Monday, 15 October 2018

Beach Car spotted in Quebec

We are currently enjoying a real Indian Summer in this part of the world. And in Canada summer seems not to be over either. This Beach Car was spotted in Westmount, Quebec recently and the pictures were sent over to me by Miguel Plano. He wrote: "Shame about the seats, but I guess they are a necessity if you want to use it regularly..." Funnily, I have some more pictures of the same car of several years ago. It is also on Quebec plates on there and did have wicker seats, although not the originals or so it seems. Perhaps these have gone a long time already..?

An update from Miguel: "The wicker seats still exist, I got confirmation from someone who knows the car, they are safely stored away."

In the streets of Quebec: a Mini Beach car. This is the only one in Fiesta yellow
Picture through Miguel Plano

Original wicker seats have gone but this Beach Car still still makes every other car look dull
Picture through Miguel Plano


Friday, 12 October 2018

Mystery Mini derivative (52)

Another mystery Mini based creature that asks for some clarification. What is this three-wheeler seen below? Oh, hang on, I actually know what it is supposedly named: the RRS Wasp, since the pictures were published in Kit Car magazine with a few lines, many moons ago.
In fact the three-wheeler was spotted at the Stoneleigh kit car show in the late 1980s where it was brought to by then-owner Terry Chambers. Chambers had just saved it from a Lincolnshire scrapyard. He is said to have brought it to the show "to see whether anyone could identify it". To further quote from the article: "The car is built on a beautifully constructed steel tube chassis, the quality of which does not seem to match the standard of its styling." Perhaps anyone here knows more..?

This is believed to be the (or a?) RRS Wasp. A three-wheeler shrouded in mystery
Picture Kit Car Magazine / Jeroen Booij archive

The car supposedly used 1100 or 1300 power but any further information is unknown
Picture Kit Car Magazine / Jeroen Booij archive


Thursday, 11 October 2018

Back to back: Mini Marcos or Mini Jem?

The Lancashire based collection of derelict Mini derivatives (click here) continues to surprise. Several of the cars that could be found in the open until recently have made it to the market now, being offered for sale in the Lake District. But the seller has some more up in his sleeve. How about a MiniJem and a Mini Marcos, nicely parked up next to each other?

The Jem is a Mk2 and dates back to 1970. According to the seller it comes with a 998 engine with reconditioned 12G295 head and Nimonic exhaust valves, Powermax pistons, Cooper 'S' 510 camshaft and Jack Knight 2.71 final drive with Metro gear cluster, just to mention some of the engine specs. To further quote from the ad: "It has an interesting owner history and would make a great running restoration, although nothing actually needs doing but a great winter project if you wanted to tidy up interior a little and paintwork." It is priced at £7,600 and you'll find the ad for the MiniJem here

The Mini Marcos is a Mk3 and is said to have covered only a few hundred miles since total body off restoration "including 10 inch Minilite wheels and new tyres, suspension is all done, ball joints, high low shock absorbers with adjustable camber/caster, disc brake conversion, new fuel tank, full interior restoration with new seats, carpets, door seals etc. Superb body off repaint in cherry red. Improved further in the last few weeks and is now excellent in every department. Starts on the button and runs smooth and fast." The asking price of this one is £8,750. See the ad here.

The seller states: "I just can't decide which I should keep. I will keep either the Mini Marcos or the Mini Jem - I will sell the first one that goes and keep the other. I couldn't be without one of them."

Now. Which one would you prefer..?

MiniJem is offered for sale together with a Mini Marcos
Picture Ebay.co.uk

Jem is a Mk2 of 1970 vintage and comes with 998cc engine
Picture Ebay.co.uk

Car can be used, but would benefit from some more elbow grease
Picture Ebay.co.uk

Mini Marcos is a Mk3 that is fully restored, needing no more work
Picture Ebay.co.uk

No details on what's under the bonnet, but the car certainly had lots of work put into it 
Picture Ebay.co.uk

Monday, 8 October 2018

Status Minipower hidden for decades

I got in touch with Nick Gale recently, who happens to be the owner of a rare Status Minipower, or at least of a rolling chassis of one such car. I wondered if it was a car I'd seen before. Nick wrote: "I very much doubt you know of it as it's been at the back of my garage since the late 1980s. From correspondence with Brian Luff many years back, and based on the stamped chassis number, he thought mine was probably the second chassis built in 1972 by Arch Motors." And he is right. It certainly is a car I never knew about before. He sent over two pictures of it taken before it was put in storage. Thank you Nick for sharing them!

