Friday 28 September 2012

Barclay Mini Bug finally makes it to the road

Great news from The Netherlands, where Andre de Wit restored his Barclay Mini Bug (A Stimson Mini Bug built under licence in The Netherlands - story here) in under a year time. He wrote: "Hi Jeroen. I went to the RDW (Dutch DVLA) yesterday with the Bug as it needed to be tested to apply for a registration number. It got the sign of approval!! Now just another few days before the paperwork will arrive and I will be able to make it to the road. As you can see the colour is now orange, which seemed appropriate for a Dutch Bug. Once I can drive it I will send you some new pictures with a background other than the testing station. Best, Andre."
This Barclay Mini Bug was meant to have been registered back when it was new in 1971 but that never happened and thus the car will be driven for the firest time in its life soon. Congratulations Andre for a cracking job!

Andre's Mini Bug was never registered but now it finally will be. After 41 years!
Picture Andre de Wit
The Barclay Mini Bug has minor differences from the original thing by Barry Stimson
Picture Andre de Wit

Thursday 27 September 2012

GTM versus GTZ

Classic and Sports car magazine values their current cover car - the Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato - at 6 million pounds. Whopping indeed. So if you ever spin your humble 10" wheels on road or track and come face to face with one of the 20 built, thundering along, try to avoid it at any risk. It must have been what driver D.E. Boler did when he came into a close encounter with T. Leake's 'GTZ' back in September 1968 at Oulton Park. Boler was driving a Cox GTM, most likely one he'd built himself from a deceased Mini plus a 330 GBP kit supplied by Cox & Co in Hazel Grove. At the time Leake's Aston (that's it) must have been worth slightly less than it is now (the price when new had been some 5,500 GBP years earlier). Never the less, I think the Cox GTM is rarer these days. Being slightly mad about the Cox I think I may prefer it over the Aston after all. So do let me know if you have it and want to get rid of it.
Thanks to Richard Heseltine for sending in another great picture!

Leake's rare Aston steers along Boler's rarer Cox GTM in September '68
Picture through Richard Heseltine

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Unipower in Spanish cult movie

To me, there's few cars more tempting than an period Mini derivative, but a period Mini derivative in a classic cult movie may just beat it. So when I heard about 'Crimen Imperfecto' - a 1970 Spanish movie that ticks all the boxes of bad cinematic taste, it made my day. From what I understand it is a comedy about two private detectives, Solomon and Torcuato - born from Spanish comic book charachters, who sink their teeth in a strange case of murder. I have no idea if the story is any good, but hey, a Unipower GT, in fashionable brown, makes it to the screen, so who cares? It's got the signature Vauxhall rear lights (making it a Mk1) and wears plates with 'M' for Madrid plus an unusual silver stripe over it's roof. Now you know what I am thinking: where the hell could it be..? There is a Unipower GT for sale in Lleida, Spain for a while now (click here), so perhaps this is one and the same car?
Oh - movie trailer below - if you dare. And do let me know if you know where to obtain a copy of the film.

Pretty girls dancing and strange detectives muttering in 'Crimen Imperfecto'
The Unipower GT used in some scenes is a Mk1, as tell the rear lights
Picture courtesy 
It wears period Madrid plates and an unusual silver go-faster stripe
Picture courtesy

Monday 24 September 2012

Biotas claim to fame (2)

Yesterday it was time for a nice bit of commemoration at the grounds of Harewood. Not just because it was 50 years ago since the first hill climb was held here, but also because of the 40th anniversary of the Biota taking victory on the hill and winning the British Hill Climb championship in 1972 (see here for that story). Biota fan John Rayner went there with one of his Biotas (it looks a lot better from the last time I saw it!) and took some pictures for us, who stayed at home. Thanks a lot John!

