Monday 29 July 2019

More action shots of Spanish Unipower GT

A series of photographs of that Barcelona-registered Unipower GT raced in Spain in the 1970s was uploaded on the world wide web recently by Miquel Brunells junior, who's father - Miquel Brunell senior - raced it throughout the 1973 season. More, including moving images can be seen here. I do not know the exact locations where these photographs were taken, but Brunells entered it in at least four events at Montserrat, Castillo Montjuich, Sant Cugat-Tibidabo and Montseny that year.

Picture Miquel Brunells jr. /

Picture Miquel Brunells jr. /

Picture Miquel Brunells jr. /

Picture Miquel Brunells jr. /

Picture Miquel Brunells jr. /

Picture Miquel Brunells jr. /

Picture Miquel Brunells jr. /

Picture Miquel Brunells jr. /

Thursday 25 July 2019

Healey WAEC - More info wanted

Some of you will know that Donald Healey - of Donald Healey Motor Company fame and the man behind the Nash-Healeys, Jensen-Healeys and Austin-Healeys - tried his luck with a Mini based car also. His roadster was in fact based on one of three hand built pre-production Mini prototypes and is now the oldest Mini alive.

However, it wasn't on its own. There was a later prototype - probably dating to 1965 - built to become a possible Sprite successor, which supposedly used a 1275cc Mini Cooper 'S' drivetrain, placed behind the driver and passenger. The car came with a Targe roof into which the hood cleverly could be folded away. It used a combination of Sprite (front) and Mini (rear) suspension with hydrolastic (note different wheels). Handling was said to be 'astounding', though less stable than that of the Sprite. The prototype was named WAEC for 'Wheel At Each Corner' and I have only been able to source one picture of it. Supposedly it never made production because BMC thought 'Sports car owners are too conservative'...

I have no idea if the prototype could survive. Over the years I have asked several Healey enthusiasts and connoisseurs for more information about the car, but no one appears to be able to tell me more than just this. Perhaps a message out here may help..?

UPDATE 29 July: Karsten Stelk asked Simon Bilbie at the Healey Owners Group, who replied: "There’s more information in David Matthews’ latest book. Originally codenamed U2 it was drawn up by my late father Barry in May 1965 and, as stated, was based on Mini and ADO 16 components. It was used as a general mule for a few years but then presumably scrapped."
Another comment mentions: "In Jon Pressnell's Austin Healey book, it is mentioned the WAEC prototype was in fact built around two 1100 front subframes completed with hydrolastic suspension and the 1100's rather low-geared steering, but with the benefit of thereby gaining a four-wheel disc-break system. It did appear to use a Cooper 'S' engine, even so the car was overweight and suffered from poor performance even with the Cooper 'S' unit. It also suffered from the old A-Series problem, which was the engine being on top of the transmission, posing difficulties with installation and with the gearchange."

Healey WAEC used Mini Cooper 'S' power and hydrolastic suspension
Picture 'More Healeys'

Monday 22 July 2019

Jackie Oliver's GTM Rossa - still there

This message appeared here over eight years ago, when an anonymous reader replied that the GTM Rossa in question was built for Jackie Oliver to drive in the Mini and Mini derivatives race at the 2009 Silverstone Classic.

To further quote him: "Jackie Oliver ran it in practice but it overheated due to an inadequate intercooler on the supercharger. It was retired before the race. The engine was built to deliver 200bhp but only achieved 158bhp on the dyno. It had a Jack Knight six-speed box. After SC09, the engine and gearbox were removed and replaced with a 1300cc Hayabusa engine (187bhp) and 6 speed sequential box for track days. The final drive is through a Qaife unit. The ensemble delivered astonishing performance and, at Goodwood, the 11000rpm rev limit blew away the sound recording equipment so we had to limit it to 9000rpm. Unfortunately, the driveshafts proved inadequate during fast runs at the SC11 media day. Replacements are being specially built with the objective of enabling the engine to be enhanced by changing the barrels to 1500cc and adding a supercharger which should deliver 400bhp. The car was beautifully restored and has a full roll cage and all the usual race refinements but with the added benefit of a passenger seat and full harness. The car is still road legal and will be used on the road when the work is completed over the winter of 2012/13. At the same time, an electric reverse will be installed."

