Wednesday 31 August 2011

Bitten by the Bison (5)

Time for an update on the amazing Mini Lamborghini, the CJC Bison project car that is under restoration by our own handy man mister 'Buffalo Bill'. He writes: "The exhaust is done! I chopped the original black bit in two and widened it by 6 inches, then chopped the rear body to suit. All the exhaust box needed was a couple of tags welding to it for rubber feet and a bit of a reweld on the input pipe. It fits fine (it does mean the boot no longer fits however!) and is very quiet - which is no bad thing these days. The black bit needs finishing off, I am going to cut a hole in the middle and mesh it to let the air out and break it up a bit, and the edges of the red parts will need a bit of filler, but it all looks pretty good. The exhausts fit central in the holes, they just look off in the photos, they also point up a little - this looks better than if they where straight out (I think)"

Could this be the only Mini that suit a double exhaust really well?

It only just fits under the body, although it ate the boot space!

That's the good bit. But there's more. He continues: "We wont talk about the new seats though. See here some photos of the seat fitting, this is before I chopped the floor as well. The problem with the original floor is that the seat was so far back that you where looking out of the 'rear' side window, so it looked as if no one was driving! Chopping the floor allowed the seat forwards and gives a lot more side vision."
Bloody hell, is this ever going to be okay again? Our handy man is confident it will be...

Fitting the new seats turned out least as problematic though...

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Dennis' Danish derivative

It's been a while since I got a message from the enthusiastic Dennis Overgaard Nielsen from Denmark, sharing his latest acquisition of a Mini Marcos with a nice slice of sporting heritage, or so it seems. For work Dennis travels to Japan every so often and if he's not there he will find some car related stuff closer to home to write about for his blog (click!). Anyway. Dennis wrote: "Here are some pics of my very latetst car. I have actually just bought it and haven't even had the time to collect it. The car's chassis number is 7012 and it was previously restored by the Mini Marcos owners club before it was imported into Denmark a couple of years ago by a lady. Unfortunately it was not done in the correct way. So right now I am waiting for an export certificate on the car from the British DVLA. As soon as I have that I will pick up the car. As said this car is chassis number 7012, and is one of 50 Mini Marcos chassis to be homologated in 1968 for motor sports, as you can see on the attached homologation attest."

"My plan is also to use it for historic racing, and it will be built with a Cooper S 1275 engine and full roll cage. There are some parts missing, most are not a problem to source, items such as brakes and such. It is also missing its original dashboard, but I have discovered that Rae Davis in the UK can produce new 'works' dashboards. The sunroof also need to be filled, and right now I am contemplating wether to remove the unoriginal rear hatch or not. The hatch might prove practical with a full cage in the car."
"This is the car's history that I know of. Please feel free to publish a few words/pics about it if you think it is worthy of your site. I would be delighted to hear if any of your readers knows more of its history."
So here we go. Readers - come in please!

Mk3 Mini Marcos comes in Royal Blue. Sunroof has to go, rear hatch too?

Plan is to fit a 1275 Cooper 'S' engine here to get the car to the track 

Current dashboard will be swapped for a works replica dash

Papers indeed show that '7012' was 1 of 50 homologation specials

Monday 29 August 2011

MoBi's Morris Bishop speaks

Remember this one? Well, the whereabouts of the amazing MoBi-One remain unknown, but the good news is that the car's builder, Morris Bishop, got in touch with me now. He writes:
"Hi Jeroen. My name is Morris Bishop, the designer and builder of MoBi-One, which was originally built to win the Flather Star trophy which was presented by the BTRDA (British Trial & Rally Drivers Association) to the winner of a series of "Autotests" (High Speed Manoeuvrability against the clock) held all over the UK. In 1969 I was fortunate to get a Cooper S engine from Alec Issigonis (the designer of the Mini) and I then converted this to run on propane, mainly because I was a manufacturer of gas calibration equipment used mainly for industrial vehicles, taxi’s and the like. In 1970 I won the Flather Star and in 1975 sold the vehicle to someone who used it for autocross. He then sold it to the current owner, as far as I know, Mike Wilsdon (JB: another chap I'd love to speak to, see here). Some time in the 1980’s He contacted me to say that he had remade the double rack which was an important part of the four wheel steering system, and would I help him with the re-assembly, to which I agreed. Unfortunately he had purchased a right hand drive rack instead of a left hand drive version for part of the double rack assembly, and thus, when re assembled, MoBi One became CRAB steering instead of complimentary steering – which made it totally useless! And that is the last I thing that I know about the car. I have photos and a scrap book devoted to MoBi-One, if you would like anything from this I could email it to you in about two weeks time as at present we are in the UK, and the book is in Spain. If ever you do find MoBi-One, it would not be impossible to correct the error that MW has made! Regards, Morris."

