Friday 28 April 2017

Blyton Park - here we come!

Hope to see you his weekend at Blyton Park for the 4th Mk1 Performance Conversions / Maximum Mini Action Day. It will be your one and only chance to see the Le Mans Mini Marcos in 'as found' condition for after the weekend its restoration is really started with the first stop at the soda blaster. 
See you there!

On our way to Blyton Park with the 1966 Le Mans Mini Marcos (trailer light now repaired)
Picture Jeroen Booij

Tuesday 25 April 2017

Spotted in South-Africa: Banshee

Sean Brennan spotted the Banshee at a Mini event in South Africa earlier this month, and sent his pictures over to me, too. As you may know the Banshee (Maximum Mini 3) was built over a long period of time by Tertius van Zyl, who became inspired after having seen a magazine article on the Unipower in 1969. It's not unlike the stillborn Unipower GT Roadster of which I copy an image below.

The Banshee remains unique. It was built by Tertius van Zyl, who still owns it
Picture courtesy Sean Brennan

Clearly Unipower GT inspired, but then all home-made with no example whatsoever…
Picture courtesy Sean Brennan

Work started with Tertius' Mini 850, which became the base for a project he worked on for 15 years
Picture courtesy Sean Brennan

Tertius still uses the car for rallies and tours in his native South Africa. It's great!
Picture courtesy Sean Brennan

The Unipower GT gave him the inspiration, but I don't think Tertius ever knew about
 this stillborn Unipower Roadster version…
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Thursday 20 April 2017

Perivale 1968: driving the Quasar Unipower

You may have seen this lovely little film. Or you may have not. It shows the prototype Quasar Unipower City-car including its transparent and inflatable seats which missed in the latter production cars. It's filmed in Perivale and you may also note Unipower GTs in various production stages in the backdrop. I think that's Unipower's development engineer Nick Ouroussoff as a passenger. Enjoy!

Video courtesy British Pathe / Youtube

Tuesday 18 April 2017

An Ogle in Australia

I am often surprised to learn that Mini based cars have made it to certain parts of the world. I never heard of any Ogles in Australia, but there is at least one, or so it seems. Simon Neilson‎ of Perth bought an example he owned before and asked me whether I knew more about it. He wrote: "I've been looking for a Cooper 'S' to have dad & son times in and I re-found my Mini Ogle SX1000. The car was originally purchased From The Chequered Flag garage by a Chinese rubber planter Tunku Mudzafa who didn’t register it in England but took it back to Malaya for his son Derek to use. After only six months Derek traded it for a new MG at Wearne Brothers Ltd where Arthur Rogers was the MG Sales Manager. Arthur bought the car and owned it until 1975. He shipped it to Perth, Australia in 1970.

"The Ogle comes with chassis number MO/62/040 and was originally light metallic silver but he painted it white as the metallic paint did not withstand the tropical conditions. He also ordered a second rear window as the one in the car had not been tempered correctly. The Ogle was never registered in England. It requires full body restoration, has 7.5"disk brakes, a reconditioned 1275, spunky 60's sports seats and a sporty dash. I have the full history for the car that I will post another time. Big thanks to my mate Peter (grey jumper) for taking me to Geraldton to collect it." Simon has much more of the car's history, so hopefully we'll learn more soon. I did not know it! But I do wonder if this is the only Ogle in Australia?

Simon's mate Peter (left) who towed the vehicle home, his son Cooper (middle) plus Helen and Allen -  the daughter & son of the owner Arthur who owned it from 1963 - 1975 and from 2004 - 2017
Picture courtesy Simon Neilson

And that's Arthur Rogers who owned the car for 25 years, here with Simon and his son Cooper
Picture courtesy Simon Neilson

The car requires a full body restoration, says Simon, but at least it's complete
Picture courtesy Simon Neilson

The front sees added air intakes. All because of the tropical climates it had to deal with
Picture courtesy Simon Neilson

Thursday 13 April 2017

Mini Marcos at Mugello 1966

Lasse Kärkkäinen of Finland made me aware of a nice little bit of film footage. He wrote: "Hi,
I am not sure if you have found this already, but the Mini Marcos Mk I driven by Billy Dulles in the Mugello 1966 race, can be seen in live footage in this video. Check out from 1:55 and also the last car at the end of the film. There's a second part to the film, which I have not yet watched. Hopefully there will be footage from the another Marcos in that race, driven by Roy Johnson and Guy Edwards (this one-JB). Yours, Lasse." I hadn't seen this yet. Thanks for sharing Lasse!

Meawhile, I have come across several bits of film footage with my own project car at its prime, filmed in July 1966 at Le Mans. It's the plan to put all these together to form a slightly longer film. So if you happen to find something, somewhere, do let me know.

Video courtesy Youtube / Roydpg

Tuesday 11 April 2017

New Zealand MiniSprint mystery - UPDATED

Tim Neal made me aware of a little known Mini Sprint kind of creature, seen recently at a racing event in New Zealand. At first I thought it was the Hatton MiniSprint, designed and campaigned by Lynn Hatton of the south island (see Maximum Mini 3). It is, however, another car. Thanks to Graeme Farr, who sent me piles of photographs some years ago, I came across some more images of it in the files. However, information to complement those pictures is unavailable. Not even a name. So, Graeme, or anybody else, how to call this little rascal?