Although it seems to be not anymore powered by a Mini unit, it's still an interesting car. I found a few pictures of it, supposedly taken recently and I'd still love to see more of it.

Built for Jackie Oliver in 2009, this GTM Rossa Mk2 now uses motorcycle power

It was had a a Jack Knight six-speed box mated to an engine "built to deliver 200bhp but only achieved 158bhp on the dyno". It supposedly is much more powerful now

Wednesday 17 July 2019

Stately houses invaded by Mini derivatives

Well well, another two events missed by me! Last weekend the Chateau Impney hill climb took place in Worcestershire at the stately house with the same name, while the weekend before that saw the Marcos 60th anniversary party at Wroxall Abbey in Warwickshire. These were two events I would have loved to visit and I remember planning to do so at least with the Marcos' 60th when it was announced, thinking my own Marcos would certainly be ready by that time some years ago. No way! Fortunately there were plenty of people who took pictures, thanks for that!

That well known Unipower GT of Tim Carpenter was present at Chateau Impney
Picture The Sporting Minis

As was the Broadspeed GT demonstrator - now in the hands of a lucky new owner
Picture The Sporting Minis

And the same goes for the Broadspeed GTS, which rubbed shoulders with its sister model 
Picture The Sporting Minis

Gerry Hulford's Unipower GT racer was there and could be seen in action
Picture The Sporting Minis

As was Nick Wilkins' famous Cars and Car Conversions Cox GTM
Picture Nick Wilkins

Meanwhile, Mini Marcoses met at Wroxall Abbey to celebrate 60 years of Marcos 
Picture Guy Humpries

Friday 12 July 2019

Lolita Mk1 still out and about

I understand that the great Australian Special, the Lolita Mk1 (see Maximum Mini 1), is now owned by Nigel Tait, who posted some pictures of it recently. Note the angle of the Mini-engine! Nigel added: "Somewhere down there is a 1310 cc Mini Cooper engine in my Lolita Mk1. The car was built by Henry Nehrybecki who later built my Matich SR4 and it was owned and raced very successfully for many years by a very great guy, Ian Pope."

The car is seen here at last year's Anzac All Historic Race Meeting at Mallala
Picture John Lemm

Mini engine in Australian Lolita Mk1 is a 1310 mounted at the back and canted at a firm degree
Picture Nigel Tait

A plate over the engine's backside protects block and displays double Weber
Picture Nigel tait

Wednesday 10 July 2019

Crayfords-Radfords come in pairs

Coachbuilt Minis come in many flavours, but two of my favourites are the Radford Mini De Ville and the Crayford Mini Convertible, or Mini Sprint. Now, how about the two as a duo? These pictures show at least two of these pairs have been completed, one in Spain and one in Japan. Ever saw another set? 

Radford Mini De Ville and Crayford Mini Convertible, seen together in Spain
Picture Luismi Molina

Both rare and very cool and look outstanding. Which of the two would you prefer? 
Picture Luismi Molina

And another similar pair, this one as seen in Japan. The Radfdord was previously brown also 
Picture MN HK

UK 'C' and 'D' registration (1965 and 1966) are still with the cars, or so it seems
Picture MN HK

Thursday 4 July 2019

MoBi-One found: the Bishops speak

MoBi-One has been found (click here) and its creator, Morris Bishop, contacts me from Spain:
"Hi Jeroen. Wow, that is a surprise. I am just coming up to my 89th birthday so it is not now of any interest in acquiring MoBi-One, but I will spread the word of its existence. Warm regards, Morris"

His son Graham messaged me also: "Thanks for spotting MoBi One still lives. Now we have to work out what to do with it if we (his kids) can club together and buy it. It needs a loving restorer. Any ideas? Graham Bishop."

