Wednesday 30 November 2011

Mystery Mini derivative (18)

The name, date and even the venue where this Mystery Mini derivative was unveiled are known, but still then, most about the car in the blurry pic below remains shrouded in mystery. It was built as a project for the 'BP Buildacar Competition' of 1974 and named Phoenix. The caption reads: "Also mid-engined and Mini-based this neat design was all-steel monocoque. Note Avenger boot lid!" But that's it. Is there anyone out there who knows more about it?

It's Mini based and appears to be named Phoenix, but that's about it
Picture courtesy Hot Car magazine

Monday 28 November 2011

Who coachbuilt Ferrari's Mini?

It is certainly no secret that Enzo Ferrari was a fan of the Mini. In fact he used an Austin Mini Cooper privately in the 1960s and according to some sources it was delivered to him personally by Alec Issigoinis. A few pictures of him with the car (and Issigonis) are known, but the thing that strikes me is that the Mini appears to be modified, or even coachbuilt. Just have a look at the faired in driving lights and replaced indicators at the front to see what I mean. And was that the only modification? The light metallic paint job may refer to more mods, as do the quarterlights in the doors.

But who carried out these conversions? I never found out. But more recently I came across some pictures of the Ferrarina (a stillborn Ferrari project for a small car that was built in a coorporation with Piero Beretta, president of the gun manufacturer - more here) and noticed the headlight arrangement of that car. It is about similar. And it dates from the same period, too. But which carrozzeria was responsible for the Ferrarina? No one seems to know. So there we go. I reckon there is a link between Enzo Ferrari's coachbuilt Mini Cooper and the Ferrarina, but which?

UPDATE 30 November 2011: 
As Jens Christian mentions in a comment below it appears there could have been more then one car. Paul Mellor thinks so, too, noting the indicator on the second picture of Enzo Ferrari's Mini looks further forward on the wing. Another interesting note came in from Alastair Brown: "Hi Jeroen, I see you are asking about the body of the Beretta Ferrarina on the blog. You have the photo from Graham Gauld's excellent 'Modena Racing Memories' shown, and in my copy, page 105 states that the Ferrarina which the Berettas saw was "in fact a bit of a mock up cobbled together by Pinninfarina using the chassis from a Fiat 1200 using some body panels from Fiats small sports car" Pinninfarina would be the obvious choice for Ferrari of that period of course. However, it seems a further sports version was built on a Bizzarini designed chassis and displayed on the Bertone stand at the Turin show in '61. don't know what it looked like though, but my guess would be that it looked like the ASA which it became. Hope this helps." I'm sure it does. Thank you, Al!

UPDATE 19 February 2014: 
Is this it? It surely looks similar, but I'm not sure. Click here

Famous picture of Issigonis and Ferrari with the latter's Mini Cooper

And another well-known photograph of Ferrari and his Mini Cooper

The stillborn Ferrarina. Headlight arrangement is similar to Enzo Ferrari's Mini
Picture courtesy Graham Gauld

Note the similarities in light arrangements. Who (coach)built these cars?

Thursday 24 November 2011

Urban Legend 2: the Lawther GT

Very few cars have been haunting me the last years as has the Lawther GT. Pardon me? Well, how about a nicely proportioned ultra low sports car with its Mini engine at the back, all designed and built by a motor sports enthusiast who later became a helicopter designer? Oh yes. The Lawther was built in 1967 by Robert Lawther and originally used only an 850cc engine, but is said to have been able to reach the 100mph mark at 6000rpm. The 850 engine was later replaced by an 1100.

I got quite far. One former owner sent me some splendid period pictures from the time when the thing was just finished; another sent a huge stack of photographs from the time when he owned it, plus there are some superb shots from Cars and Car Conversions mag that I have copies of now. In fact the file that I have on the Lawther GT is vast. But there is one thing missing: details of the Canadian who currently owns it. 'Cause that's where the car went in 2004 with the intention to fully restore it on that side of the world, or so I am told. And that is where the trail ends. I have contacted several Canadian sports car clubs that may know car and current owner, but even the very helpful chaps at the VARAC have all drawn a blank so far.

So before it drives me mad, please, Canadians, anyone. Lawther GT, where are you?

