Tuesday 28 August 2018

ABC Tricar prototype back to its original owner

And another original prototype has found its way back to its original owner! After the story of Ian Shearer and his Boxer Sprint proto some two weeks ago (click here), it's now time for the prototype of the ABC Tricar. This vehicle was found back several years ago through Maximum Mini (full story here). Trevor Powell, the son of the man who designed it and the Tricar's original owner, was eager to buy it back ever since. Fast forward more than four and a half years and Trevor drops me a line:

"Hi Jeroen. Just a quick note to say thank you... I managed to persuade Robin to sell the ABC prototype back to me after 50 years to the very day I drove it for the first time. It had taken me two years to complete with lots of help from my father Bill Powell and his business partner Ken Heather.
The resulting three-wheeler, inspired by Owen Greenwoods racing version, was my road car for two years and it was a blast, 16 and driving a 'car' on the road what was not to like?"

"Performance was stunning despite the lowly 850 van engine as the weight was under the 8cwt weight limit and with only one seat, legal to drive on L plates. the missing wheel changed nothing about the handling, except in deep snow when the single rear wheel tracked a little on the central snow, in reverse it was a little unstable (like a Reliant going forwards) so not too quickly in tight reverses was the rule."

I have now purchased the original car back into my life... truly amazing and quite emotional for me, my wife Melanie and my son Alex. Dad and Ken went on to build many of these cars and several survive to this day including one in the USA." Well done Trevor, do keep me posted on the Tricar's restoration!

ABC Tricar prototype is now back in the hands of its original owner, 50 years after he first drove it
Picture Trevor Powell

Built by his grandfather Bill Powell, Trevor's son is seen here with the freshly rediscovered Tricar
Picture Trevor Powell

Monday 27 August 2018

Mystery Mini derivative (51)

Anyone who's been to Malta in the last couple of weeks? Kees Plugboer did so in the 1990s, when he spotted this unusual converted Mini. It looks to have started life as a Van, Pick-Up or Estate. But at one stage it was disposed of its roof and doors, received a different rear end, high sills and chrome grab bars plus a full-length hood. With all these mods, it was perhaps turned into some kind of Beach Car-esque commercial? Calypso Cruises, which still appear to exist, thought it may well be used as mobile advertisement. Now, questions are: was it a one-off and does it survive..? 

Here another Maltese Mini derivative, as spotted in the 1980s by Rens Biesma.

Mini commercial was turned into a 'Beach Car-esque' creature at one stage, used by Calypso Cruises
Picture Kees Plugboer

No roof or doors, different rear end, high sills and chrome grab bars. Was it a one-off?
Picture Kees Plugboer

Thursday 23 August 2018

Mini based Paola GT survives as Alfa based Paola Spyder

Well, well, Armando Loni certainly triggered my imagination when he wrote about a mystery CanAm racer with Mini engine... The only car that I could think of , which somewhat resembled his description was the Paola GT, as in Maximum Mini 3. But that was a GT with gull wing doors...

But then came the photographs. Armando wrote: "See photos attached. The owner is Lionel Weaver and he is absolutely okay with sharing the photos/his name/location/details on your blog. The car is located at in Ledbury, Herefordshire (where I live). His dad bought the car via Mike Thomas (whom you mention on page 91 of Maximum Mini 3), who raced it in the late 1960's. It won its class in the 1968 Weston-Super-Mare Speed Trials, so was built around then. His dad competed in the car at Prescott Hillclimb and Castle Combe circuits using the original Mini power but also a Lotus twin cam unit (it now has an Alfasud engine)."

"Lionel remembers the car originally had a roof and gull wing doors (!!!) and is quite possibly the same car pictured on page 91 of your book. He thinks he may have a photo of it in this form (somewhere)... It has been modified over the years, hence the aluminium bodywork. When his dad competed as No. 63, he renamed it Lemar (badge shown in photo). The photos show the car as purchased from Mike Thomas and with his dad at the driving seat."

"It still has the original screen, which is similar to that used on the GT. You can see the front wings are now separated from the body. More to follow... A."

This is the father of the car's current owner after he just purchased it 
Picture courtesy Lionel Weaver via Armando Loni

His dad competed it at Prescott Hillclimb and Castle Combe using the original Mini power 
Picture courtesy Lionel Weaver via Armando Loni

 But Mini engine was later swapped for a Lotus twin cam unit while it comes with Alfa power now
Picture courtesy Lionel Weaver via Armando Loni

 This is what the car, without its body, looks today. As spotted by reader Armando Loni 
Picture Armando Loni

Aluminium body is still there, but not the original GT body with gull wing doors. Badge says 'Lemar' 
Picture Armando Loni

A restoration is now underway. But owner has also Stimson Mini Bug and GTM to work on 
Picture Armando Loni

Unfortunately the car now comes with the four-cylinder of a Alfasud 
Picture Armando Loni

This picture was sent over to me by Armando, too. I do not know when it was taken 
Picture courtesy Lionel Weaver via Armando Loni

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Local Mini Bug leads to more Mini derivatives

It pays to always look around for interesting stuff, even if it is in your own hometown where you think you know all. Reader Armando Loni proved it last week, when he walked into a local garage in Ledbury, Herefordshire. He wrote: "Hi, J. I thought you'd be interested to see the attached photos of a Stimson that I came across in a local independent garage. The owner has been working on it for a couple of years and has made a number of improvements to the structure. He has also just purchased a GTM Coupe from eBay! Regards, A."

