Tuesday 28 July 2020

Unipower GT to be restored

And another Unipower GT is being restored! Howard Darby dropped me a line asking for some information and attaching a few photos. He added: "Dear Jeroen, I hope you do not mind me contacting you but myself, Howard Darby and Bob Neville (RJN Motorsport) now own the ex-Peter Filby Unipower GT. The car at the moment is in the process of a complete rebuild."
I certainly do not mind and hope to learn a bit more about your restoration in the near future Howard, thank you!

This Unipower GT was owned by Peter Filby before being turned into a hill climb car in the 1980s
Picture Howard Darby

Howard Darby and Bob Neville are the new owners and have now started a full restoration
Picture Howard Darby

This photo was taken last week at the workshop where the body is being prepared for painting. 
Colour is going to be 'Autofarm Porsche Carrera Yellow', Howard added
Picture Howard Darby

It was a Ford yellow colour when owned by the great Filby. Here at Donington in 1977 
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

And again at around the same time, on a shoot with the works Mk4 Mini Marcos demonstrator
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Monday 27 July 2020

The Bee Gees Broadspeed (4)

The Broadspeed GT owned by Bee Gees drummer Colin Petersen has come by here several times since 2013 (first time here, second time here, third time here). And speculation about the car's possible survival has been going on since. One former Broadspeed GT owner suggested it may have been burnt out and scrapped, saying: "I did have a conversation many years ago with a chap who saw mine at a meeting and said his brother's yellow Broadspeed caught fire on a trip to Spain and was scrapped."

But who better to ask then the Bee Gees drummer himself? Another reader who is friends with Petersen did just that, and wrote some time ago: "He told me he tried to sell the Broadspeed to Peter Sellers, but Peter said he already had many cars and turned it down. Next time I see Colin I'll ask him if he remembers who bought it from him." And he did: "I finally caught up with Colin again last week and he doesn't know where it went but had heard about the one in Spain. It was probably the only one in that colour so unfortunately it seems to have been scrapped. When he owned the Broadspeed, it needed repair and repainting and he chose the colour to match his drum kit, which you can see in some photos of the Bee Gees."

That makes me also wonder what colour the car previously had? White, as I believe I can see on the picture below? One day we will find the answers, I'm sure!

Bee Gees drummer Colin Petersen with the Broadspeed GT that he had back in 1969
Picture Getty Images

Petersen lived in a London mews at the time and stored his GT in the garage below
Picture Alamy

The GT was registered 'GKV 55D' and Petersen had it repainted in an Alfa-Romeo yellow colour...
Picture Getty Images

...to match his kit of drums, it turns out now. The car is still missing. Is it gone?
Picture Society of Rock

Thursday 23 July 2020

Cub Caravaning

Planning a holiday abroad? I think I might just stay home this year as international organizations continue to recommend staying home over traveling, since travel increases spreading corona. But wherever you are and wherever you go - I wish you a lovely summer!

How to tell a good towing vehicle from a bad one? A Ranger Cub just fits the bill perfectly
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Wednesday 22 July 2020

TW Models Broadspeed GT and Mini Marcos

Nicholas Lightbown wanted to advertise on Maximum Mini Market, but I thought a place here might be better. He wrote: "Hello Jeroen. I wondered whether you might be kind enough to insert a 'classified ad' on my behalf? I'm hoping to sell a matching Mini Marcos and Broadspeed GT - with a difference! They are both white metal scale (1/43) models based on artisan kits produced in very small numbers by a gentleman named Trevor Wright ('TW Models'). My examples reflect two of Mr Wright's better castings (he also made Ogle SX 1000 and Unipower GT model kits, the latter of which was so 'rustic artisan' as to be almost unrecognizable!)."

"In all probability my examples are perhaps the best example of each model in the world as David did a superb job completing them to my unique specifications: metallic 'morello cherry' paint finish, use of model 'Minilite' wheels and 'glazing' - not normally associated with kits created by Trevor Wright! I'm asking £210 for each model (which might sound expensive although vastly inferior examples of each sold for a similar sums on Ebay within the preceding twelve months or so). Given their 'twin' specification, I'd ideally like the pair to remain together." Well, there you go, Nicholas. I usually don't do this but if you are interested, contact the man at nicholaslightbown@msn.com.

