Thursday 30 November 2017

Who will be saving these Stimsons and Siva?

Last year a collection of three Stimson cars plus a sole Siva Buggy was seen here (click and scroll a little down). I have now learned the cars are still there, still looking sorry for themselves, and we now know the location, too. The picture was taken by Dafyn Jones, who found them by chance. He wrote: "Took a wrong turn near Accrington and saw these in a tumbledown warehouse" We see a Stimson CS+2 (BEF 216Y), a Stimson Scorcher (Q837 SOS) and a bright green Siva Buggy with no visible registration. It looks to me as if the other white Mini Bug (VOA 879K) is still hiding behind the CS+2, too. Dafyn adds: "They are at the bottom of Mill Road, Great Harwood in the remains of a collapsed industrial unit." Here you go folks. If they are worth serious money in 10 years time, don't say I didn't tell you these were rotting away right there, right now.

Stimson CS+2, Stimson Mini Bug, Stimson Scorcher and Siva Buggy are still out there
Picture Dafyn Jones

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Le Mans Mini Marcos: leaky tank now skillfully restored

In the last couple of months I have become a real hoarder of classic parts and by now the post man knows me by name. I am planning to put all of them together for one picture when all have arrived or have been finished. Well, that's all bar the body and the engine and suspension as these are currently not with me. You will remember the body is in Yorkshire, UK, with Peter and Paul of Seventies Car Restoration, while the mechanicals are currently being built by Philippe Quiriere of Mini World Center in Pau, France. The plan is to have the body finished and painted by next July, then take it over to Le Mans Classic somewhere from 6 to 8 July 2018 and then drive on to Pau in south-western France to fit the mechanicals at Philippe's.

Meanwhile, I had some troubles with the petrol tank. The idea was to use electrolysis in order to de-rust the inside. I’d heard about this, had a look at some DIY movies on Youtube and it all seemed pretty straightforward. Well, I had all the ingredients necessary, had the sender unit in the tank closed and had the set-up ready. But when I filled up the tank with water I soon found that it wasn’t as good as I’d expected. Water leaked from three places on the seal and I had to give up the whole electrolysis plan. Blast! And so I decided there was only one way to go: order a new Mini Van petrol tank (this was used as a base for my tank), cut the old one open, do the same with the new one and weld the bottom half of the new one to the top half of the original one. I contacted my friends at MiniSpares North and they were ever so helpful. They sent over a new Van tank at a special price and it came quickly, too.

Now, welding up a tank isn’t too easy and I was lucky when an old acquaintance told me he new just the man for the job. Martin is an old blacksmith who has been dealing with this sort of job for decades. I called him, drove over to his wonderful workshop where he examined the tank. He saw immediately that it had been autogenously welded and he agreed to do it exactly similar. And he did a marvellous job. He cut the old tank open on the exact seem where it had been welded by Jean-Claude Hrubon all those years ago and placed it together right there, too. He also replaced the old drain plug, blasted the inside and sprayed the outside beautifully in the correct paint. Job done! Meanwhile, I used my electrolysis set-up to de-rust the paddle box and its separate pedals and the few steering column bits that I had. It worked beautifully, too. Stay tuned.

Big petrol tank is visible through the car's rear screen, seen at the Le Mans pit here
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Ready for action, with the tank closed up and about to be filled with water and soda mixture
Picture Jeroen Booij

Ouch! Leaks stopped play and there was no way I could use my electrolysis set-up here anymore
Picture Jeroen Booij

The original tank had to be cut open, just as well as a brand new one. With the genuine piece of Le Mans history seen above now not being used anymore
Picture Jeroen Booij

But here's Blacksmith Martin with the original top and new bottom mated together again. He welded them up just like Jean Claude Hrubon did over 50 years ago
Picture Jeroen Booij

Friday 24 November 2017

Mystery Mini derivative (47)

Believed to have been photographed at the Earl's Court London Motor Show on the stand of BACO Aluminium in 1963, this is an intriguing one. I was sent the picture by arch-enthusiast Miguel Plano, who asked me: "Could it be Mini based?" I think it could, judging from the wheels and that tall engine space. I'm not so sure about the year though, as it all shouts late 1960s / early 1970s to me. BACO (for British Aluminium Company Ltd.) does not exist anymore, so we cannot ask them. But somebody should surely know more about this car?

BACO Aluminium built their own car and showed it at Earl's Court. Was it Mini based?
Picture via Miguel Plano

Thursday 23 November 2017

Mini Trafalgar Coupe unveiled

It's not too often nowadays that a brand new Mini based car is launched, but it's the case now with the Mini Trafalgar Coupe, built and marketed by Garage Minimum of Kanazawa in Japan.