Well spotted Armando. But in fact it wasn't the only think of interest that could be found in this particular garage.I mentioned your website to the owner as well. He continued: "He's also restoring a 1968 Mini-based CanAm-type car.... Forgot the name but it begins with a 'P'. Now that's where my interest was really triggered. Naturally I wanted to know more, but Armando didn't know anything more. But he promised: "I'll go back up there tomorrow and ask if I can take some photos of it!"

In the meanwhile he did just that and you'll be surprised to see what he found. To be continued.

Local garage hid this Stimson Mini Bug to reader Armando Loni. And it wasn't on its own...
Picture courtesy Armando Loni

 The car's owner made several improvements to the structure. And he has more interesting cars
Picture courtesy Armando Loni

Friday 17 August 2018

What on earth is a Rollerscamp?

Recently, I came across a Scamp brochure that I'd never seen before. And it remains a total mystery to me to this day. I have asked some people of the Scamp Owners Club for more information about it, but they all drew a blank either. The brochure clearly shows the Scamp Mk1, but it is marketed by a company named Rollerscamp (Twyford) Ltd.

They offered the car 'basic unpainted to drive away' for £495.00. But further information is scarce. The price may well suggest it was quite some later than 1969-1977 when the original Mk1 Scamp was marketed and sold by Miller Mandry. They originally offered the car as a basic kit from £115, although that price was soon raised to £175 and later once again to £240.

Perhaps the rights to manufacture the Mk1 car were sold to Rollerscamp Twyford Limited when Miller Mandry came up with the Mk2 version in 1977? And other suggestions or further informations would be more than welcome.

UPDATE 27 August 2018: Reader and Scamp owner John Halliday: "Perhaps the clue is in the text "to drive away" I would guess that Rollerscamp assembled Mandry's kit and sold it as a rolling Scamp. My scamp has been called a roller skate on many occasions..!"

This is the very rare and very first brochure for the Scamp. I have never come across another
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

This later brochure is more comprehensive. The car is now named the Mini-Scamp by Miller Mandry
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Last of the Scamp Mk1 brochures with 23 pages no less. By this time the price had doubled 
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

But what is this? The Rollerscamp was built by a company in Twyford, Berkshire
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Boxer prototype back in the hands of its designer

Remember the Boxer Sprint, dreamt up in the mid-1980s by Nimbus Coupe man and great Maximum Mini enthusiast Ian Shearer (seen here at the Maximum Mini action day in 2015)? Well, the sole surviving Sprint prototype was said to be found some two and a half years ago 'somewhere on a farm in Kent'. When Ian heard of it he started a search, which even included a helicopter! (full story here). He did find it, too, but had to negotiate hard to convince the owner he was the man who needed it.

Fast forwards two and a half years and Ian has finally been able to take it over to his place! He wrote: "Guess what I have finally secured, after almost two years of negotiations, it's now heading off to south-west France for a strip down. More details and pics very soon. Thanks for all your help, best regards, Ian" Love it!

The sole Boxer Sprint after just being finished at Tolgate Garage in Rye in 1986
Picture Jeroen Booij archive via Ian Shearer

The moulds for the Boxer Sprint. Unfortunately they were only used to create the prototype
Picture Jeroen Booij archive via Ian Shearer

Ultra-rare flyer for the Boxer Sprint. Despite good press and even cover articles it did not succeed
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The Boxer Sprint is now back in the hands of its original designer and builder and will be restored
Picture Ian Shearer

Monday 13 August 2018

Codford Mini glamour photos still missing

When I found what seems to be the only Codford Mini remaining back in 2009 (three were built between 1966 and 1967 - full story in Maximum Mini 2), the owner told me some amusing tales about the car, which he'd bought in 1969 including its moulds and manufacturing rights from Codford Motors. One of them has always intrigued me. He said he once had a stash of large and high quality pictures of the car, presumedly taken by a professional photographer and very nice they must have been. He lost them at one point and has never seen them back. He said he wouldn't believe someone would ever throw these away. I never came across the photographs, but was sent a sketchy copy of a Codford image recently. It's the black and white one below. Could it be a copy of one of the photos mentioned..? I still hope to find them one day.

Could this be a bad copy of one of the missing Codford Mini 'glamour photographs'?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

1967 Codford Motor Body Works letterhead showed what they could do to your Mini
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Snapshot of one of the three cars made. BPR 2B was based on an 850 Mini and scrapped later
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Other car was red and supposedly Cooper 'S' based. Registration 31 TKT. Could it survive?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Friday 10 August 2018

Minus Maxi - another survivor

A Minus Maxi is a rare thing and back in 2012, when I was looking for a proper example to photograph, I had some difficulties to find one (article here). I did find it in the end, but never came across any other (new) cars. All the ones I knew were 'BOC 493K' (blue); 'Q685 HEX' (red); 'YHH 459K' (red) and 'TPE 838S' (white), the latter of which made it to the book.