UPDATE 30 November 2011:
Somebody told me the car was sold last year... in Canada, but doesn't have any further details. Hmmm. Another comment came in from the last UK owner: "As you rightly say the car was bought by the son of a wealthy Canadian businessman who intended to have the car restored in Paris before importing it to Canada. What may assist you is that the car was collected by an English guy who had a one man firm transporting classic cars but also specialised in supplying classic cars to the tv and film industry. There cannot be many of these guys around and if he can be traced maybe he can identify the resto company in Paris he delivered it too. Good luck and looking forward to your next book." Thanks for that!

The Lawther GT in the UK in 2004, just before it was shipped to Canada
Picture courtesy Chris Gittins

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Broadspeed GT: replicas and resurrections

The interest in Mini derivatives appears to be rising, and so it may not be a surprise that someone is once again planning to offer a replica of the 1966 Broadspeed GT. I cannot tell you much as there is nothing certain for now, but as soon as there is news, I will let you guys know. It did make me wonder what other replicas/resurrections and what else have you, were ever fabricated with the Broadspeed GT in mind, and I came up with the following.

1. The Broadspeed GT by Brian Foley (1967)

Australian BMC and Alfa-Romeo dealer Brian Foley teamed up with Ralph Broad to produce Broadspeed GTs Down Under in 1967 after they calculated it was cheaper to build the cars locally then to import them from the UK. The Australian built GT differed in several ways from the British Broadspeeds, also because they were based on Aussie built Minis. Only four were built of which at least two survive.

Brian Foley's Broadspeed GTs were based on Australian Minis. 4 were built
Picture courtesy Craig Watson/The Mini Experience 

2. Graham West's car (1971)

This is a bit of an oddball. Graham West of Burton-on-Trent managed to buy an original but unused Broadspeed GT roof/rear section in 1971 and decided to graft it on a Mk2 Mini with flared arches and E-type inspired interior. The engine was a bored out 998 Cooper. Less then a year after having finished it, he offered it for sale for 860 pounds with only 7,000 miles on the clock. Registration: WUX 421.

That's Graham with his car, built from a Mini Mk2 plus original Broadspeed section 
Picture courtesy Hot Car magazine

3. Roadworks Design replica GT (mid-1980s)

The roof/rear section that Chris Stinton of Roadworks Design in Queensland, Australia, offered for sale was meant for enthusiasts wanting to turn their own Mini into a Broadspeed GT replica. It is unknown how many were fabricated, but several are known. It appears that the roofs were based on the Australian Broadspeed GT by Brian Foley, as they came with the small number plate recess of these cars.

A Roadworks Design replica GT being built. Note Aussie number plate recess
Picture courtesy Craig Watson/The Mini Experience

4. Downton GT by the Symbol Mini Company (1996-1997)

Stewart and Paul Mickleborough of Norfolk restored a genuine Broadspeed in the 1990s and decided to take a mould of the roof/rear section and offer replicas after the job was finished and the car was sold to Japan. They teamed up with Ralph Broad too, but could not use the Broadspeed name because that was taken by the Essex-based company of the same name. Eventually the car was marketed as the Downton GT and a conversion was offered at 4995 GBP ex VAT. Only one car was finished but two more roof/rear sections were sold and built as Downton GTs.

The Downton GT couldn't be named Broadspeed GT, but was very accurate copy

5. Broadspeed GT replica by Broadspeed Engineering Ltd (1996)

Simon Empson set up Broadspeed Engineering in Colchester in 1995 to sell and restore an impressive quantity of Minis and Mini derivatives of which quite a few went abroad. One of these was a Broadspeed GT. After the Mickleborough brothers came with their replica, Empson decided to do the same. His company offered replicas of the GT and GTS from 15,000 pounds. It is, however, unknown if any were ever built.

Simon Empson's Broadspeed Engineering offered a GT replica, too

6. Mini / Marspeed GTO by Church Green Engineering (1996-?)

Paul Weldon's father set up a restoration business Church Green Engineering in Semley in the early 1970s. By 1994 his son offered the Walker Minisprint; a year later his foreman Geoff Branston designed a Broadspeed GT lookalike (it wasn't an exact replica) with aluminium roof/rear. The conversion alone came at 8295 GBP ex VAT ex works and was meant for brand new Minis. There were agents in Germany and Japan, but in the end only three cars were built. One remains with the German agent; another with the Japanese one.

The full production run of the Mini/Marspeed GTO at Church Green's premises
Picture courtesy Richard Heseltine

7. Private ventures

A few people have been inspired to build a Broadspeed GT replica of their own as a one-off.

