Thursday 26 September 2013

A Unipower is a sexy beast

Moss and Mini derivatives make a great combination (click here for Sir Stirling with an Ogle SX1000), so here's another. It shows the racing driver at the London Racing Car Show in 1967 where he poses on the Universal Power Drives stand. Perhaps attracted by that low slung Unipower GT, but more likely by the girl draped over it's bonnet. I found another shot of her on that car and wondered who she is? It turns out to be Monika Dietrich - a model and actress in a few minor roles in the late 1960s. When I typed in her name in the search machine I found an article in a sensational 1968 paper called 'Midnight' in which she stated: “I love being naked and having men hunger over my body,” and “There’s only one thing I like more than exhibiting myself, and that’s sharing myself.” It doesn't seem to have done any good to her career as she disppeared off the radar soon after. Fortunately the pictures survive.

Glamour and glitz. But Moss just wanted to hand over his phone number
Picture courtesy Auto Italiana
Monika Dietrich certainly managed to spice up the Unipower stand in 1967
Picture Jeroen Booij archive
Monika knew how to appetite photographers - and journalists
Picture courtesy Midnight

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Mini based ice racer to be resurrected

Motor sport has many variations but I must admit I wasn't too familiar with ice racing. I'm catching up now, though, and understand it's a sport that is particularly popular in Scandinavia, the northern states of the USA and Canada. And the car you see here was built for it and used extensively in the late 1960s and early 1970s. There's no doubt it's a Mini based creature and a ultra lightweight one too. 

I understand it was known as 'Orange Crush', built and raced on the frozen lakes in the Midwest by Hank Beachy. Unfortunately Beachy passed away some nine years ago, but his racer survives. Only recently it was freed from a barn to be taken over by the British Transportation Museum in Dayton, Ohio. Although the lines of the Mini are still recognisable it's clear that Beachy totally modified his tangerine racer. I think just about any possible body panel is chopped, it's fully deseamed and very much streamlined. Just look at the rake of the windscreen. It was discovered with its engine, but unfortunately that's not with it anymore now. And it looks like the chap who took it out wasn't particularly careful, too, judging by the way the nose is broken... Anyway: the good news is that the museum is planning to restore it and they have allready been donated a new engine by Mini enthusiast Larry Tomlin. Thanks Roald Rakers and Charlie Pollett for the tip.

Hank Beachy's Mini based ice racer will be on display in Dayton, Ohio soon
Picture courtesy British Transportation Museum 

Chopped, channeled, lightened and streamlined but still a Mini. Note exhaust pipe
Picture courtesy British Transportation Museum 

This is how the car was discovered recently. It hasn't seen the ice track for ages
Picture courtesy British Transportation Museum 

Unfortunately the original racing engine was taken out. Not without scratches.
Picture courtesy British Transportation Museum 

But a new unit has allready been donated to the museum by Larry Tomlin
Picture courtesy British Transportation Museum

Friday 20 September 2013

More Minilan pictures emerge

Remember the Minilan? A Caribbean built racing special based on Mini mechanicals but with the looks of Lotus' Elan (hence Mini-Elan). It was raced on Babados in the early 1970s by Michael Gill and I wrote about it before (click here). Now, four more pictures of the car in its heydays have emerged from the archives of the Barbados Rally Club and I thought you might like to see them here, too. The best bit is that I understand the car is still alive and well with the Gill family on the island, although it's missing an engine at the moment. To be continued.

The Minilan in action. This is either at Bushy Park or Chancelylane swamp track
Picture courtesy Barbados Rally Club
Early '70s Caribbean pit scene: Michael Gill's special attracts plenty of attention
Picture courtesy Barbados Rally Club

The Minilan, a cross between Lotus Elan and Mini racer, survives on Babados
Picture courtesy Barbados Rally Club

1293cc Minilan ahead of Mini, Anglia, NSU and VW special on start grid 
Picture courtesy Barbados Rally Club

Thursday 19 September 2013

The Bee Gees Broadspeed

This year's July issue of Mini World magazine had an interesting feature on Broadspeed, with some nice new insights. One quote: "In 1966 the prototype GT and the race GTS were exhibited at the Racing Car Show at Olympia; even the Bee Gees pop group bought one." That last bit was new to me, and I wondered why I'd never seen pictures of one of the Gibb brothers with one such car. I was not on my own.

