Friday, 7 May 2021

And yet another GTM in Belgium

Once a ball starts rolling... I had heard rumours about a Cox GTM in Belgium for years but it was only months ago that I actually found it (this one). Then I heard there was supposedly another and found that, too only this week. It's not a Cox GTM but a Heerey GTM though, and joins the sole and still unregistered Euro GTM Coupe (this one) in the hands of Benjamin Massy. 

Benjamin purchased the Heerey as a project car some 20 years ago but never came round to do it. It's complete but is unregistered and has no identification either. Oddly, the nose section on this car has been modified with only the front of it hinging forward. Benjamin showed me around in his workshop - a real Aladin's cave for A-series performance stuff. He is not too eager to sell anything, but may be tempted to do so if the offer is right. Drop me a line if you want to do so.

I had another arrangement before going home again, and when things got late I decided to ring up my friend Joost van Diën, who's based on the Dutch-Belgian border and who'd messaged me days earlier to tell that his Mk1 Mini Marcos had finally been road-registered in The Netherlands. We raised our glasses to that! The orange baby is going to be a real stunner and I hope to do a full report on the major troubles Joost went through to get it registered soon. Have a great weekend for now!


A Heerey GTM found in a lock-up in Belgium. Note the unusual front end...
Picture Jeroen Booij

 ...with the end of it fibreglassed to the front scuttle and only the front hinging forward
Picture Jeroen Booij

The car is complete with engine and all the bits and pieces but is unregistered
Picture Jeroen Booij

Much of the parts, including glass, is parked in the Heerey's cabin 
Picture Jeroen Booij

Benjamin Massy used to race / rally / sprint and hillclimb Minis from the early 1970s up until 1995
Picture Jeroen Booij

Benjamin in his Mini racer during a sprint - the car weighed 436 kgs at this point
Picture courtesy Benjamin Massy

The racer was wrecked but he kept his collection of racing parts, much of it new old stock
Picture Jeroen Booij

Open a drawer and you'll find something interesting. A hot camshaft... 
Picture Jeroen Booij

...or NOS parts for a Salibury diff as he had it fitted to his own Mini
Picture Jeroen Booij

And how about these? Three Mini gearboxes adapted to take a BDA engine block
Picture Jeroen Booij

That's Benjamin's daily driver today! An old Chevy hearse that's a truck on paper
Picture Jeroen Booij

Over to Mini Marcos man Joost van Diën who now has his Mk1 on Dutch registration, too
Picture Jeroen Booij

It's going to be a gorgeous car in any respect, restored to a very high standard
Picture Jeroen Booij

Early morning, Joost is off to work in his Mk3 - I'm heading back home
Picture Jeroen Booij

Thursday, 6 May 2021

GTM Euro Coupe survives

The GTM was a very British affair, oh yes. But there have been at least two attempts to sell the GTM in Europe. Once as the Heerey GTM in 1970 (click here) and one time as the GTM Coupe in 1984. But a Euro version of the Mini based sports car never materialized, or did it? Benjamin Massy of Belgium tried hard and had GTM Engineering of Sutton Bonnington at his side. They came with a newly designed nose section for the car, supposedly Porsche inspired, and with integrated bumper and headlights placed higher.

But despite that, the Belgian legislation sadly never approved of the car and the project was abandoned when it became clear the car was not going to be allowed on European roads. Benjamin: "I've read reports which mentioned 'one foolish Belgian agent' but there were two sides of the story. I spent a lot of money on it, too". 

What's more: the prototype that he built together with GTM Engineering survives and has never been touched since. When I visited Benjamin earlier this week I was thrilled to see it in the flesh. It's been in storage ever since and its galvanized and powder coated chassis looks dusty but in perfect shape after 37 years. There's no engine now, but there was back in the day when Benjamin drove it up and down the road - only once!

Benjamin had some more interesting stuff to show, among it a Heerey GTM, too, but that's for the next time.


The sole GTM Coupe made for the European market has never been on the road
Picture Jeroen Booij

The car has been gathering dust and cobwebs since it was built in 1984
Picture Jeroen Booij

Chassis was galvanized and powder coated in 1984 and looks to be perfect all those years later
Picture Jeroen Booij

There's the special Euro front section, as developed by GTM Engineering
Picture Jeroen Booij

The bumper was integrated and the headlights were placed higher, still it didn't pass Euro tests
Picture Jeroen Booij

GTM Engineering's Paddy Fitch (left) and Peter Beck with Euro front fitted to a UK car
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Same nose with the same car (I think) again before it was fitted at GTM Engineering in 1984
Picture Peter Felton

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Tertius van Zyl passes away

I am sad to hear about the passing of Tertius van Zyl of South-Africa on May 1st. Tertius was the man behind the one-off Banshee that was sold just a week earlier, but he was also a former Mini Marcos owner and a much-respected member of the Mini Owners Club of Southern Africa. 

