Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Happy holidays!

I'm off on holidays and won't be reading my messages for some time. Only call me when you've found the Lawther GT or Saga, the Killeen K16 or one of the Butterfield Musketeers. Well, okay, you can call me when you found any long-lost Mini derivative. I hope you will enjoy the summer, happy Holidays!

Metal flake orange in the sun - a gorgeous Siva Buggy on the beach
Original picture by Nick Broom, imaging by Jeroen Booij

Monday, 2 August 2021

Sludgerunner and the Summer of '76

One of the people I've been corresponding with for years now is Tim Harber, who's owned more Mini derivatives than most of us and some of them were real oddballs - take the Sludgerunner. It's been described in Maximum Mini 3, but here is some more straight from Tim:

"Hi Jeroen, I’ve had other Mini derivatives over the years but none as epic as the car known as the Sludgerunner that I had from about 1976-1990. In the mid-seventies the guys at Club Equipment in Mitcham in Surrey were well into Minis and made some special tools for the car like clutch pullers. They decided to do the Lands’ End to John O’Groats trial and constructed the car - within a week! It had a tubular spaceframe with alloy skin pop-riveted on, with two Mini subframes, with the engine in the back connected to the gearchange by routing it underneath the motor via a rigid rod with the remote housing turned back to front. This lost it valuable ground clearance but it was high in the air as the suspension arms had been lengthened to give about a foot (30cm) of wheel travel with adjustable height cones. This also made the suspension quite soft, which was in turn a blessing as the seats were just square tube frame with alloy skin covering and a thin waterproof cushion offering a small degree of comfort but were surprisingly comfortable. The whole car was made very solidly with strong mudguards so it could get pulled out when it got stuck in a hole. It did the trial successfully but by the time I encountered it in about 1976, it had passed to another owner who took it to Malta. It had been abandoned in the open for a while, so I had to get everything unseized and recommissioned. One of the things I did fit for ease of entry was a Momo quick release steering wheel which was tinged with sadness as I had got it from the workshops of Graham Hill after he died. I was working for Fiat at the time and we were helping out with his F1 team efforts. All the top team members died and I was let loose in the workshops to buy anything I wanted. I also remember having a speedo cable made (which had never worked in its life due to lack of cable) – it was 9 feet long as the gearbox was in the back. For headlights I bought a pair of dipping Oscar headlights from John Brown wheels as I worked round the corner from them at one stage."

"In the hot summer of 1976 when it didn’t rain in most of the UK for months and several reservoirs dried up, my girlfriend and me set off with a borrowed WW2 tent, camping stuff and some tools. I fitted three extra storage boxes and a trunk on the roof. We aimed on going to the Lake District and then to Ben Nevis and beyond in Scotland. However, the rain gods on the West side of Scotland had not been informed of the dry summer. And boy, did it rain. The tent leaked for England so it turned into a bit of an endurance test, especially as I had had a hood made that directed the rain inwards along the top of the windscreen. After several days, we decided to drive to the drier east side of the country and having got through Edinburgh central okay, we headed off. In the countryside east of Edinburgh, the main rear suspension shaft broke, probably as a result of carrying an extra 10kg of water on top of all of our luggage. This dropped the car down in one corner and presented me with a big problem as it was a non-standard part. I was able to phone Club Equipment from a call box a mile away for advice as to what to fix (no mobile phone or breakdown service available). We camped the night by the side of the road and I got a bus into Edinburgh the next day to get a suitable bolt - not quite the right spec but it did the job and we got running again. We saw some epic sights in the North East of England which made up for it a bit, but we never attempted a long trip again. I kept it for quite a while until in about 1987 a customer friend asked if I wanted to sell it. I didn’t but I agreed to lend it to him. He fitted a 1380 motor and painted it red and fitted Weller wheels so it remained fairly funky but in a more 80’s mode. By the late 1980’s I had four children and had moved to the countryside in Gloucestershire and hadn’t used it for quite a while so I let it go to a customer called Julian who I knew as he had opened up a Mini spares shop in Surrey and it quietly moved out of my life. Something tells me it must be lurking somewhere!"

