Friday 28 February 2020

More on Ogles in America

As promised here some more information on Ogles in the USA. Brian Hunt contacted me with the following information: "I am an avid follower of Mini news and wanted to provide some items. I used to race a Mini Cooper in the early 60’s in New England and met George Olton, who ran a sports car parts shop in Hingham, Massachusetts in the 1960’s, specializing in British equipment. He had the first Mini Cooper in the USA flown in to Boston and raced it extensively, wining his sedan class at Thompson course in Connecticut June 1964 and at Lime Rock park in CT in May 1964 (New York Times newspaper archives). I used to race with George at several tracks in New England and Canada. I had a Cooper 995 and he had a Cooper 1300. This included regular track and winter ice racing."

"George became the Boston dealer for the Ogle and imported several. He used his demo car for rallying. I participated in the winter Tri State 24 Rally in 1964, me and a co-driver in my Cooper and George in his Ogle SX1000. This was a mid winter rally starting in Portland Maine and proceeding for 24 hours through Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, ending back in Portland 24 hours later. He came in 6th with the Ogle and I finished 22 out of 130 entrants."

"I believe he did not do too well with the Ogle sales so dropped the dealership in 1965."

Unfortunately Brian couldn't find any photographs and I do not have any either. A Google search for George Olton didn't provide more insight, too, although 'George Oulton' gave quite a lot more hits, especially when combined with words such as 'racing' and 'Mini'. But nothing to be found on Ogles. Remarkably I did come across a hit of the man having entered a Mini Marcos at the 12th Annual Bahamas Speed Weeks - in as early as December 1965. I'd love to find out more about that, too.

UPDATE: I should have known this but the two cars seen below actually are the same, with the California plate used on the New Mexico car... Thanks for letting me know though.

This Ogle SX1000 hailed from New Mexico, USA. Probably after being imported by George Oulton
Picture Bring a Trailer

Oulton supposedly sold several from his base in Massachusetts, like this California car?
Picture Bring a Trailer

As he seems to have entered a Mini Marcos in the Bahama Speed Weeks races of December 1965
Who knows more?

Monday 24 February 2020

Ogle SX1000 found in America (2)

Alrighty. More information on Ogles in the US is finally coming this way. Last week saw this Ogle SX1000 being unearthed in America, this week it's time for another. Thanks to Brendan Norton, who told me: "I almost picked this one up for free in 2005. But when I showed up the house, the guy said his wife would not let him part with it. He was the original owner. Said he was on an eight month waiting list, but after waiting a month, this car showed up at the shipping docks in Boston. The guy who ordered it didn't like the gold paint so he passed on it and this guy bought it. I can try to add more details like how he told he he took it ice racing one winter and got it over 100mph." Please do!

But what happened next to the car? Brendan doesn't know. He continues: "I have tried to get friends to go back to the house to see if it's still there. Problem was the property is set back in the woods so you can't see it from the road. It is located in Connecticut and I live about 700 miles away now. But I may be back there this summer."

To be continued, I hope. And there's more to follow on Ogles in America. But in the mmeantime, somebody else may know more about this specific car?

Ogle SX1000, well hidden in the woods of Connecticut. But is it still there?
Picture Brendan Norton

Another one-owner car, it was almost given away, until the original owner's wife interfered
Picture Brendan Norton

Imported to the US in Boston, Massachusets back in 1962 this car certainly looks original
Picture Brendan Norton

Back in 2005 the car clearly hadn't been driven for a long time. What happened?
Picture Brendan Norton

Friday 21 February 2020

Everything is bigger in Texas - not this

Historic Bugattis and classic Ferraris are known to travel the world when a new owner presents itself. The same seems to go for Mini Marcoses these days, or so it seems. Well... almost! This 1974 Mk4 Mini Marcos turned up in Oregon, USA not too long ago. It was in fact sold there last year through these pages (click here) and made its way to Texas, some 2,000 miles south-east!