John Rayner's Mk1 is the only one that I know of with these triangular blinkers
Picture John Rayner
The car is part of what has to be world's largest Biota collection easily!
Picture John Rayner

Side by side at Harewood with another Biota: the lovely Mk2 of Derek Wilkins
Picture John Rayner

Steel wheels and tiny lights look great on this car. It was red at one stage
Picture John Rayner

That's John Houghton (left) with John English who helped look after the racer in 1972
Picture John Rayner

Friday 21 September 2012

Mystery Mini derivative (25)

Well well. Here is the 25th mysterious Mini derivative that I'd like to share. And there are many more Mini based cars of which next to nothing is known - by me at least. This 25th certainly fits that bill, too. It came via regular reader Roald Rakers and may not be the prettiest of cars, but then beauty is in the eye of the beholder I hear you think. And right you are, as this oddball is interesting never the less. It looks to be an autocross special and is said to be Mini powered, although the front suspension appears to have been sourced from another car. Could it be another Status Minipower chassis (one here and perhaps another here), built up by a privateer in the 1970s? All I have is a name, and what a name it is. This, boys and girls is the Gallopping Maggot. It has 'Chess Valley' written on its Spartan body, which may suggest something about its wherabouts? Who knows more about it?

'Galloping Maggot' looks uncompromising. could its chassis be a Status Minipower? 
Picture via Roald Rakers

Thursday 20 September 2012

Mini Marcos convertible - it exists

I've seen some odd conversions come by, among which a few doubtfull convertibles that started life as sporty coupes. Last year there was a Camber GT convertible conversion, more recently there was even a Unipower GT with a Targa roof. So how about a Mini Marcos with a softtop? I heard about one, a 1978 Mk4, recently and decided to go and have a look. The car is owned by Erwin in The Netherlands who has a few more Mini derivatives. It is certainly not the prettiest of cars I've seen over the years but it does deserve a mention here. The chop was carried out by the chap he bought it from and from what I understand it became roofless because of a cracked roof. The floor is said to be strengthened with steel members and there is a very thick roll bar. I did flex the doors and it appears to be reasonably stiff, but I'm not sure if I'd dare driving it flat out with its presumed very quick and certainly very noisy 1380 engine!

Low splitter at the front is not the only clue to the drastic conversion carried out!
Picture Jeroen Booij
That's how a Mini Marcos Mk4 convertible looks with top on. Blind spot anyone?
Picture Jeroen Booij 

Steel strengthening and roll bar adds to stiffness, but Mini Marcos doesn't get any prettier
Picture Jeroen Booij
Erwin owns a few more Mini derivatives among which a Freestyle Buggy and Midas Bronze
Picture Jeroen Booij

Friday 14 September 2012

Dynamic derivative duo

What's better than a Mini derivative on a racing track? A pair of them of course! This lovely duo was spotted at the Calabogie Motorsports Park in Ontario, Canada recently while at rest from the vintage races. The car on the left is a Unipower GT Mk1 owned by Claude Houde. The Mini Marcos is a 1969 Mk3 owned by Bob Polak, both in Canada. Perhaps they, or one of their racing friends, can tell a bit more about this Canadian mystery that's been puzzling me for such a long time?

This great derivative duo was spotted at Canada's longest racing track
Picture courtesy

With the Mini Marcos fwd and the Unipower rwd they will behave completely different 
Picture courtesy

DART goes hillclimbing

Ever since Stefan Wray bought the remains of the DART and painstakingly reproduced the car in its former splendor, he wanted to race it. I managed to squeeze the just finished car into my book, and a couple of months later, At Goodwood's Revival, Nick Swift steered it to a podium place. Only now Stef took the wheel himself. He wrote: "Hello Jeroen, just a quick one. I've finally managed to hillclimb the DART. Its far too high geared for hillclimbing at the moment and my driving is very rusty but it's still a lot of fun. I'm waiting to hear from a chap I spoke to and who used to live next door but one to Dizzy Addicott. He thinks he might have some old photos of it! I'll keep you informed. Cheers, Stef" And so the file on the car's history continues to grow. Last year some lovely old pictures of the build were found. The pictures below are kindly provided by Dave Giulliatt. Thanks chaps!

Up-up-up. The DART is hillclimbed for the first time by its current owner 
Picture: Dave Giulliatt 
It's too high geared for hillclimbing, says Wray, but he still had lots of fun
Picture: Dave Giulliatt 
Astons look like lorries compared to tiny DART - forebear to both Jem as Marcos
Picture: Dave Giulliatt 

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Derivatives on display

Thumbs up to Complete Kit Car magazine and Total Kit Car magazine, which seem to have taken the Donington Kit Car show, last weekend, to a higher level. Unfortunately I wasn't there but I understand that 4 Mini derivatives made it to a special display: the well known CCC Cox GTM; a Unipower Mk2; a Midas Bronze and a Mk1 Scamp. The always enthusiastic Scamp's owner wrote to me: "What a weekend! I was invited by Complete Kit Car magazine to be part of a display 20 of the most iconic and best selling kit cars of the 1970s, so the Scamp was on show (looking a bit out of place I might say with all of the other fine sculpted kit cars), but hey ho!"