Morris continues on the state of it: "Just to update you with what I believe the four-wheel steering attribute was the last time I was involved with MoBi, which was when the previous owner had it - he had replaced one of the twin steering racks on the compound front system, but he had not realised that it was a left hand drive rack and he had used a right hand drive. So when I reassembled this onto MoBi Its steering became Crab not complementary which made the car useless! This was just 5 days before I was due to compete in the BT&RDA Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1988. I went up there anyway, only to find that there was three 4 wheel steering cars competing and one of these drivers ask me to drive his car. however being unfamiliar with the car I came in second."

So... Morris is not interested in restoring the car but his children are. Perhaps anyone out here who think he could help Graham with that?

Morris Bishop in his MoBi-One in 1968. His children would love to restore it now
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Tuesday 2 July 2019

Mobi-One found in a barn

Stop Press!
Mobi-One has turned up in a barn in Heathfield, UK and is for sale. The ad reads:
'The world's most manoeuvrable competition car MOBI ONE. Condition is acceptable. As used by Morris Bishop to win the British Trial and Rally Driver's Association championship 2 years running. This car is capable of a 40mph opposed steering turn within a 10 ft diameter turning cycle. Mini Cooper engine.'

It seems to wear a tax disc of 1984, so hasn't probably seen the streets since 35 years. I'm sure Morris will be delighted to see it survives. See the ad here, where eagle eyed readers will spot another gem in the background. More to follow. More on Mobi-One, including film footage and an interview with Morris Bishop here.

Monday 1 July 2019

Dagobert's Cox - who knows more?

When I wrote about a Swedish Cox, owned and raced by a man named Sagobert Swenson (or Swensson?) over six years ago, (click here) I received two interesting answers. Both implied that the car is alive and kicking and still in Sweden. One of them translated: "Dagobert's Cox is in southern Närke. It's good, more info will come later. Magnus.L". But I never heard from Magnus again, and also not from the other person reacting. I did come across a few new pictures of the car in question last week, though, showing the car at the Kinnekulle Ring in 1969. So here we go again: does the car survive?

It's yellow, and seems to be an early car. Is Dagobert Swenson's Cox GTM still alive?
Picture Svante Fredén /

Said to survive in the Närke district, the car is seen here in 1969 at the Kinnekulle Ring
Picture Svante Fredén /

Weber carburetor may say something about the state of tuning? We know it challenged bigger cars!
Picture Svante Fredén /

UPDATE 10:30: Lukas Berglund sends in a 2004 ad of when the car was offered for sale in a Swedish motoring magazine. The words read: "Cox GTM '67. Historic track racing car with central engine. Built with Mini parts. 1293cc engine. Adjustable front and rear wheel angles. Has worked very well." Thank you Lukas!

Still looking pretty much the same: the GTM as it was offered for sale in 2004
Picture via Lukas Berglund

UPDATE 2 JULY: A message from Martin Andersson:
"Hi Jeroen. I read your question about the Cox GTM of Dagobert Svensson. I don't know very much about this car. But I know that it was bought by a guy after that advert you refer to. And his intention was to restore the car for the GT class in historic racing. He initially bought some spares from my dad in the early stages of the restoration. My best guess is that the project is stalled and hidden away in some barn or garage now days unfortunately. Best regards, Martin Andersson"

UPDATE 2 July, an hour later: A message from Mikael Pettersson:
"Hi there, I shared your post about Dagobert's Cox on the Facebook page of Mini Club Sweden.
And got an answer from Magnus Larsson! see attached screen clip. His answer (free translation): "It will be on display during the 'Rally to the Midnight sun' in Askersund the 12th of July by the Sjöängen school." I will share the post with you if possible. Askersund is a town in mid Sweden, north of of the second biggest lake in Sweden, Vättern. Unfortunately I cant go there because I am booked already for other things. I will check anyone can pass and take photos. Cheers, Micke Pettersson, Uppsala, Sweden"
That is excellent news. Thank you Micke!

UPDATE 20 April 2020: Pictures of the surviving car have finally arrived. Click here.

The car does indeed survive and will be on display in mid-Sweden soon
Picture Magnus Larsson via Micke Pettersson