We can imagine this being a fun car to drive there, but unfortunately it didn't work out quite like that for the new owner. He set himself to the task of further improving on the car and that's just what he did. But then he got a shoulder injury, which is making this a rather difficult car to drive. And so, ladies end gents, it's up for sale again. See the ad here.

UPDATE 4 March 2020: Price reduced now!
UPDATE 31 March 2020: Price reduced again!
UPDATE 15 April 2020: Price reduced again!

Chassis 8102 is a Mk4 Mini Marcos and is an early D&H Fibreglass Techniques Ltd. car
Picture through Michel Lewis

A lot of time and money was invested to make it just what the owner wanted it to be
Picture through Michel Lewis

But it's now ready for another take off! From Oregon to Texas - what's next?
Picture through Michel Lewis

Interior was retrimmed. An extra pair of period bucket seats comes with it, too
Picture through Michel Lewis

Engine is a high-performance 1275 built by Seven Enterprises in 2014 at considerate costs
Picture through Michel Lewis

Wednesday 19 February 2020

Ogle SX1000 found in America (1)

This message about Ogles in the US was posted here some 9 years ago and in the meantime I've learned a bit more about Ogle SX1000s that made it to America. As a matter of fact a lot of information about David Ogle's exporting plans and some specific US cars has come to the light recently. So let's kick off with one car that's still in the hands of the son of the man who was appointed as an Ogle distributor, Anthony Thompson. This is what he wrote to me:

"Hi. I love your website as I never knew so many derivatives of the Mini existed! I have an Ogle Mini Cooper that needs restoring. I inherited it from my father who was an Ogle distributor in South Eastern U.S. in the mid-60s. I don't think he ever distributed any due to Sir David's demise and so the car had sat around a while."

"My father, H.D. Thompson, collected and sold cars as a hobby while working and living in Jackson, Tennessee, USA. In 1961/1962 he picked me up at my university and we drove to the Sebring 12-hour event. Along the drive he informed me he had become the dealer for Ogle for South Eastern or maybe Eastern part of the USA."

"I had a cute experience with the car while at a pre-race event. A few of the drivers decided to return to the course for early evening practice from the gathering we were at. I recommended to my father that we too exit and follow them back and he said "Why don't you drive." which was the first I had been behind the wheel. The drivers got to going "quickly" so I was hustling to keep up resulting in a four wheel drift around a curve and when I hit the gas to drive out of the curve, off into an orange grove we went with me working hard to bring the car to a stop between the rows! Looking at my Father laughing in the passenger's seat I angrily said "You could have told me it was not rear wheel drive!" Couple of followers helped us get it out of the sand and we all had a great time at my expense for 24 hours. Just taught me to always inspect your equipment before you go motoring!"

"A number of years later my father fell significantly ill in Tennessee and I decided to transport the stored and non running Ogle to Texas to get it back into condition as hopefully an uplift to him. Sorry to say he passed soon there after and I lost interest in restoration but have keep the car. In all of the information he retained that I have (i.e. exchanges with Ogle, etc.) I can not determine what the number of the car is. I am also very desirous of restoring the car or selling it to an appreciative person to do so. The only thing I do not have with the car are the seats as I took them out and delivered to a person to redo and they were lost when his business burned down! Combined with other commitments that has stopped my start at restoring. I used ether in the carbs to start the engine about 8 years ago, so it's not seized up but the fuel pump has likely long gone."

That's some great news, with more to follow soon.

This Ogle SX1000 has been in the same family since 1962. Its complete apart from its seats
Picture courtesy Anthony Thompson

Engine is not seized and ran some eight years ago for the last time. Chassis number is unknown
Picture courtesy Anthony Thompson

Friday 14 February 2020

Lolita Mk1 from the man who helped to build it

Sometimes I read something that is simply too good not to share here, and the following piece is just that, as written by an Australian blogger named Gnome on his weblog Back Country Roads. This is what he published back in 2000:

"Fate often plays the main role in determining the direction our lives take. In 1962 I had bought my first car, a black Morris Mini 850. BMC as it was then called had fitted a very poor quality gearbox to the early cars and I was one of the lucky ones who received the updated gearbox. The local dealer at that time was Lorimers at Gordon. When I went to collect the car the mechanic who had fitted the new gearbox came out to talk to me. His name was Henry Nehrybecki. For some reason my Mini had appealed to him, he said he liked the little bits of bullshit that I had added to the car. He invited me to have a look at a car he was building in the workshop."

