Thursday 29 March 2018

Happy Easter 2018

I have some very good news coming up about the Le Mans Mini Marcos project soon, but will be hunting eggs this weekend first. Oh, more information about the picture below is welcome, too. It was supposedly shot in France in 1967... Enjoy Easter, wherever you are.

Holly had carried on perhaps a tad too far in the dyeing of Easter eggs 
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Wednesday 28 March 2018

Pellandini at speed. In period

This lovely picture was dug up by Rob Spurling and posted by Australian car fanatic Duane de Gruchy. It shows a Pellandini at the Adelaide International Raceway back in 1976 that was raced there by either Rob himself or Max Kinsmore at the time. Love it.

A Pellandini at Adelaide Raceway in 1976. Just eight were made between 1971 and '76
Picture Sharp Photography through Rob Spurling

This may well be the same car? Owned by Max Kinsmore so in his possession for decades now?
Picture Max Kinsmore

Thursday 22 March 2018

The many faces of the Fisher

I came across my file on the fascinating Fisher Spyder recently and was surprised with the many great photographs of this car, perfectly showing the different guises it went through throughout the years. I made only a brief selection for this article as there was so much to choose from.

The Fisher was initiated by Scotsman Jack Fisher of Edinburgh and has always been Mini powered. Work on his Special started as early as 1959 when Fisher acquired an 850 Mini engines from BMC and started to build a chassis. But only when he acquired a damaged Lotus Elite body shell in 1964 he managed to finish it, by that time he'd come up with a brand new space frame chassis with new detachable subframe so that the Mini powertrain could be mounted into the Elite boot. It was road registered 'ASG 182B' and used on the streets but soon only used for sprints and hill climbs.

Some time later a new space frame was made for the car, now using Lotus 23 suspension, disc brakes plus the centre body section including the doors of the ex-Ecurie Ecosse Le Mans Tojeiro! Engine size was increased to 1,150cc and an Arden 8-port head with twin Webers was now fitted, making it seriously fast. But it could do better, Fisher thought, and he remodeled it once again, now with shortened Gropa Spyder body and Lotus suspension. In this guise it set a class lap record at Ingliston where it was a frequent winner in the hands of both Fisher as Edward Labinjoh, who worked as a mechanic for Fisher’s garage. It was restored in 2007 by the current owner Peter Speakman at who's place I photographed it in 2011 for Maximum Mini 2 in the beautiful Lake District.

UPDATE 12 October 2020. Stop press! The original Fisher GT or Lotus Fisher GT survives and has been found in Southampton. Click here.

That's the Fisher being built in 1964. Recognize the Lotus Elite body in it?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The car's space frame was made to measure for the Lotus body. Suspension seems Triumph?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

A subframe was made to easily fit the Mini engine in the Elite boot. An 850 here
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

And ready to race! It used a Lotus type 23 nose section and was registered 'ASG 182B' 
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Here slightly later, now also using Lotus alloy wheels and Lotus disc brakes
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Next guise: much altered space frame was now mated to ex-Le Mans Tojeiro body!
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

It makes you wonder where the body from the Ecurie Ecosse Le Mans Tojeiro now comes from?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Seen here at the start of a race at Ingliston in September 1967. Note Mini Marcoses on grid, too
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Different paint job. The car was also raced by Fisher's mechanic, Eddie Labinjoh
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

By the late 1960s it used an 1150cc engine with Arden 8-port head and double Webers
Not sure if this is that engine, though. UPDATE: It isn't this was a Gordon Allen 1500 BDA unit placed on a modified Mini gearbox that proved to be too much for the car's transmission.
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

1970. Now with shortened Gropa Spyder body to make it even lighter and more aerodynamic
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

And that's still how it looks like today. This picture was taken in 2011 in the Lake District
Picture Jeroen Booij

The Mini engine is still there. That's owner Peter Speakman opening the front
Picture Jeroen Booij

UPDATE 14:30: Alastair Brown writes: "The Ecosse Tojeiro from which the body came was destroyed in an accident at Brands with, I think, Bill Stein at the wheel in the mid '60s (in open cockpit, Ford engined form). When it was later rebuilt the original roof section was tracked down and is now back on the car from whence it came. I think it's the one Tom Mcquirterr has in the Moray Motor Museum, but the identity of the 2 Tojeiro coupes is a bit like bowl of spaghetti to unravel!" 

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Australian Ogle being restored and researched

A cool message from Down Under, where Neil Griffin is restoring the Ogle SX1000 previously seen here. Neil wrote: "Greetings Jeroen, a few updates on the Ogle restoration. The car is now stripped of just about everything bar the Mini chassis and Ogle body... including the blue paint which I am not sorry to see go. We have also removed some newly boxed in sections under the side sills and lower rear which had also been filled with expanding foam which I believe Arthur had done during his last 'restoration'. Fortunately the car hadn't been driven much during that time it seems and so there was little water ingress and so just superficial rusting of the underlying Mini metal work."

