Friday 4 March 2011

Camber/Maya files: FNU400H

Blimey, this has become a bit of a special story that I only recently found out about. Take a big breathe if you are interested in this third part of the Camber/Maya files series, with special attention to the Camber GT with registration FNU400H. I have only been able to track down much of its history recently thanks to the car's last two owners and have found out that its a most unusual history too.

Log book for a most unusual Camber GT, or was it Nerus GT?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Where to start? Well, logically that would be on 20 October 1969 when the car was registered. But it now appears that this wasn't the first time the car was registered. In fact, I am sure it is the same car that I described last time: DEN70D. So what could have been the reason for that? Well, as you may remember DEN70D, with its modified head lights, was shown at the Racing Car Show in January 1967 at the stand of Camber distributer 'Checkpoint Race & Rally Equipment Ltd.' that had also become the owner of Hastings based Nerus Engineering: a tuner that specialized in Minis. And what better way to promote your engineering company than with your own sports car? Yep, they turned the Camber GT into the Nerus GT by just re-registering it and putting another badge on its bonnet. Nerus also happened to be involved into the development of a Silhouette type race car which used the same badge. All easy! 

All the badges that have graced the cars: Camber, Nerus and Maya
Pictures Jeroen Booij archive

According to the log book Checkpoint's sold the car to somebody in Prestbury, Cheshire, bought it back in september 1970 to sell it again to Bangor, North Wales. More owners followed: a garage in Aylesbury and a man in Ardley, Bicester. But it wasn't until 1988 that Simon Mogford spotted it in an advertisement and went to collect it in Oxford. The reason for Simon's interest was a good one too: his father was sub-contracted in 1966-1967 to build the Camber and Maya GT for George Holmes! Simon says: "My dad has his own engineering company down in Hastings back then and this project was just work that came along. He produced the whole car. and I remember him redesigning the head lights too. I also remember going with him to Brightom to get screws for the car's dashboards."

The Camber GT (or Nerus GT - note Nerus badge) as bought by Simon in 1988
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Head lights make clear it can only be the show car. Note flared arches
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Remarkably Simon's father Kenneth Mogford recognized the car as the one on the Racing Car Show stand. And even more remarkable: albeit without its Nerus tuned engine Simon bought the car with all the moulds, including that for the Camber-, as for the Maya nose section too! Simon continues: "When we moved to the isle of Man I took the car with me in 1992. My dad and I reckoned that at the time, with all the interest from Japan in the Mini Marcos, there could be a market for them and we figured that we could sell new bodies at 850 GBP. But unfortunately we never had the finances to do it. When I moved back to Hampshire I took the car and all the moulds with me and decided to sell it as I never got round to restore the car."

The original builder Kenneth Mogford planned a revival for the Camber GT!
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

And this is where the last owner, Mini enthusiast Andy Clayton, comes in. Andy bought the Nerus registered Camber GT in 1998 with the idea to restore it to its former glory. But as he was also in the process of buying a house back then he decided the car project had to wait for a while and Andy parked it on a site in Bramley where dozens of club members of the Mini Cooper Register kept their cars too. But this is where disaster struck in July 2003. Andy: "There was a massive fire destroying most of the Minis and my car too. The sites around it where developed for housing and it is suspected that somebody put fire to the building to get rid of the Minis and be able to start building there, too." Soon after the fire the site was cleared and Andy believed that the moulds where destroyed too. It later appeared this was not the case but remains unsure if they survive to this day. Andy: "They could have been thrown in a skip." Simon Mogford heard of the fire too and went to have a look but did not find any evidence of the moulds surviving. And that's where the unusual story of FNU400H ends. Funnily 'Nerus Engineering and Co Ltd.' is still in business in Worthing, but while they specialize in motor bodies they have nothing to do with the old company apart from the name that they have taken over. It really ends here and unfortunately this story won't be continued.

On the Bramley site in a sorry state. Original silver grey was under orange paint
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

As the interior shows there was plenty of work to do there, too
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Ouch! And this is what is left of the Camber GT after the fire. What a shame
Picture Jeroen Booij archive


  1. My pleasure, thank you.
    And congrats on your article in Auto-Retro!