When his Banshee was offered for sale after 52 years of his ownership (here), he'd typed out the specification in much technical detail, but not forgetting to add some whit: "Banshee was born out of the need to have something to compete in the the (then) Sports Car club's racing class that was clearly beyond the capabilities of my well rallied and raced, mildly tuned 850 Mini in the early 1960’s."

He made no secret of his inspirations, too: "Inspired by a road report in CCC of the Unipower GT, I set about 'borrowing' some ideas from that source and a terrific book called 'High Speed Low Cost' by Allan Staniforth. (...) A visit to the then Cox GTM factory in Manchester cured my problem with the acquisition of a set of their prefabricated lower wishbones, with built in negative camber, that effectively lock the uprights in the right direction."

He sold his Mk3 Mini Marcos before as he'd sold his 998 Mk1 Cooper, but kept Banshee until days before his death: "Considering the old girl was designed over 50 years ago with construction having taken about 12 years (I was transferred around the country a lot in my airline sales job) and first being road registered in 1980 in Pinetown, she continues to provide a lot of fun for my two sons now in their 40’s who were just a twinkle in my eye when Banshee was born. I quite enjoy her company too!"

All the best wishes and condoleances to Tertius' family and friends. He will be much missed in the Mini (derivatives) scene also. 


Tertius van Zyl with Banshee - the Unipower GT inspired car that he built as a youngster
Picture via Gary Johnson-Barker

Friday, 30 April 2021

What exactly is this Mini based motor caravan?

Planning your summer holiday locally this year? Then this Austin Mini Clubman based campervan / motor caravan is perhaps just the ticket. 'You wont have seen it, unless you know us', writes the seller, Well, I've seen it, but I don't know you guys! In fact I'd been wondering what happened to it for years.

The car was advertised in the early 1990s, too. Back then the ad stated that it received a new body in 1984 and was then built as a camper. So I'm not too sure about it being 'Registered from new as AUSTIN MINI CLUBMAN MOTOR CARAVAN' either. And was it really built by a boat / small motorhome company on the Isle of Wight? I don't know, but did find two more pictures of 'TJU 219N' in the files, sent to me years ago by Ian Whitehead. It's still in white on these pics with 10" wheels.

It's a lovely little camper never the less of which I'd love to learn a little more and which no doubt will bring lots of fun to a new owner. See the ad here


Austin Mini Clubman campervan surely seems to be a one-off
Picture Ebay

Registered 'TJU 219N' I knew I'd seen it before
Picture Ebay

All you can wish for, including swiveling front seat, but still a classic Mini
Picture Ebay

This early 1990s ad states it was converted in 1984 with a new body shell
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

More old pictures of it were sent to me by Ian Whitehead years ago
Picture courtesy Ian Whitehead / Jeroen Booij archive

So... who built this cool motor caravan? A company on the Isle of Wight?
Picture courtesy Ian Whitehead / Jeroen Booij archive

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Maxi Austin features French GTM

The UK is not the only country with specialist magazines such as MiniWorld and Mini Magazine, France, too, has a large following of Mini enthusiasts and its own share of Mini related journalism. Last week I was sent two recent issues of Maxi Austin - le magazine des anciennes Mini (the magazine about old Minis) and found some most interesting reading about Mini based cars in these, too. 

There's a page about a Mk1 Mini Marcos that is being prepared for Le Mans Classic, a spread on GTM history and most interesting of all is a feature article about a French registered GTM. This car was offered for sale in Brittany, France last year (see here) but it remains a bit of an enigma. According to Maxi Austin it was imported from the UK and was 'more or less confirmed to be registered EBL 249K'. I had a picture of that car in the files for them while there's another one on the internet (here). In France, the car was converted to left hand drive and restored over a 10-year period. It certainly does look good and is registered as a 1968 Cox GTM now, although I am convinced it's not a Cox. Perhaps somebody recognizes it and knows more about its history?

Food for thought anyway, just how I like it. Maxi Austin-team - keep on going!


