Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Mosquito found in a barn

Day 3 of Three-Wheeler Week at Maximum Mini and with another rare find. Once more it was found by Stewart Adeline O'Neil, who also came up with yesterday's mystery Mini based three-wheeler (here). This one is not quite so mysterious though - it's a Mosquito! 

And it's a Mosquito known, too, as this particular car was featured in MiniWorld magazine in 1993 as well as in Chris Rees' three-wheeler book. Frenchman Damien Lescroart keeps the register for these vehicles and had 'Q228 FDD' as one of a few unknown cars in his list. See it here. I'm sure Damien will be pleased to see it's another survivor. Let's hope it will be saved soon.


More green than blue, but that really is a Mosquito under there!
Picture Stewart Adeline O'Neil

Most of the Mosquitos are known - this one wasn't until now 
Picture Stewart Adeline O'Neil

'Q228 FDD' dates back to August 1987 and is registered using an 848 engine
Picture Stewart Adeline O'Neil

It was featured in MiniWorld and in Chris Rees' three-wheeler book in the early 1990s
Picture MiniWorld / Jeroen Booij archive

Malvern Autocraft still offered it for sale as the Triad during 1993 MiniWorld feature 
Picture MiniWorld / Jeroen Booij archive

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Mystery Mini Derivative (73)

Over to day 2 of Three-Wheeler Week here at Maximum Mini, with a real oddity having been unearthed by Stewart Adeline O'Neil. He wrote to me about what he found since he had no clue about it: "Sorry to bother you Jeroen, but you have been recommended to me about this three wheeler. It's got an all-fibreglass body. Do you think this is a ABC Tricar? Regards, Stewart."

Well, I have no clue either! It looks to be professionally built to me, but I have never come across anything like it and wonder if it really is a one-off - just imagine the work that must have gone into building it. There must have been moulds made to make the body in the first place. The interior and some of the details make me think this was built in the late 1980s or even early 1990s but the chassis number seems quite a lot older. So... who knows more about this one?

UPDATE 31 March 2021: Now thought to be made from a much-modified modified FRA Mini, cut-off fibreglass rear end found near to it. Also Mini Rio (of around 1993) found near, which must have been a donor, fitting in with the interior at least. And the engine is believed to be a 1275 A+, probably from a Metro as it uses a Metro air filter. Thanks all for the comments!


Up until the b-posts this looks pretty much like a Mini, but it's all fibreglass
Picture Stewart Adeline O'Neil

The back is a whole different story, with just one wheel and small hatchback door 
Picture Stewart Adeline O'Neil

When and where was it built, by who and why? It looks not to have had plates?
Picture Stewart Adeline O'Neil

Is it me or the picture or do the proportions seem kind of odd?
Picture Stewart Adeline O'Neil

Under bonnet it's all standard Mini. That seems like a 998 engine to me
Picture Stewart Adeline O'Neil

There's also a chassis number, one from a Mini donor..?
Picture Stewart Adeline O'Neil

Interior oozes 1980s or even 1990s also. Who knows more about this 3-wheeler?
Picture Stewart Adeline O'Neil

Monday, 29 March 2021

JS2 three-wheeler back to creator's son

There are a lot of Mini based three-wheelers coming out of the woodwork and I'll share them with you this week. The kick-off is provided by Scotsman and historic racer Ewen Sergison, who shared the lovely story of his dad's Special, which he found back just a couple of days ago. He wrote: 

"In 1976 my dad wanted out the house as his new born son (me) would not stop crying! He stopped shaving, locked himself in the garage and built and then registered the JS2 (what JS1 was I don’t know unless it was me). Today I bought it back! Most of my cars have girls names but at the moment “IT” is back! V5c still says make: JS, model: JS, chassis number: JS2. My earliest memories were getting splinters in my legs from it’s plywood seat and dad showing me how he could do stoppies in it! Dad my old man invent stoppies? An emotional day to actually drive it! Thanks to Barry and Ray for selling it back to me! Means the world!"

Well done Ewen, hope you will enjoy the JS2 for many years to come!

More recent three-wheeler stories about some great family provenance here and here.


The Mini based JS2 Special is back in the hands of its creator's son
Picture courtesy Ewen Sergison

Ewen's dad back in the 1970s in his wacky machine
Picture courtesy Ewen Sergison

It has a bit more stance these days but it surely is the same machine 
Picture courtesy Ewen Sergison

Ultra wide wings and wheels give it a cool appeal
Picture courtesy Ewen Sergison

Originally it used an 850, but that's been replaced with a 1275 unit now
Picture courtesy Ewen Sergison

Ewen wrote: "An emotional day to actually drive it!"
Picture courtesy Ewen Sergison

Friday, 26 March 2021

Found and for sale: genuine Cox GTM

When I heard of a Cox GTM that had been in storage since 1993 in Belgium I had to know more. Two weeks and lots of e-mails later the car is now at my home, parked next to the Le Mans Mini Marcos. 

Unlike so many GTMs this really is a Cox with the flat bonnet and the welded 'cow horns' at the back to hold the rear chassis, the later (Heerey) GTMs having a box section there. Oddly it does have the two-part boot lid, which I believe was introduced later, but then this may have been retro-fitted. Somebody, at some point, started a restoration on the car and both the chassis as well as the body have been worked on. The previous owner's dad bought it as you can see it here with the plan to turn it into an autotest car, but it never happened. He did buy a brand new laminated windscreen and Perspex rear screen, which came with the car, as well as the gear linkage mechanism and a few more parts. 

Unfortunately there is no registration or further paperwork with it, although I think it may well have been on the road before work started. I hope to find out more about that, but am looking for a new home for this car now. Contact me when you are interested. The ad is here.

UPDATE 29 March: I've added a few pictures of the gear linkage and screens that are included. Also found a bonnet badge and some more stuff. I may be tempted to add that with the car, too! 

UPDATE 6 April: The car is now sold to a highly valued reader of Maximum Mini in the UK. 


A genuine Cox GTM, ready to be built up again
Picture Jeroen Booij

The car has just come out of long-term storage after almost 30 years
Picture Jeroen Booij

Only 55 Cox GTMs were made, later cars were produced in larger numbers
Picture Jeroen Booij

It comes with no paperwork and needs an engine. Windscreen is there though...
Picture Jeroen Booij

Work was started, as chassis and body have yet been restored 
Picture Jeroen Booij

The early cars are the prettiest and most sought after (I believe)
Picture Jeroen Booij

Excellent Cosmic Mk2 wheels are a lovely period touch
Picture Jeroen Booij 

Giveaway: the big welded 'cow horns' at the back indicate this is an early car
Picture Jeroen Booij

The previous owner wanted to fit a fast engine for autotesting. Gear mechanism is there
Picture Jeroen Booij

Chassis has been welded at some places before being painted in anti-corrosion paint
Picture Jeroen Booij 

No rot anymore here. And a nice Astrali steering wheel as a bonus...
Picture Jeroen Booij

Subframes seem to be very good, too
Picture Jeroen Booij

Track day car? Road car? I hope to see this one being restored
Picture Jeroen Booij

Laminated windscreen and Perspex rear screen, the latter still in wrapper
Picture Jeroen Booij

The gear linkage mechanism 
Picture Jeroen Booij

Bonnet decal / badge
Picture Jeroen Booij

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

One owner since 1969: Banshee is now for sale

What do you do as a South-African youngster who's hankering for a Unipower GT? Well, back in 1969 Tertius van Zyl started building his own take on the Unipower, eventually christening his creation Banshee after 12 years of hard work. But what do you do when you're getting old and cannot climb in anymore? Well, Tertius has decided he may now sell his beloved Banshee after more than 50 years. Gary Johnson-Barker contacted me about Tertius' plans. In his own words: 

"'Banshee' was born out of the need to have something to compete in the the (then) 'Sports Car' club racing class that was clearly beyond the capabilities of my well rallied and raced, mildly tuned 850 Mini in the early 1960’s. Inspired by a road report in Cars & Car Conversions of the Unipower GT, I set about 'borrowing' some ideas from that source (spot the resemblance?) and a terrific book called 'High Speed Low Cost' by Allan Staniforth - the building of a 140mph Mini based single seater. The body originated on the drawing board. A 1/10th scale model was built to check the lines and a full size egg box style frames were cut from plywood and aligned on the chassis. Chicken wire, sackcloth and 500lbs of plaster of Paris was used to shape the body over the frames. This was then moulded in fibreglass as a female mould (subsequently destroyed - damn!) and the final body panels were moulded. Paint was applied with a small electric spray using a two part 'Poly' kindly supplied by a mate at the Dulux Plant! The chassis can best be described as a monocoque/semi stressed skin. Actually this means trapping two Mini front subframes in a lattice of 1 inch square steel tubing and 'popping on a sheet of aluminium across the bottom and up the sides to form two sill pannier’s."