"So with the removal of a 'triple layered' footwell floor section, we are now pretty much at the base vehicle and ready to build it back up. Overall the Mini metal work is in pretty good condition apart from numerous holes and cuts that have been made for various purposes which will all be put right. The GRP body has a number of issues expected for the age of the vehicle and we are probably looking at replace the whole front section (forward of the A-pillar). It would probably be cheaper to get a body from Nostalgia Cars but we want to keep as much of the original Ogle as possible. Fortunately we have a highly talented GRP person on hand to do the work required."

"I had hoped to be able to tell you that we had nailed down the original owner as 'Tunku Datuk Putra Mudzaffar bin Tunku Mustapha' but after correspondence with one of his sons, I can report that Tunku Mudzaffar was not the original owner but interestingly he did remember dealing with Arthur Rogers back in the day in relation to British cars. I can only assume that Arthur had confused Tunku Mudzaffar with a 'Chinese rubber plantation owner' even though he seemed to confirm my research when I spoke to him in January.

I was so sure that Tunku Madazaffer was the owner as he had spent time in London in the early 60s at the Chelsea College of Aeronautical and Automobile Engineering in London at would have the potential of seeing an Ogle back then. 'All of the ducks were lined up' as they say. I'm sure the Dutch have a similar saying. Sadly I have to report that Arthur passed away in February, so I will not be able to pursue that line of enquiry further although I am happy I had the opportunity to speak with him that one time and that he knew his beloved Ogle was in good hands."

"Fortunately we have a highly talented GRP person on hand to do the work required", says Neil
Picture Neil Griffin

Friday 16 March 2018

Analyzing the Le Mans Mini Marcos: the radiator

I received a multitude of messages after last week's not so good news about the Le Mans Mini Marcos project (read it here). Also: several of you suggested restoration companies or body builders who would be willing to take on the job of restoring the car's shell. Thanks very much for all that.

Meanwhile, I have some good news, too. The search for parts continues and I am happy to be able to say I have now finally secured the car's original front radiator. More about how it was mounted to the car here. You may also recall that I mentioned the survival of this radiator before, but it took some time to actually track it down. Mister José Albertini, who owned the car in 1970, told me he took it from the car at the time and kept it for many many years before selling it to Italy. Where this original Le Mans part ended up on another Mini Marcos. Question was which car that was and where it was now...

Eventually I managed to track it down with help of Philippe Quirière. Remarkably, the car that used it untill recently was one that had been turned into a replica of the 1967 Le Mans Mini Marcos! After the Italian owner, this car went to France before being sold to the UK some years ago. The current owner is rally- and race driver Martyn Spurrell from Oxfordshire. When I contacted him and asked about an unusual radiator on his car he knew exactly what I meant. Also, he told me he'd taken it off as it was such an old fashioned item, and had replaced it with a more up to date rad. Fortunately he'd kept the old thing and after he sent me some images of it, mister Albertini was happy to confirm that it was, indeed, the original radiator for my car!

And so, I agreed on a price with Martyn. And when he was in The Netherlands earlier this week, it was only a matter of meeting up, which we did. The radiator is now back to where it belongs. The brackets to mount it on the car seem to have been modified at one stage, but this will be easy to fix. One thing is for sure: it will go back on the car, just like it was back in 1966.

Scrutineering at Le Mans, 18 June 1966. No doubt they inspected the car's radiators, too
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Behind all these holes, a extra radiator and oil cooler were fitted. But they'd been taken off...
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

That's all there is now... But a search for the car's original radiator was started...
Picture Jeroen Booij

... and it lead to this car: a Mini Marcos currently owned by racing driver Martyn Spurell
Picture courtesy Martyn Spurrell

There it is! The original and most probably purpose-made front radiator of the Le Mans Mini Marcos
Picture Jeroen Booij

It's been modified, but former owner José Albertini confirmed it's the real deal. It'll go back on the car
Picture Jeroen Booij

Mores in this series here:

Analyzing the Le Mans Mini Marcos (2) - Holes for lights and details
Analyzing the Le Mans Mini Marcos (3) - Petrol tank, roll bar, pedals
Analyzing the Le Mans Mini Marcos (5) - Racing numbers and bonnet straps

Tuesday 13 March 2018

Found footage: Radford Mini stars in 1966 horror movie

Several years ago I got hold of some original Radford photographs. Among them two shots of what appears to be an early Radford Mini Bel Air or De Ville on Irish (Dublin?) plates. On these pictures the car seems to be parked in a studio setting and one of them strangely shows it with a flat front tyre. I had no idea what it was about but thought it may well have been used for a movie. Chances of finding it were ultra-low, I thought.

