Thursday 29 October 2015

5 Years of Maximum Mini - the weblog

Well, well. It's 5 years ago today that I decided to do something with the archive and start a weblog. In that time I have posted 595 articles and a multitude of photographs. Some great, some perhaps not so great, but all with my passion for the Mini based car in mind. Some cars long lost were found back and others were successfully sold through this page. Books were made and sold, people came and went and the first Mk1 Performance / Maximum Mini Action Day at Blyton Park went into history in 2014 - look out for the third on Saturday April 30th and Sunday May 1st 2016. Maximum Mini 3 - the last book in this line - should be a long way by that time.

I haven't counted the hours going into this web page, but be sure there have been quite a few. Mind you: it has given me lots of pleasure, although sometimes I do wonder why I do it, and for who. So please do drop me a line if you have feedback, good or bad, as this is one of the main drives that keeps me going. I should have plenty of material to carry on for another 5 years.

UPDATE October 2020: And Maximum Mini's 10th anniversary is celebrated with some special features. Up to 15 years! Click here.

Friday 23 October 2015

Robin Statham passes away

It is with regret that I understand that Robin Statham died unexpectedly last week. Robin was the man who made the majority of MiniJems after he'd taken the project over in mid-1967 from founder Jeremy Delmar-Morgan. The car just been launched earlier that year at the Racing Car Show in London. Based in Penn, Buckinghamshire Statham produced the kits under the Fellpoint Ltd. banner. Initially as the Mk1, but in January 1969 he introduced a much revised Mk2 version, again at the Racing Car Show. Statham made a few lightweight shells, one of them which he built up as his own racer with 1293cc engine and 130 mph top speed after a Wade supercharger was added to the spec. In a Mod-Sports race at Silverstone he finished third behind an AC Cobra and a Jaguar E-type.

Under Statham, Penn Garage and Fellpoint Ltd. gained a good reputation and he became responsible for the majority of Mini Jems produced, selling kits with doors and windows fitted, painted and trimmed for £350. In 1970 he also teamed up with Barry Stimson and the new Mk2 Stimson Mini Bug was launched on the Fellpoint /Jem stand at the 1971 Racing Car Show. That same year Statham also unveiled the revolutionary Jem Futura - a car of his own design that brought the company into trouble. Interest in the Futura was huge, but building the prototype had been so costly, that it made an end to Fellpoint Ltd. and in July 1971 the company went into liquidation. By that time Statham had built around 160 MiniJems.

Statham's funeral takes place at Amersham Crematorium, next week, on Thursday 29th October at 3:15pm followed by drinks at The Wheel in Naphill. Fellpoint Mini Jem owners are very welcome, especially when they bring over their cars.

A young Robin Statham with the Jem Futura, the car that spelled the end for his car venture
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Statham at speed in his own lightweight MiniJem racer. The car reputedly clocked 130mph
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The same car undergoing surgery in Fellpoint Garage in Penn. It was supercharged
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The Fellpoint/Jem stand at the 1971 Racing Car Show. Note Stimson Mini Bug plus Futura at front
Picture Jeroen Booij archive 

The VW based Jem Futura came at the wrong time for Fellpoint Garage. Here a rare brochure
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

This is an original 1968 invoice from Statham for a Mk1 MiniJem
Picture Jeroen Booij, thanks to Goff Allen

Thursday 22 October 2015

Market round up (Autumn 2015)

Let's make a little round-up on what is on the market at the moment. Quite a lot Mini based vehicles to choose from, ranging from plain weird to pretty wonderful. At your service!
PS: You know where to find more of them - click here for Deep Sanderson, Unipower, Ogle et cetera...

