Wednesday 27 July 2016

Resurrection of the Sandringham Six Mini

Another mystery solved! The mysterious Sandringham Six Mini that was seen here twice (here and here) with the request for more information rung a bell by reader Kees Plugboer, who'd seen it in a magazine and started a search in his attic. Out came a June 2000 issue of Mini Magazine with, indeed, a feature on the car. And it's an interesting story, too. As believed, the car was owned by Sandringham Motors boss, Peter Jones, and dreamt up by his brother John. Peter was quoted in the article: "I'd never driven anything like it. Having various motor dealerships, I'd owned 19 new Rolls-Royces and Bentleys, plus Mercedes, Aston Martins - all sorts of cars. But I used that little Mini so much, and even transferred my personal number OD 1 to it, which seemed quite appropriate really." Initially, the car came with the standard Clubman-front, but when Peter's wife had a collision with his Rolls-Royce Corniche, and the grille had to be replaced, the idea came to fit that to the Mini.

Peter continued: "Then, for some reason, after driving the car for about four yearsI sold it to a family in Norfolk. I kept the original pate, of course, so the Mini was back on its original number BWS 30S. I regretted it almost immediately, as you often do - I really missed the car, and not long afterwards I tried to buy it back, but they had already sold it on Traveling around the country, I always kept an eye out for it - after all it wouldn't have been difficult to spot!" Eventually the car was found in a scrapyard near Great Yarmouth, where it had been lying neglected for eight years. Despite the fact that most of the remarkable Mini was ruined, Peter did buy it back 'for silly money', with the idea to fully restore it to its former glory. Well… Peter, back in 2000: "Of course, I'd have to restore it - we have all the facilities. That was the original plan, and I even acquired a couple of old Minis and put them aside to use as donor cars for the job. But now that we've had a chance to look at it properly, it's beyond that, totally rotten - except for that grille of course! So we're going to start again and build a replica around that grille."

The article mentions that Peter bought a brand new heritage body shell plus engine and reckoned it would cost him some 14,000 GBP by the time it was finished. "But it will be my personal car for the rest of my life." he added. "I've certainly learnt my lesson - there's no way I'll ever sell this one!" Now, once again, how did it end sixteen years after the article was published? The search continues...

The car before the grille of Peter Jones' Rolls-Royce Corniche was fitted to it
Picture courtesy Mini Magazine

Mini Magazine had a nice feature on the Sandringham Six Mini back in June 2000
Picture courtesy Mini Magazine

And reader Kees remembered it, dug it up, scanned it and sent it over. Hat tip to you!
Picture courtesy Mini Magazine

Tuesday 26 July 2016

Market round up (Summer 2016)

Let's have a little look at cars that made it to the market recently, as there were some interesting offerings. Some of them can still be found online, so be quick if you are interested...

This Wildgoose VEB comes with build number ME 50, so is perhaps the last one made?

It's for sale in The Netherlands (£16500...) but is still on its original 1967/68 UK plates 

This cool Siva Mule is in Somerset and it may well be the best you will ever find

The seller writes that 8 were made, but there were 12. Still not too many though!

An lhd Unipower GT was seen for sale in Kentucky briefly before the ad disappeared

Unusual overriders may have been there for American legislation reasons? Asking price was $25,000

1972 Wood & Pickett Mini Margrave looks splendid and comes with full vehicle history 

It has a lovely oxblood leather interior, but unfortunately misses the signature W&P dash

This very nice Andersen Cub from Coventry (ad here) is registered as a 1966 Morris Moke

I have lways had a soft spot for the Whitby Mini-Warrior. This one sold for just over 300 GBP...

Monday 25 July 2016

What happened to this modified Mini Bug?

This unusual Stimson Mini Bug was snapped by Rolf Roozeboom in 1999, or as he says 'the pre-digital era'. Fortunately he was kind enough to scan the images for us lot. Verifying the registration number indicates it was built around 1964 Riley Elf mechanicals which is on SORN. Who knows more about it?

Low front, raked screen and Targa roof are a unique modification but suit the car remarkably well
Picture courtesy Rolf Roozeboom

In order to have something of a rear view the back has been given a screen into the bodywork 
Picture courtesy Rolf Roozeboom

Friday 15 July 2016

DART at Chateau Impney

These photographs of the DART were taken last weekend at the Chateau Impney hill climb in Droitwich, where it was entered in the production saloon cars class! Last year saw the revival of the event with some 200 competitors to take the course over the two day event. The photos are kindly provided by Armando Loni. Thanks mate!