Nick's Status Minipower is one of 20 chassis' sold. Note orange paint under that black layer, typical for the Minipower chassis
Picture courtesy Nick Gale

It has never been on the road and has been hidden in the back of Nick's garage since the late 1980s
Picture courtesy Nick Gale

Thursday, 4 October 2018

New photos of Biota's hill climber

Some more pictures of Biota's hill climb racer were unearthed by Rob Mellaart recently. This car used a lightweight space frame chassis with go-kart sourced disc brakes all round and a 100bhp A-series engine. It is said to have weighed just over 300kgs. The car was run in the 1972 Castrol/BARC Hill Climb Championship and was sometimes entered twice with not just Houghton himself at the wheel, but also racer Chris Seaman. At Harewood Seaman made a run in 45.06 secs and won his class. Houghton made 46.55 coming home second. They won that year's championship and came third too! I previously thought it was road registered also, but these new pictures unveil the number 'BUY 10R2', which seems to be a show plate to me. More pictures of the car here. Thanks once again Rob!

Biota's hill climb car was very quick and won the 1972 championship. Registrationn 'BUY 10R2' (Meant to say 'Buy Yours' perhaps?) seems to be a show number
Picture courtesy Rob Mellaart

It was raced by John Houghton and Chris Seaman, supposedly used go-kart sourced discs, a 100bhp Mini engine and weighed just over 300kgs
Picture courtesy Rob Mellaart

This is not it, but a VW based Formula car, made by Biota, too. The rear body work of the hill climb car can be seen behind it, though
Picture courtesy Rob Mellaart

This picture from Peter Niessen's Biota website shows the car in colour, a metallic blue it seems. 
Also note side pipe and ultra-low windscreen
Picture biota.jouwweb.nl

Monday, 1 October 2018

Le Mans Mini Marcos project: researches continue

While work on the Le Mans Mini Marcos commences, I continue my researches to the car. Hints and tips keep on coming and while these often lead to nothing, sometimes they uncover fantastic new finds. When I heard of a somewhat obscure French historical photographic archive unknown to me I gave it a try never the less. A long (snail) mail conversation followed. And after many weeks of waiting I received a post package last weekend with no less than 40 pictures, all taken from original slides and all new to me. I'd never expected this. They were not just taken at the Le Mans 24-hours race, but also at earlier events at Monza (1966 1000 kms race) and Le Mans (1966 Essais) and later ones at Montlhéry (1,000kms of Paris 1966 and 1967) and Magny Cours (1968 races). It's gold for the book I am planning to write on the car. So keep those hints and tips coming.

Meanwhile, I also found that Decca published an LP in 1966 shortly after the 24 hours race. The undertitle is: 'The 34th Grand Prix d'Endurance - June 18 & 19, 1966. With Bruce McLaren, Graham Hill, Chris Amon, Carroll Shelby and the voices of the public'. I was very eager to have one, thinking it may even have recorded the sounds of my car... Eventually I found an excellent copy, bought it and by now listened to it, still not knowing if the whining sounds of an A-series engine with straight-cut gears can be heard somewhere on it! Perhaps you will recognize it? The complete sound track to the race has been uploaded on Youtube where you can listen to it for yourself here. Let me know if you hear more than I do!

Decca's LP of Le Mans 1966. It's more than just sounds of old racing cars!
Picture Jeroen Booij

 Booklet shows the Marcos in the official results. But can it be heard on the actual recording..?
Picture Jeroen Booij

French archive produced a plethora of pictures of the Le Mans Mini Marcos, unseen before
Picture Jeroen Booij

Friday, 28 September 2018

Yak owner needs your help

Wednesday's Party Yak prompted Kevin Hook to write to me about his own Grantura Yak. He wrote: "Hi. I have a Grantura Yak but the registration plates are missing, except for one piece with the first digit, an 'E'. The chassis number YAK70032 seems short, making it impossible to find the reg number. Do you have any ideas please? It's been on the back burner for years now as I got disappointed over the reg... Two weekends would see it finished as its only paint now. It had a full nut and bolt rebuild, including a rebuilt 850 engine. I think the last digit was possibly 'J'. We thought a 'D' or a 'J' as it was broken. A 'J' would make it right for the year 1970. My fingers are crossed..."

Well, first of all, the chassis number 'YAK70032' seems all fine to me, as this has to be the 32nd Yak built in 1970. But then the registration. I have been searching the Maximum Mini files for pictures of a Yak with registration starting with 'E', but couldn't find any. Maybe a reader knows more..?