It now turns out it wasn't one of the Gibb brothers who had a Broadspeed GT but the band's drummer Colin Petersen. Maximum Mini fan Pete Flanagan was the one to let me know. He wrote: "I'd also heard that at least one of the Bee Gees had once owned a Broadspeed but until recently hadn't seen any proof of this, until now. Check out the photos of actor and later Bee Gees drummer Colin Petersen with his Broadspeed GT, Ferrari 330 GT and his girlfriend's Hillman Imp taken in March 1969, in a London mews by the looks of it. Petersen was an equal partner and drummer in the Bee Gees from 1967 - 1969 playing on five of their albums. His girlfriend Joanne Newfield was a former personal assistant to Brian Epstein, also a fan of the Mini as we know."

Pete continued: "I've had an old 'for sale' ad featuring a Broadspeed GT for quite a while; it was alledgedly the last proper GT. I can't quite remember which issue of Autosport the ad was from and it's possible Petersen bought the car in the ad or was the seller! I tend to think the latter but will check this up at some point. Regards, Pete." Isn't that just great? But the 'Bee Gees Broadspeed' does seem to be another celebrity Mini that has vanished from this earth. Over to the obvious question then: who knows what happened to this lovely little car?

UPDATE 20 September: A first lead comes from former Broadspeed GT owner Colin Baines: "I did have a conversation many years ago with a chap who saw mine at a meeting and said his brother's yellow Broadspeed caught fire on a trip to Spain and was scrapped. Now, I've never seen a yellow or sandy coloured one before... It will be interesting if any readers suggest anything?" It would indeed. Who's next..?

UPDATE 11 August 2015: Two more pictures of Petersen with the car emerge. See here 

Colin Petersen with all his toys: Imp, girlfriend, Ferrari, pet dog and Broadspeed GT
Picture courtesy Getty images 
Little and large. 'GKV 55D' is a 1966 registration; this photo dates from March 1969 
Picture courtesy Getty images
Open her up, will you? GT is said to have a 1250cc stage 3 engine
Picture courtesy Getty images
An ad for the 'Bee Gees Broadspeed'. Before or after Petersen? And where is it now?
Picture courtesy Autosport / via Pete Flanagan

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Ogle returns to Goodwood - 51 years later

I understand that Goodwood's Revival meeting was quite fabulous again, emphasizing on Jaguar, Ford's GT40 and Aston Martin this year. But at least one Mini derivative made it over to the West Sussex venue: an Ogle SX1000. The light blue car has been seen there before and actually is one of the original Ogle demonstrators. Or should I say was? I understand it was restored a couple of years ago using a Nostalgia NC1000 shell as the original car was too far gone to be rescued. I dug up a few historical pictures, one of them actually taken at Goodwood back in 1962! 51 Years on the car was there again, now on Nostalgia Cars' display together with a brand new chassis. That last looks bound to become a race car. Thanks Andy Downes for the Goodwood pictures!

'VJN 392' when it was new in 1962. Note black grille and Austin badge
Picture Jeroen Booij archive 
The car with chassis number 4 was used as Ogle's demonstrator for a while
Picture Jeroen Booij archive 

The same car also made it to one of the brochures for the Ogle SX1000
Picture Jeroen Booij archive 

Picture removed on request

And a rare colour picture showing it was gold. Taken at Goodwood in 1962
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

51 Years later it's at Goodwood again, now blue and with 12 inch wheels
Picture courtesy Andy Downes

The car was restored some years ago using a Nostalgia NC1000 shell
Picture courtesy Andy Downes  

Nostalgia Cars continues building 'Ogle continuations' This looks to become a racer
Picture courtesy Andy Downes

Friday 13 September 2013

Market round up: more cars for sale (Summer 2013)

Let's have a fresh look at some cars that are for sale at the moment, like we do every now and then. This may be a good moment to go for a winter project, so that when Spring 2014 is here you can take you freshly restored or newly acquired Mini based baby to the road.

