Wednesday 25 February 2015

A plane, a bird? No it's a Mini based sports car

The Ibis is a bird, right? Not necessarily. There have been planes, bikes and hotels named Ibis. Plus a Mini based car hailing from New Zealand. It was initiated by Wallace McNair who restored classic cars in Auckland when the good old Berkeley T60 all of a sudden sparked his idea for a Mini based sports car. But it was Ian Byrd (what's in a name) who actually turned it into a prototype. When that was destroyed when it fell from a truck Byrd nearly gave up, but fortunately Tim Monk-Masen came around to give him a hand. Under Replicar Developments (NZ) Ltd they actually build it. I will write the Ibis' full and enjoyable story for Maximum Mini 3.

But meanwhile Ben Taylor surprised me with some unseen film footage of the late 1980s. Ben says his father owned no less than three Ibises and his current car (the red one below) is supposedly one of just three on the road today. The marketing video can be found below, enjoy it and thank you Ben!

Great marketing video to promote the 1987 Ibis by Replicar Developments
Video courtesy Ben Taylor

The first Ibis sports cars can also be seen at speed in the film footage
Picture courtesy Paul Wilkinson

 The same car made it to the stand of the Sports Car Club of NZ in 1992
Picture courtesy Paul Wilkinson

Ben's father's 1275 powered car is believed to be 1 of 3 Ibises on the road today
Picture courtesy Craig Watson

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Mini Jem left rotting is not for sale

Every now and then I receive a message from someone who has spotted this orange Mini Jem Mk2 looking very sad for itself. One of the chaps who photographed it some years ago published his picture and was contacted by the owner of the car who was not amused. It's not for sale nor does he want his address to be made public. For this reason I never posted any of the pictures. But now that Olof Neergaard sent over a particularly good shot of world's saddest Jem it may be about time. Olof writes: "This is why I love England! A friend was filling up his car, in the freezing cold the other day and couldn't believe his eyes: a Mini Jem parked in the grass across the road looking sad with an open side window and, apparently, a rotten interior. The big Marcos and Seven are also interesting."

I looked it up again on Google Streetview and - yes - it's still there, now joined by not one but two big Marcoses of which the first (the one on Olof's picture) has been there for several years now. Phoahh!  Here some pictures of what the Mini Jem looked like back in 1990. It's about time these cars get some tender loving care. And if that is too much asked, put it under a cover, or roll it into a shed!

This Mini Jem Mk2 has been left rotting for many years now and is spotted regularly
Picture courtesy Olof Nigård

Some years earlier in Summer… This was a very nice Mini Jem back in 1990
Picture courtesy Arthur Jackson

I'm not giving the address but this is how it can be seen on Google Streetview today
Picture courtesy Google Streetview

Tuesday 10 February 2015

Get ready for the 2nd Action Day!

After last year's first track day for fans of early Minis and Mini based cars, the time has come to get ready for the 2015 edition! The second Mk1 Performance Conversions / Maximum Mini Action Day will once again be held at Blyton Park, Lincolnshire, this time stretching over the weekend of Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3rd of May 2015 with plenty to do and see on both racing tracks of the venue.

Full details can be found here and anyone wanting to book one of the 120 track places will find the details there, too. Drop me a line if you need details from me or if you want to put your Mini derivative on display at the Maximum Mini stand. In the next weeks/months I will do some postings about the event here, too, with some ery exiting cars and their respective owners on their way to Lincolnshire in May! Meanwhile, you may enjoy the great little video my brother made of last year's event below.

Great Mini derivatives at Blyton Park during the 2014 Action Day
Video: J & J Booij

Friday 6 February 2015

Pictures of Peter Sellers Hooper Mini emerge - but where is it?

A string of unseen (to me) pictures of Peter Sellers' very first coachbuilt Mini - built by Hooper (Motor Servives) Ltd. in late 1962/early '63 - have been posted on the Stilltime pictures website. They give a new insight at the car which cost Sellers £2600 (a standard Cooper came at £679 at the time) and which caused the Mini to become a new coachbuilt favourite for use as a city car for the rich and famous. Sellers supposedly asked dealership HR Owen for the conversion, but HR Owen commissioned Hooper for the job, building what became known as the Mini to start the coachbuilding hype. The later car used by Sellers in the Pink Panther film looked similar, but was in fact another and later car coachbuilt by Radford.

The original Hooper car, registration '6189 PK' came lavishly trimmed inside and out, with Royal Purple paint and a beige Conolly interior - the exact specs can be found in the Autocar article I have attached. Despite the fact that several pictures of the car have been around, even some film footage, I never noticed it had wheel spats and new rear light clusters, possibly cut-down Aston Martin DB4 units. Confusingly, the car is seen wearing another registration number (57 PJ) and a red rather than beige interior in another Autocar clipping, while the film footage shows it with its '6189 PK' number but with red leather, too. Was it the same car converted once more or did Hooper build two of them?

And then there's the question of where it is now. The Radford-built Pink Panther car was famously found back by John Adair in 1994, but what happened to the original Hooper car (or cars)? The last lead dates back to 1994, too, when a snippet in MiniWorld magazine appeared, quoting it survived with a classic car restoration firm in Newtonmore, Scotland. It was said to have been painted pink at one stage because of the supposed link with the Pink Panther movie... The company, as far as I managed to find out, was dissolved in 2002 with no clues to what happened to the car. '57 PJ' is unknown to the DVLA, but '6189 PK' is still in their database as a mauve Morris Mini Cooper with 1152cc engine, but is untaxed since 1979...

Well-known photograph of man and machine - Sellers and his (the) first coachbuilt Mini
Picture courtesy

But this one is new to me. Note wheel spats and unusual rear light treatment
Picture courtesy

Lavish interior with beige Conolly leather seats with 'Reutter reclining system'
Picture courtesy

Yes, the windows were electric on it, as was the aerial and the screen washer
Picture courtesy

Headlights were supposedly Bentley-sourced. Canework by Geoff Francis
Picture courtesy

Note replaced gear lever as in later Minis and even leather on the steering column 
Picture courtesy

The Autocar liked it, too, calling it 'the ultimate in luxury Minis'
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Is this the same car? It wears a different registration and has a red leather interior
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Film footage of Sellers and the car, seen here in its Royal Purple with red leather interior
Picture courtesy

Last trace of the car dates back to 1994, when it was in Scotland ...painted pink...
Picture courtesy MiniWorld

Tuesday 3 February 2015

Freewheelers Mini Bug found

Before we have our man Barry Stimson himself dish up some more tales here, have a look at this. A Stimson Mini Bug, which feels rather sorry for itself, oh yes. But according to Barry Tilbury, who bought it recently, it is one of the cars that featured prominently in the 1970s television series Freewheelers. In fact he says it is the car registered RPX 885K, which can also be seen here in its heyday. We don't know, but would love to see it being restored. More information is welcome!

UPDATE 4 February 2015: Barry sent in a copy of the car's document - it's the one!

A Stimson Mini Bug, no doubt, but a rather special one to 1970s tv fans
Picture courtesy Barry Tilbury

According to the new owner the car is complete but needs a restoration
Picture courtesy Barry Tilbury