Brendan McKenzie with the Mini Sprint at the Cloudy Bay Sprints in Blenheim recently
Picture Ricky Wilson/Fairfax NZ

This is the car's base. A sporty Mini with eight port head that was damaged at a hill climb
Picture Graeme Farr / Jeroen Booij archive

And then it was turned into this. Not much of the original body was kept for its revamp
Picture Graeme Farr / Jeroen Booij archive

Note very steep angled windscreen and fully altered back, too. Body comes in full alloy
Picture Graeme Farr / Jeroen Booij archive

Somewhat later the nose section was changed once more, even lower and longer now
Picture Graeme Farr / Jeroen Booij archive

At another New Zealand hill climb in its blue guise. The car is said to be equipped with 1330 engine
Picture Graeme Farr / Jeroen Booij archive

Another change. MiniSprint 1330cc says sticker. But who knows more about its background?
Picture Graeme Farr / Jeroen Booij archive

UPDATE 24 August 2020 
Graeme Farr explains a few complications, that are good to put things straight here. He wrote: "Hi Jeroen. A few things are wrong. The car was built by Ash McKenzie and had an 850 engine. He changed the front on it and I think the blue front is the later front it had when he sold it. Lyn Hatton had a 1071 Cooper S which he had a 1275 S engine (it was a racing car and is the purple one here). He fitted the 8-port Arden head off the 1974 NZ Saloon Car championship winning Mini of Rex Hart. He later bought the Mini Sprint off Ash and changed the front to a Clubman look to fit the 8-port head in. The car still had it's special rear suspension with a beam axle. Lyn won the 1976 NZ hillclimb championship with the car - quite an achievement. He then sold the car to Tony Gilbertson who had previously had the only genuine Trickett Mini Sprint in NZ back in 1966 (photo). Tony also had considerable success with the car in hillclimbs and sprints in the Hawkes Bay. White photos here are of Tony. I bought the car off Tony - with the idea of making a recreation of the 74 championship winning car of Rex Hart. I had the wheels and TJ fuel injection and a few parts off the Rex Hart car. I sold the rolling shell back to Ash Mckenzie ($200 from memory) but in the intervening years he had lost track of the car and built a replica. That is the car his son Brendon is next to in the photo. I assume he also has the original version I sold him. The purple 1071 is still around and in its original shell - it was never built into the Mini Sprint. The Cooper is actually the oldest Cooper S in New Zealand and has been converted back to a road car. Its a September 1963 built Almond Green car. Cheers Graeme." That is, as always, much appreciated!

This is the Arden 8-port head which Lyn Hatton fitted to the Mini Sprint
Picture courtesy Graeme Farr

Rex Hart's championship winning Mini - the same as the green car but fitted by then with TJ injection.
Graeme: "I bought the engine with those carbs fitted plus the TJ set which a friend had"
Picture courtesy Graeme Farr

Friday 7 April 2017

Biotas in Holland

I was sent a Dutch Biota brochure some time ago, published by Precott Hill Ltd., who were the Dutch importer of the Mini based sports car (more info here and here). Did I know it? I thought not, but it turned out I did have a copy. What's more: when I had a look in the files to see what else was thereI noticed that Precott Hill Ltd. had come up with several more brochures. And I found a few ads, too, all in Dutch. And some pictures linking to them. Anyway: have a look for yourself. 

It's not in the best shape, but you don't see this Dutch Biota brochure very often
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

And that's the back. The colours available have some nice names. Biota Blue, Peacock Blue 
and Mc Claren (sic) Orange for example
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

I found this, too. Precott Hill - also importers for TVR at the time - took a car with hardtop to the Amsterdam Motor Show, seen here bottom right and left center. It was the demonstrator 'YWT 65G'
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Seen here at the Amsterdam Motor Show or RAI, at Prescott Hill's display, rubbing 
shoulders with one of their TVRs
Picture courtesy

And here again, seen over in Holland. This is in Woudenberg at Prescott Hill's headquarters. Or perhaps humble premises. Note the missing tiles and abandoned MGBs...
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

This is the same car, YWT 65G' seen a couple of years ago. It's still awaiting restoration
Picture Jeroen Booij
The Biota never was a simple kit and the body consisted of a great number of parts. 
Still, there were plenty of extras available…
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Do you own a Mini? Are you good with your hands? Then build Kit B!
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

This ad comes from a Dutch motoring magazine - "The huge Amsterdam motor show success"
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

This is a magazine ad, too, now slightly later and now 
showing their own Dutch-built demonstrator
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Same photo, but now much better. '46-56-FH' is a garage plate. Does this car survive?

UPDATE 9 November 2020: Yes, the car survives! Story here.

Tuesday 4 April 2017

Film footage of Uruguayan Padován GT

It is one of the more unlikely Mini derivatives: the Padován GT, as seen in Maximum Mini 3. The car made its debut at the Autódromo de Rivera in Uruguay 50 years ago and together with the Torrendell Special they are the only two Uruguayan Mini variants that I know of.

According to an article in local motor magazine Revista Automundo Mr. Padován had built his GT in just fifteen days, with inspiration from the Mini Marcos or MiniJem and also a full fiberglass body. The car came home second that race. I was much surprised to come across film footage of the car in action, driven by a man named Victor Paullier during a race a year later with some more interesting Specials, see it attached below. I also found a couple of more photographs of the car at the track. Enjoy them.

Padován GT is featured in this lovely amateur film footage, taken in Uruguay in 1968
Video courtesy Revb7 / Youtube

Line up with some interesting Specials. Padován GT, number 25, is right in the center of the grid
Picture Revisto Automundo / Jeroen Booij archive

And off they go. 11 Cars made it to the 'Liebre' class - which seems pretty much like 'Anything goes'
Picture Revisto Automundo / Jeroen Booij archive

Padován GT, driven by Victor Paullier, came last during this race, but came 2nd at its debut in '67
Picture Revisto Automundo / Jeroen Booij archive

This photograph was taken at that debut at the Autódromo de Rivera in Uruguay 50 years ago 
Picture Revisto Automundo / Jeroen Booij archive