Thursday 31 October 2013

Home grown Specials (4)

Time for another piece of imaginative DIY-work. Why buy that expensive Mini based fastback GT if you can build it yourself? That's what a certain John must have thought when he started work on his 'XP3 prototype'. What was the idea? Certain is that he sold it after not too long, as this old ad proves, sent in by Pete Flanagan. This is what it says:

If you want to be seen - buy my XP3 prototype

This unique car offers hand-made bodywork combined with 'standard' components that are easy and inexpensive to maintain. The above prototype is based on a little-used 1964 Mini ('Dry '64 cars had greater roadholding ability') and is powered by a 60 bhp 848 cc engine fitted with just one 1 1/4 in. SU and a special Piper head. This offers more than adequate performance for this light car and combines it with a good petrol consumption. Its specification is very complete including 13 in. steering wheel, complete instrumentation, bucket front seats, tinted windows all round, opening rear window and simply requires tailoring to meet its new owner's requirements. Mechanics include lowered suspension, competition shock absorbers, anti-roll bar, etc. This car has taken nearly a year to make and has cost over 1,000 pounds. Further enquiries and offers to 'John' (followed by a London address and telephone number). 
Like or dislike? Of course it gets my thumbs up, but it would be nice to see a bit more of it. Let me know if you can help with that!

John's homemade fastback. But what happened to this XP3 prototype?

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Top 10 Mini derivatives

How could I miss this! A Top 10 of Mini derivatives in the current (November) issue of Classic and Sports Car magazine. It's by Richard Heseltine who every now pops in here, too, to leave one or two pictures from his fantastic files behind. He writes here: "Whittling down the list to just 10 cars was no easy task, and we've cleared of all bar the sports car stuff" But limited or not to that area only, what would your Top 10 look like? Richard came up with this:

1. Mini Marcos
2. Unipower GT
3. Zagato Mini Gatto
4. Deep Sanderson 301
5. Cox GTM / GTM
6. Nota Fang / Type IV
7. Owen Greenwood 'sidecar'
8. Midas
9. Mini Jem
10. Ogle SX1000

I think mine should look something like this:

1. Lawther GT
2. Gitane GT
3. Camber GT
4. Mini Marcos (the 1966 Mk1 Le Mans car to be precise)
5. Deep Sanderson 301
6. Butterfield Musketeer
7. Zagato Mini Gatto
8. Bulanti Mini
9. Cox GTM (make that the '67 Car and Car Converions car)
10. Unipower GT

Erm, all pretty sporty too. And there are so many more! But it's nice to have a dream, or 10, isn't it?

Friday 25 October 2013

A Unipower is a sexy beast (2)

Unipower GT related messages continue to drop in here and it's about time to make another update on the list of cars existing, with news coming from Portugal, the US and Japan. But meanwhile here is another shot from the Unipower stand during the 1967 Racing Car Show in London. This time it's not obstructed by that young man Moss desperately trying to hand over his phone number to that saucy girl on the car's bonnet. This picture concentrates on her alone - oh yes, it's Monika Dietrich again. This time dug up from the files of Richard Heseltine, that cheeky lad. By the time it was taken Moss had gone and Monika decided to get rid of most of her glitter suit. It must have been a warm day, back in January 1967. Thanks Richard!

Why wear a Mini skirt if there's something as lovely as a bikini?
Picture Richard Heseltine archive

Monday 21 October 2013

Autumn sonata (2)

Okay, one more autumn posting. Not of a Stimson Safari 6 nor of a Unipower this time - this is the Wood & Pickett Mini Margrave of Danish Mini fan, coachbuilt Mini expert and great Maximum mini friend Jens Christian Lillelund. He wrote: "Autumn has reached us, but the weather was great today, so went for a long drive in the W&P. Unfortunately have they predicted colder weather so its only a matter of time untill I can't drive anymore, as they will put salt on the roads." Love it!