Summer of '76 - sun still shining here as in most of the UK. But not where Tim and his girl went to...
Picture Tim Harber

Sludgerunner had been built in a week by Club Equipment in Mitcham, Surrey. It had done Land's End-John O'Groats and a trip to Malta before Tim took it over
Picture Tim Harber

"The whole car was made very solidly with strong mudguards so it could get pulled out when it got stuck in a hole"
Picture Tim Harber

"We set off with a borrowed WW2 tent, camping stuff and some tools. I fitted three extra storage boxes and a trunk on the roof"
Picture Tim Harber

"Boy, did it rain. The tent leaked so it turned into a bit of an endurance test..."
Picture Tim Harber

Never afraid to own daring vehicles, Tim also had a half-share in a TVR Griffith at the same time
Picture Tim Harber

By the late 80’s a man named Julian who ran a Mini parts shop in Surrey took over Sludgerunner. Where is 'FMP 714B' now?
Picture Tim Harber

Thursday, 29 July 2021

Building a Broadspeed GT replica

I keep on receiving questions about how to build or where to buy a Broadspeed GT replica roof but I don't have any of these roofs available, leave alone that I have any knowledge to build them. What I did find was a number of photographs taken in the Church Green Engineering premises in Dorset in 1995, where Paul Weldon and Geoff Branston were building replica GTs with aluminium body conversions at the time. The cars (they built only three as far as I know) were later marketed as the Marspeed GTO and offered for sale from 8,295 GBP ex-VAT. I hope you guys will enjoy these pictures.

UPDATE 31 August: Richard Hawcroft writes: "Jeroen, I actually know the bloke who made those wire frames for the Broadspeed cars. When they had finished with them they left them outside as some sort of garden feature, I have seen photos of them with flowers and what not in them. He actually restores Astons for a living, so is used to wire frame stuff. But as far as I know that body was steel, so it was all just welded, the wire form was just the ‘buck’ for forming the metal parts." He's promised to ask him about the construction and is on a hunt for the garden ornament photographs. Thanks Richy!

A steel frame was made and fitted as a 'buck' to this (then-brand new) Mini Sprite
Picture Jeroen Booij archive 

Fast forward several weeks and some serious elbow grease and frame and Mini are blended
Picture Jeroen Booij archive 

This is another (Cooper based) car which is further ahead in the process. Note buck behind
Picture Jeroen Booij archive 

Aluminium body is clad over the frame. Note boot door which the original never had
Picture Jeroen Booij archive 

Yet another car (just three were made in total) about to receive the finishing touches
Picture Jeroen Booij archive 

And the finished product. This Sprite based car went to Japan and still remains there
Picture Jeroen Booij archive 

And this is the red Cooper based car after it was finished. I believe it stayed in the UK
Picture Jeroen Booij archive 

Rear door gives access to remarkably spacious boot...
Picture Jeroen Booij archive 

...also thanks to the folding down rear seat inside. Pretty clever
Picture Jeroen Booij archive 

Standard Mini Cooper (carburetor) engine of the 1990s
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

H734 CHR was finished in Summer 1995. Where is it now?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Nimrod on its way to recovery in Austria

A Nimrod that was seen for sale in Germany has now finally found a new owner in Austria: Jan Krieger, who contacted me about the project. He wrote: "I found it by scrolling through Ebay to find an engine for my Mini convertible. There was an old engine with this buggy and so I found it... and bought it. Than I started Googling what this thing actually is, and read more about it. I knew Mike Jupp's (the Nimrod's designer-JB) jigsaw puzzle designs but knew nothin about the car. But the more I read the more I got hooked. So after two days I knew enough to decide it is not just an engine donor - it was one more project! And after 3 days I wanted to build one which can swim/float, too! Now that it is here I must say it looks pretty horrible, with the condition being worse than expected, although it is repairable. I might try to mould some gull wing doors for winter use, we will see. But first I need to weld a new chassis frame, repair the body and engine and rebuild the interior. I think the engine is a 1300 Innocenti with the wrong carburetors but then with this car nothin is original."

"Meanwhile I started a little research too. This Nimrod is the black one that was shipped over to Germany. It is not one of the original 4 built, Mike Jupp believes, but it's a 1983 TACCO (Talbott Alternative Car Company) made Nimrod. I found the guy who built this car as he was a member of the Nimrod Owners Club and it's the black one on the left on the picture with the 4 cars in 1985. He said it's the second and last car Nigel Talbott laid himself. All kits after that were made by professional layers so this is supposedly not the best quality one."

