Thursday 26 January 2017

Le Mans Mini Marcos - update

Just a little update on the Le Mans Mini Marcos project.
First of all: thanks to everyone who contacted me in the last month or so regarding the car. I have now bought the first (rare) parts and have been offered several more. Keep the offers, ideas, suggestions and photographs coming!

The plan is now to sand down as much as possible from the layers of paint, without damaging the gellcoat but with the possibility to see how much of the original blue and yellow plus the white racing roundels is left. I believe it's all still there.
In that state I'll bring it over to Blyton Park on April 30th, where you are all welcome to see it in the flesh on the Maximum Mini display, joined by many other exiting Mini derivatives!

Right after the show it's coming back to Holland where it is going to be soda blasted. After that it will be dried and primed in 2K epoxy primer in order to prevent blistering. More to follow.

The Le Mans Mini Marcos, seen here during the 1966 Monza 1000kms race - about to overtake the Autodelta Alfa TZ2 from the inside? (which did not finish by the way)
Picture Auto Italiana magazine

Tuesday 24 January 2017

More Taka-Hira Minis

My recent Taka-Hira posting, prompted readers to send in more photographs of known Taka-Hira Minis. Thanks all for doing so, and the result can be seen below. Enjoy the pictures and keep them coming! By the way: the early black Countryman seen before is now up for sale - ad here.

A stunner, this Mini 850 saloon of 1964 vintage. Supposedly a one-owner car from new!
Picture courtesy Dieter Deschacht

Paris registered Mini Van with Taka-Hira wickerwork and French aftermarket bumper bars
Picture courtesy Frédéric Rollet

Wood and wicker on another French Mini: a 1968 Mk2 Countryman in this case
Picture courtesy Damien Lescroart

This 1964 Mini Van with original Taka-Hira mods was sold at auction in 2011
Picture via Dieter Deschacht

It's unknown wether this (German?) car was converted by Taka-Hira or by somebody else
Picture courtesy Oldiesfan67 via Dieter Deschacht

Monday 23 January 2017

Just the ticket for the GTM's 50th: Racing Coupe

Simon Dewar contacted me for two reasons: if I knew something about the alleged racing past of his GTM Coupe. Secondly: if I knew somebody for it, as he's looking for a buyer. The Coupe in question is believed to have been factory built, with 1975 registration and is believed to use a 1330cc engine with loppy cam, big valve head and SCCR gearbox. Simon adds: "Apparently it's had a racing past, and has a fire extinguisher system plumbed in, which points to racing I guess. But I have no proof of it's past, or in fact any paperwork other than it's registration document. However, I'd love to learn more about it." I've had a look in the files over here, but couldn't find anything about it. You may know?

Now, with the 50th anniversary of the GTM being celebrated at Blyton Park this April, this car may just be the ticket to join the festivities. At the moment it has no MOT, but Simon thinks it shouldn't need too much work in order to get one. It's friendly priced, I would say. See the ad here.

Update 25 January 2017: Simon adds: "I must mention that the car isn't as shiny in the dry!"

Simon's nice GTM Coupe is now for sale for a fair price. Ideal for Blyton?
Picture Simon Dewar

Said to have been factory built, this GTM looks neat, but does need some work
Picture Simon Dewar

The car is also believed to have a checkered history and Simon would love to find out more
Picture Simon Dewar

Track toy? 1330cc engine with loppy cam, big valve head and SCCR gearbox
Picture Simon Dewar

Interior with unusual dashboard layout needs tidying but is complete
Picture Simon Dewar

Plumbed-in fire extinguishers seem to point toward a racing past indeed…
Picture Simon Dewar

Friday 20 January 2017

Reptune Gullwings find new home after 50 years

The pair of Reptune Gullwings that Reptune instigator Dennis Prophet had kept since he built them in 1967, have now been sold. New owner is Gary Booker of Canada, who recently contacted me. The cars he bought are the prototype and a production car (one of 32 kits made), which was owned by Dennis' son, but also parked in Dennis' workshop in Ontario. Booker also took over the production moulds to make Reptune bodies.

This is the prototype Gullwing, supposedly Austin Cooper powered
Picture courtesy Gary Booker

And its interior. The Gullwing was advertised as having 'double safety' with its fiberglass 
body dropped onto the cut steel body of its Mini donor
Picture Norm Mort / Jeroen Booij archive

Dennis Prophet is seen here with the prototype car a couple of years ago. He is a very spritely man
Picture Norm Mort / Jeroen Booij archive

While this is the production car, next to the original Reptune Gullwing's moulds
Picture courtesy Gary Booker

Same car here, not many of the Reptune Gullwing actually came with gullwing doors!
Picture courtesy Gary Booker

The same car a few years ago, when it was photographed for Maximum Mini 3
Picture Norm Mort / Jeroen Booij archive

And its interior. You'll notice its all standard Mini here. Windcsreen is 1100 sourced
Picture Norm Mort / Jeroen Booij archive

This is the production car's engine, another Cooper mill?
Picture Norm Mort / Jeroen Booij archive

Thursday 19 January 2017

Action Day 4 is on its way

It seems quite far away from now, but the boys from Mk1 Performance Conversions have been busy organizing the 4th Action Day at Blyton Park yet. This time on Sunday April 30th. Oh - and there will be some recommended evening entertainment on the preceding night. All the 55 track places available have been booked, so no doubt there will be action, too.

What's more: the traditional Maximum Mini display won't disappoint either, with some exiting cars. At least two Unipower GT's will be seen (when they are not on the track), as will be Ian Shearer's very special Nimbus project car and an ultra rare Coldwell GT. I'm expecting a few early Mini Marcoses, too, and will bring over the Le Mans car myself! It's going to be the first time it will be on display since the 1967 Racing Car Show in London, where it was seen, too.

But the featured marque this year will be GTM in all its guises. From early Cox GTM to GTM Libra, with Heereys and Coupes in between. Cars include the ex-Cars and Car Conversions Cox racer, Stuart 'Turbocox' Poole's white Cox, Peter Skitt's Cox project and several others. 13 (!) are ready for the track, and several others will be on static display at the Maximum Mini stand. I think the fourth Action Day is bound to become a great show.

Tuesday 17 January 2017

Biota 'Mk1.5' for sale

Another Dutch Biota (more of them here) has made it to the market and this one is a bit of a hybrid. This car was sold new to Dutchman Robert Mellaart, who had his work experience as a young boy at John Houghton's workshop in Dinnington in 1972. No surprise that he got smitten with the Mini based sports car, wanting one for himself once back in his native Holland. And it became not your average Biota - as far as that exists. Mellaart took bits of the newly developed Mk2 car on a Mk1 chassis at the time, combining them into this Mk1.5. I am awaiting more technical details, but fact is that the current owner wants to sell it now, but says he needs some jobs to be carried out. The car needs an exhaust and a thorough check-up in the first place. Let me know when you are interested.

Mk1.5 Biota combines bits of Mk1 and Mk2. Dutch Registration is from 1973
Picture courtesy Peter Niessen

Chassis number '16-6-26' indicates it was built after the initial 25 Mk1 cars
Picture courtesy Peter Niessen

Turned alloy dashboard, chequer plate floor, plenty of gauges. Note indicator stalk position
Picture courtesy Peter Niessen

Frame looks to be in an excellent order. More information about the engine will follow
Picture courtesy Peter Niessen

Friday 13 January 2017

Kelley Special turns out to be Delta S2 Special

Faultless books do not exist, and I'm aware that my own books contain errors as well (not many, but still…). Fortunately, I have a loyal following of readers who correct me when I'm wrong. And Ray Potts is one of them. He wrote earlier today: "Hi Jeroen. Ray Potts here from Australia. I recently received my copy of Maximum Mini 3 and it's a fascinating read. One glaring error leapt out at me, however. On page 58 you show a 'Kelley Autotest Special'. I recognise it, but not the description. I'm not sure where you got the information on this but unfortunately it's 'a fair way off the mark' as we say in Australia. This car was active in Motorkhana (not Autotest) in Australia for many years. Called the Delta S2 Motorkhana Special it was originally built by Peter Jarram in 1988.

Peter sold it to Bill McCarthy in 1992 and in his hands it achieved the results at both State and National Championship level as detailed in the specifications below. Over time it was modified and/or improved by several Mini Experts here in Melbourne, Australia, before Bill sold it to David Kelly in 2014.
David sold it to Steve Ormond and Greg Dobson in 2015 after using it only rarely I believe. Incidentally, Bill identified the helmet hanging on the roll bar in your photo as being his, complete with a 'dust blocking bib' attached. Here are the specifications of the car as it was when Bill sold it to David in 2014. Also attached is another photo of the car.