Maxi Austin is the French magazine for enthusiasts of the classic Mini
Picture Maxi Austin / Jeroen Booij

This GTM is featured in the current issue. It remains a bit of an enigma
Picture Maxi Austin / Jeroen Booij

This is believed to be the same car, registered 'EBL 249K' in the UK previously
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

More Mini derivatives in Maxi Austin magazine - Mk1 Mini Marcos and GTM history
Picture Maxi Austin / Jeroen Booij

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Mystery Mini derivative (75)

A Mini derivative that keeps on turning up for sale remains a mystery to me. The car has made it to the market several times in the last three years or so, and I have asked the various sellers for more information about its background. But it remains mostly shrouded in mystery. 

All we know is that the car was based on a 1973 Mini Clubman, came with an 850 engine, a tube chassis clad with plywood and aluminium and distinctive looks. Is there a Hustler underneath? I first saw it for sale in Summer 2018 when it was in Hornsea, Lincolnshire (included in this listing). It supposedly stood for 20 years then and I managed to contact the seller. He wrote: "I understand it was a totally home-built example, but I will have a word with my brother and see if he can remember who he bought it from, to see if there is any history. Will let you know. Cheers, Barrie." 

Unfortunately Barrie never came back to me. A few months ago the car was offered for sale again, now in Nottingham and missing its headlight covers and looking rather more rusty. I got no reply whatsoever to my message and don't know what happened to it. Anyone who does? 


'FBT 518L' is registered as a 1973 Mini Clubman with 850 power. But who built it?
Picture Ebay / Jeroen Booij archive

Tube chassis clad with marine plywood and aluminium, canopy made by a boat company
Picture Ebay / Jeroen Booij archive

Said to be 'totally home built' or could this car have been based on a Hustler 4..?
Picture Ebay / Jeroen Booij archive

Last time it was seen for sale it was missing its headlight covers and had become rustier
Picture Ebay / Jeroen Booij archive

Simple interior. The wedge shape makes for an unusually shaped dashboard 
Picture Ebay / Jeroen Booij archive

Thursday, 22 April 2021

For sale: the Scamp Motor Company

This came as a surprise! 'Happy Scamper' Andrew MacLean (62) has decided to sell his beloved Scamp Motor Company. Back in 1987 he took the business over from founder Robert Mandry and started in the old vicarage of his dad. He soon expanded and built around 400 cars since. Robert Mandry built at least 2,000 between 1969 and 1987, making the Scamp the Mini derivative built in the largest numbers. 

Andrew wrote: "Hi Jeroen, It is the hardest decision of my life so far to be parting with the Scamp Motor Company. Hope you can share my sad but also exciting news on your excellent Maximum Mini website. Loss of premises is the main reason. But I do think it has a lot more to offer, perhaps a lightweight electric quadricycle might be a way forward. There are many restart (post Covid-19) small business grants available, which might be encouraging to the new owners. I am also hopeful to sell on the RTVs. I actually own the manufacturing rights to it and a huge quantity of Mini based RTV spares. Kind regards, Andrew"

Last year I asked him what four decades of Scamp building brought? “Fame, not fortune!”, he laughed. "Well, it brought me many happy memories and also some sad ones. But I’ve learned to make the best out of things!” All the best to you Andrew, and that the Scamp may have long to live, too!

Contact Andrew directly on andrewmmaclean@gmail.com or (+44) (0)7719-816493.


Early (Mk1) Scamps ready for transport to Spain. The company is now for sale
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Andrew in one of the last Scamp chassis he made, photographed March last year
Picture Jeroen Booij

And another... He owns the company since 1987 and built some 400 cars
Picture Jeroen Booij

The workshop with a Mk2 chassis under construction. Tools will be included
Picture Jeroen Booij

That's what it could look like fully built. This demonstrator will be included with 2 others, too
Picture Jeroen Booij

As will be the machine that's been used to make all the Scamp body panels since 1969
Picture Jeroen Booij

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Gordon Murray's IGM Minbug explained

Gordon Murray's car collection has been the subject of numerous articles in motoring magazine in recent times after the designer held an exhibition called 'One Formula' to celebrate being 50 years in business. You can still find the virtual 3D exhibition online here

The footage below was made by Top Gear magazine in which Murray tells a bit more about the IGM Minbug as well as his Midas parked next to it (from 45:45-on). Although he has the original Minbug, the one seen here actually is a replica made a few years ago. I'll write more about the discovery of the real car soon. Enjoy this one for now!


