Monday 24 December 2012

Season's greetings

Best Christmas wishes and looking forward to welcoming you in the new year. Oh - and don't forget to give this year's Christmas puzzle a try to win a copy of Maximum Mini volume 2 (click here). Also: if you have not yet voted for 'Best Find of 2012' do choose your favourite on the top right hand side of my blog!

The Christmas crackers - Navajo - Scamp Mk1 - Ranger Pick Up - Siva Mule

Christmas puzzle 2012

Regulars out here know that I always cook up a little puzzle when Christmas nears and this year is no exception to that tradition. The only difference is that I based my puzzle not on front or rear bits of Mini derivatives like I did in 2010 and 2011. This year the theme is 'faces and places' with not one but two puzzles. It's has the same simple principle though. There are 9 faces and 9 places, and all of them can be associated directly to a Mini derivative. The question is which face/place belongs to which car. I'd like full names and model designations of the cars and the first who cracks it wins a copy of Maximum Mini volume 2 as soon as it is there (yes, yes, it will be there in the end). Send your answers via the comments below up until December 31 of this year. Good luck!

UPDATE 2 January 2013: Well well, this proved to be one step too far! I received little answers, of which Paul Wylde (via email) once again had most right, but with just 7 out of 18 it was not enough to win (he did so last year, so never mind). Next year's puzzle will be slightly simplified again! Anyhow, the right answers would have been:

1. Christopher Lawrence - Deep Sanderson 105 and -301
2. William Towns - Hustler, Minissima, Tracer, Elswick Envoy
3. Ralph Broad - Broadspeed GT
4. Ferris De Joux - De Joux Mini GT
5. Bill Needham - Coldwell GT
6. Gianfranco Padoan - Minimach GT
7. Desmond 'Dizzy' Addicott - DART
8. Jem Marsh - Mini Marcos
9. Keith Lain - Phoenix and McCoy

1. Peel shipyard, Isle of Man - Peel Viking GT
2. Ogle Design & Development, Letchworth - Ogle SX1000
3. Custom Moulds, Andover - Nimbus Coupe
4. Paynes Lane, Nazeing, Essex - Butterfield Musketeer
5. Nostalgia Cars UK Ltd., Taunton - Nostalgia NC1000 
6. Whitby Engineering Ltd, Haslington, Crewe - Whitby Warrior
7. 12 Aintree Road, Perivale, London - Unipower GT
8. BMW Testcentre Nurburg (former BMW Martini garage) - Mini Martini
9. Siva Engineering, Enefco House, The Quay, Poole - Siva Buggy

Faces... (click for a bigger view)

...and places (click for a bigger view)

Saturday 22 December 2012

Is underground Wood & Pickett '50 MAR'?

Much ado about a Mini, as Wood & Pickett afficionados have united after a video was posted on youtube yesterday (shown here too). What's the story? Well, the connoiseurs believe the car in question - registered '111 UN' - could be long lost '50 MAR'. Yep, that's the one that I mentioned as its sister car.

Danish Wood & Pickett fan Jens Christian Lillelund wrote: "If you go through all the details you will notice that every detail on the car matches 5OMAR - the 3 roof aerials, the sunroof, the rear screen, the modified boot lid, the front wing antenna, the wheels and spinners, the exhaust, the steering wheel, the rear view mirror, the 4 spot lights. There have never been two Wood & Picketts that match so many details. It has to be the same car that's been back to W&P for a Landau conversion and Mercedes grill. I have many articles regarding W&P, and one thing they all mention are that the owners keep coming back to have more stuff done to their cars."

Meanwhile, I have been sent over some more pictures of the W&P Mini Margrave - looking rather sorry for itself in the Medditerranean underground parking. So we can now better check the similarities. I guess Jens Christian has got a point here. But I'm not yet convinced. Only if I see the interior of the car (including a television and not one but two telephones...) I'd dare to be sure. Furthermore I know there was another W&P conversion that looked pretty similar to '50 MAR', even in its colour. That one was registered '777 ACE' and hasn't been seen for decades either...