The car made its debut at the 25th Japan Mini Day last weekend. As you can see it is a fastback Mini in the style of the Buckle Monaco, Ecurie de Dez 2+2, New ERA Mini Coupe, Automotive Refabrication Fastback Mini and ABS Mini Coupe. But it's fully built by Garage Minimum itself, which based its demonstrator on a 1994 Mini Mpi. It certainly looks good. First the roof of the donor Mini was cut off half ways, the rear screen pillars were slightly raked, and the shape of the new roof was made using steel strips, sheet metal and filler. Next a mould was made from that to fabricate the actual roofs in fibreglass.

Garage Minimum now offers replicas to customers, priced at ¥ 700,000 for the conversion. Contact them here for more information.

UPDATE 12:20: Another message from the manufacturer: "I am now manufacturing No. 2 car. It is planned to sell with a complete car. I think that it will be finished around January next year. Car No. 3 is ordered by another customer, and it will be produced after that."

A brand new Mini based car: the Mini Trafalgar Coupe by Garage Minimum
Picture courtesy Garage Minimum

Fibreglass roof is one part and is beautifully fitted to cut and shut Mini shell
Picture courtesy Garage Minimum

Smooth conversion with no roof guttering and seams at the back
Picture courtesy Garage Minimum

Mini based coupes came from the UK and Australia - this one is Japanese
Picture courtesy Garage Minimum

Donor vehicle was a 1994 Mini Mpi, roof was cut half ways and rear screen raked
Picture courtesy Garage Minimum

The new roof shape was now fabricated. Note modified rain gutter
Picture courtesy Garage Minimum

Next, a mould was made to reproduce more Trafalgar Coupe roofs
Picture courtesy Garage Minimum

Seen here fitted to the demonstrator before being painted and finished
Picture courtesy Garage Minimum

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Japan Mini Day 2017

Japan Mini Day is always good for some Mini derivatives. And with the show in its 25th year it was bound to become a good one this year, at the shores of Lake Hamanako in the Shizuoka prefecture. The majority of the pictures below come from the Young Mini Club of Hong Kong. Thank you so much for uploading them!
Is this four-door car a Mini Mengers creation? I don't think so, but you may know?
Picture Piyo Yee / Young Mini Club

And how about this cool Mini coupe? A Buckle Monaco? An ABS Coupe? I'd love to know
UPDATE 23 november: it's a brand new Mini derivative! All here
Picture Piyo Yee / Young Mini Club

Heerey GTM 1-3 has to be a rare sight in Japan. This is a 1970 car
Picture Piyo Yee / Young Mini Club

And is that an Ibis or an RD Wasp? I think the latter. Here is an Ibis that made its way to Japan
Picture Piyo Yee / Young Mini Club

There were several Mokes with hardtops. I think this one is by Fibreglass Canopy Sales of Wahroonga, Australia
Picture Piyo Yee / Young Mini Club

And another one. This one looks to be a Duncan Hamilton variant of the late 1980s?
Picture Piyo Yee / Young Mini Club

These ladies sell ice cream from a very fitting Whitby Morrison Mini ice cream van
Picture Nobuhiro Okitsu

Mister Maruyama's well-know Mini Marcos may be Ford powered, it's a lovely thing!
Picture Piyo Yee / Young Mini Club

This car is another regular at Japan's Mini meets. The (Mk4) body is said to be fully carbon fibre
Picture Piyo Yee / Young Mini Club

Japan Mini Day would not be Japan Mini Day without at least some MiniSprints!
Picture Piyo Yee / Young Mini Club

The number of MiniSprints in Japan is remarkably high. Who built all these cars?
Picture JMSA

And another, now clearly based on a younger shell. Note that all wear wide arches
Picture Piyo Yee / Young Mini Club

Bonus photograph: this Unipower GT was also seen at another meeting in Japan last weekend
Picture Yoshi Tsuji

Monday 20 November 2017

Maximum Mini Christmas offer 2017

Make a start on your Christmas shopping with the perfect gift: Maximum Mini books, of course. Now you can take advantage of a 25% discount on Maximum Mini 2 and 3. I have also been able to track down 5 more copies of the original hardback Maximum Mini 1, as published in 2009, which I sell with 40% discount on the standard £250 price - £150. These will surely go quickly as I don't think I'll find new ones anywhere!

All prices below include postage and packing in a purpose made box. Drop me a line on jeroen at with your wishes and I'll send you a payment request.