Video: Top Gear / Youtube

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Alto Duo remains a real rarity

The last time I wrote about the quirky Alto Duo was 10 years ago (a Guinness book record car! click here), so I think it's about time to put it in the spotlight here once again. 

Incredibly perhaps, the Duo was offered for sale from 1984 up until 1998, originally by its designers Tommy and David Gornall of Goosnargh, Lancashire but later also by Automotive Concepts of Portsmouth and Antoni Offert of Rhino Engineering in Lancashire. Under all those wings and in all those years, still just 18 materialized. 

I could only find a few different cars in the files, with one registered 'Q469 JWW' seen below. DVLA tells us it's a 1986 car with 998 power and blue in colour, but it was seen in an orangey-red hue when offered for sale in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland back in 2009. This while the pictures of it in a sort of camouflage print were sent to me last year only. Whatever happened to it..?

  

The Alto Duo was offered for 14 years, with just more than 1 sold per year...
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Hardtop was a factory option and the Duo could be supplied as a two-seater or a 2+2
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

'Alto Duo' mean 'Tall Two' and you can see where that name comes from
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Same car some 11 years later, different hue but work is still not finished 
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Where is this? Those are Vauxhall Cavalier rear lights in case you wondered
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

‘ALTOgether a better deal’ said the brochure, but the Alto Duo remains a real rarity
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Friday, 16 April 2021

Gitane GT - a bit more information

Tom Kenny is as eager as I am to find out more about the Gitane GT, of which just occasionally a snippet or a pictures comes up (see here). Could it survive? We shared information to see if that would bring up something new. It didn't. But Tom asked around in hillclimbing circles, which did bring a few insights that I'd want to share here, too, hoping they may get another ball rolling.

David Brown wrote to him: "I seem to remember seeing it in the early 1970s fitted with a supercharger? My initial thought is to say it was at Blackbushe, 1972-ish or possibly at Greenham Common. If it is the car I am thinking of something happened to the installation (the supercharger was mounted high up and I seem to think it came loose), it was a long time ago!" 

John Opie added: "I remember seeing it at Trengwainton hillclimb in West Cornwall around the mid '60s, and was impressed by it. I believe that it was converted from a fastback shape to this notchback."

Tom continued: "A follow up from Malcolm Mitchell led to Linda Collins. Turns out she was the daughter of the doctor who was an official at the events at Trengwainton and donated the programs on the death of her father. Only one was retained with entrants." However, nothing about the Gitane was found.

Meanwhile I was sent a link to a most interesting article on Joe Saward's F1 blog (click here). Joe wrote about Gitane instigator Gordon Fowell, who later made a career in Formula 1. This is what he wrote about the Gitane GT: 

"George Fowell Ltd was a company based in the unglamorous Birmingham suburb of Smethwick. It manufactured small plant machinery: dumper trucks, mini steam rollers and cement mixers. These were branded GF. The founder’s oldest son Gordon began working for the family business in the late 1950s, designing dumper trucks. In his spare time he competed with a Lotus Eleven sports car. The arrival of the Mini in 1959 gave Gordon Fowell an idea: why not diversify the business and have GF build a lightweight GT coupé, based on the Mini sub frame and running gear. It was in the same era in which Lamborghini was transforming itself from being a tractor manufacturer to becoming a supercar company so perhaps there was sound logic in the idea. The only difference was that Lamborghini had more money to play with. The GF coupé was given the rather exotic name of Gitane, the French word for gipsy. Creating the prototype proved to be sufficiently difficult to convince GF to give up on the idea, although the Gitane that was built was use quite successfully in hillclimb events in the late 1960s."

It goes on about Fowell's later adventures in selling audio tapes of racing engine sounds under the Goral name, designing F1 cars for Martini under the Tecno name and for Chris Amon plus the later Sana Formula Atlantic car and eventually the successful PowerJog running machine.

Although interesting it doesn't bring us much further. I'm sure there's more though, so if you happen to read this and know about the car, its checquered past or any Fowell relatives (Gordon Fowell died in 1999), do not hesitate. 


The Gitane GT seen in its later 'notchback' guise at Prescott Hill, now supercharged
Picture Jeroen Booij archive


It's engine in its original fastback styling and without the blower. That's a 997 with Weber
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Entered at the Nürburgring 1000 Kilometres in May 1962 where it did not arrive. I spoke to 2nd driver Dan Margulies not long before he passed away in 2010. He said he'd never even seen the car!
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Gordon Fowell went on to design this in the early 1970s, followed by the PowerJog
Picture Rainer Schlegelmilch / Motor Sport