Tuesday 21 July 2020

Mystery Mini Derivative (67)

This is a Mystery Mini Derivative from South-Africa that's been seen here before (click here). I'm sure there are people out here who will know it and who will be able to tell more about it. However, since I've posted about the car last time back in 2011, I thought it was about time to give it another go.

There is a little bit of extra information since Ryno Verster wrote: “I first saw it on pictures taken at the Mini’s 30th birthday in August 1989. The car was on a trailer at the event and the text in the Mini Owners’ Club scrapbook mentioned that it was manufactured by The Mini Man in Benoni. I believe the owner/builder has since left the country but the car has stayed here.” I haven't been able to find out more about this Benoni based garage but somebody else will know?

I am also thinking its base may have been inspired by or based on a Cox or Heerey GTM or even a Jackson Sportster as made by Jeff Jackson in South Africa in the late 1970s. So here we go again: who knows more?

UPDATE 23 July 2020: There is no link to the Jackson Sportster, as confirmed by Jeff Jackson himself: "Hi Jeroen, Great to hear from you and I am happy to hear that you are still pursueing your interest in mini derivatives. No, I do not know anything about that car this is the first time that I have heard about it. Sorry that I cannot be of more assistance. I will cc some of my old friends in SA and if I get any leads will forward them on to you. It looks great, nice design. Recently I was showing my grandchildren the article in your book about our Jackson Sportster and they loved the book. Thanks again for including the car. Best Regards, Jeff Jackson."

As spotted in Johannesburgh in 1989. Sporty Mini based car is said to hail from Benoni
Picture Ryno Verster

 Note smooth body and large windscreen. Who knows more about South-African mystery car?
Picture Ryno Verster

Seen here later in 2004 and now with bumpers, registration and Ferrari badging...
Picture Ryno Verster

Friday 17 July 2020

Davenport Special - where are you?

Now that the Micron GT has successfully been found (more here), how about some other Mini based Specials from the same era? I'm sure there'll be more survivors, and perhaps the Davenport Special is a good one to start with. Remember the car? This is what I wrote about it in Maximum Mini 3:

What do you do when you want a GTM for drag racing but can’t afford a kit? You build your own car of course. That’s at least what Derek Davenport of Birmingham did in 1974. He built a space frame chassis from square section tubing to fit two front Mini subframes at the front and the back. For the body he made a model in plaster and polystyrene and used that to directly laminate the body parts in fiberglass. Next Davenport took a 1300 engine, honed it, fitted oversized pistons and Cooper ‘S’ rods, a hot camshaft and Stage 3 head and fitted a double Weber carburetor plus Shorrocks C75B supercharger. Hot Car magazine was impressed and wrote: “The finished article is superb. Much better than many kit car bodies we have seen. Looking at the car, it is difficult to believe that it was completely home built.” They even placed it on their December 1975 cover. Does it survive?

I still haven't heard a thing about its possible survival and still wonder if it does. The DVLA does not recognize the car's registration 'JOH 235N', but that does not say all, does it? It must have been an impressive machine with that engine spec. Another man involved with the body who was named in the article is Roger Hamilton. Birmingham man Derek Davenport would be around 70 years old now, I should think. Could he still have it tucked away in a Brum barn..? 

The Davenport Special - built by Derek Davenport in 1975. Does it survive?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

On the cover of Hot Car magazine. Davenport and his Special, registered 'JOH 235N'
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Thursday 9 July 2020

Under the Biota prototype's aluminium body

Just a lovely photograph from the files to share here with you, of the aluminium bodied Biota prototype without its bonnet. The big split Weber carburetor is well visible here. I also attach a unique picture of the same light green car debuting at the 1968 Racing car Show in London.

Biota prototype without its aluminium bonnet, showing its space frame chassis and Mini power
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Unique picture of the same car seen at the 1968 Racing car Show in London 
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Wednesday 8 July 2020

Unipower GT at the 1969 Macau GP

Phil Newsome sent in a picture of a Unipower GT, unseen before to me, through our mutual friend Guy Loveridge. And it's an unusual photo of the car in the sandbags on the side of a racing track in Macau. What happened there? According to Phil the car was crashed in the Sports & GT class race during the 1969 Macau Grand Prix. Next, it was just left there whilst the main GP went on! That is the winner of the GP race seen here flying past the crashed Unipower GT - Kevin Bartlett in an Alfa-Romeo V8 powered Mildren single seater.