How about a Scamp Mk1 that looks to have come straight from the set of a 1970s Spaghetti Western? It's in Blackburn, Lancashire and comes with musical horns (no dount playing Ennio Morricone tunes) but no V5. 'A good clean and it would look so much better', states the seller... (click here for the ad)

But perhaps the Country & Western style doesn't appeal to you, so how about something very different? How about a groovy Stimson Mini Bug in bright pink? There's no reserve and it comes with 998 engine and magic wand gearbox. The V5 is there, too, although it doesn't run. (click here)

Over to Oxfordshire where a particularly nice Ogle SX1000 has made it to the market. I think it looks good in metallic blue (it used to be red) with its lovely standard interior. Despite being an SX1000 it has a 1275 engine. The price is on the steep side though. (click here to go to the seller's page)

If you like your ogle blue but prefer to build it just like you want it, than it may be better to turn to Sussex Sports Cars, who have not one but two for sale at the moment. And both of them are in the process of rebuilding with plenty of finishing touches yet to be made. Click here.

No market view would be complete without a Mini Marcos, so there we go. It's a Mk4 of 1980 vintage in a nice orange shade needing a good polish. It's on a Q plate but is said to come with files of history ('it's unbelievable'). That's interesting as it hasn't been moved for 22 years. (click here for the ad)

Last but not least there's this nice little car in The Netherlands advertised as a Mini Moke, which it isn't. It's an AEM Scout, or in actual fact it's a Roles Cityhopper - that's what the Dutch-built Scout was named. Not many were built and what we've got here is one rare 1993 example. (Ad here)

Is your dream car or dream project not there? Then you may still find it here! Have a good weekend.

Thursday 12 September 2013

The Mini powered Beach racer

Mini based Beach Cars - we've seen plenty of these over here, haven't we? But hang on, this is one of a different kind. And avid reader Peter Camping prompted me about it: the Mini powered Beach Mk4 - an ultra light racing car from the US of A for goodness' sake. Before Gene Beach made a name in Europe with his Formula V cars, he'd built several other racers. And the first of his Mk4b's (serial number 100) was at one time kitted out with a Mini engine. According to Beach Racing Cars (still in business!) this car was originally shipped as a kit to a racing enthusiast in Texas in September 1964 who built it up with a Bandini engine. He raced it for several seasons, too. After that it was traded and received a 1275 Mini engine in 1968/'69 by its new owner who ran a Mini specialist shop in Texas (really!). A new body was made, too, and the racer now became knnown as the 'Pop-Rivet Special'. It was raced in Texas and Mexico, both with the original fibreglass body as with the new alloy one. Until 1970 it did so when it was sold on again, once again receiving another engine. As a matter of fact the car lives to this day. It's had an Cosworth engine, and more recently a Ford 1600. Unfortunately no pictures of the engine bay in its Mini day seem to have survived. It's a car that does belong here though. Thanks Peter!

Haulin' Texas style. The Beach when Mini powered and owned by Walter Mays
Picture courtesy Beach Cars

And that's the same car in 'Pop-Rivet Special' guise. Still Mini powered here
Picture courtesy Beach Cars

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Trifid prototype to be resurrected

You know I like strange old cars not too many people care about. The thing is that meeting up with the owners can be downright disappointing - a car is standing next to the dustbin in a drizzle with jammed brakes and the chap who just bought it for the registration has no time. Luckily this is compensated for by the other half: the true enthusiast. 

Phil Wells happened to be one and when I came over to his place last May I was warmly welcomed. We chatted all afternoon about the many Mini derivatives he'd had, his wife cooked a nice diner and Phil arranged a B&B close by. Better still was the fact that he had not one but two of the cars that I came for: the Brookwell Trifid - an unlikely three-wheeled creature he'd been responsible for in the late eighties. They were both in superb condition, too, and he took me for a drive in one. That was quite an experience, with Phil pushing his Trifid to its limits (he'd been using one for years as a daily driver over the country roads in his native Norfolk). We screamed along the roads and drifted over unpaved paths.

And so the Trifid will make a nice chapter in my next book. When I came home Phil sent me a message that he'd been sparkled to start rebuilding the prototype Trifid - the only one with a steel body. He wrote: "I pulled the front subframe out of storage to rebuild our own ‘barn find’ Trifid… Last on the road over 12 years ago it seems..." That's the spirit. It may be a footnote in motoring history, but there are people caring about them. Thanks again Phil!