Major Trophies: Australian National Motorkhana Championship – 1st 1993, 2nd 1999 & 2006, 3rd 2009. Victorian (State) Motorkhana Championship – 1st 1994, 1995, 1997, 2005, 2006, 2010 (equal first) & 2011
Engine: Mini 1380 cc, built by Link Automotive in fast road spec: 1100S block, Cooper S crank and rods, competition Oil pickup, worked head, 45 Weber on 6” manifold, K&N air filter, Camtech 607 cam with 1.5:1 roller rockers, light flywheel, raised compression, modified distributor, Gemini starter motor
Transmission: First and reverse gears only with straight column shift, Quaife ATB LSD
Brakes: Mini drums – separate circuits to front and rear Front – twin leading shoe with soft linings Rear with soft linings operated by 4th pedal or handbrake
Chassis: Steel tube and aluminium panels, partial Mini front subframe, rollbar padding
Weight: 355 - 370 kg – varies with wheels, tyres, mudguards
Tyres: Dirt – Hoosier 7.0/68-13 and Yokohama A021R 185/60-13, Bitumen – Dunlop and Avon soft compound 20” slicks
Wheels: 13” diameter in 6, 7 and 8 inch widths.
Suspension: Front - Rose-jointed, all alignment angles adjustable with adjustable damping from QA1 coilover shocks and various springs. Faster ratio steering Rear - beam axle with 3 links plus centre roller and Yamaha coilover shocks.

I'm not trying to be a purist or start any arguments about this, but since this car has played such a big part in Australian competition history, as well as being a superb example of how Mini components can be developed for a specific purpose, I though perhaps you'd like to know more about it.

Cheers, and thanks for your Mini Passion, Pottsy."

Thank you Ray. And feel free to correct me anytime.

This is not - I repeat; this is not - the Kelley Special. What we see here is known as the 
Delta S2 Motorkhana Special, built by Peter Jarram in 1988
Picture courtesy Ray Potts

Tuesday 10 January 2017

Your Cox and Heerey GTM projects

Reader Peter Skitt is not on his own, working on his Cox GTM. After I wrote about his project earlier this month (click here), a number of people followed, showing their Cox or Heerey GTM project car.

Parked next to his GTM Coupe, this very early Cox is owned by Douglas Anderson
Douglas is planning a restoration on the car, but has quite a few other projects
Picture courtesy Douglas Anderson

This Heerey GTM has just made it to Austria, where a restoration is about to start by its new 
owner Alfred Schönbauer. It is said to be a 1970 car
Picture courtesy Alfred Schönbauer

And it rubs shoulders with this car, also due to be restored by Alfred in Austria. 
The car's registration is of 1969 but the V5 says it's a Cox GTM
Picture courtesy Alfred Schönbauer

This car was owned by Chris Clifford until recently, but he sold it only last week
Feel free to keep me posted on the restoration if you are the new owner
Picture courtesy Chris Clifford

While this car was also owned by Chris. He wrote: I've had it for many years, but 
have too many projects!" It's gone to France now
Picture courtesy Chris Clifford

Recently spotted somewhere on a UK driveway by Simon Pike - another GTM 
overdue for a restoration! More info is welcome
Picture courtesy Simon Pike

Simon Grist wrote: "I am not even starting the build till this winter, but the photo 
gives an idea of what I have so far, a long way to go!"
Picture courtesy Simon Grist

UPDATE 19:50 - Dimitri Cornet contacted me, writing: "Hello. My name is Dimitri I am the new owner of the blue Cox and the red one without the front end. I bought the lot from Chris. The Cox is an ex-racer and the red one is a 1971 Heerey GTM. I am going to leave the red one alone but I will restore and race the blue one, hopefully end of this year or beginning of next year. I am French but I live in England so both cars are still there.
I also went to see the car in Belgium, I think it's a Cox but this car doesn't have a V5, I think it was lost. I am pretty sure this car in Belgium had a crash in its previous life as the chassis is all twisted. It's the reason why I didn't buy it. I will let you know and keep you updated on the restoration of the blue car."
Thank you Dimitri!

Monday 9 January 2017

A look at Taka-Hira Minis

Another Taka Hira Mini countryman turned up recently in France, which made me take a dive in the archives to see what else was there. Have a look at some of the Minis that were converted by the Frenchman, known for his wicker work.