I'm not totally sure of the car's racing number. It looks it may well have been number 50 on the picture and that would be confirmed by the hand written entry list that Phil sent over, too. Two entrants are mentioned on that: Mr. William and S.Y. Tam. Who drove it? I found out that it must have been Charles Ching, a very successful barrister from Hong Kong who was educated in Oxford. There is another photograph of Ching's car taken at the '69 Macau GP, from the Imagens Daluz archives. It seems the car is darker in colour, though, but that must have been the light? It was entered under number 27 that year. Who knows more about it? And could it survive? It may even have been turned into this creature..?

Unipower GT was left on the track while the 1969 Macau Grand Prix went on
Picture Philip Newsome archives

Hand written entry list has the car as being entered by Mr. William and S.Y. Tam
Picture Philip Newsome archives

But the car must have been raced under number 27 by Hong Kong barrister Charles Ching
Picture Imagens Daluz / Natalino Cauto Wong

Friday 3 July 2020

Salt & Pepper Moke also starred in 1971 movie 'Percy'

Time for some light hearted entertainment after all those Mini Marcos researches. It may have seemed that the much-modified Mini Moke used in the 1967 comedy 'Salt & Pepper' ended up on the bottom of the river Thames but it didn't, as we know since David Guyan identified his now standard-looking white Moke as this particular car (click here).

Now David has found more movie footage. He wrote: "Since I discovered your article about the Salt & Pepper Moke that I currently own I have been doing some more research. I have since found out that the Moke also appeared in the 1971 film called 'Percy' starring Hywel Bennett and an all star cast. According to Wikipedia it was the 8th most popular film at the British box office in 1971. It has an unusual plot but was popular with the British public.  I thought you may want to know. Best, David"

Well, that must have been a great surprise! I'd never heard of Percy before and it certainly seems as if it has an unusual plot. To sum it up in a few words: it's about world's first successful penis transplant, bringing lots of trouble for the man who received it... See the opening titles with the modded Moke here. I'm also surprised the film's beautiful soundtrack - written and performed by The Kinks no less - didn't become a hit.

The late Hywel Bennett starred in Percy, the British comedy film that was a hit in 1971
Picture still Anglo-EMI / Youtube

And the Mini Moke known from the 1967 comedy 'Salt & Pepper' comes back, too. 
Picture still Anglo-EMI / Youtube

The car appears to have been mildly modified once more with a wicker bed at the back
Picture still Anglo-EMI / Youtube

'Percy' also starred Elke Sommer and coachbuilt Mini-fan Britt Ekland plus soundtrack by The Kinks
Picture still Anglo-EMI / Youtube

Wicker bed seen here. There's no doubt this is the same car that's now owned by David Guyan
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Wednesday 1 July 2020

1967 Mini Marcos works cars - a conclusion

This is a longer than usual piece. Click on the 'read more' link below for the full article.

A lot has happened since I wrote this article last week. And it looks that I may well have judged too soon in writing that the white Marcos in Japan has to be the 1967 Le Mans car. Could the one in Zimbabwe be that after all? I would not have believed it last week, but I'm looking at the matter now with a different view. But then I did not know then what I do know now.

First of all I have now seen pictures of the Zimbabwe car prior to its mid-1990s restoration. And it certainly looks as if it once had a modified roof / windscreen. That still makes it very odd for a second (works) car to have this, too. So, apart from several smaller details that will need to be fitted in, the main question was - and still is - could the '67 Le Mans sister car have had a similar modified windscreen / roof, too? I decided the only way to properly check this was to order all the photographs that I have of the two cars, put them in chronological order and see if a conclusion can be drawn from there. 

So here we go - a selection of these pictures is seen below. Still perhaps an overwhelming number of them, so if you are not the kind of anorak that I have become on this subject by this time, please ignore them. Oh - I have called the 1967 Le Mans Mini Marcos and the FLIRT ladies team Mini Marcos simply the green car and yellow car respectively - just to simplify things a little.

Castle Combe Easter Monday 27 March 1967
Green car seen in the paddock
Note aluminium front end and sills. Just two rear lights. Odd shaped SU holes in bonnet