Thursday 14 July 2016

The many faces of António Batista's Mini Marcos

Yesterday's story of a Portugese Mini Marcos led to a whole string of photographs of the Mini Marcos, driven by António Batista in the 1970s and 1980s. The power of the internet!

Francisco Costa had already found a beautiful old photograph of the car raced at Vila Real; Neil Kilbane sourced another from a 1981 magazine and Francisco translated the Spanish caption that came with it: 'António Batista was the main entertainer in an uninteresting race'.

Cristian Sanmartin Castro dug deeper and got in touch with Hugo Batista, son of the racer himself, who provided him with more exiting photographs of the car in different guises. Hugo also told him the car will soon return to competition! We're are eagerly awaiting that now. Thanks very much gentlemen!

The António Batista Mini Marcos in its early life. The body has not been altered too much
Picture courtesy Hugo Batista, thanks Cristian Sanmartin Castro

Next step: wider arches, dramatic front and rear spoilers and big fresh air openings
Picture courtesy Hugo Batista, thanks Cristian Sanmartin Castro

Vila Real 1981, when 'António Batista was the main entertainer in an uninteresting race'.
Picture thanks Neil Kilbane

Francesco Costa's shot. Note that the headlights have now been removed from the bonnet
Picture via Francisco Costa

Even wider and even wilder and now in orange. Originally this is a Mini Marcos Mk3
Picture courtesy Hugo Batista, thanks Cristian Sanmartin Castro

And this is the latest picture of it. According to Hugo Batista the car will soon return to competition
Picture courtesy Mini Marcos Owners Club

Wednesday 13 July 2016

Portugese Marcos with a difference

Reader Alex Coreira sent in some Mini Marcos shots from his native Portugal and supposedly taken at Vila Real in the 1980s where it was raced by a Antonio Batista. Like the famous TransXL Mini Marcos as well as Pete Crudgington's Granny Smith Racing Marcos, this one also has a much altered and streamlined body but still it's a racing car unlike any others. Who knows more about it?

Ultra low nose and ultra fat and integrated wheel arches. It's a Marcos unlike any other
Picture via Alex Coreira

Same car, different colour scheme. Supposedly raced by Antonio Batista at Vila Real
Picture via Alex Coreira

And in anger, too, or so it seems, giving the racing Minis a hard time
Picture via Alex Coreira

Update 13 July: Francisco Costa is very quick with a reaction, including the photograph below. He writes: "I have some more pictures, but I don't know much more about the car. I do know some old folk in Vila Real that may know, but only when I get back there can I ask (I used to study there and fell in love with the circuit and all it's story. This picture is Vila Real, early seventies I think. In your second picture I can't recognize as Vila Real, looks more like Vila do Conde (another portuguese circuit raced at the time). The third also looks more like Vila do Conde, but I may be wrong."

Picture courtesy Francisco Costa

Monday 11 July 2016

The Sandringham 6 Mini again

Last Thursday's story on the Sandringham 6 Mini remains shrouded in mystery. One reader suggested the car's registration may well be DD1 as as in 'Dunlop Denovo' with the car acting as a promotion vehicle for the tyre manufacturer (it is fitted with Dunlop Denovo wheels…) and that certainly was a clever suggestion, but a brief video fragment shows it's definitely OD1. The fragment again comes from Gary Buesnel and he found another image of it in one of his scrap books, too, now showing the side of the car with a lady in the back. There has to be more information about this unusual conversion. Who will be first?

UPDATE 27 July 2016: mystery mostly solved. See here

Still from film fragment shows the car's front. Registration is OD1 rather then DD1
Picture through Gary Buesnel

And now we have a view on the side of the chauffeur driven 6-wheeler, too
Picture through Gary Buesnel

Very briefly it may be, but this video does show the thing on the move
Video courtesy Gary Buesnel

Thursday 7 July 2016

Where is the Sandringham 6 Mini?

It's good to have a pair of eyes and ears in every possible corner of the UK, and Gary Buesnel has been my help on the island of Jersey for some years now. When he read Maximum Mini 3 recently he wrote to me again as he was surprised not to find a mystery car in it that he is intrigued about for decades now. It's a six-wheeler which was supposedly built for the chairman of the Sandringham Motor Company, which were based in Neath by the time it was built. The car was advertised in the Jersey Evening Post at around 1980, when Gary spotted the ad with the following words:

"AS SEEN This is a (one off motor car) this Mini has been converted to a Sandringham (super) limousine fitted with extended body and converted to six wheel motor car. As seen has a (Rolls-Royce grill finish) this alone cost in excess of £2,500. This motor car is black with black velvet buttoned-back upholstery, full sun roof, also fitted with leather edged coney carpets and has covered (chauffeur driven) mileage of only 6,000 miles. This 1275 GT was built for the chairman of Sandringham Group of Motor Companies. A very special price for a one off motor car at £6,750. Finance and Part Exchange arranged."

