some 300 kits, making the Sprint one of his best sellers. There was also the Mini speedster, which was a pretty straightforward conversion to turn any Mini saloon into a two-seater with chopped down roof, A-pillars and windscreen plus twin roll-hoops and removable rear cover panel. 

The Mini Metro was another Banham favourite and could be turned into the Banham Superbug (a open buggy style car), the Banham X99 (Audi TT concept-inspired Coupe and Convertible), Banham Bat (futuristic-looking development of the X99). I went to Paul's workshop in Kent in 2013 to see and drive his latest (Jaguar based) creation at the time and spent a lovely day with the man full of great stories.

Paul Banham with the Jaguar based XK180 several years ago when we had a great day out
Picture courtesy Pieter E Kamp

Sprite? Nope, it's a Sprint. That's the Mini based Banham Sprint to be exact
Picture Ebay.co.uk

 Banham is believed to have sold around 300 Sprint kits, making it one of his best sellers
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The original Sprite uses an A-series engine, but not placed like this one in the Sprint
Picture Ebay.co.uk

 The Banham Speedster was a Mini saloon turned into a two-seater roadster 
Picture Ebay.co.uk

 While the Banham Superbug was perhaps a beach buggy for the 2000s. Not many were made
Picture Ebay.co.uk

And how about the Metro based banham Bat? Its styling was certainly unique
Picture Ebay.co.uk

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Crayford in Knokke

This smart Crayford Mini Sprint in Tweed Grey was spotted this summer in Knokke-Heist, Belgium. I believe it could well be the car that was sold at Coys' Fontwell sale in 2017 (click here). It was registered 1070 PP in the UK at the time and right hand driven, while this one is lhd. The same car..?

Smart Crayford Mini Sprint, as seen in Belgium this summer
Picture via Jacques de Wever

Monday, 14 September 2020

Ultra-rare Ogle Mini GT flyer

Many of you will know the brochure and / or flyer for the Ogle SX1000, which both must have been printed in relatively large numbers. But I recently learned there was also a 6-page flyer for the Ogle Mini GT - that's the SX1000 before the Mini name was banned. Quoting from my first book: "BMC - which had initially refused to supply new parts (...) soon agreed to supply parts, but insisted that no mention of the word ‘Mini’ was used in promotional material." 

This rare flyer must have been printed early in 1962 and I have never seen one, other than the lo-res front of it copied in below. I'm now desperate to have one! Who can help? 

You may know this brochure for the Ogle SX1000...
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

...But how about this one for the Ogle Mini GT..?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Thursday, 10 September 2020

The cars of Douglas Glover (1)

When a new picture of a DGS Firecrest was posted to me recently (thank you Graeme), I was kind of surprised to find I never wrote about these cars here before. And since I'm in a good mood I thought I'd do a little write-up here on all the DGS cars that I know of, starting with the first one now.

DGS stood for Douglas Glover Special, with Glover being the man responsible. He was in fact production manager for Lincoln & Nolan in Dublin, which were Austin agents and assemblers for Ireland. They also link to what is possibly world's very first Mini-derivative, too (click here).

Anyhow. Glover had built a Mini based Special in 1963, which became a forerunner to the Firecrest. More on that later - let's focus on the Firecrest for now. A buck for a new body and a mould were made by maintenance staff of Lincoln & Nolan, with fibreglass monocoque production bodies to follow. The car's sides certainly seemed Midget/Sprite-inspired, and the windscreen, side screens, soft top and rear lights were sourced from that model, too. A Midget or Sprite hard top could be fitted also, but may have been altered. The front used double round headlights were placed further back with the possibility of putting Perspex covers over them.

The first production car was registered LZD 775 in 1963 and is said to have used Austin Cooper running gear. Wheelbase and track were similar to that of the original Mini. Just two more Firecrest followed, more on these soon.

The buck for the DGS Firecrest, made by the maintenance staff of Lincoln & Nolan
Picture courtesy Bill Bell / Jeroen Booij archive

The sides were clearly Midget / Sprite inspired and the (altered?) hardtop fitted, too
Picture courtesy Bill Bell / Jeroen Booij archive

Wheelbase and track, however, were similar to that of the Mini itself
Picture courtesy Bill Bell / Jeroen Booij archive

The first DGS Firecrest production car was registered LZD 775, here on a great PR shot
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Double round headlight were certainly distinctive. Sprite / Midget screen and sidescreens 
Picture courtesy Richard Heseltine

The car is seen here in Phoenix Park, Dublin during a 1963 MG Car Club trial
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Monday, 7 September 2020

Mystery Mini derivative (68)

This car fits in perfectly in the series of DIY Mini Coupes from exotic origins: a fastback Mini from Ecuador, built from a Mini Pick-up and said to be photographed in 1970. Unfortunately that's also just about all we know. The picture, posted by Richard Baltus, is not clear enough to make out the driver's name. Guayaquil is a city in Ecuador - can we assume that it originated from there?