A Jiffy project, this one comes with six wheels! Jiffy registrar Glen Bowden says: "I dont think Indespension built it. I havent heard about 6-wheelers and I have only seen two." 
See the ad here

A very nice Freestyle, built with auto testing in mind. Not cheap though but ready to go
See the ad here

Or do you fancy a buggy for the rough? Then this NCF Blitz with off road tyres is yours
See the ad here

Speaking about rough: this Mini Marcos is advertised as a Mk1 or Mk2. I'd say it's a Mk3
See the ad here

Another part of the DART family: a rare Kingfisher Sprint, this one is in Ulverston
See the ad here

Built at the Goodwood track in the 1980s and with 1100 underpinnings: a Langridge Navajo
See the ad here

I really like this Mk1 Scamp. For sale in Ryde, on the Isle of Wight. Combine it with a holiday!
See the ad here

And it's not the only one seen for sale at the moment. This Mk1 is offered for sale from Louth
See the ad here

For wicker men: An Innocenti Mini Mare, seen in central France but until recently in Italy (click)
See the ad here

Also in France (Colmar): a beautiful and pretty rare Mk3 Mini Jem. Tres chique but not cheap
See the ad here

This gorgeous 1964 Radford Mini de Ville has been featured in Maximum Mini 2 before
See the ad here

Or do you prefer a coachbuilt Mini by Wood & Pickett? This 1988 car was built for Sir Jeffrey Archer
See the ad here

While this Mini Marcos Mk3 racer is in Bradford on Avon - where Marcos Cars were based
See the ad here

Also close to where it was built: an AEM Scout on a stones throw from Merthyl Tydfil in Wales
See the ad here

This Nimrod is in the USA. It was in a good state until recently (see here), but look at it now…
See the ad here

A very nice Minus Mini here with 1275 engine and comprehensive work carried out
See the ad here

Last but not least, over to New Zealand, where a Terrapin has made it to the market
See the ad here

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Who knows more about the cars of George Davis?

I've been hoping to get in touch with a man named George Davis for ages now, but so far without any luck. Why? Well, Davis built a couple of Mini and Metro based utilities in the spirit of the Mini Moke. He previously worked for Austin in Longbridge but started his own company GB restorations in the late 1980s or early 1990s, offering cars from two different addresses in Birmingham and Bromsgrove. First there was the Winchester, which developed into the Roamer. A third variant was known as the Moon’s Moke and although this car looked very similar, it was once again offered from a different company: GL Enterprises in Birmingham.

I have been counting the number of different cars that I found out about in magazines and from pictures in my files and I believe there were at least 10 different ones, a list of the ones with registrations below. Now: I'd like to learn about the details and preferably speak to George Davis himself. Do get in touch by placing a comment below, or drop me a line on jeroen at when you know more.

PUE 269R - registered as a 1976 Morris
MDV 794W - registered as a 1980 Austin Mini Metro L
MOB 406X - registered as a 1981 Austin Metro
DGD 997X - registered as a 1981 Austin Metro
RAW 645X - registered as a 1982 Austin Metro L
EUE 833Y - registered as a 1983 Austin Metro City
A805 XOH - registered as a 1984 Austin Metro City

I have no address details for GL Enterprises, but the addresses for Davis' company GB Restorations were:

Unit 4, The Mill Walk
Hawkesley Mill

Dept KCI
257 Old Birmingham Road

The prototype was named Winchester. Note the straight windscreen and bench seat
Picture courtesy Kit Cars magazine

This was raked on later cars, as seen here and now called Roamer. This one is in the US
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

This is also a Roamer. Note the steel structure to hold the roof on this car's sides
Picture courtesy Kitcars International

The model was then further refined. Sills, windscreen surround and filler cap are different
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Different car or the same as above? This one was offered for sale some years ago
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

While this one was last seen in Germany - and offered for sale there for silly money
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

And this is another, note different rollbar. This is believed to be a Moons Moke 
Picture Jeroen Booij

Friday 16 October 2015

HRDC racing welcomes Mini variants

In the ever increasing popularity of Mini based cars, the UK's Historic Racing Drivers Club (HRDC) has now decided to broaden its accessibility to all pre-1966 sports-, GT- and touring cars using the A-series engine. That's great news for Mini derivatives owners wanting to race their cars. The first race will take place at Donington on 7 november this year.

