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

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