Wednesday 27 March 2013

Gerry and his pacemaker

Unipower enthusiast Gerry Hulford made it to my book before (that's his machine on page 118) and to this blog (see here), too. More recently, he sent some pictures of his racer on the grid. He wrote: "Hi Jeroen, good to see you have a good supply of pictures coming in on all things Mini and Unipower. Attached some pictures of my car at Brands Hatch back in 2010 when I did an Historic GT race with the Historic Sports Car Club in the Guards Trophy. I have some on-board footage as well which I will put up on YouTube as soon as I have time (he has - click here). The car is now being fettled and will have a respray to get it back to immaculate condition, but none of the 'patina' inside or on the parts will be restored. Just had the engine dyno tested and the homologated 1293cc engine on a single 45 DCOE Weber is seeing 120hp at the flywheel. I could get it higher, but then it would not be original! Whilst homologated on both 10" and 13" wheels, I had to use CR65 tyres for the Historic Guards Trophy race and these were not available on 13" rims. Kind regards, Gerry Hulford" That is, of course much appreciated, so thanks Gerry!

Gerry's Unipower seen here at the Guards Trophy, Silverstone 2010
Picture courtesy Gerry Hulford

Back on 10" wheels, here at Brands Hatch in 2010
Picture courtesy Gerry Hulford

Gerry's youngest son, Miles, raced the car at Silverstone. Note signature gear lever in sill
Picture courtesy Gerry Hulford

Brands Hatch again. Lightweight construction and 120hp gives Porsches a hard time
Picture courtesy Gerry Hulford

Unipower GT is tiny compared to others. Here at the Grand Prix d'Excellence, Reims 2008
Picture courtesy Gerry Hulford

Friday 22 March 2013

Fab Four-wheelers

Beep-beep yeah! Today 50 years ago the Beatles launched their first album. And after that it didn't take long before they all had their own coachbuilt Mini by Harold Radford coachbuilders of London. Paul's (GGJ 382C) came in Aston Martin California Sage Green Metallic and with Aston Martin rear lights; Ringo's (LLO 836D) became a hatchback conversion to carry his drum kit; John's (LGF 696D) was black with pitch black windows and George's (LGF 695D) was metallic black but famously repainted in a more psychedelic scheme in the Summer of Love. Three of them survive as John's car hasn't been seen since ages. There is, however, a fourth Radford Mini that has a bit of Beatle heritage attached to it as Beatle manager Brian Epstein was a fan, too. His car is now in a private Beatles Museum in Hawaii.

UPDATE 16:00: Pete Flanagan commented: "Epstein's car in Hawaii is a Wood & Pickett, not a Radford. W&P poached most of Radford's loyal Mini customers such as Epstein, Sellers etc. when their chief sales team defected there in 1966. The interior of Epstein's car is much less refined than a Radford which shows how persuasive that sales team was! Seller's last two coachbuilt Minis came from W&P including the silver Britt Eckland car which sadly was vandalised and burnt in the 1980's." Thanks Pete!

George's Mini under construction at Radford's. It was black before the psychedelic scheme

Paul and Linda in the Aston Martin Green Radford. Linda later had a pink Wood & Pickett Mini

Ringo's Radford Mini was famously converted into a hatchback. Note velours door trim

John is seen here in George's Mini. His own black Radford is shrouded in mystery

Paul's Mini was based on a 1965 Cooper 'S' and was a very early Radford conversion

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Forest finds

When I take a walk in the forest nearby I may see a deer or a rabbit, or when I'm really lucky a kingfisher perhaps. In a Somerset forest, not too far from Bristol, you may bump into several Minis and Mini derivatives. Here you will find shells of a Minus and a Phoenix estate (that looked rather splendid not too long ago - see here) plus a rotten Scamp Mk1 on 1982 plates, hidden in between the trees. But not for long anymore, as the owner has now decided to clear the place and get rid of them. Pity as it will look like any other wood then. Get in touch with Kingwell Mini Specialist when interested here.

Was this Mini Minus ever built up as a car? It should be a good project

Phoenix was on the road not too long ago but needs lots of work now

Scamp needs an awfull lot of work, but it is a Mk1

Friday 15 March 2013

Luna Bug discovered... vanishes again

As promised, here an update on the Luna Bug after yesterday's story about it. To find out more I chased Self Fit limited to no avail. So now it seemed that only luck could lead to more information about the car. And lucky I was. Or actually not me, but Paul Wylde - who has been very helpful before - was. He wrote to me a while ago: "Don't take this as gospel but I had a email a bit back about a guy who stated the Luna Bug never went to the fibreglass stage, claiming the one and only Luna Bug was fabricated out of steel because Barry Stimson threatened them with court actions." However, it lead to nothing.

