Tuesday 24 March 2015

An Ibis in Japan

You and I know that quite a few Mini based sports cars made it to Japan, but I was surprised to learn an Ibis is cruising the country - despite the fact that it comes from New Zealand, which isn't too far away. We had some nice film footage here of the Ibis not too long ago, remember?

Now, Eiji Watanabe got in touch to tell me about the Ibis he used to own. He wrote: "Hello mister Booij. I always see your blog happily. There is an Ibis, which you wrote about the other day, in Japan. It is registered as 'Austin Elf' and the first Japanese owner obtained it in 2006 when it was red. I got on a little, and bought it next. I completely restored in about 2010 and painted it beige-grey and gave it Abarth-like modifications. I handed it over to the next owner in 2012. I do not know who owns it now but I'll see if I can find some more information." Thank you very much indeed!

The Ibis came in red when it first came to Japan in 2006
Picture courtesy Eiji Watanabe

Mini engine is clearly visible here. Note long bonnet
Picture courtesy Eiji Watanabe

The car uses a full fibreglass monocoque with moulded-in seats
Picture courtesy Eiji Watanabe

After the restoration it was painted in a shade of grey/beige. Where is it now?
Picture courtesy Eiji Watanabe

Friday 20 March 2015

Land's End - John O' Groats in an RTV - without sight! (UPDATED)

By Toutatis, is this cool? Reader Jonathan Webster just made me aware of this film footage, unknown to me before. It shows a 16-minute documentary about a 1988 charity drive from John O'Groats to Land's End, sponsored by British Gas. The vehicle of choice is an RTV - the Rough Terrain Vehicle built by Scamp boss Robert Mandry, remember? What's more - the car was driven by an ex-rally driver named Peter Wood who was blind! He drove the RTV, navigated by Gabriel Hartley and his son Tom, not on public roads but on forest tracks, over beaches, disused railway tracks and meadows. He managed to do it in 14 days and raised almost a quarter of a million pounds in total.

Apart from the several land speed records set by Mini based sports cars, this is the second Mini derivative involved in an unusual record that I know of. There may be even more..? Thanks to this new website, dedicated to the RTV for uploading the video.

UPDATE 19 September 2017: The record-RTV was Ford based rather then Mini based and not built by Robert Mandry, so says Andrew MacLean: "The "Blind Run" RTV was not built by Robert Mandry. Robert sold the RTV manufacturing rights to Lawrence Hawgood, (not Spyder Sport as mentioned in Maximum Mini 2) who took it to the next level. The Blue RTV in the Blind Run video is Ford Escort based....It is badged as Ford...Perry's Ford. It mentions that it is Ford Escort based in the video as Ford were sponsoring the run as well. And please mention that a Robert Mandry RTV played a big part as well, in the run, as back up vehicle....It was painted the same colours and carried the British Gas and Perry's Ford logos. I still own this amazing Mini based vehicle and it still wears the same colours...undergoing a slow restoration. Thanks again."

UPDATE 8 March 2021: I paid the Mini based RTV a visit in a field in West-Sussex (click here)

Video courtesy roughterrainvehicle.co.uk / youtube.com

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Don't buggy about: Nimrod or Stimson?

Over to world's largest auction place where everything is for sale. Well, not everything but you'll find quite a lot there. How about two Mini based buggies? One is a Stimson Mini Bug in bright light blue, the other a rare Nimrod in faded red. Both have been on the marketplace before and both come with appropriate 1971 plate and would do nicely at the Maximum Mini display at Blyton Park. The Stimson is located in Wolverhampton; the Nimrod in Spalding - that's pretty close by! Which one do you prefer? The Nimrod's ad can be found here, the Stimon's over here.

This Mk2 Stimosn Mini Bug comes with 998cc engine with magic wand
Picture courtesy ebay.co.uk

It looks nice, although seller says it 'needs a few hours to make perfect'
Picture courtesy ebay.co.uk

A Nimrod is pretty rare thing with only about 15 built and few survivors
Picture courtesy ebay.co.uk

This one uses an 850 engine which supposedly 'runs like a clockwork'
Picture courtesy ebay.co.uk

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Peter's pristine Mini Jem

Peter Warren got in touch about the MiniJem he has been restoring. A 1972 Mk2 that looked rather terrible when he bought it a year and a half ago. Peter wrote: "Just thought you may like to see my Mini Jem just finished restoration today. I know this car is known to you in a more dilapidated condition but it's now back on the road ready for its new owner." Unfortunately Peter is not able to bring it over to Blyton Park in May as his son will be getting married in the very same weekend. Good excuse! But then, by that time the car may have found a new owner who will bring it over to Lincolnshire. It would be terrific to see it standing next to the Mk1 Mini Marcos in a similar light blue colour that will be attending...

Good looking Mini Jem Mk2 was fully restored over the last year and half 
Picture courtesy Peter Warren 

 It has a 1275cc engine now and comes in Sebring Blue with a black interior 
Picture courtesy Peter Warren 

Friday 13 March 2015

Broadspeeding to Blyton Park

Imagine this: a car, which was restored in the UK many moons ago, can now be found in a workshop at the other end of the world where they speak a different language, eat sushi and are carrying out another restoration. This all to get it ready for our Blyton Park event in May (details here). I am very happy to have it on the Maximum Mini display, together with a range of other exiting Mini derivatives. More to follow.

Broadly speaking this will be a stunner. And you can see it in the flesh in May
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Thursday 12 March 2015

Philip Young dies at 67

Endurance rally mastermind Philip Young died yesterday in a hospital in Bangkok after the injuries from a motorcycle accident during the Road to Mandalay classic rally. Young started his impressive rallying career as a driver in a Magenta, which he built up himself from Mini and 1100 parts, for the the London to Sydney Marathon of 1977.

Last year he told me about the car: "The Magenta actually came second in 1976 in a National rally championship around the UK called the Car & Car Conversions Rally Championship, it was leading until the last round and finished second, beating Ford Escorts and other hot rally cars. It was a popular tough reliable club rally car on the UK club scene with its separate chassis, a buggy type body that used the MG1100/1300 suspension, radiator grille, brakes, engine and some other parts. I drove the car with John Corner in the 1977 London to Sydney and was jailed for going up a street the wrong way in Teheran, but then went on to India single-handed with John Corner and missed the boat sailing out of Madras with the rest of the rally…"

"There was a rival, a Mini 1275 Clubman, entered in the rally by a couple of journalists. The co-driver was Simon Park who was a music composer, who scripted a theme tune for a very popular TV detective series called Vandervalk, about a Dutch detective, it was a catchy tune (click here-JB) that went into the hit-parade here in the UK. He drove the Magenta a lot as they all took turns after I went to jail, and he has written a book about the adventure, called A Little Goes A Long Way. The car still survives today."

I showed him this posting about his old rally beast with Magenta instigator Steve Johnson next to it and he immediately replied: "Wow, I wouldn’t have recognised him. He was not the easiest person to work with, everything took twice as long as he originally promised, it’s a wonder it ever got built!"

One of many newspaper reports about Young's Magenta in the London-Sydney marathon
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

"It’s a wonder it ever got built" said Young, here in rally jacket behind the Magenta
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

And they are off! Young's Magenta had already been tested severely in rallying 
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

UPDATE 15:00 : Alan Barwick writes: "Just to let you know the car that Philip Young drove is now owned by Steve Johnson's son, and so it's gone back to its roots." Thanks for that Alan.

Tuesday 10 March 2015

The Latin Landar

It appears that Spain has had its fair share of Mini derivatives. We know there was this Unipower which also appeared in a funky movie, there have been some Broadspeed GTs; about a year ago we reported about the Mini Jaba found in a derelict state, while there was also a rare AMC Cub six-wheeler. Then there was a Spanish Mini Beach Car and there were a couple of Scamps owned by King Carlos. More recently a nice coachbuilt Mini emerged in Barcelona.

Avid reader Peter Camping now comes up with a Landar R6 that raced the Montjuich circuit during the Barcelona 12-hour race of October 5, 1969. Peter writes: "The Landar is named GT but I assume it's an R6. I found out about it as I was looking for more information about an F100 car which mentioned a certain David Boler with a car named Boler-BMLC (see scan). I found out that he drove this Landar in Barcelona. On your blog of 27 September 2012 I also noticed a D.E. Boler who raced a Cox GTM (see here) and I also recall reading about a Boler winning a North Yorkshire championship with a GTM - the same man?" The Landar, an R6 indeed, was raced together with a J. Stuart Whitehead.

Remarkably, not one but two Unipower GTs were entered to the same 12-hour race. One of them was a works car driven by Piers Weld-Forester and Robert Hurst, another a privately entered car driven by De Agustin and Alvarez. The latter did not arrive on racing day, while the works car did not finish the race. Also interesting is the Nerus entered Silhouette-BLMC mentioned on the 1970 Brands Hatch race sheet, as that car is linked to the Camber and Maya GT (see here). Thanks Peter for sharing these very interesting pictures. Wouldn't it be nice to find out more about the Landar?

The Landar R6 of David Boler and J. Stuart Whitehead in action at Montjuich
Picture via Peter Camping

And here about to overtake (?) a Costin Nathan sports car - similarly rare!
Picture via Peter Camping

Note that the Boler/Whitehead Landar R6 has a much-modified front end
Picture via Peter Camping

Boler came 10th at Brands. Nerus Silhouette-BLMC is interesting, too
Picture via Peter Camping

Thursday 5 March 2015

Stimson's stories (2)

It's Barry Stimson's birthday next week - about time to share another of the many great tales he told me. This one is about a Mini based sports car that never was. But also about the approach that is so typical of Barry. You'll have to love him for it!

"A man called Cooper also came round to the Nissen hut in Chichester where I was building the Mini Bug. I can’t remember what he drove but the car was definitely posher than mine. He’d heard of what I was doing, and I asked him what he wanted. I’m not a name dropper and I honestly didn’t know who he was, which made the conversation go really strange. He had planned to meet me and said his name was Cooper. ‘Like the car’, I said and he said yes. I wasn’t totally sure if he was John Cooper but we had a nice chat. He told me about his twin engine Mini and I said that it sounded dodgy to me. He then said he wanted to build a Mini based sports car and had a sketch that he’d like to show to me. He came with something on a rough piece of paper. Not a beer mat or a serviette, but definitely not a blueprint. ‘What do you think of that?’ he asked. By the way, he was talking it sounded like it was something done in the pub. I said it looked okay but there was something not quite right about it. It looked a bit like the Biota. Yes, that and a cross between the Deep Sanderson. It wasn’t horrible but he wasn’t happy with it and asked if I was interested. ‘Would you like to do it?’ he asked. I said I was quite busy. We chatted on and he seemed really nice and friendly before he went. That would have been the first day we were in Chichester and he would have been 40 or 45 at the time. It was only later that I was told it was the John Cooper. I didn’t follow it up as I was already doing things I wanted.”

What do you get when you cross a Deep Sanderson and a Biota? A Cooper perhaps?
Pictures Jeroen Booij archive

Barry Stimson at the farm in Chichester in a six-wheeler prototype. More on that later!
Picture courtesy Barry Stimson

Wednesday 4 March 2015

Jem Marsh dies at 84

The sad news of the passing of Jem Marsh reached me this morning. Marsh, co-founder of the Marcos cars company, died two days ago at his home at the age of 84. Marsh certainly was one of the great characters of what is often described as the golden age of motor sports. He was a racing driver, engineer, team manager and of course a motor manufacturer, who came up with the very clever Mini Marcos in 1965. His Marcos Cars may have led a troubled life, but it could not detract Marsh from continuously giving it anew leases of life with lots of flair and he was involved with his cars until his death. The Mini Marcos most famous hour may have been its Le mans entries in 1966 and 1967 (stories here and here). Marsh' death means the end of an era in what may be called the most important chapter of Mini derivatives' history.

Jem Marsh (with tie) and his father behind the first Mk3 Mini Marcos in 1966
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Jem Marsh and Alex Moulton at Jem's 80th birthday party, 4 years ago
Picture courtesy Andrew Eberlin