An all-steel Broadspeed GT replica, built by an enthusiast in Australia

And another private venture, like the one above this one's from Australia, too

UPDATE 31 JANUARY 2013: Four more Broadspeed GT replicas unearthed! Click here

UPDATE 21 February 2014: And even more Broadspeed GT replicas on their way! (click here)

Friday 18 November 2011

What is 2011's Best Find?

It's been almost a year since one exciting discovery was made in Greece. Remember the beach car prototype that was found in a scrap yard? (more here and here). Meanwhile, the car that made it to 'Best find of 2010' on this blog is painstakingly being brought back to its former glory by its current owner. Last week he sent me an update, writing: "Here are a few pics of the car at its current state. The engine will soon be finished and fitted to the car. After that its the never ending fiting and tuning of little things." The idea is to have it finished at around the end of this year, as he continues: "It is progressing, albeit at a slower pace. I have fitted most of the interior, some of the brightwork and the engine has been stripped and is ready for assembly. I would like to finish the car by Christmas but probably won't!"

By that time we may have sorted out the 'Best find of 2011', too. I guess I can choose that on my own, but on the other hand, it may be nicer if you guys did it. What there is to choose from? Well, this one should definitely be a contender. Or how about this one? Or this? Hang on, we've got this one, too. Not to mention our own project car here. And then, there are six weeks left to come up with another great find. Anyway: let me know which one you prefer or I will judge myself.

Beach car is progressing slowly. Well... according to its current owner!

He appears to be doing a cracking job. Blue is nearest to its original colour. 

Thursday 17 November 2011

Like the Peel? Buy the moulds!

The Peel Viking Minisport, born on the Isle of Man's west coast in 1966, is one of the quirkier Mini derivatives. So you may not be surprised to learn that I like it very much. However, you don't come across one for sale often with just 24 cars built by Peel Engineering and later on by Bill Last of Trident Cars, and very few survivors. But that may change now that the moulds for the thing have come up for sale on eBay! See the ad here. The seller, who has produced a few bodies from them and told me he now needs the money to fund another project, writes: "These are genuine moulds bought from the Isle of Man a few years ago (...). They consist of top and bottom halves which bolt together, bonnet, doors, dashboard, rear parcel shelf and detachable door flange recesses. The 2 main top and bottom moulds are steel reinforced. (...) This would be a great business opportunity for someone with GRP laminating skills, either offering fully built cars or bodyshells only for people to complete using an old Mini for parts. Under the current DVLA/VOSA donor vehicle points system, you would be able to use the donor Mini V5c and registration therefore avoid having to SVA the car." Peel fans, go and safe guard these moulds!

UPDATE 21 November 2011:
I've had a few people asking about the claim the seller of these moulds makes about registering newly built cars. Richard P. mentions: "Can you verify this? As far as I am aware the points system dictates whether you can keep the donor registration, not whether you need an IVA test (which replaced the SVA test). If you are building a new kit car then it needs IVA unless it uses the complete chassis or tub of the donor (the floor pan in the case of the Mini). Richard H. adds to that: "The guy selling them must be a silver tounged charmer - I like his claim that they can be used to reshell any mini with no need for an SVA test - he must be stuck in a time pre-1998, as there is no way that a) you can do this anymore, and b) they wouldnt pass an sva test anyway - the headlamps are too low (one of the things that did the old GTM Coupe in when the SVA came out!)" Thank you very much for that, chaps.

UPDATE 13 September 2018:
The moulds seen here are a later set. The original moulds made by Cyrill Canell on the Isle of Man in 1966 have now emerged and are back on the island. Full story here.

UPDATE 14 September 2018:
'Original' moulds and the set seen here appear to be one and the same. See here.

A Peel Viking Minisport on the beautiful Isle of Man in June 2007
Picture: Jeroen Booij

The Peel's moulds are now available for budding motor manufacturers
Picture: eBay

'Glass estates

I had a funny throwback yesterday evening, browsing through old magazines when I came across an article by Richard Oakes. The designer of umpteen kit cars (here speaks a fan) used to have a column in Alternative Cars sketching ideas for future models, some so clever you ask yourself why noone actually went on to turn them into reality. One of the sketches in the column I came across fell into that category, it was for a Mini based estate car. Just about the simplest design possible with no frills to turn a rotten Mini into something really practical. "Fibreglass Mini hatchback uses most of the original hardware", wrote Oakes. It was dated November 1981. Exactly 30 years ago now that I think of it.

Anyway: last winter I interviewed Paul Haussauer about the Phoenix Estate he designed and built back in the eighties. Paul, an ex-Lotus engineer, was a very nice bloke with some great stories to tell, who handed me over the full production sheet of the 63 (!) Phoenixes built. The first time I ever came across detailed production figures! But with the Oakes' sketch in mind now, I wondered when he built the very first, and took out the paperwork. There it was: the prototype, based on a modified Mini Van, was dated 1981, while the first production cars came in 1982. Coincidence? Could be. I'll give Paul a ring soon to ask. By the way: if you'd like a brand new and unbuilt Phoenix shell, see the for sale section of this blog (click here), where one appears since yesterday.

Another practical Mini based estate was the Minus Maxi, designed and built by Keith Lain - another ex-Lotus man. It was conceived a few years later, and I don't think many were built. Not too long ago a Maxi was offered for sale, but I forgot to get in touch with the seller. Perhaps any of you guys did, as I'd like to take some pictures of this rare vehicle...

Richard Oakes' Mini based estate proposal dates back to November 1981
Copyright Richard Oakes

That's pretty much it! Phoenix Estate followed shortly after Oakes' impression
A brand new and unused shell (winter project?) is for sale here

Blast! We ran out of polish! Keith Lain designed Minus Maxi estate is rare
Who knows where this one (reg. YHH 459K) - or another - is?

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Derivatives at 19th Japan Mini Day

Hundreds of Minis and a hand ful of Mini derivatives made it to the shores of lake Hamanako in Japan, some 175 miles south-west of Tokyo, for the 2011 Japan Mini Day on 6 November this year. The event was organized for the 19th time, but contrary to most previous years the weather wasn't particularly sunny. Perhaps that was the reason why not too many Mini derivatives (Japan houses many of them) made it to the event. I did come across some photographs though, which you will find below. 

Drizzle and rain. But tangerine paint job makes this Mini Marcos Mk4 sunny 

I'm not sure whether it is a Mk2 or Mk3 Mini Marcos, but I do know I like it

Well-known Mini Marcos Mk3 is modified to look like a Shelby Daytona Coupe...

...While this Sprinted Mini Mk1 did look good in its Rob Walker style livery

Speedwell Mini Sprint was finished just in time. It's for sale, too (click here)

Friday 11 November 2011

Barclay: the Dutch Mini Bug

A year ago I told you about the Siva buggies built in The Netherlands (see here). I haven't been able to find out more about the location in Amsterdam where these cars were built. However, there was a second British Mini based buggy that was built under a licence in The Netherlands: the Stimson Mini Bug, and I did find out a bit more on that since. It started with an old advertisement in a Dutch magazine for the 'Barclay Mini Bug'. In Dutch, it said:"Reuse your old, rusted or damaged Mini to build such a terrifically hip Mini Bug. Barry Stimson's Barclay 'Mini Bug' is offered as a kit including a tubular chassis derived of Formula One cars. All you have to do is bolt your subframe with its engine plus rear wheels on to this chassis. Available in many colours. Kerb weight around 320 kgs. Mini Cooper performance with installation of ordinary Mini 850 engine. Very good road holding. Price including tax 2,450 Dutch guilders"

Dutch ad for Barclay Mini Bug mentions Formula 1 chassis!

Some time later Stimson owner and fan Paul Wylde (web site) sent in some pictures of a Barclay Mini Bug that resurfaced in The Netherlands. The new Dutch owner of the car wrote to him: "It was found in barn 4 years ago at a farm of an old man who had lots of Minis and parts. He tried to get it registered in The Netherlands in 1971 but failed and never tried again. Someone tolt me that he had 6 kits in 1971." Paul added to that: "Note the badge on the front plus the lack of a lip around the car like the one in the ad. Did you find anything else about Barclay?"

Funnily, it was only some weeks later that I met a chap who told me he knew the man who built these Mini based buggies back in the early 1970s in the village (Helmond) where he lived. Believe it or not but this was purely coincidental! In fact the builder appeared to be still living at the same address as he did back in the 70s. Anyway: I rang him and, yes, he was the guy who built them. But unfortunately he was not the chap who'd bought the rights from Barry Stimson to build and market these buggies, and was just contracted to build them. And, no, he had no pictures, and had lost touch with the man I was hoping to speak to. That man, in fact, passed away some 10 years ago, and his son moved to another part of the country and - you guessed it - he has not been in touch with him since. He did believe he built 5 or 6 of them though, contrary to the 12 kits that are said to have been fabricated in The Netherlands. But that's were the trail of the Barclay Mini Bug ends. At least for now.

Dutch Mini Bug failed to get road registered in '71 but new owner will try again

According to one source 12 kits were fabricated. Its builder says there were only 5 or 6

Dutch logo left, orginal Stimson logo right. Both are moulded in the bonnet

Thursday 10 November 2011

Rallying a Status 365

With not one but two Status 365 project cars (both in signature cheddar yellow as they should be) sold recently on eBay there appears to be a bit of a rise in the interest for this wedgy Mini derivative, for as far as that is possible. It reminded me of a picture that was sent to over here some time ago. It depicts one of the 38 built 365s in full rally trim, or so it seems. I have no other trace of 'BUT 18B' but according to the source (Cars and Car Conversions magazine) it was driven by a Peter Banham in 1976. Cool isn't it? Now, why not replicate one of those project cars to a similar rally specification, put some helmets on and enter it in the 2012 historic rally season? I'm pretty sure it would become a hit. It would here!

An unlikely contender it may have been, but Status 365 was rallied
Picture: thanks to Roald Rakers. Source CCC magazine

Saturday 5 November 2011

Twini does not sell

Despite its history and bucket loads of character, it seems that the one-off Deep Sanderson 105 is too much of a wacky racer to sell for a price that is worthy of its restoration. This can be concluded after the car did not sell at auction yesterday. Maximum Mini subscriber Andy Downes reported from the sale: "The auction was long and slow – however there was no interest in the Twini and despite being ‘No Reserve’ it was withdrawn with no bids at 20,000 GBP, having started at 25,000 GBP." With plenty of bread and butter classics selling for strong money I think that is rather disappointing.

Deep Sanderson 105 was lovingly restored and presented... 
Picture: Andy Downes

...but did not even find a taker for 20,000 GBP
Picture: Andy Downes

Friday 4 November 2011

Mystery Mini derivative (17)

There is a great book about three-wheelers simply titled 'Three-wheelers', by Chris Rees and it describes a multitude of obscure 3-wheeled contraptions of which quite a few are Mini based. However, you won't find this one in it. It could be a one-off, but then the body does look like it was made of fibreglass. Fact is that it's Mini based, as does a DVLA check reveal. Who knows more?

UPDATE 11 February 2014: maybe cracked by Three-wheeler authority Chris Rees - it could be a Saccamondo. See comment below.

Wipe that dust off and take it for a spin. Mini based 3-wheeler looks to be fun

Spare wheel fits nicely in the boot. Registration reveals Mini 1000 base 

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Autumn Sonata

With the end of the season approaching rapidly now, time to lock up your Mini derivative may have come. But don't forget that autumn days can be fantastic for a spin, too, as the owner of the Stimson Safari Six below told me. Okay, okay, I have slightly altered the background, but wanted to share it never the less!

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Maya GT in technicolor!

Another great Maya GT related message arrived here. This time from Scott Barrett of Brighton. Scott writes: "Hi Jeroen. Thought I'd drop you a line to let you know about a short film that was recently brought to my attention entitled 'Motor Sport tries Motorail', dating from 1968. This film is featured on the dvd 'British Transport Films volume Seven' and comprises a short documentary about the 'Motorail' service that was running in the UK at that time, in which private cars could be transported by train between various locations throughout the country. The documentary follows a selection of cars being transported to a hillclimb and autotest event and ends with some footage of various cars being put through their paces. Included in the footage are not one, but two interesting Mini derivatives. Firstly Morris Bishop's MoBi-One" (more about that later). "Also shown, but not in as much detail, is the Camber/ Maya GT HPN 14D. I know the history of this car is somewhat sketchy (indeed it is - read about its history here and about it's survival here - JB) so it was nice to see it in colour, having received it's Maya nose-job but not yet having the ugly sunroof fitted. As the film can be conclusively dated to early May, 1968 now you know how early on it received this first lot of modifications. I've attached a set of screenshots of the two cars that you might be interested in. They were taken by another user on a forum I frequent and he has given permission for you to use them on your blog or however you'd like (see it here). Anyway, hope this is interesting for you, I know it was for me!" Thank you very much Scott, I have immediately ordered the dvd! Want it, too? Buy it here.

Well-known Maya GT at the start of the Motorail sponsored Oddicombe hill climb
'HPN 14D' appears to have had several guises. This must be its original appearance
"The track went from the beach alongside the cliff railway. It is very narrow and bumpy"