Wood & Pickett fans say this is most probably one and the same car that has been converted once more
Pictures Jeroen Booij archive/Bart Vanreusel

Aerials, rear window, exhaust, spinners, locks - all the same. Landau roof, grille and red pin stripes aren't
Pictures Jeroen Booij archive/Bart Vanreusel 

The car's interior should provide the answer. Trouble is the windows are pitch dark...
Pictures Jeroen Booij archive

Friday 21 December 2012

Rare coachbuilt Minis turn up in southern Europe

Just when you think you've seen all the amazing discoveries of this year, a bunch of rare coachbuilt Minis turn up in southern Europe. In the first place there's a Wood & Pickett Mini Margrave that's been given the full treatment. Forget about the Mercedes-Benz grille, turning it into a caricature of itself if I may say, but this is one desirable car. It looks to be a sister car to '50 MAR', that was built for one sheik Omar and which is often considered to be the ultimate in W&P conversions. This car, registered '111 UN' in 1973 (on sorn since 1999), turns out to live in a Monte Carlo underground garage. And recently somebody spotted it with his videocamera. See the video here.
UPDATE 22 December 2012: more pictures and insights here

Hidden under Monte Carlo streets: a 1973 Wood & Pickett Mini Margrave in two tone paint
Picture courtesy
Its infamous sister car '50 MAR' did the trick without the hideous Mercedes grille
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Also from Monte Carlo, some pictures have arrived here of a white beach car with a red interior and unusual chrome figure heads on the sides. The car is left hand driven and comes with a telephone in white bakelite and white wall tires - very groovy indeed. There's also a picture of the same car, shot in Cannes in 1967, where it comes with a canopy roof with more chrome ornaments and a Paris registration. But perhaps the canopy was simply put on top of the roof, who will tell? I understand it is currently owned by a man from Switzerland who lives (part time) in Monaco. I'd be delighted to get in touch.

This beach car has turned up in Monaco, too. It was formerly registered in Paris
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Last but not least there's what appears to be one very original Crayford 'Mini Sprint' convertible in Barcelona. It's based on an 1967 Austin Cooper, also left hand drive, 'BRG' in colour and with hydrolastic suspension and 998 engine. It's also... for sale! 24.000 Euros will buy you this very cool Christmas present. Click here for the ad. Oh, speaking about Christmas - don't forget to vote for the best find of 2012 (here in right hand column). On Monday I will bring you the traditional Christmas puzzle. For now: enjoy the weekend!

Austin Cooper based Crayford has all the period bits it should have and... is for sale
Picture via Ivan Classics

Wednesday 19 December 2012

The Fletcher files (3)

It's funky Fletcher time again. With part 3 of the Fletcher files, describing each car known separately. After having taken over the manufacturing rights of the Ogle SX1000 in 1966 and having raced his own car - this one - boat builder and racing driver Norman Fletcher found it time to market his car as the Fletcher GT. The production version was unveiled at the Racing Car Show of 1967 - where it shared a stand with a selection of Astrali steering wheels. It's the first time the fully redesigned car is shown in public, as the Fletcher has a redesigned front and rear compared to the Ogle. The headlights were now fitted in recessed Perspex cowls and the rear was sharper styled and came with light clusters from the Austin 1800. After the show orders for road going Fletcher GT’s came in, and a Swiss dealer is even said to have ordered 30 cars (who can confirm this?). However, supply from BMC turned out to be a problem and Fletcher chose to concentrate on boat building rather than on his cars. The show car changed hands several times and was transformed into a race car later. It was fully restored in 2009 and made it to the Spa 6 hours race that summer, but was crashed and seriously damaged. I understand it is restored, but it hasn't been seen on the track lately.

January 1967. It's showtime! Fletcher GT shares London stand with Astrali steering wheels
Picture Jeroen Booij archives 

It's the first outing of a Fletcher GT with both the modified rear as well as the modified front
Picture Jeroen Booij archives

Rare flyer of the Fletcher GT, handed out on 1967 Racing Car Show, shows redesigned car 
Picture courtesy Paul Stanworth

In the late 80s the car looked as if it was raced by Evel Knievel. By 1990 restoration was needed
Picture Jeroen Booij archives

Four years later the patriotic paint scheme has come off, revealing the original white
Picture Jeroen Booij archives

It's then repainted blue. Roll bar and reversing lights must have been fitted at one stage 
Picture Jeroen Booij archives

The new owner decided to built it up as a racing car and paint it maroon with silver stripes
Picture Jeroen Booij

Ouch! The first race after the restoration meant serious trouble at Spa; body broken in two 
Picture courtesy Claus Ebberfeld

Tuesday 18 December 2012

'Deepy' prototype for sale... again

I wrote about the Deep Sanderson 301 prototype so many times before - and posted so many pictures of the cool little creature, that you would hardly believe me to find another excuse to bring it up here. Well, here you go: over a year after its auction it is once again for sale. Interested? Get in touch!

Cool car, cool scene. Just after the Deep Sanderson was first painted - Primrose Yellow
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Thursday 13 December 2012

Mystery Mini derivative (28)

Ah! Another real mystery this time. All I know about this creature - aprt from that it's Mini based - is that it comes in one very bright yellow colour! The front, with low head lights and square bonnet may be reminiscent of a Scamp Mk1 but the rest of it is certainly different. Help me out if you can!