Gorgeous car, gorgeous surroundings. Jens Christian restored his W&P over a long timespan
Picture: Jens Christian Lillelund
 It's probably the only Wood & Pickett Mini with Janspeed turbo power
Picture: Jens Christian Lillelund

Thursday 17 October 2013

Unipower register updates

I received some nice updates on my Unipower GT listing (click here). Thanks for these! In the first place I understand that the car registered NGH 8D is the same as れにち57 ん66-81, so that's one car less in Japan. However, another one now fills the gap as I have been sent some mysterious pictures of an orange coloured GT in a Japanese warehouse. Unfortunately there's no information whatsoever coming with them and I have no idea where exactly they were taken or by whom. There's a big white block obstructing a part of the image. The car appears to be in good company though, as it rubs shoulders with a Mini Marcos, a Lotus Mk4 and a Mini registered JAN 4, which was used for a famous Janspeed race car. Could the Unipower be another Janspeed tuned car?

Next, there appears to be a 4th Unipower GT in Spain. Miguel Plano from Quebec, Canada, knows about another Spanish registered Unipower. He sent in two pictures of a yellow Mk1 which was photographed in Madrid with the registration M-778 776. The pictures come from a book named 'Enciclopedia del Automovil' that was published around 1970. The question now is if the car survives...

Last but not least Francois Tasiaux from Brussels, Belgium, tells me that the ex-Janspeed car, chassis number 12669 (also for sale here, scroll down), was offered at an auction in Berge's in Brussels on Monday October 7th. The estimate was set at 30-35,000 Euros and bidding started at 20,000. Or actually, it didn't as not a single bid was made to buy this nice car...

Another Unipower GT in Spain. Does this Madrid registered car survive?
Picture courtesy Enciclopedia del Automovil 
Judging by the rear lights this is a Mk1. Anyone who recognizes the yellow badge?
Picture courtesy Enciclopedia del Automovil
Mystery in Japan. This place hides a Unipower plus what looks like a famous Janspeed racer
Picture source unknown 
Mk1 or Mk2- it's hard to tell from this point. Black windscreen surround may be a clue
Picture source unknown 
Speaking of Janspeed - this ex-Janspeed Unipower didn't sell at auction in Brussels
Picture Francois Tasiaux

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Mini Jaba found in a scrapyard

Barcelona based Mini enthusiast Xavier Enrich dropped me a line yesterday about an odd Mini that was found in Spain recently. Some pictures were posted on a website, too, mentioning this may be a possible 'Mini Broadspeed Foral' - whatever that may be. Xavier added: "It seems to be a modified Authi Mini Mk2" and I'm sure he's right there. What's more: I know a bit more about the car in question.

This actually is the Mini Jaba, made by a company called 'Transformaciones Jaba' in the early 1970s in Navarre. The Jaba was meant as a neo-classic mimicking a 1930s car but based on the Mini. It was shown on the Barcelona Motor Show of 1971 and made it to a Barcelona concours, too, see picture below. The car on that photograph comes with the same fibreglass flip front, front fenders and headlights. It also has the same Dunlop wheels and comes with a chrome horn or grab handle on its side - the green car appears to have holes on the same place. The roof conversion, however, looks different. Was there an overhanging drop top fitted? Looking at the rear of the scrap yard car you can see this could well be possible. There was clearly some sort of Landau roof one day. The modified boot lid seems to have carried a spare wheel, too. That fits the 1930s theme well.

But is it the same car? Below the green paint there are clearly traces of white. However, with what looks like green carpets and seats inside it could well be that this car has been green for longer - making the concours car possibly another one. Unfortunately I don't have any more information and so it would be nice to learn if anyone out here does. Fact is that this is definitely a contender for 'Find of the Year'!

Found in a Spanish scrap yard: this is a Mini Jaba - inspired by the Magenta?
Picture courtesy
The car is based on an Authi Mini Mk2. Roof and boot lid are heavily converted
Picture courtesy

Interior, too, is much altered. Note quilted door paddings and green carpets
Picture courtesy

The Mini Jaba was mimicking a 1930s car. Here seen in Barcelona in 1971
Picture source unknown

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Mk1 Performance / Maximum Mini Action Day

Today's exciting news comes from my friends over at Mk1 Performance Conversions who are planning a show and track day. Things are looking swell, and now I've been asked to cooperate by forming some kind of a Mini derivatives display, too. I love the idea and am quite sure I won't be on my own. One of the Mk1 folk wrote: "Brilliant idea this. Would be a fantastic way of getting rid of parts and buying things too, without having to search through boxes of chavved up tat at overpriced shows!"

