Thursday, 9 April 2020

Mead Special finds a new owner (1)

It's been a long time since news was heard from the Mead Special, built and raced in South-Africa in 1970 and under restoration by doctor Greg Mills for such a long time (full story here). It's here now, as long time Maximum Mini enthusiast Leon Daniels reported:

"Hi Jeroen, like most we’re also in lockdown. In our case in Abu Dhabi. I saw a report that the UAE is the safest place in the world to be right now and my wife and I are both working from home and we’re even busier than normal it seems."

But as you know I now bought the Mead Special. To be honest I have only seen it twice. First in the mid 1980’s when it was in the back yard of my friend and Mini whizz Farouk Meyer. Farouk was friends with Dr Mead and learnt lot from him. Both loved racing, and Farouk was a gifted race engine builder. I met Dr Mead’s wife after he passed, when I tried to buy a 1071 engine from her. I hesitated, and it sold sadly. I then bought a Mini 1000 S, which was a South African special edition. It was however fitted with the most amazing engine. Docile in traffic, not cammy at all, but that car absolutely flew. I drove it throughout my engineering studies and for the next five years to work, where it would do 100mph+ (that’s a far as the speedo went) on the last open clear stretch of road to the refinery where I worked. I still have that engine. The plan is to have Farouk rebuild it for me and fit it to the Mead Special, reuniting motor and chassis for the first time in 35+ years."

"The second time I saw the Mead Special body was at a company called Emgee who was restoring it for Dr Mills. Another doctor! And a brilliant author, researcher and race car driver. When I saw it at Emgee I begged that if it was ever sold, I’d love to have it. Years of pestering, and a recent fortuitous bit of news from my regular engine builder, Stuart Greig, suggested that the car needed to be moved due to relocation of the business. I enquired again, and luckily a week or so later Stuart collected it for me. I still haven’t seen it! I believe one of the shells is the body, and the other the mould. The idea is to restore it for the track, and maybe use it for track days. But certainly it will occupy pride of place in my collection."

"Incidentally, there was one other car that lead me to meet Farouk. I chased down a 1071 Cooper as on the road, and the owner gave me Farouk’s number. Farouk told me about the Mini that was for sale by a friend of his. This was the Mead engined Cooper 'S'. It belonged to a wealthy medical doctor - Dr Salduka. Yep, a third doctor in the story! I recently managed to buy the genuine matching numbers 1071 'S' from him. The car had some crazy 1970’s mods. Deseamed, sunroof, flared arches. Stuff you wouldn’t do to a car now. I will restore it exactly like that. It's the first 'S' that I ever saw, and the one that got me hooked on Minis."

What a great story, thank you Leon for sharing! There's more to follow with an update from the engine builder Farouk Meyer. Stay tuned.

Mead Special was built in 1970 by doctor Ron Mead in South-Africa
Picture via Leon Daniels

The restoration was never completed. Shell fitted is believed to be the mould
Picture via Leon Daniels

Chassis has been fully restored by Dr Greg Mills over a long period of time
Picture via Leon Daniels

Mead developed the Tecalamit fuel injection system in the UK before emigrating to South-Africa
Picture via Leon Daniels

Here the bodyshell is seen in yellow. Leon Daniels plans to complete the restoration now when he is out of lockdown in Abu Dhabi. He's already sourced the car's original engine
Picture via Leon Daniels

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