UPDATE: Help recieved within minutes! Chaz Ing writes: "I know this car as it is from Lincoln. It IS a Mark 1 Mini Scamp. The owner has always insisted that it is a Moke and would never listen to any member of the Scamp Owners Club that tried to tell him differently. There are not two Scamps the same as they are altered by theirs owners to suit specific needs. This one has been modified quite heavily to include a boot and the round arches..."Thanks for that, Chaz!

Could the base of this car have been a Scamp Mk1? The front has some similarities

But that's where the similarities end. Screen, sides, roof and especially the rear are, erm, different

Monday 10 December 2012

And the nominees are...

It's time to introduce you to the nominees for the 'Best Find of 2012'. There were 9 cars suitable for a nomination - I picked out 5 of which I believed they are the best. Now it's up to you to decide which one wins the title. There's a poll on the right side of this blog and you just have to tick the box of your favourite find. The one with the most votes wins - it's simple as that. Now over to the candidates.

1. The lost Maya GT. This was a matter of time, with several reports of its sighting made clear and appearing on these pages. In March this year it was finally found, still in Ashford, as the earlier findings suggested. It is  being restored at the moment. Click here for its story

2. The Radford Traveller. Radford's coachbuilt Minis were sold to the rich and famous back in the 1960s, and every once in a while one finds its way to a dealer or an auction house. This very rare Radford Traveller spent most of its life in France. Click here for the story

3. The farm yard Mini Marcos Mk1. This is one car I would have liked for myself. In fact I arranged to pick it up with the farmer who'd had it in his yard for ages. Problem was that I couldn't make it in time for him to clear his grounds, and so it went to a friend. Story of its discovery here 

4. The last of the Triads. If you are into three-wheelers and Mini derivatives, this has to be your choice. It is the 11th and last Triad ever built and came in the shape of an unfinished chassis and body, found in Evesham, complete with all its mechanical (period) bits. Full story here

5. The German Deep Sanderson. Another long-termer, as it took me years to find out about the whereabouts of this car, gone to Germany in the early 1980s. It, too, is currently under restoration while many people have now sent more informations about its background. Full story here

The mystery Maya GT that languished in Ashford, Kent for many many years
Picture courtesy Josh Willis
A rare Radford Mini Traveller, even unknown to the coachbuilt Mini experts!
Picture courtesy RM Auctions 
An early Mini Marcos Mk1 that had been lying in a farm yard for God knows how long
Picture Jeroen Booij archives 
The last of the Triads reappeared in Evesham, totally complete but never finished
Picture courtesy Mosquito-Triad register 
The Deep Sanderson 301 that resurfaced in Germany after years of sleuthing
Picture Jeroen Booij

Friday 7 December 2012

Snow fun with Heinz Hornets

What the hell? What is this joker doing walking over the roofs of all these snowy Wolseley Hornets? And why is this odd picture posted here? Well, yes, there's a story attached to it. The cars you see here are in fact parked at Crayford Engineering in Westerham, Kent, probably in early 1966. That year, the Crayford company signed a deal with Heinz (which famously made their sauces in 57 varieties) for one cool competition. To promote Heinz soups they gave away no less then 57 Wolseley Hornet MK2's in 'The Greatest Glow on Earth Competition'. All the cars were specially converted into convertibles by Crayford's, and I reckon it must have helped putting the Kent company on the map, too. I understand that 41 of these 'Heinz Hornets' survive to this day. That's quite a lot.
Anyway: there's no need to worry. This picture was taken just before the roofs were cut off. Thanks Mike Corbett for sending it over. And enjoy the snow this weekend (when you are in this part of the world)!

UPDATE 10 December 2012: Heinz Hornet owner Bill Bell knows more about this particular picture: "That's David McMullan on the roofs, (one of the two Crayford owners) at Tatsfield nudist camp tennis court where they stored the cars over the winter of '65/'66."

Never mind the roofs. These Wolseley Hornets are waiting to be converted
Picture via Mike Corbett

And that's what a Heinz Hornet looked like once finished by Crayford Engineering
Picture courtesy

Thursday 6 December 2012

Urban Legend 6: the Kileen K16

Let's have a look at another car that has reached legendary status among afficionados and anoraks out here. It's the Killeen K16, also known as the Springbok K16 and it is one of many projects by Tom Killeen, a former Jensen engineer and draughtsman who passed away in 1991. And a very ingenious man he seemed, too. All the information that I have comes from Robert J. Allan, who runs the spares department of the British Imp Club (Killeen designed some Imp based cars, too) and who made an incredible effort on tracing Killeen's history (most of it can be seen here). I wrote to him years ago, and he replied: "Hi Jeroen. I have been doing a lot of research into the Killeen cars and have some original photographs of the K16 that have come from Peter Hardy, who is Tom's nephew." Bob's research led to the following (and I'm now richly quoting):

