Thursday 26 November 2015

Taylorspeed at speed

Thanksgiving lies behind us and Christmas is on its way: ice and snow will now be soon approaching. Well, they are when you are on this side of the world. Over in the Antipodes Spring is slowly turning into Summer, with temperatures easily reaching 30 Degrees Celsius. It’s there these sunny picture were taken and the car is a local product: the Taylorspeed Mini Jem. That's the Jem built under a license in Australia in very small numbers by John Taylor of Adelaide. These photographs come from the Peter Knight archives and show the car at the Mallala Raceway in Southern Australia, probably in 1968. I think the driver has to be John Taylor himself and the car probably is the red demonstrator seen in various Australian magazines at the time. Any more information is welcomed.

Taylorspeed Mini Jem, seen here at Mallala Raceway in Australia behind another Aussie Special
Picture courtesy Peter Knight

Just two handfulls of Taylorspeed Jems were built by John Taylor, who is probably seen here
Picture courtesy Peter Knight

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Mk1 Mini Jem found in Shropshire

Richard Proudlove of Wrexham recently found a Mk1 Mini Jem in his native Shropshire. The car looks to be well-rotten but seems complete and is believed to have had just one owner from new. Unfortunately not much further information is available. There is no V5 log book at present, although the car's former registration number is known to have been 'UMD 480F', indicating it was registered in 1967 or 1968 in Middlesex. It's clearly a Mk1 shell with the short bonnet and steeper windscreen angle. It's a pity though that at one stage the car's rear was cut open to create a hatchback door. The interior sports Restall seats and typical flat dash. According to our own engine expert Richy Hawcroft the engine looks to be a small bore 998 on a 3 sync box: "Look at the thick alloy ridge at the top of the transfer case, only three sync had that, the later four sync either nothing or the boss for the breather. It could be a Cooper, but it must be early as it has the ‘R’ clips on the valve springs." I say 10 point for eagle-eyedness. Richard Proudlove ads: "My dad has had the rear wheels off today and it's got a Cooper 'S' rear sub frame and brakes!" He is now planning a rebuild and enter it in racing after that. It would be very nice for Julius Thurgood's new HDRC series… A daring winter project!

Tucked away in Shropshire: a Mk1 Mini Jem - one of approximately 35 built
Picture courtesy Richard Proudlove

Believed to be a one-owner car from new, the Jem stood outside for some time...
Picture courtesy Richard Proudlove

Rear hatchback with 70s slats was added sometime, cutting the body open...
Picture courtesy Richard Proudlove

Despite looking very mouldy, the interior is a throwback to the 1960s, too 
Picture courtesy Richard Proudlove

Restall bucket seats are now much sought after and may worth the investment alone...
Picture courtesy Richard Proudlove

Engine is most probably a 998 on a three sync gearbox. Maybe a Cooper, says our man
Picture courtesy Richard Proudlove

Registration number was UMD 480F but that is unfortunately not valid anymore
Picture courtesy Richard Proudlove

Monday 23 November 2015

Add-A-car is the Mini based 6-wheeler for 2025

The BP Buildacar Competition sprouted a whole range of Mini based cars between 1972 and 1986, some of which have been seen here before. Click here for the 1974 Cranleigh entry and here for the Phoenix of the same year. Canadian reader and regular tipster Miguel Plano now pointed me towards the 1978 competition, which saw another Mini based entry as its winner. The car in question was named 'Add-a-car' and was built by the boys of Southbrook Comprehensive School of Daventry. The trick was that it could be turned from a nippy 4-wheeler town car into a roomier six-wheeler / six-seater by simply adding a fastback-ish rear with clips! And there is film footage of it, too, see below and scroll to 1 minute 52. I know of several competition cars surviving. So how about this one?

Apart from the video, I found a little article about the 1978 competition, which I quote from here: "BP Oil's Buildacar Competition, which is part of the company's 'challenge to youth' scheme, is to be widened to include non-oil sources of energy, such as electricity, coal, steam and wind. Natural or liquid gas is excluded because of its hazards. Schools taking part in the project are to produce a study of the form of personal-transport likely to be used in towns in 2025. Southbrook Comprehensive School, Daventry, won the finals staged two months ago. Pupils produced a revolutionary 'Add-A-car."