Morris Bisshop in MoBi-One: the turn-tale car

Back from the UK

Well, well, it's been quite a week. In six days time I drove over 1,000 miles between sunny Edinburgh and rainy Kent to talk to people and see their cars. I had diner in a Scottish country hotel overlooking the Irish sea, drove over Cumbria's back roads to track down one of the best Mini based racing cars I have ever seen and met a chap with an amazing collection of Biotas in the Midlands. Plenty of material for good stories for the new book and for these webpages. Meanwhile messages have been dropping in, too, with several more stories. So after days of silence it's time now to watch this space again.

Edinburgh-Lewes in six days, just over 1,000 miles

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Nimrod's planned facelift

Evidence of a planned facelift for the mighty Nimrod was posted on the webpages of Nimrod designer Mike Jupp (click!) recently by an ex-Nimrod owner who photographed the prototype back in the 1980s. He writes: "I have just found a few photos tucked away in a box I had thought were lost. This is the Nimrod facelift that never saw the light of day. The photos were taken in Wiltshire in the mid to late 80s (...) The body is now monocoque instead of the old GRP clad around a space frame. The floorpan is a GRP copy from a Mini shell, from what I remember this would have made for a straight swap over of parts style of build. The rear subframe would still be ditched in favour of swinging arms and coil over shocks as per the ‘original’. As you can see the bonnet is much larger allowing easier access to the points and other components that previously were a pain to get at. In picture 4 (number 3 here) you can see a section of the floorpan mould (grey). The monocoque structure has allowed the floor to be dropped a fair bit so the seat could now be raised for a more comfortable driving position (the seats on my car were bolted to the floor with no adjustment but then I am 6’6”). The rear window moulding is also a little taller adding a bit of headroom when the roof is on."

Funnily, designer Jupp who still owns the Nimrod chassis number 1, never knew about the planned facelift. He replied: "Blimey!! Thanks so much for posting those photos! I was living in the USA during the 80s and knew nothing about this." Exactly how many Nimrods were built remains somewhat uncertain as the production was taken over at least twice. According to Peter Filby "Only five kits were sold before the project folded within months. The moulds ended up at Nova in 1979, which briefly offered the car again. Then Nigel Talbott of the Talbott Alternative Car Company (TACCO) revived the Nimrod in 1981 (...) Few were sold and it just faded away in the mid-1980s." As I have a brochure from TACCO depicting the car in its original guise it seems likely that this facelift was yet another attempt to give the Nimrod a new lease of life...

Longer bonnet was meant to give easier access to the Mini engine
Picture courtesy garyh at

But the major change lay into the monocoque body structure
Picture courtesy garyh at

The grey part in front of car is a section of the floorpan mould
Picture courtesy garyh at

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Mystery Mini derivative (14)

Spotted at a kit car show in the early 1980s: the creature below. What do we know? Not much. Its construction seems ultra simple, it clearly is Mini based, it seats only one and it has some modern buggy influences although it dates from years before the Funbuggy boom. Anything else? You tell me.

A Mini based mystery car with one seat. I bet it's fun to drive

Monday 15 August 2011

Christopher Lawrence dies at 78

It is with great regret that I must inform you with the death of Christopher Lawrence. He passed away on Saturday the 13th of August at his home in England. Lawrence was the man behind many daring motoring projects of which the Deep Sandersons have been described here before.

UPDATE 12 September 2011: Larry Webb wrote: "There will be a thanks giving service of Chris Lawrence’s life at the Great Malvern Priory on the 30th September 2011 at 2 p.m. followed by refreshments at the Morgan visitor centre at the Morgan factory. All are welcome to attend both the service and the subsequent refreshments. If anyone has any questions please contact Larry Webb:

Christopher Lawrence with a Deep Sanderson 301 in 2005
Picture: Jeroen Booij

Thursday 11 August 2011

De Joux: Blue but not true?

