Tuesday 30 January 2018

Classic Mini Coupes

There have been several coupe variants on the classic Min saloon now. I thought it would be nice to see all of them together. So... left to right:
Top row: New ERA Mini Coupe, Buckle Monaco, Ecurie de Dez 2+2
Middle row: Automotive Refabrication Coupe, ABS Mini Coupe, homebuilt creation
Below: Mini Trafalgar Coupe 

Oh - there have been several more projects... Which one is your favourite?

Friday 26 January 2018

Market round up (winter 2018)

Another look at what's on the Mini derivatives market right now. Most of the cars seen in the selection below are for sale at the moment, although some may have been sold by this time. Any good winter projects for you? Or buy now for the Summer.... Thanks to everyone for letting me know about cars for sale. Do keep them coming!

Good looking Scamp Mk3 with 955 miles from new. In London. See it for sale here

A Midas from France, believed to have 145bhp under the bonnet. See it for sale here

1985 registered Vendavans Ice Star in fully functioning form. See it for sale here

Nice 1987 Andersen Cub, first registered in '89. See it for sale here

Another Cub but this kit has never been built. See it for sale here

Ranger Pick-up said to have 1300 with Cooper 'S' head. See it for sale here

Or... a 1980 Triad Warrior, said to be Cooper-based. See it for sale here

A Hrubon Phaeton, made in Paris by Jean-Claude Hrubon. See it for sale here

Or later incarnation of the Phaeton: a Schmitt. In Cannes and not cheap! See it here 

Newly made from the rediscovered Raubenheimer moulds: Mk3 Mini Marcos shell. For sale here

Another Mk3 Mini Marcos shell with distinctive rear spoiler, in Belgium. For sale here

Or... one that's on its wheels already. Comes with 1275 engine. See it for sale here

A Siva Buggy needing some work, but cheap. In West Wales. See it for sale here

Rare! An AEM Commanchero Six, believed to have been used for falconry. See it here

Foers Nomad pick up, comes with trailer in Nottingham on Irish plates. See it for sale here

Unfinished 1982 GTM Coupe rolling chassis with 1966 papers. See it for sale here

Remarkably tidy Jiffy Pick Up with 1275 engine in South Wales. See it for sale here

Lightspeed Magenta needing much attention, rescued from Yorks barn. See it for sale here

Thursday 25 January 2018

The Nevill's Landar R6 - now in pictures

It's almost two years ago that I posted about the Landar R6 of Graham Nevill's dad Gordon Nevill. Back then, Graham sent me some great film footage of the car in action back in 1973 (see it here). Meanwhile, he had another look in the attic and out came some images, too. Graham wrote: "Hello again Jeroen, I have scanned in a few prints of our old Landar R6 which I hope you may find useful to add to the stock, it’s the same car you alerted subscribers to some time ago when I posted the youtube footage. To recap, this is from about 1973 and is the last R6 Landar built which my dad bought new from the Radnalls that year. The phrase ‘where is it now?' always springs to mind... Best wishes, Graham."

Meanwhile, I also asked Mr. Maruyama if it could be his car - as I suggested last time. He wrote: "I think that it is the same car. Same colour and characteristic rear view mirror and the passenger seat oil cooler" He also sent me a copy of the car's V5 document which learned me it had been registered as 'AAB 6D' when in the UK.

But that didn't ring any bells with Graham, who replied: "Thanks for the follow up. I'd seen this R6 before as it’s the one featured in your first book and I did wonder if it was the same one but the wheels put me off. Ours had black Revolutions I think, although it does have those similarities as mentioned. The oil cooler does sit a lot higher on ours and most R6s have the mirror centrally mounted in some form and this one does have a similar shape to ours. This one however does not have lights and neither did ours whereas a lot, at least in the pics available, have headlights fitted. Obviously a lot can change over the years."

The last of the Landar R6s, when owned by Gordon Nevill back in 1973
Picture courtesy Graham Nevill

It could be the car that is now in the Maruyama collection in Japan, or is it?
Picture courtesy Graham Nevill

Several similarities, although roll bar and rear view mirror are different though
Picture courtesy Graham Nevill

On the drive in 1973. It's one of only 10 Landar R6s built by the Radnall brothers
Picture courtesy Graham Nevill

Maruyama's car was registered 'AAB 6D' at one point, but that doesn't ring bells with Graham
Picture Jeroen Booij

Friday 19 January 2018

Magenta goes rallying

Remember the works-Lightspeed Magenta that was entered in the London to Sydney Marathon back in 1977? Its builder and driver Philip Young passed away, but the car survives and was reunited with Magenta man Steve Johnson back in 2012.

Anyway: the Marathon car was not the only Magenta being rallied. John Hendley navigated Clive Edward Pace in one from 1978 to 1982. This was a 1293 powered car, which they entered in the Manx National and on the Uniband Stages Rally to name just two. Thanks for the photographs John!