Phil in the earliest day of the Brookwell Trifid - with the prototype
Picture courtesy Phil Wells
The prototype's body as it is waiting to be restored in the Wells' barn now
Picture Jeroen Booij

Subframe with Mini engine will be reconditioned soon to rewrite Trifid history
Picture courtesy Phil Wells

Friday 6 September 2013

Freewheelers drive Mini Bugs

Remember 'Freewheelers'? I don't, but reader Paul Wylde does. And I'm sure he has some fond memories of it. It was a television series about a group of teenagers who get caught up in the plans of an ex-Nazi officer and it was broadcast between 1968 and 1973. Sounds like a cult show to me - an image that is further enhanced by the appearance of two Stimson Mini Bugs. Paul wrote: "Here are some photos of MK2 Minibugs used in the Freewheelers in 1972. It was filmed in and around Goodwood and in one of the photos you can see the Halnaker windmill and one of the two cars that were used. Both cars are still about." Thanks again Paul! Anyone who has some Freewheeling moving image?

UPDATE 30 October 2017: Here we go! 

Hide and seek - RPX 885K is properly registered as a Mini Bug with 850 power
Picture courtesy Paul Wylde
Filming took place in and around Goodwood, also not far from Stimson's place 
Picture courtesy Paul Wylde

 This is the other Stimson Bug - an orange one. And that's Halnaker windmill
Picture courtesy Paul Wylde

Good casting: Stimson Mini Bug would have been a dream drive for this teenager
Picture courtesy Paul Wylde

Thursday 5 September 2013

Jim's jolly Jimini

Enthusiasts have been building Jiminis since the mid-1970s and carry on doing so to this day, as proves Nigel Lamb who finished his' last year. It prompted another reader to drop me a line about the example he built - back in 1977! Jim Meikle wrote: "Hi. I just thought that you may be interested in my Jimini - I say 'My Jimini', well, I have just sold it, after 36 years of ownership. I built it in 1977, from a 1963 Mini. It was originally supplied in bright orange from the factory - 'Jimini Automotive', based at Brooklands. It travelled in the removal van, when I moved home to Scotland. The current paint job was completed in 1983. It is now in Northern Ireland. It has been in use since 1977, and is still road legal. Hope you enjoy the pictures." I certainly do, Jim, thanks for these! Meanwhile, Nigel has decided to sell his car to fund another Mini based project. See the ad here.

Jim built this cheerful Jimini in 1977 and used it for 36 years. He now sold it
Picture courtesy Jim Meikle

After world's shiniest Mini engine, I can now present you world's most colourful!
Picture courtesy Jim Meikle
And that's how the shell came in in 1977. Note Mini donor '347 CMC' in the back
Picture courtesy Jim Meikle

Wednesday 4 September 2013

BOO! I'm alive!

Look at that! It's the Ogle SX1000 'Super' that was recently featured here as being the car used in an advertisement (click) and driven by Stirling Moss (click again). Well, it's alive and well in Tokyo, Japan in Mister Maruyama's fabulous collection. I didn't see it when I was there, but fortunately reader Colin Baines did. As can be seen it still wears it big chrome bumper, a feature for the 'Super' versions, now with some fog lights added to the grille. Thanks Colin!

This is an Ogle SX1000 with a very nice slice of history. It lives in Japan now
Picture courtesy Colin Baines

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Sarcon Scarab (1 of 2) for sale again

Almost a one-off - the Sarcon Scarab that was built in the earliest of the 1970s by Sarcon Ltd 'Manufacturers of racing car chassis and fibreglass specialists' in Yeadon, Leeds. The one below actually is the only 'production car' with fibreglass body - the only other Scarab existing came with a body in alloy. I still do not know whatever happened to the company but fact is they closed very soon after the car's launch. This one was sprinted and hill climbed in the 1970s, registered 'CBH 336K'. Unfortunately the registration is not attached to the car anymore. It ended up in Belgium in the 1980s with the idea of restoring it. A year and a half ago the current owner decided to sell it never the less (click here) but he didn't get much response. He's now flogged it over to Milko Colsen in The Netherlands who's just put it on the market again. On these pages - click here to see the advertisement.  

Swoopy lines, Terrapin base. Windscreen plus surround are only parts missing
Picture courtesy Milko Colsen

The Mini engine is a standard 1000 which needs proper fitting plus wiring
Picture courtesy Milko Colsen