Until now! Dave Chaplin's neighbour has another red Minus Maxi, although it's not been driven for some time. He wrote: "My next door neighbour's Mini has been there for 30 years. Not for sale!" It's nice to add another number (Q548 HNG) to the list, though. Thanks Dave!

Minus Maxi is sitting in this garden for some 30 odd years now. It's not for sale
Picture Dave Chaplin

It's the fifth Minus Maxi known to me now. There may be more examples out there though?
Picture Dave Chaplin

Thursday 9 August 2018

Brand new Mini ice cream van made by Whitby Morrison

The time is certainly right for ice cream vans right now. And the good news is that Whitby Morrison's, who have been creating ice cream vans since 1962 and Mini based ones just a few years later, have come up with a brand new example, built on request. This is what they wrote:

"You’d be hard pushed to find a more quirky and iconic Ice Cream Van model from the 70s than the Cummins Batman Mini. Unmistakable, these vans were built in their hundreds and sold all over, including abroad. The Batman Mini within the Whitby Morrison Heritage collection remains the most popular of them all and is often requested for photoshoots and suchlike."
"Its popularity has led to the production of this quite stunning replica on behalf of Unilever, completed in the famous blue and green Ben & Jerry’s cow livery. The van will soon be serving at prestigious sites across the capital so be sure to keep an eye out for it. And if you have your own Mini pickup or van, then why not consider having your own Batman model manufactured…?"

Video courtesy Whitby Morrison

A Mini 'Batman' ice cream van in Batman livery, made today by the original builders for Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. It is based on a 1977 pick-up but could do with some smaller wheels...
Picture courtesy Whitby Morrison 

Tuesday 7 August 2018

Broadspeed GT in lovely 8mm footage

Michael Wignall recently posted some interesting film footage, taken by his uncle in 1967. It shows the Tamworth hill climb in New South Wales, Australia and one of the cars seen in action is a Broadspeed GT. It's great, so thank you very much Michael for sharing. Also: Bob Williamson replied to Michael's posting and said: "That is my first Broadspeed. It was one of the Brian Foley made ones, originally owned by Tom Winterbourne, then by a doctor in Goulburn and then me and I hold it to the guy who still has it." Isn't that superb either?

I also understand the Mini Din was entered in the same race too, and I'd love to find out a little more about that car also. All I know is that it was a sleek (and pretty) Special built by Trevor Meehan with its Mini engine at the back. Any more information on the black Broadspeed as well as the Mini Din is more than welcome.

8mm Film footage of the 1967 Tamworth hill climb includes Broadspeed GT
Video Michael Wignall

Black car is a Brian Foley car, made in Australia. I haven't seen it before
Still from Michael Wignall footage

No number plates, so possibly not road registered. I would love to find out more about this car
Still from Michael Wignall footage

Not seen in the film footage but also raced at the same event in 1967: Trevor Meehan's Mini Din, seen here behind a TVR in another race. Who knows more about it?
UPDATE: Not a TVR but a J&S Hunter, thank you Scott!
Picture The Roaring Season

Friday 3 August 2018

As hot as a Unipower

Boy, it's hot here today.
Just like that november day in 2007 when I shot this photograph of a Unipower GT in Tokorozawa, Japan. A lovely car. Note the unusual rear lights. But I'm off for a jump in the water now. Stay cool.

Unipower GT in Japan in 2007. The car has a new owner now and was resprayed some years ago
Picture Jeroen Booij

Thursday 2 August 2018

The European GTM Coupe that never was

The so-called Baumann Coupe, said to be a French version of the Midas Gold (which turns out to be a hoax - story here), prompted reader Paul Beradi to write me about another European version of a well-known Mini based kit car I'd completely forgotten about: the GTM Coupe. An Export version, which received a different front to comply to European legislation was made with the Belgian market in mind. I found two photos of the car with the different front, with GTM's Paddy Fitch and Peter Beck proudly standing behind it. Which Kit magazine wrote about it. This is what the article said:

"In late 1985, early 1986, a Belgian enthusiast, Benny Massy, got the GTM duo all in a flutter with big talk of selling the Coupe in turnkey form with 1275cc Mini engines. The project got particularly serious when Peter and Paddy actually drove the current Coupe demo car out to Belgium for it to be inspected by the Belgian customers talking big. As for the bonnet, even UK customers gradually came to their senses and returned to the purer original design." Do any cars with the Euro-front survive?

Patrick Fitch (left) and Peter Beck with the Euro-fronted GTM Coupe in 1986
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

And now smile! Restyled front was not a success and Belgian export plans totally failed
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

This is the car's original front with standard Mini bumper, separate indicators and straight spoiler
Picture Jeroen Booij

The same front but now with the standard indicators and the bumper removed
Picture Jeroen Booij

This Coupe's front is even more modified with the bumper-lip removed. This car is in South-Africa
Picture courtesy Leon Daniels