HRDC Race Director Julius Thurgood states in a press release: "I have been working on this for some time now. The ubiquitous BMC 'A-Series' powerplant has been with us in motorsport for decades and has spawned so many interesting variants. However, most categories seem to run in separate classes and categories. But why should they? Why not bring all the pre-'66 BMC 'A-Series' powered cars to race together under one format? I am sure that it will provide spectacular racing and will be of great interest to both competitors and spectators alike."

I asked him why the race is not made eligible for pre-'70 or pre-'72 cars as this would make it accessible for many more variants. Julius said: "The reason for the '66 cut-off is that this is the natural date cut-off between 'historic' and 'post-historic' in the racing community. Generally the rules are tighter pre-'66 and this gives a more equal field. Later specification would then mean different tyres, wilder engines and different suspension set-ups."

And has he already had an interest from owners of Mini variants wanting to enter their cars? He said: "The entry for this race was only opened this week. We will have to wait and see what the response/which cars get entered. We know of a couple of Ogles, a DART, 2 x Deep Sandersons and Rae Davis' Jem. It will take time to coax these rarer cars out but we will do our best to do so!"

I am definitely looking forwards to seeing some more of them on the racing track. The HRDC's race format is for 30-minute events, with 15-minute qualifying. All cars must run on Dunlop CR65 historic tyres and HTP forms will not be required for this event. More information here, entry form, ready for downloading here.

UPDATE 19 October: Thurgood says Unipower GT is eligible for pre 66 A series race, too.

UPDATE 23 October: Cox GTM definitely welcome. Thurgood: "It would be great to have some early Cox cars in this race. They would be made most welcome!"

Plenty of A-series powered cars now race in HRDC - but the majority are Sprites and Midgets
Picture courtesy Jeff Bloxham

One exception now is Rae Davis in his Mk1 MiniJem, but there could be many more
Picture courtesy Jeff Bloxham

Eligible: a Cox GTM. A Mini powered Davrian, like behind it here, is not
Picture courtesy Richard Heseltine

Wouldn't it be nice to see a Landar R6 return to the British racing tracks?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Odd-jobs like the Fisher GT, seen here at Ingliston together with a Mini Marcos, are welcome, too
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

How about a Butterfield Musketeer? Seen here raced at Brands in 1962 by Christabel Carlisle
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Mini variants at Montlhéry

Shows with Mini derivatives in the spot light are everywhere now, and France had its share last weekend, too. Close to the famous Montlhéry track some 30 Minis and a few Mini based cars gathered under the  'Les Mini's Family' name. The majority of siblings of the Mini family on the spot were Pick Ups and Estates, Hornets and Elfs and more factory-built creatures. There were, however, some real derivatives, too. Star of the show was the Cox GTM, previously owned and restored by Gergõ Fehér of Hungary (more here) and now in France. But the venue was also attended by a Hrubon Schmitt, a Mk1 Mini Marcos, a Trickett Sprint and an unknown Mini Beach Car, too. In fact I'd like some more information about the latter as I have never seen it before. Comments below please!

Beautifully unspoilt Cox GTM was rebuilt in Hungary but now lives in France
Picture courtesy Arno Nav

 This 1967 GTM uses a 1360 engine with HS6 carb, Kent 276 cam and some 95bhp
Picture courtesy Arno Nav

Interior, too, is in period with lots of alloy, Corbeau buckets and maroon harnesses
Picture courtesy Arno Nav

Beautiful and much in period, too: a recently finished Neville Trickett MiniSprint 
Picture courtesy Arno Nav

But what is this Mini Beach Car? Is it French? It's certainly not an official Longbridge one, nor an Italian Mini Mare or a Spanish Arco Iris Mini… More information please
Picture courtesy Arno Nav

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Stimson's Stories (3)

It's always good to speak to Barry Stimson, who is never short of a story. But this time he's started to upload moving images he found somewhere in his attic. And so you, too, can hear and see him tell some of his tales! This one is about his very last Mini based vehicle: the Stimson Trek, launched in 1981 and seen here on BBC footage when Barry explained the car for television. More movie clips of his other creatures are to follow as Barry has unearthed some more material. Watch this space. 