"Suspension is pure dry Mini with the front cones having been machined to remove the 'pot bellied' look and then drilled to resemble a Swiss cheese in order to soften the spring rate. Rear suspension started out with the Mini uprights turned upside down with the retained steering arms connected to the lower suspension arms. This arrangement caused some interesting steering moments with the back of the car inclined to want to do it’s own thing in cornering and over bumps. A visit to the then Cox GTM factory in Manchester cured my problem with the acquisition of a set of their prefabricated lower wishbones, with built in negative camber, that effectively lock the uprights in the right direction. Brakes are drums all round, twin leading in front and singles at the back. Rear backplates had the centre hole enlarged to fit over the front uprights being used. All this to accommodate the hand brake system (with racing in mind, I wasn’t going to bother with a handbrake but at this stage of construction I got engaged and the idea of racing was banned from conversations! - hence the need to convert my thoughts to a roadworthy vehicle). Hydraulics came via a 1960’s Ford Cortina dual system master cylinder and the same donor was used for the clutch. Used because Mini cylinders being upright in design, would have stuck through the bonnet! Fuel for the two 1 1/4 SU’s comes via a Mini Van tank located behind the seats - thinking of weight distribution - with cut off switch on the centre console to stop the pump doing it’s thing while working on live electrics or ignition. Cooling is taken care of from a front mounted Triumph Spitfire rad through aluminium pipes and a Renault 5 electric fan. A feathering fan was a later addition on the engine side that cured a tendency to run hot in traffic."

"The windscreen - or more correctly the wind deflector was moulded from perspex over a wooden mould. Stuck into a friendly sign maker's oven were it conveniently draped itself rather well over the mould. Imperfections were sanded out and the whole thing 'Brasso'd' back to its former self. The lump at the back started life as a standard 998cc from a scrapyard but over the years its specs have changed to 998 Cooper. 948 Cam, larger inlets with double springs, 9:1 compression and twin 11/4 SU’s with ram Stacks. The head being gasflowed and ports enlarged. Final drive remains at 3.7 but 3.44 would be better as the low weight of the car sends the revs up rather smartly and open road cruising would be kinder to the motor that is pulling in excess of 5000rpm at the legal limit. Exhaust is a tuned length to preserve back pressure, via a Cooper manifold and two straight through boxes. Gears are changed using a sawn in half early Mini remote extension, with the gear lever bit mounted backwards in the tunnel between the seats and then via a length of round steel tubing that passes under the sump to a block (courtesy Cox GTM) on the bit sticking out of the back of the motor. Gear changing works well and remains as per the normal Mini i.e. First is in the top left hand corner. Instrumentation is Smiths (revs, fuel, oil pressure, water temp & charge) with the exception of a Citroen speedo chosen for its size - underreads horribly!"

"Considering the old girl was designed over 50 years ago with construction having taken about 12 years (I was transferred around the country a lot in my airline sales job) and first being road registered in 1980 in Pinetown, she continues to provide a lot of fun for my two sons now in their 40’s who were just a twinkle in my eye when Banshee was born. I quite enjoy her company too."

Let me know when you are interested in this unique piece of South-African motoring history, and I'll bring you in touch with Gary or Tertius himself.


It took Tertius van Zyl 12 years to finish his Banshee - from 1969 to 1981
Picture via Gary Johnson-Barker

The man and his machine. Tertius always kept the car but has now decided to sell it
Picture via Gary Johnson-Barker

The car's highest point is the height of where a standard Mini's bonnet is
Picture courtesy Sean Brennan

Initially the car used an 850 from a Mini Van, but now comes with 998 Cooper engine
Picture courtesy Sean Brennan

There is no doubt that this one-owner car was tenderly loved ad cared throughout its life!
Picture via Gary Johnson-Barker

Although triggered by a racing class - Banshee was used for rallies and meetings mostly
Picture courtesy Sean Brennan

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Jack Fisher's Specials make it to print

Several of you tipped me off about a new book by Peter Speakman and Kenny Baird, which came out last month, describing the doings and dealings of Scotsman Jack Fisher. Fisher famously ran a garage and dealership in Edinburgh and competed in a great number of cars, the majority of them designed and built by himself. From his own memory there were 22 of them, and they are all described in this lovely little book, some in a few lines only; others more extensively. You have probably heard of the Mini based Fisher Spyder (here) and Fisher GT ('Maximum Mini Find of the Year 2020' - more here) but there were clearly more than these alone! 

Like Colin Chapman, Trevor Wilkinson, Eric Broadley and Jem Marsh - to name just a few - Fisher, too, started small with an Austin 7 Special, but later cars also used Fiat, MG, Riley, Jaguar, Alfa-Romeo and Lancia power. The Mini based GT and Spyder are relatively extensively described here with some new information and a few new pictures (to me, at least). But I was also surprised to read there were plans to come up with a Formula Junior car using a mid-mounted Mini engine/gearbox as well, and that as early as 1959! From the book: "This was advanced thinking for the time, as FJ cars of this period were mainly front engined. The project was subsequently aborted as Jack felt the rapid development of the Ford FJ engine would leave the BMC unit uncompetitive." Now that would have been a novelty!