There are not too many racing tracks in Ecuador, or so I understand and best known is Potrero de los Funes but that didn't open before 1987. There is also the Autodromo Yahuarcocha, which opened in 1970 so that could be it. However, there must have been various road races also and this shot looks as if it may very well have been taken on one. Who knows..?

Ecuadorian Mini Coupe seen at around 1970 and supposedly based on a Pick-up
Picture Richard Baltus

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Wood & Pickett promotor - who are you?

Some photographs have been seen so many times that you take them for granted. But they may still be worth a closer look. This famous Wood & Pickett shot is definitely one of them, having appeared in a great number of publications. The Mini seems to be the one owned by comedian Laurence Harvey, but who's the man next to it? He always reminded me of actor Richard O'Sullivan, but I later read it was ex-hairdresser and Twiggy manager Justin de Villeneuve, which seemed to make sense. De Villeneuve must have been really close to the coachbuilt Mini scene in the late 1960s and seemed just the man who would drive one around London at the time. His hairstyle fitted in perfectly, too.

But then I saw a new magazine clipping, which mentioned not Justin de Villeneuve but John Paul as the man in the picture. And the caption added quite some detail with it, too. It mentioned: "John Paul, proprietor of the 'I was Lord Kitchener's Valet' group of boutiques, found that his Buick Riviera was too wide for narrow Carnaby Street. He was therefore specially 'fitted' for a £2,700 tailor-made Mini Cooper S by Wood & Pickett Limited, who specialize in luxurious Minis for luxury-loving folk. The Mini is painted Bahama Yellow to Rolls-Royce finish, and has a black, padded sliding roof, darkened glass, special racing wheels and tyres, stereo radio, etc... and four anti-theft devices!' Another clipping shows John Paul with a coachbuilt Mini - which certainly seems to be very special, although not Bahama Yellow...

So... Who is the great Wood & Pickett promotor on that well-known groovy picture? Is it Justin de Villeneuve, John Paul or Richard O'Sullivan after all? Please step forward!

Famous photograph: measured up to have a bespoke Mini coachbuilt by Wood & Pickett
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Several sources mention the man as being Justin de Villeneuve, who famously managed Twiggy 
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

But not this one. It's said to be John Paul here, and the caption is rather detailed, too
Picture via Tony Hatchback

Justin de Villeneuve was Twiggy's manager and very much a fashion man
Picture Getty Images

Twiggy was of course an icon of the 1960s... and she drove a coachbuilt Mini
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

But de Villeneuve was into cars, also, or so it seems. Here stepping out of a Toyota 2000GT
Picture Getty Images

Over to John Paul, who ticks all the boxes, too. He ran a fashion shop in Carnaby Street, London, which was a favorite among all the stars in the late-1960s and early 1970s...
Picture Shutterstock

...And he was definitely a motoring man, too, who did own a coachbuilt Mini, 
as seen here together with his Lamborghini Espada
Picture via Tony Hatchback

So... John, Justin or Richard after all? 

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

A Mini Marcos at the 1968 South-African GP - UPDATED

Like so many Formula 1 events, the 1968 South-African Grand Prix of South-Africa, which took place at the Kyalami racing track, is pretty much covered. You won't find it difficult to find pictures of the event. But they all focus on the Lotuses, Brabhams, Ferraris, MacLarens and what else have you.

Reader Alexander Trimmel sent me a picture, taken during the event and showing perhaps a bit of a surprise. He wrote: "Hello Jeroen, I do not know if you have it... For me, this is a very interesting shot, taken on the 1st January 1968, South African Grand Prix: In the foreground, you see Jack Pretorius in his Brabham BT11 4-cylinder Coventry Climax FPF. But have a look at the car in the background...

Hey! That's a Mini Marcos. In blue and yellow, like mine (it's not that though) and with notable pattern in the striping. Anyone who knows more about it? 

UPDATE 2 September 2020: It's Peter Kat in the factory-built ex-Le Mans racer, as confirmed by a copy of the race program sent in by reader Surfblue63 and mentioning the car as having 1143cc. Now we know for sure the green 1967 Le Mans car was repainted when in Africa. More (black and white) pictures of it can be found here and here

Yes, there's a Brabham-Climax Formula 1 car in this picture. But look behind it!
Picture via Alexander Trimmel