This gorgeous Countryman is still in France, but I hadn't seen it before. Note relocated filler opening. UPDATE: Stuart Watson adds: "I think it is an earlty internal tank model. It has a smooth roof and it looks like you can see the top of the tank cover near the left side rear window." Right he is.
Picture courtesy Row Row Bau

This similar Almond green Countryman also has its doors covered in wicker
Picture courtesy

This Mk2 Countryman in lovely Fawn was seen for sale a couple of years ago
Picture courtesy Artcurial

While this Mk1 saloon was found in Spain two years ago. Full story here
Picture courtesy Francesco Carrión Cardenas

This Mk1 saloon looks very similar to the car above. It was owned by Russian prince Jaan Trubetskoy and his wife princess Leili Rikk-Trubetskoy, who kept it in the south of France. Where is it now?
Picture Slim Aarons / Getty

Jean-Claude Hrubon's Innocenti Mini Cooper was also converted by Taka-Hira
Picture Jeroen Booij

This car was a much more recent conversion. It's an MPi Mini of the late 1990s
Picture courtesy

UPDATE 24 January 2017: More of them here

Thursday 5 January 2017

Metron designer speaks

It's always the best to get information from first-hand sources. And it's a bit of a break-through to find such a person that single-handedly designed and built a Mini based car, or more of them. But I had not been able to get hold of Scotsman Terry Smith so far. Terry is the man behind the 1971 Metron, which is fully featured in Maximum Mini 2. A fascinating car with gullwing doors and Mini power. I photographed it with its current owner in Austria and was lucky to find out more of it thanks to an old clipping from a local newspaper. But so far, I had not been able to track down the man himself. 

Imagine my surprise when a Terry Smith dropped me a line recently about a Unipower GT project he was working on. Did he happen to be the Terry Smith of Metron-fame? Yep, he was. And he turned out to be still a great enthusiast, too, with several projects at hand. He bought my books and a poster and they arrived on time before Christmas. Terry wrote: "Many thanks for the Maximum Mini books which have been a great read over the holidays. I was very impressed with your entry on Metron, which brought back many happy memories! The poster is wonderful also, lovely to see Metron joining such other impressive creations. Incidentally Motor magazine also printed a two-page article about Metron at the time. I have a copy somewhere and will send you a scan when I locate it. I also noticed that you mentioned Circa in the Metron article. I went on to build several Circa models. The first had a central driving position (several years before the Mclaren F1) with passenger either side, and two small children's seats behind. It had a transverse Ford mid engine layout. A further evolution had a twin-turbo Rover V8 mid engine and ground effect aerodynamics. I tested this in the MIRA wind tunnel, and it generated significant downforce front and rear. My latest Circa is the Charterhall Speedster which is an update on the Jaguar E-Type, with more modern lightweight Jaguar parts."

It's good to finally be in touch with you Terry!

Terry's creation, the Metron, made it to a two-page spread in Motor in 1972, seen here
Picture Motor magazine, via Terry Smith

The actual car survives but needs a full restoration now. It lives in Austria
Picture Jeroen Booij

Wednesday 4 January 2017

Le Mans filler cap: what is it?

Of the many reactions I received after having secured the Le Mans Mini Marcos, Tom Wiggers was the only who said he could help me with the car's huge fuel filler cap. Tom told me it was sourced from a Ferrari 250 SWB and that he had an original one himself plus had some copies made. However, I had a close look to compare the two and am convinced it's not that.

The original thing has to be approximately 150 millimeters in diameter, making it anything but your average filler cap size wise. It also looks as if there is a brass or bronze lock on it. I have attached all the reasonably good detail shots that I have from it, and also attach the photos of Tom's repro-Ferrari-cap to show it's not that.

Question now is: what is it?

UPDATE 28 September 2017: Found it! Painstaking research has revealed it is a Ferrari cap after all. And I have one now, too! thanks for the many, MANY, tip-offs!

Picture Guy Le Page / Jeroen Booij archive

Picture Guy Le Page / Jeroen Booij archive

Picture Michel Tasset / Jeroen Booij archive

Picture Michel Tasset / Jeroen Booij archive

Picture Michel Tasset / Jeroen Booij archive

Picture Michel Tasset / Jeroen Booij archive

Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Ferrari 250 SWB filler cap - definitely not the one used on the Le Mans Mini Marcos
Picture courtesy Tom Wiggers / Saxonparts

The size must be about the same though, but the detailing is different
Picture courtesy Tom Wiggers / Saxonparts