"I had had an interest in motor sport from an early age so an invitation to see a racing car actually being built was amazing. Even more amazing when Henry asked if I would like to help him with the construction if ever I had some spare time. I had started life as a motor mechanic but it was not a successful career choice for me. I dropped out when I was up to my third year of apprenticeship. All of this happened around 1963, for the next two years I spent every Saturday in the workshop. I learned more about cars and engineering in those 100 days than I did in the three years of apprenticeship. He was a perfectionist and a very good teacher. I was very much the gopher but it was very interesting and enjoyable to see the car gradually come together."

"Henry had worked for Eric Broadley's Lola team in England working on their sports cars, Formula Junior cars and finally the Formula One car. I never did find out why he left but his decision certainly added another very interesting chapter to my life."

"The car was finally ready for it's first test drive in 1965, Henry drove it to Oran Park where Kevin Bartlett was waiting to give it a few fast laps. I actually got to drive the car up to the grid which really made my day. It was powered by a 1098cc Cooper S motor mounted on top of the gearbox in the same way as the Mini's. The motor was in the rear, mounted east west but it was tilted forward at around 30 degrees so that the weight was in front of the rear axles."

"Although I spent over two years of my Saturdays and some midweek evenings working on the Lolita project as an unpaid volunteer, I feel very fortunate to have worked with a master crafstmen. I learned a lot about quality, workmanship and attention to detail."

Oran Park 1965. First test drive for Henry Nehrybecki's 1098cc Cooper 'S' Lolita Mk1
Picture Gnome / Back Country Roads

The Lolita Mk1 was followed by a Lolita Mk2, also by Henry Nehrybecki
Picture Gnome / Back Country Roads

Gnome: "I feel very fortunate to have worked with a master crafstmen. 
I learned a lot about quality, workmanship and attention to detail"
Picture Gnome / Back Country Roads

Lovely front wheel suspension The flared wings were later replaced by cycle wings
Picture Gnome / Back Country Roads

Wednesday 12 February 2020

Who knows more about 'coachbuilt' Shorty?

I have come across pictures of this golden shortened Mini several times now and remember having read somewhere it was a professionally coachbuilt car. However, I cannot find back anything on it now. It does seem to have been marketed well in its day, though, with a number of staged publicity photographs available, made in 1971 or 1972 or so my limited information tells me. A clue to its origins may be the Swiss made 10" Edgar Schwyn wheels? 

The only unstaged picture that I have of it seems to be of a slightly later date, now with Cosmic wheels, added bull bars and a number plate that does indeed seem to be from Switzerland. 
I'm sure somebody here will be able to tell me more. 

UPDATE 22 April 2020: More info about a possible multi-millionaire first owner - click here.
UPDATE 9 January 2023: The car survives. Click here.

Shortened Mini seems to have been built professionally but information is hard to find
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Was it ever marketed as a coachbuilt Mini? Wheels, too, point towards Switzerland?
Picture Shutterstock

I think the number plate reads 'Super Mini '71' here. Who was behind this conversion?
Picture Shutterstock

From the files - squeezed in a tiny spot and with added bumpers and different wheels. Swiss plate.
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Monday 10 February 2020

Cox, Unipower, Timeire and more on Brands Hatch

This is just a lovely picture from the files taken during the BRSCC races at Brands Hatch on June 2nd, 1968. The first car that may catch the eye is the Cox GTM number 101 of Howard Heerey, but there's more. I like the number 108, which is a car named Timeire and built by Tim Conroy and his dad Patrick 'Pop' Conroy. I have it in the files as being driven by a man named Rob Mason here, but the programme mentions a John Cannadine. Who knows? You can just see the car's wide JA Pearce wheels. Timeire unfortunately does not exist anymore since the car was written off and scrapped at 1974, or so Conroy's son Martin told me.