Pace/Hendley entered Magenta was a regular in the rally scene in the late 1970s/early 1980s
Picture courtesy John Hendley

Kicking up some dust. Like the London-Sydney works car it used a now rare hardtop, too
Picture courtesy John Hendley

This picture was taken on the Manx National Rally over Starvey Jump back in 1981
Picture courtesy John Hendley

This also is the isle of Man in 1981. The island is always good for some fording!
Picture courtesy John Hendley

And the Magenta managed to control the water of the infamous Spitfire Bottoms, too
Picture courtesy John Hendley

Thursday 18 January 2018

Stimson Mini Bug moulds turn up

And it's time for yet another rediscovery of some long-lost Mini derivative moulds! This time a set of moulds for the Stimson Mini Bug has turned up in Hull. Very convenient for Continental buyers as they can be shipped around the corner, or hang on. The seller states: 'no overses bidders'... They may well be the original factory set, although they are not complete. The bonnet and rear panel bit are missing. Main body tub, side pods, rear hoop and windscreen frame are there, though. Now, which of you budding motor manufacturers is going to give the Bug a new lease of life? See the advertisement here.

In the last few years a surprising number of moulds has turned up, changed owners or was offered for sale. Some of them are:

The Fireball Midget
The Deep Sanderson 301
The Raubenheimer Mini Marcos
The Mini Jem
The Siva Buggy
The Reptune Gullwing
The Birchall McCoy
The Biota
The Stimson Scorcher
The Peel Viking

What's next?

Bonnet are rear panel mould are missing from this set but could be refabricated
Picture Ebay.co.uk

The Bug in the photos, supposedly made from the moulds in front, is not included in the sale 
Picture Ebay.co.uk

"The moulds are in fair condition for their age but will need inspection and a good waxing"
Picture Ebay.co.uk

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Silcoates Ascender and Mini Mouse mysteries found

Time for some mystery and intrigue, as this is a strange story about some cars, which even the original builder cannot fully explain!

When you've read Maximum Mini 3 you may remember the Cream Cracker, the Silcoates Ascender and the Silcoates Blue Car - all three cars built for the BP Buildacar design competition in the 1980s by students of Silcoates prep school in Yorkshire and all under the guidance of teacher Les Brown.

Well... The Ascender was taken over by one of the students and used regularly by him until recently when he decided to sell it. I got in touch with Les some years ago, he told me some great tales and sent me some great photographs. One of them showed the Ascender at the Silcoates school where it was joined by the 'Mini Mouse'. Not a Mini derivative, but another one of Les' fun projects. He wrote: "The Mini Mouse used racing go-kart parts with a Mini-style fibreglass body. The engine came from a 125cc Honda Spacey scooter, electric start, water cooled, full working electrics etc. Appeared on TV several times, terrific fun with power slides possible at the touch of the throttle. Too much fun, in fact it was stolen from out of it's garage." It was not included in any of the books, as it is of course not a Mini derivative, but I liked the little thing anyway.

Over to last summer when I visited Peter and Paul at Seventies Car Restorations, who are working on my Marcos and who also showed me some of their own projects. When Peter told me he had an Ascender in the garden, you bet I was interested. I knew supposedly just one was made - the yellow and black one. But Peter's example was red. And when he showed it to me it certainly seemed he was right about it being an Ascender! How was that possible? Things got even stranger when Paul took me to his place the next day to show one of his projects when under a tarpaulin came the body of... a Mini Mouse! Now, what was that?

I contacted Les Brown, writing: "I believed there was just one Ascender made, but to my own unbelief I bumped into another (unfinished) one last August. Only to bump into the shell of a Mini Mouse the next day on another address! Can you believe this? I’m sure you’ll know more about them?"

Les came back to me with the following: "Hi Jeroen. This is a strange. Well, I'm not sure I DO know what's going on! I built a Mini trike around 1975 from a 1962 Cooper that had rusted past economic repair at that time - 653 UMA. I kept as much as I could of the original Mini, and the car couldn't believe its luck when completed! All that weight gone, just 3 wheels to turn, and it absolutely flew! The red car looks substantially what I had done, though it still had a Mini floor pan originally. I sold it around 1990 to one of the students who had worked on the cars and I knew he decided to 'improve' on certain aspects of the design that he didn't approve of. My chassis was not symmetrical as I used a standard Mini rear arm, which meant the tubes were offset to follow the new load paths as far as possible. He started to make a new (symmetric) chassis which looked very heavy to me, but I thought the whole lot had been abandoned and scrapped years ago. I certainly made the front end that you see, and possibly some of the surviving chassis is mine also. Just to avoid confusion, I painted them all different colours, and the one we knew as "Ascender" was essentially a development of the red car. It does still exist and was down around the Devon area in the last 12 months, though this also had now lost the original '653 UMA'."

