Friday, 9 April 2021

Mystery Mini derivative (74)

Another week, another Mystery Mini Derivative. And this one really is a total mystery with no clues other then that it was supposedly raced in Australia. It looks to me that it was shot in the 1960s but other than that I have no ideas whatsoever. Anyone..?

A mystery Mini based racer seen here being chased by a Frogeye Sprite
Picture via Roy Millham

Zooming in: widened Mini wheels, pop riveted body, side pipe and... central seating..?
Picture via Roy Millham

Thursday, 8 April 2021

A Unipower for Easter

Unipower GT owner Tim Carpenter drops me a line occasionally, which is always a pleasure. This time he spent a good Easter Sunday with a few friends and cars. This is what he wrote:

"Hi Jeroen, How are things going for you? How’s the Marcos coming on? I’ve been messing about a bit with my car. I retired the 50+ year old magnesium Minilites and replaced them with aluminium repro ones. I feel a lot safer now. I was worried about what was going on under the paint. I did not want one of them to let go underneath me. It was cheaper to buy new than to strip, crack test, chromate and repaint the magnesium ones so it was a bit of a no-brainer really. I’ve also fitted the Yokohama 145/80R10 69S tyre which was recently added to their range. They balance a lot better than the Aquajets and feel a lot more taut too. I’ve not yet had the chance to test them out properly. Hopefully the sun will shine and I can get the car out on track again."

"Meanwhile, I was invited to spend Easter morning in glorious weather in the garden of a petrol head friend. He has quite a big garden with a number of garages in it. We gathered around the barbecue for hot dogs and a cup of tea in a socially distant sort of way. There were a couple of MGs, an XK120 an an Alfa. Plus me in the Unipower GT - and a GT40! Well, I could not resist the temptation to park alongside to compare and contrast with the Unipower GT’s ‘Big Brother’ being as how they were drawn be the same person. This is a picture of me comparing the total height of the two cars – 40½” both of them. The GT40 really is a lovely but fearsome thing. It’s hard to imagine how variants of both cars would ever have been able to be on track at the same time. Crazy days."

"I’m lining up a few events already for this year, mostly hill climbs rather than static displays. I hope they go ahead. I’ll keep you posted. Cheers, Tim"


Tim with Unipower GT and Ford GT40 - more in common than just their heights!
Picture Mark Faulkner

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

John Lennon's Mini - green and a hatchback

The disappearance of John Lennon's Mini remains a great enigma. I wrote about it years ago, and judging by the number of clicks it keeps on receiving the article remains a Maximum Mini favourite (see it here).

All we knew for sure was that Lennon's Mini was a Radford De Ville, based on a 1965 Austin Mini Cooper 'S', registered LGF 696D and painted black. But now it seems that even that must be reconsidered. Keith Hawkins dropped me a line with two images attached, taken from film footage shot by John and Yoko themselves at John’s home ‘Kenwood’ in Weybridge, Surrey in 1968. This was done for a film project named 'Look at Me', which was recently remastered and published. Keith wrote: "Hi Jeroen, here they are, taken around 1968 I would think. Lovely colours, Lennon had great taste, regards Keith."

That surely must be John Lennon's Mini. But it's painted green and cream here, with golden Cosmic wheels like George Harrison's. What's more: it's clear now that the car came with the Aston Martin DB5 rear light units as Paul McCartney's Mini had them too, and with a hatchback door as Ringo Starr's! The best of all combined into one vehicle..?


John Lennon's Mini, shot by Lennon himself. Green, with Aston rear lights and a hatchback door
Picture 'Look at Me' via Keith Hawkins

These are film stills from Lennon's and Yoko Ono's 1968 project 'Look at Me' 
Picture 'Look at Me' via Keith Hawkins

Friday, 2 April 2021

Ranger Cub seen for sale

Day 5 of Three-Wheeler Week at Maximum Mini with a nice Ranger Cub being offered for sale in Gainsborough. That's the village where I used to spend the nights when the Mk1 Performance / Maximum Mini Action Day was held at the nearby Blyton Park track (not this year unfortunately), so a pity I didn't know about it earlier as I would have loved to see it in person.

The seller states: "This example of the Ranger Cub has outlived most simply because the owner/builder lost interest and left it the garage. Buff log book included." I wondered if it's the Jet Black car bought new by Andrew Gourlay in April 1975. Andrew provided me with some great Cub information and pictures many years ago, but unfortunately I couldn't reach him now. But the seller told me: "Sadly its not the same car. I have the invoice etc and it is not the same name." I'm still not totally convinced though and would love to learn a little more! See the ad here.

Have a great Easter weekend for now.