Gary wrote: "I never saw this car on the island and in talking to other people it never was, however it was very unusual to have appeared in the Jersey Evening Post. The person selling it seemed to deal with oddball cars like this and had a number of cars for sale from a private residence all placed with this type of advert in our Jersey Evening Post. I recall other cars for sale like Aston Martin Lagondas etc. This person had no garage or showroom and seemed to operate from a private house. The adverts appeared for these cars for about a year or so with various cars for sale and then the person disappeared."

"It may have been that in Jersey at that time (and still today) that car/vehicle regulations were more relaxed than in England / the UK and it would have been easier to register/sell the car without having to go through the more rigorous tests that perhaps these sort of cars would have had in the UK, maybe… just a thought. Also, on the Island there are very wealthy people that are/were looking for something different. It may have been that the Chairman of the Sandringham group of companies that this car was reportedly built for actually lived on the island or perhaps the company was registered in Jersey and disposing or selling the car on/in or through Jersey would have had positive financial or tax benefits. I have a feeling that there was more than one of these cars, albeit perhaps from another company. Let's see what comes out from other people."

Great idea and thanks for sharing this one with us, Gary. Below you'll find the sketchy image that was printed in the advert plus two images from another Sandringham 6-wheeler conversion, so the Mini fits.

UPDATE 27 July 2016: Mystery mostly solved. See here

Rolls-Royce style grille and six wheels on your Mini 1275 GT. Does 'OD 1' survive?
Picture courtesy Jersey Evening Post

The Sandringham 6 was a Land Rover based conversion with 6-wheel drive
Picture courtesy

A company named Hotspur was involved, too. Did they have anything to do with the Mini, too?
Picture courtesy

Wednesday 6 July 2016

Mini Marcos Le Mans replicas

This weekend, Le Mans will host their classic event and there will be some Mini Marcoses taking part. Two of them are entered by four-men strong French teams (Berthonnet / Suzat / Leclerce / Faivre-Pierret and Door / Manjard / Julienne / Carini). There's also a Deep Sanderson (Bernberg / Ugo), but the one I was looking forewords to the most was the exact replica of the legendary 1966 Marcos car, built by members of the Marcos Owners Club in the UK. Unfortunately it doesn't make it to the race this year. A statement of the club's president Roger Young:

"It is with sadness and regret that I bring the news that the 1966 'replica' car will not be able to attend this years Classic Le Mans 50th celebration. Time has been against us and has been compounded by the cars apparent 'fight' to put every obstacle it can to prolong the rebuild. It seems it's won the first round, but it hasn't been for the want of trying I can assure you. During preparation for painting it was found that parts of the car did not have any resin in the matting. Something, it would appear, that it actually has never had and could have only happened during the manufacturing process. Additionally, degradation of fibreglass due to water ingression over the years it has been stood has also been a major issue. Whilst the car is nearing the end of the repairs to the intergrity of the shell (click here for pictures-JB), it has put the project back a further six or eight weeks. This now does not give us enough time to actually build the car. I am deeply disappointed as it has been a ‘dream’ for the past 18 months, to drive the car around the circuit in this special anniversary year. The car will appear, it will run at Le Mans, just not this year I am afraid."

What a pity. For a little consolation I have amassed some photographs of other Marcoses, which also replicate the famous number 50 that surprised the world 50 years ago.

This car, formerly owned by Dennis Overgaard Nielsen, was raced last weekend in Denmark
picture through Dennis Overgaard Nielsen

Dennis said: "The finish of it was not the best, but then it's a race car. Great to see it back though!"
picture through Dennis Overgaard Nielsen

This Mk4 is owned by Manuel Ferrão of Portugal and is also regularly seen at the track
Picture courtesy

Like the Danish car, it's not a Mk1 but a Mk4 though - note rear hatch and longer wheelbase
Picture courtesy

Perhaps not exactly the right shade - this one is a proper Mk1. It's in Italy 
Picture courtesy auto

It has been seen for sale several times, but I believe it's still with the same Italian owner
Picture courtesy auto

This one is owned by Frank Morskate in The Netherlands and replicates the LM car too
Picture Jeroen Booij

Despite being a Mk3 it does go into detail slightly better
Picture Jeroen Booij