"I also found that the mouldings still exist by Fiberglass Applications and they are refurbishable. Anyway... when I get the car fixed I want to drive it from Austria to Mike in the UK as he wants to do some graphic on it and I want to meet some other people and look for some spare parts. Perhaps I build a new chassis, buy an old Mini and build a new Nimrod, moulding a bottom plate and laminate it together to one piece. Greetings from Austria, Jan"

The Nimrod as it was seen for sale in Germany
Picture Autoscout.de / Jeroen Booij archive

Q24 NYA is believed to be the 2nd Nimrod built by Nigel Talbott
Picture Autoscout.de / Jeroen Booij archive

Jan thinks the engine is an Innocenti 1300 but he's not sure
Picture Autoscout.de / Jeroen Booij archive 

It is now in Austria with Jan: "I must say it looks pretty horrible!"
Picture Jan Krieger

Jan wants to restore it never the less and drive it over to the UK when finished
Picture Jan Krieger

Plywood floor is mostly gone. Chassis is very very rusty, too
Picture Jan Krieger

"First I need to weld a new chassis frame, repair the body and engine and rebuild the interior"
Picture Jan Krieger

Q24 NYA had been off the radar for ages - it was seen here at the 1985 Stoneleigh Kit Car show
Picture Mark Thursfield / Mini Marcos Owners Club

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

London, August 1971, Emperor Rosko, Stimson Mini Bug

About 50 years ago American-born deejay Emperor Rosko was the man to listen to when pop music was your passion. The BBC Radio 1 DJ seemed to be a real-life Austin Powers at the time if you ask me. I was sent this lovely picture of Rosko with some dolly birds in a Mini Moke in Central London, taken in August 1971. The Moke doesn't seem to have been quite a standard car with those extra headlights, but look behind it. That's a Stimson Mini Bug. I checked the registration and think it may well have been 'NCD 897G', which was sold back in 2011. That's 10 years ago also! Where is it now..?

DJ Emperor Rosko with three dolly birds and a Mini Moke in London, August 1971
Picture Getty images

Groovy, Baby! Emperor Rosko was at the height of his fame in the late 1960s / early 1970s
Picture Getty images

The girls are Sherri Lynn, Sue Bond and Sue Shaw, but look behind: there's a Mini Bug
Picture Runamoke

Same car, I think, as seen offered for sale back in 2011 and looking for some tlc
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

NCD 897G must have been the same car. Where is this Stimson Mini Bug now?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Taylorspeed Jem - only 4 built says reader and Jem owner

An interesting message from Carlo Meschino of Australia, who owns an Australian built Mini Jem - number 5 from Down Under with only the first four cars built by John Taylor, he believes. Carlo wrote:

"Greetings from Adelaide, South Australia. My name is Carlo Meschino and I am the registered owner of the original Taylorspeed Jem RKP-850 built by Sigmund Kwiatkowski which was featured in the February 1974 edition of Sports Car World. I bought the car in 1977 from Sigmund who abandoned it in his back yard serving as a dog kennel where the soft interior was totally chewed up. He had bought himself a DeTomaso Pantera. The body however, is unmolested and in exceptional structural condition. As John Taylor only built 4 Taylorspeed Jems, then the one I have would be the 5th Australian built Jem and the only one to my knowledge that has provenance. I also own the rights to the registration plates RWW-019 but not the car being the original Taylorspeed Jem built by John Taylor featured in the June 1969 edition of Sports Car World."

"I met John Taylor at his Lotus dealership Taylors of Medindie in Adelaide who gave me 20 minutes of his time not long after buying mine. He was an interesting, well accomplished and very helpful person. He gave me some of the original type written documents setting out the prices for the Jem when first marketed but he had moved on. I also met Sigmund Kwiatkowski’s business partner, Neil Murrie at his Henley Beach Road Petrol Station back in the day, a real nice fellow. He had himself made his own Taylorspeed Jem for racing which was up for sale and out of my league but I was fortunate enough to score a brand new high rise bonnet to suit a Webber carburettor which was hanging off the service station workshop wall for $40.00."

"Research suggests that the John Taylor’s original car was storm damaged by cyclone Tracy in 1974 in Darwin Northern Territory, Australia and later sold with its eventual fate unknown. (see more here)"
"One of the John Taylor built Jems was shipped over to America in early 1970 as a promotional vehicle and it can be identified by its straight flat dashboard whereas the Kwiatkowski/Murrie built Jems had incorporated a curving centre console with the dashboard (that car can be seen here)."

"Other Taylorspeed Jem variants exist as a number of bodies were built and sold by Kwiatkowski locally and to interstate buyers who then rebadged the body or added further modifications such as the square bottomed rear window etc. The variant branded the Alda Jem advertised in 1970 in Sydney (click here) would have been an original John Taylor Taylorspeed Jem as Kwiatkowski/Murrie only started building Jem bodies in 1973/74."

"The original Taylorspeed moulds still in existence and show the back window or body was never changed or modified (click here). I have shown an account for three of the original John Taylor built Taylorspeed Jems and I have an inkling (but could be wrong) that the 4th car unaccounted for is the one raced by Sue Elliot in Western Australia having seen the bare body by chance when buying a cylinder head from the owner in Western Australia whilst on holidays in the late 70’s but I can’t remember if the body had the moulded centre console as part of the dashboard. Cheers Carlo."