Arch Mini derivatives fan and multiple De Joux GT owner Graeme Farr from New Zealand (remember?) got in touch to say hello plus to tell about a blue De Joux that has turned up on a New Zealand auction website (see here). The car is offered for sale as a 2002 model which supposedly indicates it is a repro, probably made from the mould taken from an original body (in fact quite a few De Joux' appear to be unofficially made ones). Anyway: but when you look closer to the blue car it seems not quite right. Not just because of the modern looking spoilers and bigger wheel arches. Just take a look at the windscreen that is clearly taller and the roof line that is raised. Then there are the unusual door apertures that De Joux GTs normally don't have, as well as Morris Marina style door handles. There is a hatchback door, a fuel filler in the side panel plus double rear lights. And there are more details that seem strange. Just compare it with the pictures of the orange car that Graeme provided me with. What on earth is this much modernized GT?

UPDATE 11th August: It took Tim Neal only a couple of hours to come up with all the missing information. He wrote: "I know the car and owner. It was built from an original un-used shell. As it had never been built or registered it takes on the date of first years registration (under NZ laws). Also as it in effect is a new car it had to meet the current standards. The original screens do not pass the NZ standards, so the owner adapted the windscreen from I think it was either a Volvo or Saab and as its a modern screen it can't be cut down so they had to raise the roof line to get it to fit. The fuel filler had to be moved again for the same legal reasons. A lot of work has gone in to the car, but in honesty it's not been done especially well, its rough finish in areas, mechanically adequate but not stunning. At $12500 NZD its probably over valued. Last time I saw it was at Taupo Mini fun day about May 2010" That does explain a lot! Thank you very much Tim.

De Joux GT. Left the original, at right the modernized version

Double rear lights, hatchback door, raised roof line, relocated filler cap...

Geoff's Ogles

Several times I have come across this chic little burgundy Ogle SX1000 and the first time when I did so it was owned by Geoffrey Hunter. Geoff liked restoring cars and he'd done just that with '889 RJH'. But when I visited him on a summer day years ago he told me he owned another SX1000 since the mid-sixties that was bound for complete restoration. In fact, the body of that car can be seen lying in his garden next to '889 RJH'. Geoff was thinking of selling the  finished car to fund his project SX. And so he did. It was supposedly sold to the son of once-Aston Martin owner Victor Gauntlett, but I saw it later when walking through one of London's mews. I came back the next morning to find it was for sale there, again, now with classic car dealer Graeme Hunt, but that is the last time I came across the car. Where is it now?

UPDATE 3 October 2012: the car is now up for auction. See here

An Ogle SX1000 plus the body of another in the English country side
Picture: Jeroen Booij

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Scamps for Summer

Don't moan about the weather - here is the best tip I can give for having open top motoring fun on a shoestring budget: the Mini based Scamp. Hundreds were made in umpteen guises and they are still cheap to buy and run. Besides: the amount of Scamps that's been offered for sale in the last months has really surprised me. Currently you will find three on eBay (Mk2s here and here and a Mk3 here). Or is it a Mk1 that you are looking for? Then check the Scamp Owners Club website here as they come up there regularly. The Scamp club is a crazy bunch and I had fun when Chris Westgate offered me a ride in his Mk1 two years ago at Cofton Park, Longbridge. One day I will live in the country and have my own Scamp!

Good looking Scamp Mk2. It appears to be well-restored

Somewhat less extravagant Mk2. But somewhat cheaper too

Or do you prefer your Scamp as a Mk3? This one looks good

Monday 8 August 2011

Lovely Landar images

Every now and than I receive a real treat. And when Tim Dyke sent me a stack of over 60 quality pictures from his personal scrapbook he clearly made my day. Don't think they were your average holiday snap shots, as the theme of this collection was the rare Landar R6, designed and built by brother Clive and Peter Radnall. Tim wrote: "I was lucky enough to own and race a Landar R6 - the first one in private hands, in 1966!" And when you look at the pictures you will find he was a lucky man indeed, clearly having fun racing his low-slung Landar. Here below three of my favourite shots, taken at Shelsley Walsh hill climb in June 1968. Let me know when you like them as there are many, many more. Thank you Tim!

That's Tim racing his lovely Landar R6 at Shelsley Walsh in June 1968

That appears to be the pit street reserved for number 41 -Tim's Landar

And the pit scene, seen from the other side. Hill climbing is fun isn't it?