This offer start on Wednesday 22 November 2017 and runs until 25 December 2017.

To the UK

£26.25 for Maximum Mini 2
£30.00 for Maximum Mini 3
£52.50 for Maximum Mini 2 & 3
£150.00 for the original hardback Maximum Mini 1

To Europe

€33.95 for Maximum Mini 2
€37.50 for Maximum Mini 3
€63.75 for Maximum Mini 2 & 3
€169.00 for the original hardback Maximum Mini 1

To the US

$46.50 for Maximum Mini 2
$52.50 for Maximum Mini 3
$93.75 for Maximum Mini 2 & 3
$199.00 for the original hardback Maximum Mini 1

To Japan

¥5,500 for Maximum Mini 2
¥6,000 for Maximum Mini 3
¥10,500 for Maximum Mini 2 & 3
¥22,500 for the original hardback Maximum Mini 1

Thursday 16 November 2017

Mystery Mini derivative (46)

Another mystery Mini derivative and yet another autocross Special. No information is known about this one, so feel free to help with anything. People, location, details. All I recognize is the A-series engine and the Dunlop wheels. Most of this autocross Special is also still shrouded in mystery, as is this one and this one...

UPDATE 21 January 2021: Correct picture source now added. Have a look at Jalopydays for much more pictures like this. Thank you Shirley for allowing me to use it. The car is not an autocross racer but an autograss racer.

A Mini based autograss Special, somewhere in the UK in the late 1960s / early 1970s
Picture Shirley Dalley / Jalopydays

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Vikings from the Isle of Man

Peel Viking Minisport owner John Fischer contacted me with some news on his car's identification. He wrote: "Hi Jeroen, whilst at the NEC classic car show this weekend I spoke to two people on the Microcar stand who have a lot of knowledge about Peel and gave me a lot of information about Vikings. All fibreglass moldings from Peel had plates with a number on. Initially letters and numbers denoted different types of products such as motorcycle fairings, boats and different models of cars but at some stage the rack of plates fell over and all the plates got mixed up. They didn't bother sorting out the plates so from then on random numbers were issued. They believe however that Peel Vikings were to be issued with F800 to F849 numbers."

"As my Peel carries F809 they are 99% sure it is an early Isle of Man car. They believe cars built by Peel would have been registered with the F*** chassis numbers, but kit built cars would use the donor Mini chassis numbers. They believe an exception to this was the D-reg one that has the Minivan trailer which had an F*** number as it was being built with new parts (more on that one here). The original moulds went to Suffolk and were eventually destroyed so when one of these two people wanted some shells in later years a new set were made to produce 'repro' cars. He used a 'repro' shell to build the car that is now in the Lane Motor Museum, the roof came out very rippled, hence the vinyl roof (here for that one). These moulds are the ones that sold on Ebay and are now with Exo Sports Cars in Nottingham (there you go)."

"There are two cars on the Isle of Man, one being MAN 123 (see Maximum Mini 1 and here), the other is the orange J reg car that was pictured for sale at Newark kit car show (this one). This car has been in and out of the Isle of Man several times and has carried various registrations over the years. There is another original car in England with the daughter of an ex-Peel employee, which may still be on the road on the South Coast. The one shown in your book racing off road still exists as a body, but the front was cut off at some stage to aid cooling. Originally there was a frame that held the metal reinforcements for the body whilst it was being molded but this was left to rot on the island so later bodies were said to be missing reinforcement. The only set of steel doors known, like fitted to mine, were the ones made to mould the fibreglass ones from, so my doors can't be explained at this stage."

"They are going to investigate further and send me any information they can trace about the original Peel built cars. At present they know of my car but hadn't traced it back further than Peamore Garage in about 1980, but know of only one unidentified original car, so there is a possibility it is this one. I will let you know if more info comes to light."

John's Peel Viking Minisport at the Mk1 / Maximum Mini Action Day at Blyton Park in 2015
Picture Jeroen Booij

Joined by a TiCi. Note late (april 1980) registration number, the reason for which is unknown
Picture Jeroen Booij

Made on Man, or so it seems. 'F809' may suggest there were at least 9 bodies produced on the island?
Picture Jeroen Booij

But the link to Peamore Garage, in Alphington, Exeter, is also still shrouded in mystery
Picture Jeroen Booij

The engine in this particular Peel is an 850 from a 1964 Austin Mini
Picture Jeroen Booij

Much of the car's interior had been eaten by mice, but the mechanical side is all okay
Picture Jeroen Booij

Most Peel Viking's have fibreglass doors; this one does not. They are shortened steel Mini items
Picture Jeroen Booij