Friday 20 November 2015

Biotas in Japan

Reader Eiji Watanabe contacted me earlier about an Ibis in Japan (see here) and now he found out about not one but two Biotas over in Nippon. The first is a Mk2 and has been spotted before with other Mini variants at meetings in Japan. The second one, however, is even more intriguing. It's another red Mk2 but this time it's built up as a racer, much in the spirit of Biota's original 1972 BARC hill climb car (see here). It has a near-identical bulge behind the driver's seat but comes with a different roll bar design and several other small differences. Could it never the less be the same car? Eiji wrote: "I do not know an owner, but I'll see if I can find some information". I'm looking forwards to it, and keep them coming!

Japanese Biota joins a Mini Jem. Several more pictures of it can be found here
Picture courtesy 'Biota's Garage'

But what have we got here? Could this racer be the infamous Biota hill climb car?
Picture via Eiji Watanabe

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Christmas offer

Make a start on your Christmas shopping with the perfect gift: Maximum Mini 2, of course! Now you can take advantage of a 25% discount. This offer starts on Friday 20th November 2015 and runs until 25th December 2015. I'll post a Maximum Mini poster with your book for a song if you like...

Prices include postage and packing in a purpose made box for books, posters come in strong carton tubes. See the list below. Drop me a line on jeroen at and I'll tell you how to pay.

To the UK

£26.95 for 1 book
£45.95 for 2 books
Extra poster: £5.99 only

To Europe

€36.95 for 1 book
€59.95 for 2  books
Extra poster: €8.50 only

To the US

$55,55 for 1 book
$75.00 for 2 books
Extra poster: $10.00 only

To Japan

¥6000 for 1 book
¥9200 for 2 books
Extra poster: ¥1200.00 only

Tuesday 17 November 2015

More Unipower GT updates

Unipower news keeps on coming in here after last week's Japanese wide bodied GT. It supposedly is not an ex-works car but one that was modified by the Lenham Motor company in the late 1990s. What's more: it is currently for sale with a company named Scuderia Old Timer in Utsonomija, Japan, see the ad here. Thanks for all the hints and tips.

Meanwhile, regular Peter Camping managed to find a good picture of another Unipower GT in racing guise: the car driven by Tom Zettinger of Luxembourg. It, too, uses wide arches and a broad racing stripe: blue on white. From 1968 to 1970 Zettinger entered the car in a number of events: mostly local hill climbs, slaloms and sprints in Luxenbourg. So far, I'd only seen a sketchy photograph of it, taken by Paul Kooyman at the International AvD-Rundstreckenrennen at Zolder in october '69. The one that Peter found is a lot better and was taken at Lorentzweiler that same year. Naturally, I wonder what happened to the car.

This list of events in which Zettinger drove the Unipower comes from this website about motor sports in Luxembourg:

1968 Course de côte de Marche
1968 Course de côte Bourscheid
1968 Slalom de Belvaux
1969 Slalom 3 Frontieres Rodange
1969 Course de côte Kautenbach
1969 Course de côte Lorentzweiler
1969 Course de côte Holtz
1969 Slalom Thionville
1970 Course de Côte Kautenbach
1970 Slalom Rodange
1970 Course de côte Goesdorf

UPDATE 5 January 2016: The car was originally owned by a Count Volpi, and was restored in 1988 and offered for sale for 3,200 GBP. See here.

The only known picture (by me) of Zettinger's Unipower G, taken at Zolder in 1969
Picture courtesy Paul Kooyman

This one is new to me and it gives a better view of the car. There have to be more pictures?
Picture via Peter Camping

Friday 13 November 2015

Another Japanese Unipower GT

Recently spotted at a Japanese meeting - another Unipower GT. It looks to be a Mk2 and comes with 1968 or 1969 'G'-registration, wide bodykit and 13 inch wheels. The number plate tells us it was originally registered in Bootle, Merseyside, and uses 1340cc power. Could it be an ex-works racer?

UPDATE 5 January 2016: Definitely not an ex-works car, it was built up by Gerry Hulford using a wrecked Unipower GT years ago. More here.

Several Unipower GTs have been fitted with wide body kits, like this one in Japan
Picture via Trevor McNamara

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Chopping the Mini's roof: front or back?