The K16 was a mid-engined open two seater sports car using the 1275cc Cooper S engine transversely mounted slightly ahead of the rear wheels. In Killeen's own words 'The concept of the K16 is the antithesis of the modern production car and intended to cater for a neglected minority.' He meant the advocates of small sports cars which were of minimalist design in terms of driver aids (no brake servo or power assisted steering) but could provide exceptional fun to drive as they are of light weight and have superior handling to most other road cars. The basic structure of the car consisted of two steel diaphragms flanges, a centre backbone tunnel, two high sill pieces and two pieces at the top of the door recess. This frame was covered with a steel skin spot welded onto it and was designed to collapse progressively in the event of an impact. A square section tube frame was attached to the rear diaphragm to support engine and transmission unit and to carry the rear suspension.

The body of the car was designed to be symmetric in shape both top to bottom and front to back. Only four moulds were needed to produce the panels, and the estimated coefficient of drag was 0.27, an incredibly low figure. Killeen's earlier cars used a flat Kamm back, but he believed this one to be better. However, he returned to a Kamm tail for the later K18 and K19. The K16 was a registered design and production was by Springbok Engineering of Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire. At least one car was built, registered YUE 896J, but there is no vehicle currently registered with this number. Bob concluded: "Unfortunately I have been unable to locate the car, perhaps together we can make some progress?" That seemed like a good idea, and I tried a thing or two, but without any success so far. However, it would not surprise me if the K16 was still hidden somewhere, and so perhaps this little piece may help too. Who knows...

More Urban Legends here

Killeen K16: 'The antithesis of the modern production car' or so said creator Tom Killeen
Picture courtesy Robert J. Allan

MX5 anyone? But the Killeen K16 dates back to 1971. Registration is unknown to DVLA
Picture courtesy The Motor via Robert J. Allan

A remarkably basic car concept: mouldings for front and rear are one and the same
Picture courtesy Robert J. Allan

A 1275 Cooper 'S' was used. Note rear suspension fitted to square section tube frame
Picture courtesy Robert J. Allan

This picture shows the car with a different exhaust system. The Mini (?) tank is gone now, too
Picture courtesy Robert J. Allan

Only 4 moulds were needed to produce all panels. The estimated coefficient of drag was 0.27
Picture courtesy The Motor, via Robert J. Allan

Engine at rear, radiator and petrol tank at the front. Weight distribution must have been good
Picture courtesy The Motor, via Robert J. Allan

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Minus Maxi - who knows one?

It's been seen here before: the odd Mini based Matra Rancho lookalike that's also known as the Minus Maxi; designed and built by Keith Lain in rural Norfolk. I've been looking for one to photograph for ages now, but still without anything like a hint. Last year one was offered for sale on eBay, but I missed out on that one. Now Nimbus Coupe owner Wil Ker sent me a scan of an article about the Maxi that I didn't know. It's a cool write-up with some nice pics, too. I noticed the registration on the red car on the accompanying images was different from the cars that I have seen in pictures. The Q-number is also very close to this car, made by the same group of men at around the same time. Anyway, does anyone know this car (registered as a Minus; date of liability April 1991), or another? The three cars that I now know of are (or were) registered:

BOC 493K (blue)
Q685 HEX (red)
YHH 459K (red)

UPDATE 5 February 2013: another Maxi Minus appears on eBay, it's registered TPE 838S and is white in colour.

British scene. A chat, a horse, soggy weather and one strange kit car. That's Keith Lain on the right
Picture courtesy Kit Car magazine, via Wil Ker

Monday 3 December 2012

Snow and a Swedish Ogle SX1000

Yes. It's that time of year again. The last month of the year has arrived, and so has the first snow. Over here at least. December also means it's time to start looking for the 'Maximum Mini Find of the Year'. In 2010, I chose the prototype Beach Car that was found in a Greek scrap yard; last year you guys voted for the Cheshire Cox GTM. What it will become for this year? I have made a provisionary list of cars that have come to the light in the last 11 months or so, and will make a selection from these in a week. These will make it to a poll, where you, as a reader, can choose your favourite once again. Now, if you do know of another resurfaced Mini derivative that belongs here, drop me a line and it may be just in time to get included, too.

Meanwhile, the snow reminded me of an Ogle SX1000 that made it to Swedish motoring magazine 'Teknikens värld' in 1963. They tested the car and even put it on the cover in very Swedish surroundings. Is there anyone here who knows what happened to that car? If not do you guys happen to know if the registration number 'A5191' is retraceble? Now this could be another excellent 'Find of the Year'...

This Ogle SX1000 clearly made it from the UK over to Sweden. Question is where it is now...
Picture archives Jeroen Booij