Friday, 9 April 2021

Mystery Mini derivative (74)

Another week, another Mystery Mini Derivative. And this one really is a total mystery with no clues other then that it was supposedly raced in Australia. It looks to me that it was shot in the 1960s but other than that I have no ideas whatsoever. Anyone..?

A mystery Mini based racer seen here being chased by a Frogeye Sprite
Picture via Roy Millham

Zooming in: widened Mini wheels, pop riveted body, side pipe and... central seating..?
Picture via Roy Millham

Thursday, 8 April 2021

A Unipower for Easter

Unipower GT owner Tim Carpenter drops me a line occasionally, which is always a pleasure. This time he spent a good Easter Sunday with a few friends and cars. This is what he wrote:

"Hi Jeroen, How are things going for you? How’s the Marcos coming on? I’ve been messing about a bit with my car. I retired the 50+ year old magnesium Minilites and replaced them with aluminium repro ones. I feel a lot safer now. I was worried about what was going on under the paint. I did not want one of them to let go underneath me. It was cheaper to buy new than to strip, crack test, chromate and repaint the magnesium ones so it was a bit of a no-brainer really. I’ve also fitted the Yokohama 145/80R10 69S tyre which was recently added to their range. They balance a lot better than the Aquajets and feel a lot more taut too. I’ve not yet had the chance to test them out properly. Hopefully the sun will shine and I can get the car out on track again."

"Meanwhile, I was invited to spend Easter morning in glorious weather in the garden of a petrol head friend. He has quite a big garden with a number of garages in it. We gathered around the barbecue for hot dogs and a cup of tea in a socially distant sort of way. There were a couple of MGs, an XK120 an an Alfa. Plus me in the Unipower GT - and a GT40! Well, I could not resist the temptation to park alongside to compare and contrast with the Unipower GT’s ‘Big Brother’ being as how they were drawn be the same person. This is a picture of me comparing the total height of the two cars – 40½” both of them. The GT40 really is a lovely but fearsome thing. It’s hard to imagine how variants of both cars would ever have been able to be on track at the same time. Crazy days."

"I’m lining up a few events already for this year, mostly hill climbs rather than static displays. I hope they go ahead. I’ll keep you posted. Cheers, Tim"

Tim with Unipower GT and Ford GT40 - more in common than just their heights!
Picture Mark Faulkner

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

John Lennon's Mini - green and a hatchback

The disappearance of John Lennon's Mini remains a great enigma. I wrote about it years ago, and judging by the number of clicks it keeps on receiving the article remains a Maximum Mini favourite (see it here).

All we knew for sure was that Lennon's Mini was a Radford De Ville, based on a 1965 Austin Mini Cooper 'S', registered LGF 696D and painted black. But now it seems that even that must be reconsidered. Keith Hawkins dropped me a line with two images attached, taken from film footage shot by John and Yoko themselves at John’s home ‘Kenwood’ in Weybridge, Surrey in 1968. This was done for a film project named 'Look at Me', which was recently remastered and published. Keith wrote: "Hi Jeroen, here they are, taken around 1968 I would think. Lovely colours, Lennon had great taste, regards Keith."

That surely must be John Lennon's Mini. But it's painted green and cream here, with golden Cosmic wheels like George Harrison's. What's more: it's clear now that the car came with the Aston Martin DB5 rear light units as Paul McCartney's Mini had them too, and with a hatchback door as Ringo Starr's! The best of all combined into one vehicle..?

John Lennon's Mini, shot by Lennon himself. Green, with Aston rear lights and a hatchback door
Picture 'Look at Me' via Keith Hawkins

These are film stills from Lennon's and Yoko Ono's 1968 project 'Look at Me' 
Picture 'Look at Me' via Keith Hawkins

Friday, 2 April 2021

Ranger Cub seen for sale

Day 5 of Three-Wheeler Week at Maximum Mini with a nice Ranger Cub being offered for sale in Gainsborough. That's the village where I used to spend the nights when the Mk1 Performance / Maximum Mini Action Day was held at the nearby Blyton Park track (not this year unfortunately), so a pity I didn't know about it earlier as I would have loved to see it in person.

The seller states: "This example of the Ranger Cub has outlived most simply because the owner/builder lost interest and left it the garage. Buff log book included." I wondered if it's the Jet Black car bought new by Andrew Gourlay in April 1975. Andrew provided me with some great Cub information and pictures many years ago, but unfortunately I couldn't reach him now. But the seller told me: "Sadly its not the same car. I have the invoice etc and it is not the same name." I'm still not totally convinced though and would love to learn a little more! See the ad here.

Have a great Easter weekend for now.

Ranger Cub offered for sale in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire looks complete
Picture Ebay

Just about 20 Cub three-wheelers were made by Ranger Automotive
Picture Ebay

This one seems to come with automatic transmission
Picture Ebay

Classic Morris Mini engine, I think most Cubs came with an 850
Picture Ebay

That's Andrew Gourlay in the flared fashion of the time, working on his Cub
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Not the same car? I hope you are doing well Andrew!
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

And a copy of the original invoice that Andrew shared with me
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Graham Hull Special - Rolls-Royce design gone wild

It's day 4 of the Three-Wheeler Week at Maximum Mini with one remarkable car that made it to the market very recently. It's the Graham Hull Special, conceived, designed and built by a former chief stylist of Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motors. Graham Hull joined Rolls-Royce in 1971 at 24, and by the early 1990s he was the man responsible for cars such as the Silver Spirit and the Bentley Continental. After having retired from Crewe, he came with his three-wheeler in 1991 - quite the opposite to his earlier designs! 

The Special used a square steel ladder chassis mated to reversed Reliant front suspension while the body was unlike anything else and made from marine ply inside, clad with foam and a body of woven Kevlar and fibreglass. The engine came from a 1972 Mini and was bored out to 1380cc, mated to an Allegro gearbox and with 13" Minilites at the front and a single 14" 6J wheel at the rear. The whole construction weighed under 450kgs. Hull was quoted: "I cannot say that it was built on a shoestring but it hardly represents a huge investment - just don't ask me how many hours!". But then it was a private project and the car remained a one-off. 

Now that it has now come up for sale it does look not quite so good anymore and I think somebody started a restoration only to come to the conclusion that this was not quite a straightforward job... It appeared on Ebay two weeks ago and has now disappeared. Was it sold..?

Graham Hull Special was indeed a rather special Mini based three-wheeler!
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The Special was designed and built by a former Rolls-Royce and Bentley chief stylist 
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

But this is how it looks now. The body appears to have been modified before
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Engine still is the tuned 1380cc, which was mated to an Allegro gearbox 
Picture Jeroen Booij archive