Ranger Cub offered for sale in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire looks complete
Picture Ebay

Just about 20 Cub three-wheelers were made by Ranger Automotive
Picture Ebay

This one seems to come with automatic transmission
Picture Ebay

Classic Morris Mini engine, I think most Cubs came with an 850
Picture Ebay

That's Andrew Gourlay in the flared fashion of the time, working on his Cub
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Not the same car? I hope you are doing well Andrew!
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

And a copy of the original invoice that Andrew shared with me
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Graham Hull Special - Rolls-Royce design gone wild

It's day 4 of the Three-Wheeler Week at Maximum Mini with one remarkable car that made it to the market very recently. It's the Graham Hull Special, conceived, designed and built by a former chief stylist of Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motors. Graham Hull joined Rolls-Royce in 1971 at 24, and by the early 1990s he was the man responsible for cars such as the Silver Spirit and the Bentley Continental. After having retired from Crewe, he came with his three-wheeler in 1991 - quite the opposite to his earlier designs! 

The Special used a square steel ladder chassis mated to reversed Reliant front suspension while the body was unlike anything else and made from marine ply inside, clad with foam and a body of woven Kevlar and fibreglass. The engine came from a 1972 Mini and was bored out to 1380cc, mated to an Allegro gearbox and with 13" Minilites at the front and a single 14" 6J wheel at the rear. The whole construction weighed under 450kgs. Hull was quoted: "I cannot say that it was built on a shoestring but it hardly represents a huge investment - just don't ask me how many hours!". But then it was a private project and the car remained a one-off. 

Now that it has now come up for sale it does look not quite so good anymore and I think somebody started a restoration only to come to the conclusion that this was not quite a straightforward job... It appeared on Ebay two weeks ago and has now disappeared. Was it sold..?


Graham Hull Special was indeed a rather special Mini based three-wheeler!
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The Special was designed and built by a former Rolls-Royce and Bentley chief stylist 
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

But this is how it looks now. The body appears to have been modified before
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Engine still is the tuned 1380cc, which was mated to an Allegro gearbox 
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Mosquito found in a barn

Day 3 of Three-Wheeler Week at Maximum Mini and with another rare find. Once more it was found by Stewart Adeline O'Neil, who also came up with yesterday's mystery Mini based three-wheeler (here). This one is not quite so mysterious though - it's a Mosquito! 

And it's a Mosquito known, too, as this particular car was featured in MiniWorld magazine in 1993 as well as in Chris Rees' three-wheeler book. Frenchman Damien Lescroart keeps the register for these vehicles and had 'Q228 FDD' as one of a few unknown cars in his list. See it here. I'm sure Damien will be pleased to see it's another survivor. Let's hope it will be saved soon.


More green than blue, but that really is a Mosquito under there!
Picture Stewart Adeline O'Neil

Most of the Mosquitos are known - this one wasn't until now 
Picture Stewart Adeline O'Neil

'Q228 FDD' dates back to August 1987 and is registered using an 848 engine
Picture Stewart Adeline O'Neil

It was featured in MiniWorld and in Chris Rees' three-wheeler book in the early 1990s
Picture MiniWorld / Jeroen Booij archive

Malvern Autocraft still offered it for sale as the Triad during 1993 MiniWorld feature 
Picture MiniWorld / Jeroen Booij archive

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Mystery Mini Derivative (73)

Over to day 2 of Three-Wheeler Week here at Maximum Mini, with a real oddity having been unearthed by Stewart Adeline O'Neil. He wrote to me about what he found since he had no clue about it: "Sorry to bother you Jeroen, but you have been recommended to me about this three wheeler. It's got an all-fibreglass body. Do you think this is a ABC Tricar? Regards, Stewart."

Well, I have no clue either! It looks to be professionally built to me, but I have never come across anything like it and wonder if it really is a one-off - just imagine the work that must have gone into building it. There must have been moulds made to make the body in the first place. The interior and some of the details make me think this was built in the late 1980s or even early 1990s but the chassis number seems quite a lot older. So... who knows more about this one?

UPDATE 31 March 2021: Now thought to be made from a much-modified modified FRA Mini, cut-off fibreglass rear end found near to it. Also Mini Rio (of around 1993) found near, which must have been a donor, fitting in with the interior at least. And the engine is believed to be a 1275 A+, probably from a Metro as it uses a Metro air filter. Thanks all for the comments!