Now, before I start inviting people let's check here if there's enough interest. It will be held on Sunday May 4th 2014 at Blyton Park in Lincolshire. That's under 40 miles from Hull were ferries from The Netherlands and Belgium arrive, so as convenient for Continental Mini lovers as it gets. The guys from Mk1 Performance tell me "It would have to be on a strictly non club basis, no membership fees, no committee & no rules, just a group of like minded friends meeting up for a show or a track day because they fancy it. There will not be a charge to get in but if this event snowballs it may be necessary for a modest entry fee. However, they are thinking of actually hiring the track for some Mini action, too. If some 30 cars will make it the cost for this will be around 125 pounds - less if there will be more. So there you go. I'm in for it. How about you?

UPDATE 16 October 2013: Woohoo! Initial response is very good. So far I've had responses from people with a range of exciting Mini derivatives who intend to bring their cars with them: a Mini Jem, Mini Marcos, Stimson Mini Bug, Stimson Safari 6, Broadspeed GT, Biota Mk2, Midas Bronze, Ogle SX1000, Elswick Envoy and a very special Cox GTM. Now that's variety! Keep 'm coming.

A wide and colourfull variety of Mini derivatives - that's the idea for the 4th of May next year
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Monday 14 October 2013

More about Tilling's Mini de Ville

Thanks for the messages I received in the past week. Some about the list of Unipower GTs that I made (click here - update soon) and also about the coachbuilt threesome seen here. Tilling Automotive Limited of London, who dreamt up the Tilling Mini de Ville in 1975 advertised their product in the motoring press at the time. And Sascha Wilkins was kind enough to send in one such ads - see below. It gives a good impression of what the converted roof looks like. Whatever happened to the car in question is unclear, but I now understand hat another Tilling Mini does survive. It doesn't have the converted roof, but does come with some other 'coachbuilt' features and does wear the Tilling Mini de Ville badges. Let me know if you own it now, or if you found out more about Tilling and their Minis.

So this is what the Tilling 'Landau roof conversion' looked like from the rear
Picture via Sascha Wilkins
This doesn't look too spectacular but it's 1975 Mini Clubman converted by Tilling, too
Picture courtesy  
It doesn't have the distinctive 'Landau' conversion, but does come with the badges
Picture courtesy

Friday 11 October 2013

Unipower GT: how many left?

I had a reason to check the Unipower GT files earlier this week and got all mixed up. There are quite a few pictures amassed but there's not much of an order. So there I decided to make some sort of a register to check which car is which and to see how many survive. Not easy! But below you find the results and I hope it clear some things up. Of the supposed 75 cars built I could track down pictures and / or details of 41 of them, although in some cases it's hard to tell which of these exist to this day. Some cars could be gone by now, others may be double in there as they can have been exported or re-registered. If you know of any changes or of cars not in here, please let me know as it would be nice to turn this into a an up-to-date register. For an overview that I made of Unipowers sold / for sale some years back, click here

British registrations:

KYT 9D (GB) picture here
KYL 294D (GB) picture here
OYF 80F (GB) picture here
NOP 413F (GB) picture here
XGH 7G (GB) picture here
HNK 8G (GB) picture here
LTM 80G (GB) picture below
ROR 99G (GB) picture here
1275 U (was XGH 7G?) (GB) picture here
4 British Unipower GTs in Britain in 1977. Eagle eyed viewers spot a 5th
Picture courtesy Alternative Cars

British registrations, but in Japan:

NGH 8D (now れにち57 ん66-81) (J) picture here
GUF 48D (J)
SUR 109D (J) picture here
PKR 534G (now 品川53 の60-11) (J)
HDH 800J (J) picture here
JGL 172J (J)
66 UP (J) picture below
'66 UP' used to be this car's British registration. It's in Japan now
Picture courtesy Mini Maruyama

Registrations elsewhere:

OBK-041 (B) picture here
ZH 332-269 (CH) picture here
JU 100-002 (CH) picture here
M 689-639 (E) pictures here
M 778-776 (E) pictures here
B 568-381 (E) pics & video here
B 570-090 (E) picture here
BK 7597 (HK) picture here
RR-28-52 (P) picture here + below
RR-28-37 (P) pictures here
UNIPWR-GP (SA) picture here
男分53 ん5-41 (J) picture here
れにち57 ん66-81 (was NGH 8D) (J) picture here
要を55 を12-75 (J) pictures here
This Unipower has been raced from the late 1960s on in Portugal
Picture courtesy Rui Sanhudo