There is a lot of work involved in chopping the roof and waistline of a Mini in order to turn it into a MiniSprint or Sprint replica. But there are easier solutions, as the two examples sent over to me this week show. First is a mystery Mini Coupe from Australia (another…). This car, raced by one B. Nunan in the 1960s, has ditched the complete rear screen and most of the c-pillars in order to get that fastback look. It's like the roof has sunken into the car itself! I do like it though and any more information is welcome.

The other picture flashed over by regular Peter Camping shows the opposite: not the c-pillars and rear screen have been cut 'n shut, but the a-pillars and the windscreen have. According to Peter the car was raced or auto tested in the Loire region in France in the late 1960s or early 1970s. But again there's no further information available. Over to you.

Australian racing Mini got rid of rear screen and most of the c-pillars. It'd be nice to see the back
Picture courtesy Roald Rakers

While French racing Mini worked the other way 'round. It supposedly raced in the Loire region
Picture courtesy Peter Camping

Friday 6 November 2015

Colour coding

Some Mini derivative manufacturers made a brochure for their car - only the ones that had real confidence in their products I guess, so they are quite rare. I have collected several of them over the years and in some the paint colours available for the cars (or shells) are just named. I like the simplicity of that. Quoting from some of the brochures:

Stimson Safari Six (showing an orange car): "Colour impregnated main body, and body panels (part numbered and replaceable). Pirate Red, Golden Yellow, Charred Cedar"

Camber GT: "Price (sprayed Red, White or B.R. Green) £435"

Maya GT: "The bodies are sprayed in one of the following colours: White, Red, Pale Blue, and Fiesta Yellow. Other colors can be had at extra cost"

ABC Tricar: "Colours: White, Sunset Red, Willow Green, Pale Blue, Marigold, Bronze Yellow"

Ranger 80: "Colour range of panels: Red/White/Blue/Khaki or to special order"

For the TiCi as well as the Status 365 you had to like yellow (there was no other colour available) while the Siva Moonbug came in 'Royal Purple' as a standard. Yep, that was in the early 1970s.

But I also found out that a few manufacturers had actual colour charts. The Mini Marcos Owners Club recently unearthed a very simple one for their beloved Marcos, showing a range of eight solid colors available, while Radford-fan Neville Smyth found a much posher one for the Radford Mini De Ville on Ebay recently. But nicest of them all has to be the very rare colour finishes brochure for the Broadspeed GT that Chris Wooden showed me. Ralph Broad offered no less then 30 colors, made by Docker Brothers, and ranging from the well-known Broadspeed Opalescent Dubonnet to bright Lilac. How would that look on the GT?

Rare Broadspeed GT colour chart with a wide range of paint colours
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Understated colours for the Radford Mini De Ville, from Mole Sable to Shell Grey
Picture courtesy Neville Smyth

No metallics for the Mini Marcos, but Acrtic White and Bahama Yellow
Picture courtesy Mini Marcos Owners Club

Monday 2 November 2015

The first Camber GT now becomes a 4x4

Some years ago I found out that the very first Camber GT made (click here) survives. But not as we know it. The car, of which beautiful film footage survives, had a Maya GT nose section fitted in its early life, and was later given a targa roof. And it did not stop there. Daniel Boucher wrote back in 2011: "I was given it by a nice chap in Wimbledon. It was painted blue and had been converted into a convertible. It had a Cooper 1275 engine and Cooper S brakes but when I received it it was a rite heap and I spent about a year restoring it. However, I have had problems with retaining the original number plate as I cannot find the chassis number. The DVLA have not been helpful one bit and wanted to make it a Q registration. But it is on the road using a Mini registration at the moment because I refuse to make it a Q car." Pictures here.

I understand the car was later fitted with a Vauxhall or Honda engine (please!) although Daniel  said that he would prefer to bring the car back to its original condition with a roof. Until yesterday I didn't know whether that ever happened, but it seems he actually worked on it, now. I was sent over this picture of the car with its Mini registration - and… a roof. However, I also understand that the chap who bought it wants to build up the car as a space framed 4x4. Oh dear...

This Camber GT has seen it all. Now on its way to become four wheel driven…
Picture courtesy Jason Gwynnie89