Up until the b-posts this looks pretty much like a Mini, but it's all fibreglass
Picture Stewart Adeline O'Neil

The back is a whole different story, with just one wheel and small hatchback door 
Picture Stewart Adeline O'Neil

When and where was it built, by who and why? It looks not to have had plates?
Picture Stewart Adeline O'Neil

Is it me or the picture or do the proportions seem kind of odd?
Picture Stewart Adeline O'Neil

Under bonnet it's all standard Mini. That seems like a 998 engine to me
Picture Stewart Adeline O'Neil

There's also a chassis number, one from a Mini donor..?
Picture Stewart Adeline O'Neil

Interior oozes 1980s or even 1990s also. Who knows more about this 3-wheeler?
Picture Stewart Adeline O'Neil

Monday, 29 March 2021

JS2 three-wheeler back to creator's son

There are a lot of Mini based three-wheelers coming out of the woodwork and I'll share them with you this week. The kick-off is provided by Scotsman and historic racer Ewen Sergison, who shared the lovely story of his dad's Special, which he found back just a couple of days ago. He wrote: 

"In 1976 my dad wanted out the house as his new born son (me) would not stop crying! He stopped shaving, locked himself in the garage and built and then registered the JS2 (what JS1 was I don’t know unless it was me). Today I bought it back! Most of my cars have girls names but at the moment “IT” is back! V5c still says make: JS, model: JS, chassis number: JS2. My earliest memories were getting splinters in my legs from it’s plywood seat and dad showing me how he could do stoppies in it! Dad my old man invent stoppies? An emotional day to actually drive it! Thanks to Barry and Ray for selling it back to me! Means the world!"

Well done Ewen, hope you will enjoy the JS2 for many years to come!

More recent three-wheeler stories about some great family provenance here and here.


The Mini based JS2 Special is back in the hands of its creator's son
Picture courtesy Ewen Sergison

Ewen's dad back in the 1970s in his wacky machine
Picture courtesy Ewen Sergison

It has a bit more stance these days but it surely is the same machine 
Picture courtesy Ewen Sergison

Ultra wide wings and wheels give it a cool appeal
Picture courtesy Ewen Sergison

Originally it used an 850, but that's been replaced with a 1275 unit now
Picture courtesy Ewen Sergison

Ewen wrote: "An emotional day to actually drive it!"
Picture courtesy Ewen Sergison

Friday, 26 March 2021

Found and for sale: genuine Cox GTM

When I heard of a Cox GTM that had been in storage since 1993 in Belgium I had to know more. Two weeks and lots of e-mails later the car is now at my home, parked next to the Le Mans Mini Marcos. 

Unlike so many GTMs this really is a Cox with the flat bonnet and the welded 'cow horns' at the back to hold the rear chassis, the later (Heerey) GTMs having a box section there. Oddly it does have the two-part boot lid, which I believe was introduced later, but then this may have been retro-fitted. Somebody, at some point, started a restoration on the car and both the chassis as well as the body have been worked on. The previous owner's dad bought it as you can see it here with the plan to turn it into an autotest car, but it never happened. He did buy a brand new laminated windscreen and Perspex rear screen, which came with the car, as well as the gear linkage mechanism and a few more parts. 

Unfortunately there is no registration or further paperwork with it, although I think it may well have been on the road before work started. I hope to find out more about that, but am looking for a new home for this car now. Contact me when you are interested. The ad is here.

UPDATE 29 March: I've added a few pictures of the gear linkage and screens that are included. Also found a bonnet badge and some more stuff. I may be tempted to add that with the car, too! 

UPDATE 6 April: The car is now sold to a highly valued reader of Maximum Mini in the UK. 


A genuine Cox GTM, ready to be built up again
Picture Jeroen Booij

The car has just come out of long-term storage after almost 30 years
Picture Jeroen Booij

Only 55 Cox GTMs were made, later cars were produced in larger numbers
Picture Jeroen Booij

It comes with no paperwork and needs an engine. Windscreen is there though...
Picture Jeroen Booij

Work was started, as chassis and body have yet been restored 
Picture Jeroen Booij

The early cars are the prettiest and most sought after (I believe)
Picture Jeroen Booij

Excellent Cosmic Mk2 wheels are a lovely period touch
Picture Jeroen Booij 

Giveaway: the big welded 'cow horns' at the back indicate this is an early car
Picture Jeroen Booij

The previous owner wanted to fit a fast engine for autotesting. Gear mechanism is there
Picture Jeroen Booij

Chassis has been welded at some places before being painted in anti-corrosion paint
Picture Jeroen Booij 

No rot anymore here. And a nice Astrali steering wheel as a bonus...
Picture Jeroen Booij

Subframes seem to be very good, too
Picture Jeroen Booij

Track day car? Road car? I hope to see this one being restored
Picture Jeroen Booij

Laminated windscreen and Perspex rear screen, the latter still in wrapper
Picture Jeroen Booij

The gear linkage mechanism 
Picture Jeroen Booij

Bonnet decal / badge
Picture Jeroen Booij