Unregistered / unknown cars:

Light blue Mk1 (GB) picture here
Red Mk1 (AUS) pictures here
Blue Mk1 (US) picture here
Red Mk1 (J) pictures here
Green Mk1 (J) picture here
Yellow/green Mk1 (CAN) picture
Red Mk1, modified into ESAP Minimach (I) pics here
White Mk2 (J) pictures here
Orange Mk2 (J) pictures here and here
Yellow Mk2 (GB) picture here
Yellow/white Mk2 (GB) pictures here
White Mk2 (GB) picture below
Hidden under wraps: a Unipower in Britain needing full restoration
Picture source unknown

Fake registrations for press pictures:

UNIPOWER picture here
UPD 1000 picture here + below
'UPD 1000' is a fake number on an early works car in Perivale
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

UPDATE 21:00: a 4th Spanish car (M 778-776) added to the list, thanks to Miguel Plano. Picture to follow

UPDATE 17 October: NGH 8D is same car as れにち57 ん66-81; orange mystery Mk2 car added; above Spanish car added; Belgian ex-Janspeed car (OBK-041) offered at auction - click here

UPDATE 13 November: Portugese GT (RR-28-37) added), more about the japanese orange mystery car and 13 Unipowers officially imported into USA - click here

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Coachbuilt cover stars

Okay. Take a good look at the very 1970s picture below. It's a cover shot from 'The Motor' in 1975. The centre attraction is the opulent Panther De Ville. But there is some more opulence in there as the three Minis shown are all far from standard. The thing is that at least two of them are pretty mysterious, so there's a good reason for showing them here. 

Right behind the Panther De Ville there is a namesake: the Tilling Mini De Ville, which I reckon is the least known of the three. Among its interior features you will find tinted and electric windows and quarterlight, plenty of veneer, a centre armrest and an adjustable steering column. Stranger is the exterior rear treatment, of which the article says this: "By special treatment, the roofline above the rear window is raised and moulded to simulate the traditional 'Landau'." But unfortunately there's no good picture showing this. Perhaps anyone out here knows more about Tilling and their Mini conversions?

Then there is the Oyler Contessa with its door open. That car, built by Oyler Coachtrimmers of Halifax, is a trimmed treasure indeed. The Oyler company was part of the Homfray Group - big carpet manufacturers and so the interior was richly equiped to say the least. 'When they've finished, you wouldn't know it was a Mini' Motor magazine writes. Apart from carpets and dralon everywhere you could also find cigar lighters en suite with champagne panniers and chrome glass holders. But the Contessa also is a hidden treasure as information about Oylers coachbuilt Minis is so scarce. The car in the article is said to be owned by a Mrs. Stephenson, and I believe it to be the same one as in Oyler's brochure. Did they ever build any more than that?

Last there's the car on the right back behind the Oyler Contessa: a Wood & Pickett Mini Margrave that's been fully deseamed. There's lot and lots more information about W&P to be found and it's a fact that many more Margraves were built. But how about this particularly good looking chestnut brown example?

Opulence galore: Panther De Ville, Tilling Mini De Ville, Oyler Contessa and W&P Mini Margrave
Picture courtesy Motor magazine

Thursday 3 October 2013

Home grown Specials (3)

Over to the Do-It-Yourself department, where this time I stumbled upon a Mini based car with a body entirely made of wood. No, it's not a Hustler but a nameless special made by mister Stewart Ainscough of Wrightington (near Wigan) in the early 1970s. Other than that it is based on a Mini and comes with a wooden (marine ply?) body information is limited. It looks to be a two-seater but it does have rear side windows for which Ainscough appears to have used the glass of some leftover picture frames. Anyone who recognizes the windscreen and its surround? Or better still: knows more about it?

Ainscough Special used a wooden body and came in a - erm - distinctive shape
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Nothing gold can stay

Do forgive me for getting poetic - it's because autumn is here.
These words are by Robert Frost, an appropriate name I think.

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold,
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Claude Houde's Unipower GT in the 24 hours of Mont-Tremblant in Canada 
picture: Yanick Gougeon