But then, all of a sudden, Paul was offered a car for sale that definitely looked to be a Luna Bug. The one and only Luna Bug? Perhaps not, as this one was said to wear a different registration number then the car from the advertisement (not 'PBK 705H' but 'PBK 714H'). According to the DVLA database that number belonged to a 'Lunabug' indeed, but is on sorn since 1977. The car also clearly had a fibreglass body, rather then one in steel. The seller told Paul he'd had it for at least 30 years and had lost the number plates as it been moved around a lot in the years. Unfortunately, Paul couldn't pick it up quickly, and when he tried to get in touch later none of his messages were replied to. This all happened some months ago now. Paul doesn't have an idea where the car is now. Could it still be languishing around?

There you go. The Luna Bug as it reappeared recently. One of two made?
Picture through Paul Wylde
Like the advertisement car, the Luna Bug name is painted on its side, in a very 1970s way
Picture through Paul Wylde 
According to DVLA database this is an 850 engine. The single carburettor fits that bill
Picture through Paul Wylde
Steel tubing of framework seems to be least as simple as that of the Stimson
Picture through Paul Wylde
Body is definitely fibreglass. The car's roll bar and wind screen have been removed 
Picture through Paul Wylde
The head lights hidden in pods were definitely copied from Stimson's Mini Bug
Picture through Paul Wylde

Thursday 14 March 2013

Cloning Stimson's Mini Bug: the Luna Bug

When somebody comes up with a good idea, or at least one that seems to be a good one, there are always people trying to copy it. And so, back in 1969, when Barry Stimson built his first Mini based buggy in the UK after he'd seen VW based examples in Canada, it didn't take long for somebody else to clone his Stimson Mini Bug. That, boys and girls, became the Luna Bug. And although it may have seemed a clever idea, the name suggested it was rather foolish. In the first place because the Luna Bug was a rather shameless copy of Stimson's bug, with similar framework and a body that looked much alike, although the upright wind screen didn't do it too good. The thing was offered for sale in late 1970 from 145 GBP as a basic kit (the Stimson went from 170 GBP), but I don't think any were sold. 

With a bit of research and help from Stimson fan Paul Wylde, I found out that two chassis' were made in a place called Fratton by two guys who used to weld the chassis' for Stimson. One of these was built up as a car and became the Luna Bug you see on the pictures below. It was then offered for sale exclusively by Self Fit ltd. of Portsmouth - a company that's still in business today. To see if I could find out more about it, I contacted them, but unfortunately the chap who currently runs it does not remember anything about the Luna Bug. He did speak to the widow of one of the old Self Fit people and she vaguely remembered the car but that appeared to be it. So does the Luna Bug story ends dead there? Nope, it doesn't, as the actual car from the pictures below was found recently. More on that tomorrow.

Rare October 1970 advertisement for the Luna Bug, basic kit was offered for as little as 145 pounds
Picture archive Jeroen Booij / Hot Car magazine

The only other period picture that I found for the Luna Bug. Registration number is unknown now
Picture archive Jeroen Booij / Custom Car magazine

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Landar R6 in action

Every now and then former Landar owners or enthusiasts of the Landar marque send me some pictures or material in the old fashioned style: over the post. Some two years ago Tim Frankland sent a lovely R6 brochure that I had never seen before (here); Tim Dyke came up with a stack of pictures (click here) later, followed shortly by Andy Downes' images of an R6 in the 1980s (here). Last week, I received another letter accompanied by some original Landar pictures, this time by Milton Holland of Wolverhampton. Milton wrote: "I hill climbed what I believe was the works prototype R6 in the late 60's and have just come across some photos of my old car. I think my car was the ex-Tim Dyke car as it was white with a gold stripe when I bought it as a rolling chassis for the pricely sum of 350 pounds. I then fitted a 1300 'S' engine on a single Weber and repainted it Ford green with an orange stripe. I met one of the Radnall brothers at Presscot two years ago and believe he was writing a book on the Landar. Regards, Milton Holland." That is, of course, much appreciated, so thank you Milton! I wonder what happened to the car - one of only 10 R6s made...