Kevin's Yak is 'on the back burner for years now' since he got disappointed over the registration
Picture courtesy Kevin Hook

He thinks he could finish the car's restoration in two weekend now. It's had a full nut and bolt rebuild
Picture courtesy Kevin Hook

But the registration remains a mystery. This is all that's left of the car's plates. It started with an 'E'...
Picture courtesy Kevin Hook

And that's the chassis plate. YAK70032 surely is for the 32nd Yak built in 1970
Picture courtesy Kevin Hook

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Trinidad's Party Yak in action

A message from Trinidad & Tobago, where Richard Sookdeo still enjoys his Grantura Yak and where tuning is taken to whole new levels. I was sent these little movies of the car known as the Party Yak (more here) in action and wondered what the other cars were. I now understand they are Mini Mokes with extra 24" inches of metal added to the back and 18 " to the front to be able to install a Datsun 120Y engine including its transmission and diff!

Video courtesy Ramesh Sookdeo

Video courtesy Ramesh Sookdeo

We now know the Party Yak, in yellow. But what are these other beasts..?
Picture courtesy Ramesh Sookdeo

Much-modified Mokes, is the answer. They have some skills in Trinidad & Tobago!
Picture courtesy Ramesh Sookdeo

Monday, 24 September 2018

Buckle Monaco wins at Aussie show

A Buckle Monaco is a rare car. So the one that had been in Meaghan Lucas' family for so many years certainly was a coveted car. However, it needed work. Lots of work. And so Meaghan and Co. started a restoration many years ago, only to have the car finished last weekend for the All British Day in Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia. Meaghan wrote: "After 12 years of on and off restoration, my late dad's Buckle Monaco is out in public for the first time. I cannot thank my hubby James enough for helping me complete my dad's biggest project and dedicate the result to him. It was just so good! Even with only two hours sleep on the Saturday night it could not ruin it. The Monaco picked up a 1st place on its first event. The positive feedback from people was so overwhelming, it’s going to take days just to digest it all!"
Meaghan was happy to share the images here, so here we go. Thanks and congratulations!

This Buckle Monaco was restored by Meaghan Lucas over a 12-year period
Picture courtesy Meaghan Lucas

The car made it just in time for the All British Day in Parramatta last weekend
Picture courtesy Meaghan Lucas

Meaghan's father Kevin Lucas owned the car but he passed away before seeing it restored
Picture courtesy Meaghan Lucas 

The rare Monaco Mini coupe is now fully resplendent and looks awesome
Picture courtesy Meaghan Lucas

And all the hard work was rewarded: 1st place in class in the show and shine competition!
Picture courtesy Meaghan Lucas

Friday, 21 September 2018

Le Mans Mini Marcos project: upside down

Yesterday I went over to the workshop once again to discuss some details on the Le Mans Mini Marcos project. And I was surprised to see the car being turned upside-down! This in order to work on the underside and reach some body parts that could otherwise not be reached well. The roll bar is now laminated in and with the double-skinned floors now fully restored, too, the shell is once again as stiff as it can be. The floors are now fully restored on both sides with no more holes and cracks whatsoever. We closed all of them as there were so many, and I'll just have to drill new ones to fit the seats and belts and so on when the time is there. The whole of the underside and most of the inside of the car is now painted in grey primer first (we found that under the original black) with a fresh satin black layer over it, just like it was when the car was new. I made a pattern for all the 139 holes that had been drilled in the car's front by Jean-Claude Hrubon originally (but taken out later in the car's life - see here) and these will return soon exactly to where the were back in 1966. More to follow, as usual!

Upside down! In order to work on the floors and several more body parts, this was necessary
Picture Jeroen Booij

Typical floor shapes of Mk1 model are well visible here. Some new steel strips were laminated in here, too. Also note original widened front arches and repaired front where radiator holes were
Picture Jeroen Booij

Working from old photographs, a very precise pattern was made in order to re-drill the 139 holes in the front at the right place once again soon
Picture Jeroen Booij

And all this came out of the A-pillars when the car was turned upside down. Nutshells, leaves, nuts and bolts, a roll of red tape and even chicken bones! No money, unfortunately
Picture Jeroen Booij

Bonnet appeared to be in a pretty sad state with much filler applied to it and loads of cracks. It has been elongated at one stage, too, but that bit is now cut off. Holes are there for H4 SU carburettors
Picture Jeroen Booij