Biota's practical buggy

Houghton Coldwell Ltd, producers of the praised (at least, by me!) Mini based Biota and Biota Mk2 (click here) did more than just produce highly eccentric open top fun cars that were to become an early 1970s icon (again, that's an opinion) . The fibreglass masters from Dinnington made all kinds of fibreglass devices to earn some money, from fishing baskets to bolt-on aerodynamic front- and rear-ends for the Mini.
But more recently I came across an advertisement from the company for another Mini based vehicle they offered for sale in 1970. It was called the Mod and the ad said: "Don't buggy about - get a Mod. The practical Mini fun kit" It was said to feature a two-way folding screen and a loading ramp tail board, so I guess you use it to easily load your lawn mawer/jet ski/refrigerator and drive it from a to b with the wind screen down. Now, that's practical! Anyone attracted to the boxy shaped buggy-sort-of work horse that the ad showed in a child-like drawing was asked to write to Houghton Coldwell for full details. I would love to find out more about those. And did they ever come to actually produce the Mod? Now that would be even better.

More practical then the Biota - this is the Mod. Were there any produced?

Or how about this? A Biota Deluxe Camper available in 'Tangerine' and 'Tourqoise'

Friday 5 August 2011

Camber/Maya files: HPN13D

Let's continue with our little quest for information about Camber- and Maya GTs. As you will know by now funny little creatures that I quite like, although their history seems to get more and more complicated. Proof is the car next up, a Maya GT registered 'HPN13D'. It's the car that was used in one of the Maya brochures, white in colour. As the registration number is so close to that of its sister car 'HPN14D' (see here, yes it's a Camber) I believed for a long time that this too, had to be a Camber GT as the nose with its typical frog eye headlights is not shown on these brochure shots. That is untill I came across a picture in Cars & Car Conversions magazine that shows the same car from another angle. Yep, that's clearly a Maya nose section.

I also found that this Maya was raced, as was John D. Green’s Camber GT (see for that story here). It's driver was supposedly Mike Greenwood who is said to have raced the Vandervell V8 in the 1967 season, although I cannot find any information on Greenwood at all. I have been in touch with several Mikes Greenwood by now, but not one of them knew anything about a Maya or a Vandervell! Perhaps somebody else will know? There is no DVLA description for the car now, but it won't surprise me if it does survive in the end, as several other cars have come to the light since I started these files...

The car in the brochure. Headlights cannot be seen here which made identification hard
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

And the same goes with this brochure shot. What a lovely clean interior though
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

But there we go. It's clearly the same car at the same place. And it's clearly a Maya GT
Picture courtesy Cars & Car Conversions

The Maya GT 'HPN13D' at the track. It has to be Mike Greenwood driving it. Richard Hawcroft adds: that is at Brands Hatch. It was taken from near the grandstand on Paddock Hill bend, you can just see the exit for the pits behind the 'Lucas' advert. You can also see the 'loop' of the track after Graham Hill bends (though of course it wasn't Graham Hill bends in those days!)
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Thursday 4 August 2011

Bulanti builder calls in!

Things can go rapidly on the net. I have been trying to find out more about the Bulanti, built Down Under in the early 1970s, for years without much result. But when I posted this article (click), some really cool replies were sent over to here from Kevin Boole (see here) and Henry Draper (see here), unspinning great tales about the dartling Bulantis. This time it gets even better, as Bulanti designer and builder Brian Rawlings calls in from Australia! Brian writes:

"Hi Jeroen. A friend sent me the article on the Bulantis. I am sorry to hear Graham had passed away, he was a really nice bloke and a true gentleman. I built the cars and BAL 551 was the aluminium prototype, Grahams green car was number 2 and I remember making the manifold for the turbo. The photo of the red car was taken the day of the mag article from the control tower at Amaroo Park car track, me in the car I think and my dog Bo." (click here to see both car and dog)

"I have read your book and thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks for including the Bulanti in the book. Incidently the cars before the coupes were called Bulants and a couple of French flower growers I knew saw the prototype being built and said it needed to sound more continental and exotic so hence the 'i' was tacked on. There were only three coupes built; red, green and a brown car which clobbered the wall at Amaroo Park during private practice. It was repaired and then sold. I went back to building clubman sports cars for racing, similar to Lotus 7 type vehicles. I read the three cars went to Melbourne but I don't know any more than that. Regards, Brian"

And a bonus picture of the Bulanti at Amaroo Park raceway