The entry list also mentions Piers Forester in the same race, driving a Unipower GT under number 102 and we can just see a corner of this car with its left hand headlight on the far left. Could the car behind Heerey's GTM also be something Mini based? Or is that one of the two Diva GT's entered? Or the Elan? Note that Wilf Ashman was racing there also in a Walker GTS plus one Mini Marcos with a Derek Bowley behind the wheel. I would have loved to see them in action all together.

Unipower GT on far left, Timeire and Cox GTM. Mini Marcos and Walker GTS were there, too
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Entry list of the Special GT class up to 1150cc class race at Brands Hatch 
showed some really groovy machinery on the track
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Friday 7 February 2020

Dutch Mystery Mini remains an enigma

This car has been seen here before (click here), but I'd want to make another plea for more information, also on behalf of the current owner Jaap van den Corput. Jaap wrote: "It came with registration but since the wheelbase on that is not correct it's not valid and so not original. I'd like to make it road legal though, so any information about its whereabouts would help. Unfortunately there are no indications or numbers to be found anywhere on the vehicle."

Now. All that I have is one historical image of it, seen in print and also featured as 'Mystery Mini Derivative' here in 2013 (click). But unfortunately I do not even know the source of that image. One good thing is that the bonnet, which was missing at some point is now reunited with the car, wearing the 'Austin America' badge that can also be seen on the old photograph. Was it ever registered at all? All further info is that it was supposedly built in The Netherlands in the 1980s but even that is not confirmed.
So here we go:

Who knows more about this car, supposedly built in The Netherlands in the 1980s?
Who knows the source of the old photograph, seen below?
Who can tell anything about the build. It certainly seems Scamp inspired?

Dutch Mini based Special seems to have been based or inspired on the Scamp?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive / Jaap van den Corput

Bonnet, previously missing, is now reunited with the car. Note Austin America badge
Picture Jeroen Booij archive / Jaap van den Corput

Aluminium body, steel chassis. Interior is truly Spartan - although it does come with a heater
Picture Jeroen Booij archive / Jaap van den Corput

Engine definitely is an A-series. Who can tell more about it though?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive / Jaap van den Corput

This is the only historical picture that I have of it. But what is the source?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Wednesday 5 February 2020

More on New Zealand's 'Jones & Baker Bros Special'

A great number of Mini derivatives has been shrouded in mystery since they were conceived, although information on a great number was disclosed in the Maximum Mini books. Still, of some cars not very much could be found, making these a continuous quest for more to me!

In Maximum Mini 3 I wrote about the 'Jones & Baker Bros Special':
"From Rotorua, New Zealand, came this unusual 1960s Special. The car is said to have been built by Eddie Jones together with the Baker Bros, who ran a garage in Rotorua and had previously been responsible for a string of other Specials. The base vehicle was a crashed Austin Mini Countryman. Once finished and now with long bonnet plus sharp sloping hatchback rear door, there was nothing of the woody recognizable any more. The new body was all-steel. The car came out of a shed in 2015 after Eddie Jones had passed away."

In the meantime a few more pictures have been unearthed as the car appears to have been sold after having spent 15 to 20 years in the said shed. More information is still very welcome though!

Jones & Baker Bros Special was built in Rotorua, New Zealand, supposedly in late 1960s 
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The car used Austin Mini mechanicals, hiding them well under that long bonnet. Body is all-steel
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

It languished in a shed for 15 to 20 years, but came out more recently. Note truncated rear
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Austin Mini sourced engine comes with one carburetor. An 850?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Inside picture shows neat finishing. And a third brake light, too
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Carpets removed - apparently the basis of this car was still very good. Where is it now?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive