Tuesday 23 June 2015

An early Mini Marcos in Rotterdam

I am a sucker for an early Mini Marcos and so when I came across the pictures below I became intrigued. What we see is a Mini Marcos parked in front of the Speed Centre in Rotterdam, The Netherlands (full 1960s catalogue with all the Mini accessories you can dream of here).

There's no doubt it's a Mk1 car with all the right features for that particular model, from the notched wheel arches to the sliding side windows and narrow front number plate panel and it comes with lovely early Cosmic alloys. The Speed Centre shop is long gone (now a collection agency which doesn't like people to look inside), but how about the Mini Marcos? The registration '87-78-DK' is unknown to the Dutch authorities but was issued in late 1966. Who knows more about this car?

A Mk1 Mini Marcos in front of Rotterdam's Speed Centre in what have to be the '60s
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

All the right features for a Mk1 car and a number plate issued in late 1966
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Monday 22 June 2015

An ABS Freestyle down the street

I would never have believed that a Mini based buggy has been lurking in a barn about a mile from my house, but it turned out to be just so! Some years ago I came across a local Mk1 Mini Marcos and found another Mk1 a year later, which lives in Finland now, but both of these weren't as close by as the car below. A neighbor told me last week about it. He'd been chatting to a local man with a project car - Mini powered and rear engined - in his garage very, very local to where I live. I had no idea what to expect but was hoping for a good old DIY design, the quirkier the better. You can imagine my curiosity when we went there to have a look. I was somewhat disappointed when the car in question turned out to be an unfinished ABS Freestyle, but had to admit this was all rather nice to see one such car so close by.

The project was started at around 2003 by Wim Lubbers in his father's garage. Wim's dad Martin even built a little extension for him to work on the ABS. Wim got quite far and placed a 998 engine, fitted all of the suspension, brakes and steering. He also sourced headlights, ATS 13" wheels and most of the other parts necessary. But then he got married, had children and the project stalled. The wiring loom was never fitted and the plans to take it over to the UK for registration never materialized. And so the Freestyle, some fifteen years later, still resides in the purpose made extension while it never turned a wheel under its own power. Wim may finish it one day, he's not sure yet. If he decides to sell it, I'll let you know. Meanwhile, have a good look around your place - you never know what to expect.

An ABS Freestyle on a mile's distance from my house - I wouldn't have believed it!
Picture Jeroen Booij

Wim Lubbers started the project of building it in 2003 but never finished it
Picture Jeroen Booij

All of the suspension in place, although rubbers may need replacing after another 15 years…
Picture Jeroen Booij

Clutch, brakes and steering rack are all fitted in ABS' frame but need finishing touches
Picture Jeroen Booij

Engine is a 998 and is just about ready to be fired up. The Freestyle never ran
Picture Jeroen Booij

Friday 19 June 2015

Boxman's Broadspeeds

Remember the Mini Marcoses that reader Boxman (who's real name is Francisco and who is a Palaeontology student from Portugal) virtually drew for a computer game last year? See here if not. And Boxman is back, with yet another Mini derivative - this time the one and only Broadspeed GTS. He wrote: "Hello there Jeroen! I just wanted to let you know if you'd be interested that I just painted a few more Broadspeed GTS' for the virtual simulators. I tried to be as accurate as possible to their image and their great story and even teamed up with the man who is now restoring the original car. I think they are all as perfect as they can be, and we love to drive them! Give them a look please to tell me if you like them, a lot wouldn't have been possible without your blog. Cheers, Francisco "The Boxman" Costa P." You bet I like them mate! It's remarkable how many colour changes the car had within just a few years, as I have some pictures of it in black and blue, too. Do let Boxman know what you think - perhaps you chaps have some more ideas?

 May 1967, as driven by Tonio Hildebrand at Zandvoort in signature Dubonnet Rosso
Picture courtesy Francisco "Boxman" Costa P.

While this is what it looked like in 1969 at Zandvoort, more b&w pictures can be seen here
Picture courtesy Francisco "Boxman" Costa P.

 As it flew the Dutch flag at Welschap circuit in '69 (here). Club Voom Voom was a disco
Picture courtesy Francisco "Boxman" Costa P.

A different car - the Australian Broadspeed GTS by Brian Foley, was tackled by Boxman, too
Picture courtesy Francisco "Boxman" Costa P.

Monday 15 June 2015

Remembering Le Mans

Congratulations to Porsche for winning this year's Le Mans 24-hours race. A bit of a break from the ubiquitous Audis! Next year it will be the 50th anniversary for what I believe to be one of Le Mans more heroic entries: that of the Mini Marcos, entered by Jean-Claude Hrubon under number 50 in 1966 (more here). For more Minis at Le Mans take a look here:

Minis at Le Mans 1962 (Gitane GT)
Minis at Le Mans 1963 (Deep Sanderson 301)
Minis at Le Mans 1964 (Deep Sanderson 301)
Minis at Le Mans 1966 (Mini Marcos Mk1)
Minis at Le Mans 1967 (Mini Marcos Mk3)
Minis at Le Mans 1969 (Unipower GT)

Picture courtesy Brockbank / Jeroen Booij archive

The Hrubon entered Mini Marcos just after finishing 15th overall on June 19, 1966 
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Thursday 11 June 2015

Brookwell Trifid prototype saved

Another little piece of Mini derivative history has just been saved, with the prototype of the Brookwell Trifid (6 built in the early 1990s) fully restored. The three-wheeler was originally built on a shoestring (they spent £90) by Phil Wells and Mark Spriddell with the idea to beat other entries in local Norfolk trials, where it did remarkably well. 

Some years ago I spent a great day with Phil, who is still in the Norfolk countryside, only to find the prototype three-wheeler as a hulk of rust in one of his barns. Fast forward to earlier this month and a message from the man arrived: "The prototype is back together. Mark’s done a sterling job with no help from me…" Well done chaps. And now time to play with it!

This was a few years ago. Not easy to recognize the Brookwell Trifid in it…
Picture Jeroen Booij

Clever engineering using as much of the Mini's mechanicals as was possible
Picture Jeroen Booij

Classed for local production car trials,it weighed around 390kg and did really well
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Just like then, but now fully restored by Mark Spridell and back in its original colour
Picture courtesy Phil Wells

The Mini’s rear subframe was modified to take one wheel with a front rubber suspension block
Picture courtesy Phil Wells

Mark and Phil have been into Mini derivatives for decades. Here Mark's Trifids and a Minus
Picture courtesy Phil Wells

Friday 5 June 2015

Project X, where are you?

Today 50 years ago Project X was finished. This was a car built by some of the editorial staff of Australian Sports Car World magazine in 1964 and 1965, using a Mini power plant at the back. The building process was covered throughout the magazine and it made the cover in July ‘65 and even plans to produce a limited series followed, but it came to nothing. My Australian friend Craig Watson believes the car still exists, but hasn't heard anything for years. Time to resurrect the search for Project X!

UPDATE 24 June 2019: It has finally been found! Click here.

July 1965 - it's finished! But where is it now, 50 years later?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The fascinating build process was described in a series in Sports Car World magazine
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The marriage! Backbone chassis meets aluminium body. Mini engine clearly visible
Picture courtesy Sports Car World

Thursday 4 June 2015

Mystery Mini derivative (42)

It's been a while since a mystery motor made it to these pages, but here's another. This car was spotted at the London to Brighton Mini Run, last May and I am rather intrigued by its odd shapes and proportions. The registration TNG 696G was issues to a red Morris Mini Estate in 1969, but that is hardly recognizable, isn't it? The flowing wings reminded me of the Austin A40 Dorset, but according to Craig Jarrett, who also spotted it at Brighton's Madeira Drive, most of the mods where carried out in fiberglass. Answers, so far, have not been given, while there was an extensive build sheet placed in front of the creature. Somebody must have read that…?

Long nose with separate wings and headlights, wood, wicker and a top hinged tailgate... 
Picture source unknown

…the 1969 Morris Mini Estate is not easy to recognize in this intriguing creature
Picture courtesy Jono Barber

Monday 1 June 2015

Landar R7 found in German lock-up

A Landar R7 (one of 4 built), which turned up in a German television show last week could be a car that previously made it to these pages (see here and here) but I'm not sure. Reader Thomas von Kreisler thinks it is. He wrote: "I found the lost Landar R7. It is in Düsseldorf Germany since the 70s. The owner hill climbed it and it has been in his shed ever since. He is in his seventies now and sold it in a television show in his yard for € 5500. The car has an A-series 1275 engine (possibly Formula Junior) with Hewland gearbox, which was missing although a box of ratios came with the car. Best wishes - fantastic books - thank you for the nice work, Thomas."

I found out that the show is called 'Der Trödeltrupp' ('The Mess') on channel RTL2, which broadcast the episode with the Landar last Friday, but unfortunately couldn't any more information on the car in relation to the programme. I did find one picture of it, which shows the car with a white body. Could it be the car from the brochure as shown below? That appears to have been white, too.

This Landar R7 was supposedly sold for 5500 Euros from a German lock-up
Picture courtesy Good Times Fernsehproduktion

The car shown in the brochure and a few magazine reports was white, too
Picture Jeroen Booij archive