Wednesday 27 November 2013

Home grown Specials (5)

Why on earth would anyone take three totally different cars from three different eras and cut 'n shut them together into one motoring mix, previously unseen? The late Douglas Meredith provided us with the simple answer: "I wanted something different", or so he said back in 1997. And with plenty of time on his hands as a pensioned panel beater, Douglas from Welshpool set himself to the task of grafting together three cars to build one most unusual special back in 1989. The base was provided by a 1979 Mini 1100 mated to the rear end of a 60's Triumph Herald convertible and the front end of an 80's Ford Escort. Doug strengthened the Mini's floor, chopped back a set of Mini Clubman front wings and fitted these, narrowed and shortened a Escort Mk3 front and mig welded that on. The bonnet became a mixture of Mini Clubman and Escort. Next, he chopped the roof and rear end off the Mini, took a Herald and cut the rear off that, narrowed it by one inch, mig welded that on the Mini and made the convertible roof fit the Mini windscreen surround. Easy eh?! The wheel arches were subtly widened and the car was painted in a bright cellulose red. It took the much experienced Meredith three years of work and an estimated 2,600 GBP in costs. The Herald leftovers were used as a greenhouse to grow tomatoes and strawberries, so that was a nice bonus! He did sell the car not too long after that, though, and I understand that it recently made it over to The Netherlands. 

That's a strange bumper on a Triumph Herald isn't it? It looks narrower too.
Picture courtesy 

Hang on, it's an Escort with a Mini badge. Or not? Bonnet is a mixture of these
Picture courtesy 

There's no doubt that there's a Mini in the Meredith special. The conversion is all-steel
Picture courtesy

Meredith wanted a convertible and that's were the Triumph rear came in
Picture courtesy

The hood fits the Mini windscreen surround. Imagine the work going in it!
Picture courtesy 

The late Douglas Meredith with his unusual Mini special back in 1997
Picture courtesy Martin Vincent

Friday 22 November 2013

Call of the Wildgoose

A picture of a Wildgoose camper van, posted by Henk van Brakel, recently unearthed a stack of contemporary Wildgoose photographs, most of which were previously unknown to me. Henk was kind enough to send all of his snaps over to here and who am I not to share them with you? You'll see both the Wildgoose Popular as the Wildgoose Brent versions, the latter of which was more expensive due to its pop-up roof. Henk thinks some of the Wildgooses (Wildgeese?) he photographed could well have been exported by now. Let me know when you know more about these specific cars.

This Wildgoose Brent ('PPX 272E') probably was the company's works demonstrator
Picture via Henk van Brakel
It's in the US now registered 'WLD GSE' in Washington and seen here at the IMM in 2009 
Picture courtesy Henk van Brakel
Another US Wildgoose. According to Henk this  Popular resides in Florida now
Picture via Henk van Brakel
This Popular is well-known in UK Mini circles. It was restored by owner Rob Goodwin
Picture courtesy Henk van Brakel
PPX 492E, another Wildgoose Popular snapped here at the Mini's 50th birthday
Picture courtesy Henk van Brakel
Three Wildgooses in one picture! These were at the IMM in Gaydon in 2009
Picture courtesy Henk van Brakel
This is the same car as the first one above but with a new reg number. BMW owns it
Picture Jeroen Booij
This looks to be the middle car from the three in Gaydon. Does it survive?
Picture via Henk van Brakel 
And the last of the three musketeers. Not much is known about this 1967 Popular
Picture courtesy Henk van Brakel
This Wildgoose Brent, registered '948 GLR' looks to be spotted in the 1970s here
Picture via Henk van Brakel

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Ogle press statement

A lovely little piece of Ogle history was sent in by Paul Fleetwood, who wrote: "Earlier this year in one of your excellent blogs regarding the Super Ogle SX1000 you included a press cutting provided by Pete Flanagan" (find it here, and click here for some pictures of the car with Stirling Moss).
"I have an original press statement from Ogle Design announcing the same version, but unfortunately they did not date the statement. Would you know or be able to find out for me from which publication and it's date that Pete got that cutting from? Thanks very much for your help in this matter."Thank you Paul! And let's see how long it takes before a date is pinned to this press statement.

Press statement announcing the Ogle SX1000 Super. But from when is it?
Picture courtesy Paul Fleetwood

Thursday 14 November 2013

Where's Paul's bird puller?

Paul Edwards dropped a line on the forum to see if anyone out here knows more about the Mini Marcos he once had. He wrote: "I came across this forum while cruising for Mini parts and it made me think about my old Marcos. I was wondering if by chance it's still around or anyone knows of its fate? I bought it in the late 70's as being the car from the 1971 London motor show. It was white and fitted with a tailgate. The registration number was CHY 1K and it was fitted with a 1380cc engine and straight cut gearbox when I got it. For the 20-odd year old boy that I was it was quite the bird puller! Anyway after a fire I got urge for something a little less flammable and went on to the standard Cooper cars. The Mini Marcos was purchased by a Peter? in Merton I think. Did it survive or was it broken up?" Unfortunately I don't know anything about it. It did ring a bell, but all I could find was a picture of the 1969 Motor Show with a Mini Marcos outside. Now if Paul's Marcos really was a former show car someone should know it?

Another white Mini Marcos, not in 1971 but at the 1969 London Motor Show
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Unipower register updates (2)

Time for another update on the list of Unipower GTs (click here).

First, a message came in from Carlos Maciel in Portugal. He wrote: "Being a Mini nut (1 Mini Marcos, 1 Van, 2 Minis) I follow your blog with some interest. This brings me to the matter of Unipower updates. Portugal is home of one of the special lightweight versions: RR-28-52. But there is another one, I think its is a normal road version with a Cooper engine and registered RR-28-37. Please find attached two pictures to upadate the 'register'. Unfortunately I do not know the car's chassis number but it came to Portugal at the same time as RR-28-52: around 1968. Thanks for all the information you have been giving us. Regards, Carlos." And thank you, too, Carlos!

Another fantastic chunk of information comes from the United States. I now understand there were 13 GTs imported to the US by an official concessionaire in Rockville, Maryland. That's interesting. Question is how many of these cars remain as several are said to have been exported. Certain is that two cars from Colorado went back to the UK a few years back (now 'NOP 413F' and 'ROR 99G'). Two are said to remain in Rochester, one in New York, one in Minnesota, one in Arizona and one in Virginia. Information is very scarce, but there have to be people here knowing more.

Next, over to Japan, where a treasure trove is about to be opened - hopefully. The location of the orange colored mystery car is finally unearthed, and what a location it is. The car is stored in a two-story warehouse in Gifu that appears to be chuck full with British and Italian exotics. I understand the company housed here used to be Japan's Lotus concessionaire, but ceased trading many years ago. What happened to it afterwards is shrouded in mystery but fact is that the premises are hiding lots and lots of rare cars, including Lotuses, Maseratis, Abarths, Ferraris, many Minis and our mystery Unipower. To be continued. Meanwhile the orange/yellow lhd car in Japan is spotted for sale once more...

Another Portugese Unipower GT that has been in that country since 1968
Picture courtesy Carlos Maciel
This one is said to be Cooper based, and the other Portugese car being a lightweight
Picture courtesy Carlos Maciel
Japanese mystery Unipower rubs shoulders with Jeffrey J4 and Mini Marcos
Picture courtesy google street view
'Proauto' in Gifu looks to be a two-story treasure trove full of rare (Mini) stuff
Picture courtesy google streetview
Gorgeous left hand drive Unipower has been seen for sale several times now
Picture Jeroen Booij archive
One of 13 Unipower GTs that are said to have been officially imported into the US
Picture courtesy

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Stimsons in Scotland

We've seen Stimson Mini Bugs from Switzerland here, from The Netherlands and plenty from England too, so how about the Scottish? Well, I just found out that there was an enthusiastic outlet for the Mini based buggy in Edinburgh: Custom Hot Rodding, run by a chap named Vince Gonelli in the early 1970s. I came across a nice article in an old copy of Hot Car magazine and when I typed in the name in google more pictures came up from an Edinburgh based enthusiast who took them at the time. Hot Car wrote about the 'speedshop': "Although you might call it a 'goodie' shop the accent is on really useful equipment for the serious enthusiast. As there are few real tuning firms in their own right in Scotland, they stock a good selection of equipment produced by better tuners from the south (...). In most cases Scots customers prefer to do their fitting themselves but the arrangement exists whereby Vince's workshop side of the deal can carry out the work if required." Love it. Any Scots know if these cars survive? By the way: the rare Dutch-built Barclay Mini Bug of Andre de Wit (this one) has now come for sale. Click here when you are interested.

UPDATE 28 June 2022: another great shot of Gonelli's racer turns up. Click here.

December 1970. This is outside Custom Hot Rodding's workshop in Edinburgh
Picture courtesy Colin Lourie

Vince Gonelli in his Mini Bug racer. It used a 950cc engine with 45 DCOE Weber
Picture courtesy Colin Lourie

That's Vince Gonelli again in his Mk1 Stimson racer, now in wild stickering
Picture courtesy Hot Car magazine

He raced it throughout Scotland and northern England, here at Barns Ness, March 1971
Picture courtesy Colin Lourie

There were at least 3 Mk1 Mini Bugs in the Edinburgh workshop!
Picture courtesy Colin Lourie