"The other is even more puzzling. The 'Mouse' worked very well also, though it had to be narrowed a little from the original racing go-Kart spec. But it still went like stink, and I suspect it would have blown off most full-sized Minis with its 12bhp Honda engine. Is this one still around? It clearly looks to have been moulded from the original shell, and I had once thought myself of selling such items. But it isn't the original, which was moulded using some blue pigment that we had lying around at the time. The interesting thing here - I sold the Mouse to another of the students but it was subsequently stolen from his garage! So, the crucial thing is, did he take a mould off BEFORE it disappeared or is it the work of someone else? The originals of each car were in the Huddersfield/Wakefield area.
The Mini was something that just cried out for a kit - are you up to speed on the made-in-Chile examples? They aren't really kits at all, but I couldn't leave them, or the GRP MG 1300s out of the book either. Wouldn't mind one now, actually..."

I've brought Les in touch with Peter and Paul, but if anyone can shed more light on this matter here...

Silcoates prep school, early 1980s. The Mini Mouse on the left, the Ascender on the right
Picture Les Brown / Jeroen Booij archive

And that's the Silcoates Ascender more recently, when it was offered for sale
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Original registration '653 UMA' is gone, but there is no doubt this is the real deal
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

But then we found this... Supposedly a forerunner that was believed to have been scrapped
Picture Jeroen Booij

It was probably the car built by Brown in '76 using a Mini Cooper powertrain
Picture Jeroen Booij

And then this! The stolen Mini Mouse produced some offspring, or so it seemed
Picture Jeroen Booij

It seems never to have been finished. But was it made before or after the Mouse got stolen?
Picture Jeroen Booij

Wednesday 10 January 2018

Mystery Mini derivative (48)

Today's Mystery Mini derivative is not exactly a variant that's ready to roll, but this chassis is clearly meant to be built up with A-series mechanicals. The subframes are there. They are joined by a round tube space frame that's been built as a single seater. It's not a Terrapin though and unfortunately there is no further information. So... who knows more on this one?

UPDATE 13:30 Alastair Brown writes: "It was on Ebay a year or 2 back. There were a couple of other pretty crappy photos, and I think it looked like a '60s F3 or early Formula Ford chopped about pretty crudely to take the Mini frames, which would have done nothing beneficial for either its structural integrity or weight. At a guess it would be for grass tracking? If memory serves me right, it was in France?"

This mystery single seater was clearly meant to be Mini based. But that's all we know
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Monday 8 January 2018

Le Mans Mini Marcos project: a real component car

I told you I've been hoarding parts in the last couple of months! Well, today I loaded all of them in the daily driver to go to the photo studio nearby (ahem!). There I took these pictures of what the sum of them looks like. Not even all of it is in it, as wind screen, door rubbers and loom didn't look particularly well in the picture.
But most of the bits and pieces that proved so hard to find have been traced by now. Among them all five Marchal parking lights, the ultra-rare Cibie concaved headlights and that dreaded petrol filler cap that was a total mystery for such a long time. The tank itself has been restored as have the magnesium wheels, while the Sprinzel seats have now been retrimmed beautifully. Now, let's see if we manage to bolt all of them on in 2018!

A Mini Marcos is the sum of its parts. Some of them proved a real pain to track down though
Picture Jeroen Booij

Sorry, I couldn't resist to take a seat here and use the camera's self-timer
Picture Jeroen Booij

From wheels nuts to stickers - the Le Mans car comes with many obscure parts
Picture Jeroen Booij

Thursday 4 January 2018

Stimson Scorcher survivor

Mini based vehicles keep on coming out of the woodwork, so let's start the year with a real oddity. How about a rare Stimson Scorcher three-wheeler that survives time just nicely? It is owned by Jason Betts and his Scorcher dates back to June 1977 and seems to come with all the bells and whistles of the time. The 100mph (!) three-seater comes with added motorcycle top-box and saddlebags, so it may only seat two now, though.

Is it a car? Is it a bike? Is it a lawnmower? No, it's a Stimson Scorcher
Picture Jason Betts

Front splitter was optional. And unlike this one, some Scorchers came with a bonnet too
Picture Jason Betts

Gas pedal and brake on the right, clutch on the left, handbrake in the middle
Picture Jason Betts

The Scorcher originally came with a fourth wheel at the back as a spare; this one uses saddlebags
Picture Jason Betts

Monday 1 January 2018

Happy 2018!

May I wish you all of the best for the New Year? Some exciting projects are on their way, so who knows what we may see back on the roads or tracks in 2018? Meanwhile, Dame Margot Fonteyn's coachbuilt Mini was chosen by you as the Best Find of 2017 (only just with one more vote than the number two Brickette single seat racer from Australia), so congratulations to the new owner who purchased the car in an auction last October (and who I do not know!). This year's Christmas Puzzle saw just two players (come on guys!), with Neil Kilbane once again triumphing. Neil, let me know if you'd like another book or if I can do something else to you. By the way: do you know the answer to the tie break question..?

Maximum Mini Find of 2017: Dame Margot Fonteyn in her coachbuilt Mini. Although not sure, it is believed that Hooper carried out the conversion to the car. Who owns it now? 
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

UPDATE: Car now fully recommissioned and cleaned and bound to make it to the NEC restoration show in March this year. Owner now also known (but wishes to remain anonymous)
Picture via Bill Bell