Apart from the 22 cars there is a chapter devoted to competition history and one to the Fisher Specials as they are today. The Fisher GT was originally painted silver - a colour photograph taken back in 1965 is there to prove it - and it will be repainted in that hue, too. Other then so many books repeating old information and pictures, this is just about the opposite. It's small and only for the happy few who know about these cars or are interested in them, but it will be right up their street, too, as it is made with genuine enthusiasm for these cars. It's 120 pages in a small format but no doubt worth the 20 pounds including postage and packing. Buy it here.


Jack Fisher stars on the cover of a lovely little book about the man himself and his cars
Picture Jeroen Booij

The Fisher GT was one of the Mini based Specials built by Fisher. It was found only recently
Picture Jeroen Booij

The Fisher GT Mk2 was also Mini based but saw a greater number of incarnations...
Picture Jeroen Booij

...and was eventually turned into the Fisher Spyder with Gropa Spyder body
Picture Jeroen Booij


The history of Fisher's Specials is illustrated with some unique historical material, too
Picture Jeroen Booij

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Pellandini No.1 also to be restored

While I wrote about the planned restorations of two Pellandinis in June last year (here) and yesterday (here), I really shouldn't forget about another Pellandini that has been unearthed recently and is now under restoration! This time it's Sean Alexander from Adelaide who has started the job.

He wrote: "Hey Jeroen, I found your email address on a Maximum Mini page and I'm wondering if you have any information on the Pellandinis? I bought No. 1 from David Goodwin - it's the one with the spaceframe chassis and fixed headlights. It's in pretty poor shape overall, the basic structure is there but according to David, the previous owner had lots of ideas but didn't carry out too much work on it, so there is a fair bit of work left for me to do! The registration is RKO408 (South Australia) - as far as I know this is the original plate number and I'll definitely keep it!"

"I'm probably going to stick with the Mini powertrain (Thank God!-JB). I'm a Miniac from way back so that's really the main reason I bought the car. And due to its rarity I think I should stay true in that way. I'll probably lash out and put a 5-speed in it though, this will enable a cable shift rather than the 'interesting' connection that was really the only option in 1970 (rod change Mini gearboxes came out around 1973; generally regarded as crappier than the remote change for a Mini but much easier to work with in this arrangement)."

What I did find was that this car number one indeed is the only Pellandini built with a space frame chassis – all others had a monocoque body/chassis construction. The car spent decades shelved at a crash repairer’s premises and the owner made extensive plans for rebuilding it, but passed away and supposedly willed it to his grand-daughter upon his death. Sean knew that already, but I hope to keep in touch never the less about what certainly is another great restoration.


Pellandini chassis number 1 is different in construction than later cars. It will be restored now
Picture Sean Alexander

Monday, 15 March 2021

Another Pellandini restoration started

The number of Pellandinis that have turned up and changed hands in Australia in the last two years or so is remarkable. And latest in the list is Tony Glynn, who has just become the owner of Pellandini chassis number 4. He wrote:

"Hi Jeroen. Thanks for the blog. It enabled me to contact the original purchaser, Bernie Martyn. He has sent me copies of the original correspondence with Pellandini. Not Peter himself, just the 'manager' at the time (1972). I bought the car from Frank Arronis. Frank is a great guy but a serial car purchaser and the Pellandini was unlikely to get any attention in the medium term as Frank has at least five cars in active restoration at the moment. My neighbour, David Kent, is a super talented car builder and is working on at least four of Frank's vehicles. Anyway, I help David occasionally with simple stuff and a couple of weeks ago we went to Frank's to see and plan one of the next restorations. The Pellandini was in the corner and Frank wanted the space for yet another project. David said "You should buy this as a real project" and once I figured out I could fit in it (I'm 192 cm) then 10 days later Frank delivered it. I was that quick. I had never even heard of Pellandini. David is a master with metal as well as fibreglass and has offered to assist with the fabrication of replacement bits."

"I plan to bring it back to its original state but it is getting a few mods on the way. These include an adjustable pedal box so someone who isn't 6' can drive it. Alternator and no Lucas points ignition, removable steering wheel and possibly adjustable length column and roll cage hoop behind the driver. I may get a cable-operated gear change depending on if the rod system isn't too notchy. I'm hoping for three years and want to run it in regularity. The car has a CAMS logbook dated 19/12/1974 but oddly no competition entries in the book. I will attempt to get it registered depending on the grief factor associated that..... Anyway enough for now. Tony."

Much appreciated and all the best with this great project Tony!


Another Pellandini has come out of the woodwork and is about to be restored
Picture Tony Glynn

The car is said to be chassis number 4 and Tony is in touch with the car's first owner, too
Picture Tony Glynn

Plan is to bring it back to original with a few mods such as adjustable pedals and steering column
Picture Tony Glynn

There is room for improvement - this lengthened shocker for example 
Picture Tony Glynn