That's quite a lot of information! Thank you for sharing Carlo, and please keep me posted on your car's restoration.

'RKP-850' was the fifth Mini Jem made in Australia, says reader Carlo Meschino
Picture Carlo Meschino

It was not made by Taylorspeed but by Sigmund Kwiakowski, who built and marketed the Jem also
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

That's Carlo's Aussie-built Jem, awaiting its restoration. He bought it in 1977 from Kwiakowski
Picture Carlo Meschino

"I also own the rights to the registration plates RWW-019 but not the car", says Carlo
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Gerry Anderson's Mini Moke camera car has a twin!

An article about the special Mini Moke six-wheeler camera car that was used by filmer Gerry Anderson for his UFO series has recently been brought under the attention. Reason for me to dig deeper into its history. You can see the earlier article with several pictures here. I've now included many more and found out quite a lot more also.

I must admit I'm not so sure anymore wether the vehicle was made solely for Gerry Anderson, as I found it could be hired for many years by camera and filming equipment supplier Samuelson Film Service Ltd. of London, which offered an incredible collection of machinery to the filming industry. The number of camera cars alone was truly impressive with all sorts of camera vehicles. And the Moke was not alone either, as there were two of them. You've seen the first one, an Austin Mini Moke based six-wheeler registered RYW 677F in September 1967 as used for filming UFO. I have scraped together several new images of that car and they are all attached below.

But there was a second car, registered OYF 445F as a Morris Mini Moke in June 1968. Like its Austin sister car this one was also fitted with a 1300 engine for extra power and also came in blue with maroon accents since these were Samuelson's company colours. Both cars had names of their own also: Sam Minimook and Sam 'Casperised' Minimook, with the latter being the Morris and having extra additional camera platforms and adjustable tubular extensions to mount cameras in every possible position. I have found several pictures of that car, too.

Some of these are 'behind the scenes' shots taken during the filming. One shows OYF 445F at the set of the 1969 film The Prime of Miss Brodie. Another shot of it was taken during the filming of Dad's Army in 1970. Funnily the Morris can be seen in action in one movie also: The Games, about a couple of athletes preparing for the Olympic Games with them being filmed from the Morris Sam Minimoook. Avid Maximum Mini reader Henk van Brakel saw the car in action in London in the early to mid-1980s and was quick enough to point his camera at it. Anyone who recognizes the backdrop from a particular movie..? 

The last sighting of the Morris car was in 1988 when it was part of the famous Patrick Collection in Birmingham and on display in its museum. Is it still there? It was last taxed in December 1985 while its Austin sibling was last taxed in May 1987...

If you enjoy what I do here on Maximum Mini and would like to help me continue, then I would very much appreciate a donation towards keeping this blog going. Click here.

RYW 677F was a six-wheeler Mini Moke that could be hired to the filming industry, here during filming of Gerry Anderson's tv-series UFO in 1970
Picture ufoseries.com

Another shots of it in action filming Ayshea Brough (not Wanda Ventham as I thought before)
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

These behind the scenes pictures keep on turning up, this one being a new one also
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Another behind the scenes shot from UFO (1970) with RYW 677F again visible
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

This is an unusual picture with the hood up and a Dutch (1969) number plate. Why was that?
Picture Scouse73 / Flickr

The Moke as the center piece on the cover of Samuelson Film Service Ltd's 1975/6 brochure
Picture Samuelson Film Service Ltd

But it wasn't alone. There were two of them named Sam Minimook and Sam 'Casperised' Minimook
Picture Samuelson Film Service Ltd

The latter was a Morris registered OYF 445F and is seen here during the filming of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in 1969, filming actress Maggie Smith. Director Ronald Neame is in the car
Picture Rotten Tomatoes 

And it can be seen - only just - in the background here, during filming of Dad's Army in 1970
Picture The Mirror

And not just behind the scenes. It's seen briefly on screen in the 1970 movie The Games
Picture imcdb.com

Spotted in action in London by Henk van Brakel in the early to mid-1980s. What were they filming?
Picture Henk van Brakel

This picture was taken in Samuelson Film Service Ltd's workshop in 1980. Note blue hood
Picture Samuelson Film Service Ltd

Eventually the car ended up in The Patrick Collection in Birmingham. This is it in 1988
Picture Henk van den Hurk / Autovisie

In The Patrick Collection again, note odd badge Samini-Moook. Where is it now..?
Picture Elliott Brown