Last on the road in 1993... In 1982 it supposedly was a Christmas present to a young man in Devon
Picture Jeroen Booij

Friday 10 November 2017

Beach car returns to show scene

While the Unipower GTs shine at the NEC in Birmingham (click!), an original Mini Beach Car stars at the Epoqu'Auto show in Lyon, France. It has come out of the woodwork after not having been seen in public for ages, and it's a pretty special one, too. This is the car that was seen with a most unusual 'fringe top' on its roof back in the 1960s in Cannes. And some more unusual features: figureheads at the door steps and the boot handle and a white Bakelite telephone, amongst others. It does look very smart, although I couldn't stand noticing that it does seem to miss some more bits. Apart from the strange roof accessoire, the overriders and cornerbars and the gear knob in the shape of a hand that it originally had appear to have gone, too. According to a period article "The owner of the car had the cabin of his motor vessel similarly decorated."

This French registered Mini Beach car hasn't been seen in public for decades
Picture courtesy Dominique Sabat

This particular car, one of the 14 made in Longbridge, has some unusual made-to-measure features
Picture courtesy Dominique Sabat

Telephone, tailored badges and ornamental figureheads on doorsteps and boot, for example
Picture courtesy Dominique Sabat

Originally, it was even more lavish, with mauve 'fringe top' and curtains as doors. The car is seen here in Cannes in the 1960s. Note '75' (for Paris) registration 
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Unipowers shine at NEC

(Almost) Live from the NEC in Birmingham, I was sent these shots taken at the Unipower display at the Classic Car Show by Colin Baines. Tim Carpenter, who put the beautiful display together, tells me the collection of Unipowers is very well received with the cars getting lots of attention. It does look cracking!

Mark Butler re-imported this car from the US in 2006 and beautifully restored it. He is seen behind it here in the green jacket, with two more GT-owners (Pete Flanagan and Gary Marlow) The car is now owned by Mark Glashier
Picture Colin Baines

Tim Carpenter's GT is the first production car. Tim bought it in 1982 as a rolling shell in a poor condition and fully restored it during the 1980s. But it's only now that he regularly uses it. 
Picture Colin Baines

Pete Flanagan's car is a lightweight racer that comes with Downton tuned 1293 engine. It was owned and raced by Janspeed's Geoff Mabbs and later by Cars and Car Conversions magazine
Picture Colin Baines

Tim (right) is seen here with Thomas Jay, another Unipower owner. Thomas is restoring the GT he bought in 1971, crashed in 1975 and which he is currently restoring (some pictures here)
Picture Colin Baines

Thursday 9 November 2017

Unipower GTs at NEC this weekend

Unipower GT owner Tim Carpenter has been busy organizing a display for the Classic Car Show held at Birmingham's NEC this weekend. Tim's own car is there (chassis number 1), along with the ex-CCC racer of Pete (as here) and the beautifully restored car of Mark Glashier (as here).

Tim sent me a press release, which I'm quoting as a whole here: "Super rare Unipower GT breaks cover on Stand 2-160. The best, least-known mid-engined British production special gets its own stand at the Lancaster Classic Car Show with Discovery this weekend. Never heard of the Unipower GT? Perhaps not surprising as only 71 were built 1966-70 in NW London and lots of survivors emigrated to Japan in the 1980s. Like a small race car for the road, these mid-engined sports cars embody superior design and turn heads to this day. Take a good look. It may be while before you see another one."

The picture below was taken at the 1967 Racing Car Show in London in January that year. More Unipowers on show here. More Unipowers on show with ladies on their bonnets here and here.

London Racing Car Show 1967: a 998cc Unipower GT 'to the latest specification' 
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Tuesday 7 November 2017

Grandson of builder is looking for an Edenvale Mini coupe

I was contacted some time ago by Vaughan Frankiewicz, who happened to know more about the Mini fastback coupes built in Edenvale, South-Africa in the 1960s (see Maximum Mini 3). He wrote: "The Mini Fastback is one of three my grandfather build. It belonged to my mother for many years before being sold. I would like to know who currently owns the vehicle as I would like to purchase it and have it back in the family if possible." I haven't heard from him anymore, but would love keep in touch. Also: the whereabouts of the three cars are currently unknown to me, but I'm sure somebody else will be able to help.

First of the three Frankiewicz built Mini fastbacks was owned by a South-African radio DJ
Picture courtesy Chris Rees

This one turned up for sale in South-Africa in 2013 when it was sold for a very little sum
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

And it was seen for sale again two years later, still looking pretty rough. Where did it go?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive