Monday, 31 May 2021
Thursday, 27 May 2021
Another mystery solved. This pretty Estate turns out to be the work of Les Clarke, who was a 29-year-old work study engineer with the commercial division of BL at Longbridge back in 1973. That's when his car was featured in Terry Grimwood's column 'TGs Home Brew' in Car & Car Conversions magazine.
Clarke had bought the 1964 Traveller for 100 pounds and used it some four years before the transformation started. That rear door is not a fibreglass unit as several were offered in the 1970s. No, Les took the rear end of a Mini Pick-up, welded that on the lower part of the Traveller door space and made the top opening door from a piece of heavy-duty tinted Perspex in an aluminium frame. The rear window is a heated Smith screen, the rear wiper from another Mini and with Imp bonnet stabilizers to hold it up when opened. Rear light units were indeed sourced from a BMW 2000 T. Lux.
Inside there were re-upholstered Cooper recliners and a leathercloth covered dashboard with home-made centre console. Clarke also fitted a 1275 engine with Innocenti cam, Sprite head, lightened flywheel, tuftrided crank and high-compression pistons as well as disc brakes. Graeme Farr was the man to dig out the article. Terry Grimwood added: "Hah! You'd think I would remember. Must be an age thing!" A massive thanks to Graeme and Terry! Now, over to the next question: does it survive..?
Wednesday, 26 May 2021
But did I know there had been another venture for selling Heerey GTMs in Belgium? I did not until I bought some brochures recently. One of them mentions a Belgian GTM agent in Brussels - Jacques de Bres - and a coachbuilder in Lier - Carrosserie Stoelen - which supposedly built and sold these cars for Belgian customers. I think it dates back to 1969 and the prices as well as the specs are interesting and include BRT tuned engine and 5-speed gearbox. Is the car pictured left hand drive? It's hard to say.
Tuesday, 25 May 2021
Report from the bramble bushes in Somerset. Remember this find of a Nimbus Coupe formerly a prototype car and later raced by Gary Shillabeer? Well, it has finally been freed from the brambles by Simon Denman. He wrote: "Hi Jeroen. I can tell you my late father was best mates with Gary Shillabeer and that’s who he got it from. I honestly can’t remember much about when dad got it from Gary, but I seem to remember some tension between my mum and dad when he bought it - hence why it was probably left in the orchard with the initial plan of waiting til mum calmed down!"
"Sadly Gary recently died too so I can’t ask him. I’m trying to find the other open top kit car which might be in brambles too which must have come from Gary at about the same time. I’m pretty sure I know where the front clam is - as for the main middle but I’m not sure my memory is it was bought from Gary at the same time and I think the main tub was green and the front clam was primer grey, it might of had scalloped sides but I haven’t seen it since I was a kid. We are clearing up the farm and are selling it all, so the Nimbus will be up for sale. I have also got a lot of other bits including a series bits - none of which I believe came from the Nimbus though. It would appear there is much of a Mini in pieces in one of the sheds! Including a complete 850 lump and Mk1 boot lid etc! I will be in touch with photos of what I can find of the other one. If you know anyone interested in the Nimbus feel free to point them my way before I stick it on eBay. Speak soon, Simon."
It sounds as if the open car could be that other Ian Shearer design - the Boxer Sprint. But then Ian told me years ago there was just one made (this one), so it has to be something else..? We'll see when Simon finds it, I reckon. In the meantime, let me know if you are interested in the Nimbus Coupe and I'll get you in touch with Simon.
Friday, 21 May 2021
Thursday, 20 May 2021
Monday, 17 May 2021
A Dutch Barclay Mini Bug (that's a Stimson built under a license in The Netherlands) appears to have been hidden from the public eye since 45 years. The car was bought second-hand in 1972 by Giel Brouwer from the man who'd originally build it. Giel still owns it, although there's an unusual story attached to the car.
He told me: "My dad had a large US campervan at the time, some eight metres in length. He took that for a holiday to Marbella in Spain. I was in for some fun and wanted to bring a boat or a scooter or something else along. I did manage to find a speedboat but then I bumped into this buggy also, pretty local too. I made a construction on a twin-axle trailer so that both the speedboat as well as the buggy with the windscreen hinged forwards, could be towed behind the camper. It was quite something."
After the holiday trip Giel used the Barclay Bug for another two or three years, when he put it in storage. But there things went wrong. A friend, who had been eager to take the Bug over from Giel, suddenly saw it at the local trailer camp. Giel: "He was kind of pissed off, thinking I'd sold it to someone else. But when I told him I hadn't, we didn't know how quick we needed to go and have a look at my storage. There had clearly been broken into. And the car was gone. We found it in the trailer camp where they'd hastily blown it over in a metallic blue paint. The police wanted to have nothing to do with it and so we went there with a few friends and took it back. I decided to take it apart then as I wanted to restore it and repaint it back to its original orange, but it never happened.
And so today the car comes in crates and boxes, but is believed to be complete. Giel may be tempted to sell it but only for the right price and preferably together with a Mini he's had for equally long. He says there should also be pictures - somewhere - of the motor caravan with the twin-axle trailer behind with the Bug and speedboat on that. I'd love to see those, too.
Friday, 14 May 2021
An Ogle SX1000 that was a bit of a mystery to me for many years has now resurfaced. I was made aware of the car when I was sent a picture of it back in 2013. The car was then spotted when its elderly owner, mister Colin Wells, went to a parts shop and a Maximum Mini reader saw him and had a little word. Wells kept the car for the next few years, owning it for more than 50 years in total. But being now almost 90 years old he stopped driving and so the time had come for him to part with it. Two weeks ago a new owner was found in great Mini enthusiast Andy Varnam.
I'd already noticed that the car's front as well as it's rear lights had been changed, and there were some other unusual things, too. These changes were mostly made by mister Wells who seems to have kept the car on the road on a shoestring. But this Ogle is a bit of a special one anyway as it appears to be chassis XPT1 - that has to be for Experimental Prototype number 1. Together with an even earlier second prototype that makes it Ogle history.
There's no doubt the car is overdue for a major restoration, though, and in the two weeks that Andy now owns it he certainly hasn't taken half measures. By this time he's separated body and chassis - or what is left of that. Mister Wells, at some point, decided to sandwich the original steel (Mini) floor between layers of fibreglass matting underneath and inside. That may have kept the Ogle together, but when taken apart the remaining floor turned into dust! No problem for Andy, he says, who's cracking on with the restoration at a pace you won't believe. Once a new floor is fitted he is hoping to build it up this summer again and aims for September to have the car ready! He's keeping the 998 engine it came with, which was rebuilt not too many miles ago. Keep up the great enthusiasm Andy!