Video courtesy Barry & Caroline Stimson / Youtube

Be part of the 1981 alternative car scene! T-shirts and video tapes were available from Barry
Picture courtesy Barry Stimson / Jeroen Booij archive

Monday 12 October 2015

David's Deep Sanderson is now for sale

Back in 2007 I came in touch with David Ramsbotham, an avid classic car enthusiast and former financial director at Aston Martin. David had bought a Deep Sanderson 301 some years earlier and had just started on the car's restoration, which was to become a thorough job. Its history was somewhat shrouded in mystery but it was clear that it had been in France before. David also teamed up with Chris Lawrence to assist on the car's restoration and to find out more about its past. He found out that this 301 Coupe probably was the earliest surviving original chassis car, wearing number 'DS 63 GT 1003' (that's number 3), which was built in early 1963 and developed, purely as a race car, with an assault on the 1963 Le Mans event in mind. With the car came old paperwork from Downton Engineering stating that it was fitted with a Formula Junior spec 997 Mini engine. It also came with race suspension incorporating coil over and fully adjustable shocks and modified trailing arm pick up points.

The full story of the car at Le Mans can still be read on these pages (click here). After the 24-hours race the car passed to a Frenchman named J.M. Muratore, who competed it until the early 1980s under the 'Equipe Bleue' banner until ill health forced retirement. The little coupe was repatriated to the UK, where it sat neglected in a lock-up until rescued by David in 2002. With the help from Chris Lawrence a complete chassis up restoration was beautifully completed in 2009; with a Historic Technical Passport being issued to it in 2010. David took the car to the Goodwood Revival Meeting in 2010 and entered it the Grand Prix de Pau Historique a year later. He now wants to sell it and so placed an advertisement on this website. Click here to see it.

The team of Downton Engineering with a Deep Sanderson. David has the paperwork
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

One of the Le Mans cars in the paddock. David's car spent much of its life in France
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

This is how I saw it for the first time. This restoration was a very thorough job
Picture Jeroen Booij

Note 'Ecurie Bleue' sticker. Holes for roof light and Le Mans filler cap had been filled
Picture Jeroen Booij

The chassis was in a good shape, built up for racing and with roll bar fitted
Picture Jeroen Booij

And this is how the car looked when finished. This is at the 2011 Pau GP Historique
Picture courtesy David Ramsbotham

Thursday 8 October 2015

It's Castle Combe again

Castle Combe surely was the place to be for us folks, last weekend and the weekend before. First we had the Mini Marcos' 50th Anniversary party (Stuart Watson's lovely picture report here); then Gary Marlow and Pete Flanagan took their cars (Mk1 Mini Marcos and Janspeed Unipower GT) to the Autumn Classic at the same venue. And photographing Stuart was there, too! Pete wrote: "We had a great day and drove the Unipower round the track that it spent most of it's early racing life for the first time in 48 years. The Marcos suffered from a dodgy fuel pump so didn't make the track for the racing car parade but Gary's done a fine job of recommissioning a very original car that's essentially the same as it was when it last raced 45 years ago or so! The crowd were very appreciative of both cars. We met a guy who was working on one of the Jag Mk2s entered in one of the races who had owned two Unipowers back in the day which he remembered very well. Commentator Marcus Pye was also very complementary about both cars and pointed out that BTCC star and now TV commentator himself Tim Harvey is actually Brian Harvey's nephew (who owned my Unipower). Small world eh?" Indeed. Thanks Pete!

Dynamic derivative duo: Pete's Unipower and Gary's Marcos at Castle Combe
Picture courtesy Stuart Watson 

Castle Combe was local to where this Unipower spent much of its early life
Picture courtesy Stuart Watson 

Gary's Mini Marcos is a very early car and is basically unchanged since being built
Picture courtesy Stuart Watson 

It's a racer, so like Pete's Unipower no registration plates here. And tiny lights!
Picture courtesy Stuart Watson

Note the front air dam at Pete's car, which was added after the Spanish GP in July 1967 to stabilize the front end. The aero development was done in the MIRA wind tunnel and is reportedly one of the first uses, if not the first use of a front air dam on a production car
Picture courtesy Stuart Watson