Imagine my surprise when I was looking at the 1966 movie 'The Psychopath' last week, which opens with this very car in this very setting! It also explains the flat tyre. The Psychopath is a horror movie by Amicus Productions, also known as the studio that dripped blood, and together with Hammer my all-time favorite movie producers (I have a real taste for classic British horror). The full film can be found on Youtube, and I have enclosed it in here, too. The Mini scene follows right after the opening titles. Enjoy!

This picture of a Radford Mini De Ville was a mystery for many years. It's on Irish plates
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Shown here with a flat front tyre in a studio setting, it now turns out to be part of ' The Psychopath'
Picture Jeroen Booij archive 

Video courtesy

Friday 9 March 2018

Beach Boys Mini Surfer survivor

Jeff Lehmann came in with some great news about a car he recently bought. It's one of very few surviving 'Mini Surfers', which were Mini Mokes modified by coachbuilder George Barris in corporation with The Beach Boys. I wrote about the cars before (here) and even saw a little glimpse of Jeff's car over a year ago (here).

Jeff wrote: "I am sure you saw the car before as it was advertised about a year ago by the owner's son. His dad passed away and he had to sell his small collection of cars. The Moke was his favorite and was the last to go. I went and looked at the car and it was in very good shape overall. No rust through anywhere. Last registered in 1985. Most of the original red stripes turned black in the Florida sun but are still red in a few spots. I have the original surfboard and fur covered seats."

"This car was given away in August 1966 in Cleveland Ohio for the WHK radio promotion and I have the original ship ticket from Capitol Records to WHK. It was shipped to them air fright on United Airlines from Hollywood California. I also have a black plate Mk1 Cooper S that is an all original survivor and plan to keep this one original as well. There is only another one known to exist but this one is the only one with original paint."

It's a fantastic addition to the Cooper 'S' Jeff! Please keep me posted on the car.

A real Mini Surfer! Apart from the personal cars for The Beach Boys, 20 more were supposedly made to be given away by radio stations throughout the US in special Beach Boys competitions 
Picture Jeff Lehmann

The stripes on Jeff's car have turned dark rather than red but they are believed to be original
Picture Jeff Lehmann

Fake air intake was another add-on for these cars. Canopy and interior was striped, too
Picture Jeff Lehmann

That's the ship ticket from Capitol Records to WHK Radio that came with the car
Picture Jeff Lehmann

Thursday 8 March 2018

Le Mans Mini Marcos: back to square one

Last week I had to make a tough decision and decided to pick up the Mini Marcos shell from the UK. Why? Well... As you know I'd teamed up with Seventies Car Restoration as they were supposed to fully restore and paint the shell. I made a good deal with them and agreed I would give them promotion when I could. What they hadn't thought of was that they were running behind on other projects that had been becoming more and more expensive. There was no time for the Marcos anytime soon, it seemed. When they decided the only solution was to raise the price considerably, and then I really mean considerably, I thought it was better to come over and pick it up. And so, that's what I did. I am disappointed, yes, what's an agreement worth these days? But hey, that's life. And so the car is back in The Netherlands now. I have no idea if the planned visits to Blyton Park and Le Mans Classic will still be achievable. Let's see what happens.

And so I booked a night crossing from Rotterdam to Hull and back on the same ferry the next night. Picking up the car with my trusty old Saab and trailer went superb and with much of the day left I decided to pay Andy Harrison a visit as I was curious to his Acespeed workshop, not too far away from where I was. Andy has been dealing with some cool cars in the past years and he was exited to see the Le Mans car. He also told me of an exiting project car he is currently working on (I couldn't see it and was not allowed to write about it) and he showed me a Midas Gold he'd just picked up. This was a factory-built car with Midas on its registration papers. Andy told me he's had several Midases before, among them the factory demonstrator. 

Oh - the good news is that I did find another top bloke to work on the shell. He is very eager and enthusiastic, too, and has proved to be more than able to carry out this job. Let's see what happens in the next couple of weeks before I start writing about his work. I've had my feet wet now, let's be a little careful. 

On the road (and sea) again. The Le Mans Mini Marcos is now back in The Netherlands
Picture Jeroen Booij

But... while in Yorkshire I visited Andy Harrison in his Shipley workshop
Picture Jeroen Booij

That's Andy himself with the Midas Gold he just found. He was exited about the Marcos
Picture Jeroen Booij

The Midas needs plenty of work. I's a factory-built car with proper Midas registration
Picture Jeroen Booij

And it's not the first Midas he's had
Picture Jeroen Booij

But he, too, has plenty of more projects to work on. Not this, but another exiting Mini is among them
Picture Jeroen Booij