Scamp may be somewhat less aerodynamic then the rest, but it surely is an icon
Picture courtesy Chris Westgate
It's always good to see a Unipower GT. This car was reimported from the USA 
Picture courtesy 
One of the all time favourites here: the Cars and Car Conversions Cox GTM
Picture courtesy Total Kit Car magazine

Sunday 9 September 2012

Nimbus Special: blown evidence

Ah! The Nimbus Don Parker Special. One particularly intriguing car, if only it was for the confusion about which Don Parker built it. Anyway: I found the car in a pretty forlorn state back in 2005. It came with a massive Wade supercharger in bits and pieces in a box which, I understood, was fitted to it in its earlier life. I never found evidence though. The car was sold a few times before being restored, and restored again, but somehow the supercharger never got fitted again. A real pity as, thanks to engine punk sci-fi author and Siva owner Bob Blackman (excellent blog here), some pictures of it with the blower have now turned up. Bob writes: "By the time I saw this curiosity at Prescott Hillclimb in 1984 Nimbus had a conspicuosly blown Mini powertrain. At the time, it was campaigned by Mike Hentall and I heard mutterings around the paddock that it ate pistons but with that massive Wade blower (reputedly off a truck and dwarfing the engine it fed) as much as 150 bhp was available in something that weighed hardly anything (450kg). Nimbus was something of an obscure enigma but I registered the name when I saw an H&H auction back in 2007 and had the presence of mind to note some of the details. At the time, it didn't sell but I was able to understand what strange origins this car had. The original bodywork was on the heavy side and in 1961 Nimbus ran as "Nimbus Unadorned" for a spell with doped fabric stretched over its spaceframe. It wasn't very competitive in Formula 1172 but when Don Parker saw the Warwick special, a mid-engined flathead racer that used a Mini transmission, he radically re-constructed Nimbus in 1965 into the form I saw at Prescott." Bob allowed me to use his pictures here and I've now ordered one of his books that he triggered me with. Cheers!

Don Parker's Nimbus Special with the massive supercharger in place at Prescott
Picture courtesy Bob Blackman
The Mini engine supposedly pushed out 150bhp which must have made 'TOY 711' real scary
Picture courtesy Bob Blackman

Thursday 6 September 2012

More Le Mans heritage unearthed

Four great historical pictures of Deep Sandersons at Le Mans have been unearthed through AC Heritage. The motor manufacturer and restoration business, based on the old Brooklands site, published them recently in an article on their own heritage. They show the Deep Sanderson works entries of 1963 and 1964 (full stories here and here) - both years in which AC took part in the French endurance race, too. Is it a coincidence that the AC men took relatively many pictures of the Le Mans underdog? Or did the fact that namesake Ninian Sanderson was part of the AC team help these pictures come about?

1963: The Deep Sanderson #44 works car is pushed to pit or track here. Short film here
Picture courtesy 
1964: Deep Sanderson takes two cars to Le Mans. The car on the right is crashed dramatically
Picture courtesy
This is the aluminium works racer (No.42 in 1964). Tank is small for an endurance racer (Update: it's the dry sump's oil tank!)
Picture courtesy
The car at the start grid in '64. This picture was taken slightly later
Picture courtesy

Tuesday 4 September 2012

This is what they do to Unipowers in Hong Kong

Look at that! It's a Unipower GT, a Mk2 I think, but not as we know it. It's been modified. And pretty heavily too. In the first place the roof is gone to convert it into a Targa. There is a deep front spoiler and an added rear spoiler, too. The arches have been widened drastically, with an extra air intake here or there. I'd put a bet on the interior to be altered too and I'm actually surprised to see it's still on its 10" wheels. The picture was taken in the 1980s on a show in Hong Kong and I'd love to find out what ever happened to this car. Who knows more?

A Unipower GT at a 1980's Hong Kong car show. What happened to it?
Picture via Desmond Scorey