Thursday, 27 May 2021

Solved: Mystery Mini Estate

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..?

BNP 858B was a standard 1964 Mini Traveller before Les Clarke started work on it
Picture CCC magazine via Graeme Farr

"At one time he was all set to scrap the lot and fit a non-opening screen. Luckily he persevered"
Picture CCC magazine via Graeme Farr

The lower part is from a Mini Pick-up, while the rest was fully home-made
Picture CCC magazine via Graeme Farr

Les Clarke with his special Mini Estate back in 1973. Do they survive..?
Picture CCC magazine via Graeme Farr

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