Going into the esses at a very wet Shelshley Walsh. "I had to take my goggles off" recalls Holland
Picture courtesy Milton Holland

The ex-Tim Dyke car seen here, resplendid in green, at Wiscombe hill climb's Saw Bench corner
Picture courtesy Milton Holland
This picture was taken at Curborough "A local sprint course" added Holland, of Wolverhampton
Picture courtesy Milton Holland

Friday 8 March 2013

Mini utilities are everywhere

Take a deep breath and jump in the mysterious world of Mini based ultilities. I came across so many in the last few days. Reader Craig Jarrett asked me if I knew more about a car that a friend of him wants to get rid of. He wrote: "It's modified for a TV program, the pedals are the wrong way round and the steering goes in opposite directions, but I'm sure it could easily be put right." His friend is talking about scrapping it "as it's sittng in his garden in a bad way". There are no documents with it, but Craig is sure there must be somebody interested in it. His friend believed it to be a Scamp, but I can assure him it's a Gecko, built by Nick Ingram of Autobarn Fabrications in the 1980s (88 are said to have been made). The television-modifications seem interesting and perhaps anyone out here knows what program exactly it was used for?

This Gecko is said to be a former TV star. Note the garden furniture inside!
Picture via Craig Jarrett

But Craig's Mini based utility was not the only one that reached me in the last week. Gary Scott came up with another, which is unknown to me. It clearly appears to have been designed with the Mini Moke in mind, but it's surely something else. Home built? Tell me when you know it.

It's not a Moke nor a Jimini, Andersen Cub, Hrubon or Frenette. So what is it?
Picture via Gary Scott 

And then Barry Tilbury came up with an ad he'd spotted on eBay. It shows a Jeep-like but Mini based creature which I'm not sure about either. It could be a Lambert Jeep, built by Ted Lambert of Lewisham in the late 70's, or a Dinky Jeep or Capricorn, both of the mid-70's which I know even less about. Or is it even more obscure? Again: you tell me what this is.

Lambert, Dinky or Capricorn? Or a Mini based, Jeep inspired DIY creature?
Picture courtesy

And now that we're talking Moke lookalikes, let's have a look at some other cars that were offered for sale in the last few days. A nice looking Grantura Yak, with rare hardtop, was meant to be auctioned by Baron's but didn't make it's 2,250 GBP reserve. Perhaps because it had been on eBay only months earlier for considerably less money. There was also this nice Scamp Mk3, and another Mk2 said to be Robert Mandry's factory demonstrator; this rather nice AEM Scout (advertised as Moke or Scamp!) and another Scamp - a much modified Mk1 that we have seen here not too long ago. For now: enjoy the weekend!

Nice Grantura Yak - with factory hardtop - didn't make reserve price at auction
Picture courtesy
That's Moke nor Scamp! It's an AEM Scout. Some 150 were made from '83-on
Picture courtesy
I quite like the looks of this Scamp. A Mk3 on 1979 plates that's in London
Picture courtesy
Camping gear optional. This Mk2 Scamp is said to be the factory demonstrator
Picture courtesy

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Jem sessions

There's still a nice Mk1 Mini Jem shell for sale on the market pages out here. Not exactly cheap but quite a rare car which would make a great project. And it's not on his own, as I have heard of several more Jems that are being resurected at the moment. One of them is in fact a car that we've seen here before. It looked pretty bad back in 2010, but look at it now! Well done Tony Fysh who carried out the restoration and became so hooked that he is currently restoring another Mini Jem Mk2! He wrote: "The car drives really well and I am very pleased with the result. Currently working on the second." Meanwhile, over in France, David Pellereau, too, is working on not one but two Mk2 Jems. According to him one of them is a works racer, while the other was used by Fellpoint Limited as the show car. Below some pictures the Jem restorers sent over to me.

Tony's first Mini Jem is now finished, looking quite a lot better then two years ago!
Picture courtesy Tony Fysh
Now that the Jem bug got him, Tony carries on with a second project: another Mk2
Picture courtesy Tony Fysh

Over in France, David is working on this car, presumed to be a Mk2 works racer
Picture courtesy David Pellereau
The car is progressing slowly. David promised to keep me updated, so that'll be nice
Picture courtesy David Pellereau

This number plate may be familiar to those who have the Jem Mk2 brochure
Picture courtesy David Pellereau
And that's the show car it belongs to. Seen here upon arrival in France
Picture courtesy David Pellereau

Monday 4 March 2013

Ogle SX1000 prices over the years

When I see an ad for a Mini powered car in an old magazine I usually take a snap. I kind of collected these over the years as they give some kind of an indication on market prices for these cars. Two years ago I posted some of these, making your mouth water with those prices for old Unipower GTs. Now it's time to look back at what an Ogle SX1000 fetched back between the late 1960s and late 1980s. See a selection below, with prices varying from 700 to 5500 GBP. I wish I bought all of them.