Wednesday 30 June 2021

World's saddest Mini Jem is now saved

Is everything for sale in the end? Perhaps it is. Even the Mk2 Mini Jem left rotting in an East Suffolk front garden and notoriously not being for sale has now been sold. The car was spotted for years and years, but everyone asking about it was sent away. It was photographed regularly and every time I saw a picture of it it looked sadder. The same went for a big Marcos joining it. Images here

In February last year somebody wrote to me: "You'll be pleased to know the son of the owner is now taking the Mini Jem on as a project for his first car", but it seems it never got that far. The Jem, registration XCF 735K, all of a sudden appeared for sale with a classic car dealer and was sold the same day, supposedly for 1200 GBP.  From the ad: "1972 Mini Jem, 51,000 kilometres, been standing a long time so needs full restoration. 1300cc engine, Reece Fish carb, Cooper rims, has old style V5, will need trailer to remove" 

I wonder when we will see it again.

UPDATE 23 September 2022: the car is off to France, together with several sister cars. Click here

1972 Mk2 Mini Jem was left rotting in a front garden for ages and was strictly not for sale 
Picture Facebook Marketplace 

The big Marcos that joined it for so many years appears to have ended at the same dealership
Picture Facebook Marketplace 

XCF 735K is a 1972 Mk2 Mini Jem with 1300cc engine and Reece Fish carburetor
Picture Facebook Marketplace 

The Jem and Marcos as many people knew and photographed them throughout the years
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Monday 28 June 2021

Tony's second Jem is now finished

Reader Tony Fysh restored a Mk2 Mini Jem a few years ago but once finished considered selling it once again due to a lack of use. The car was sold swiftly through Maximum Mini but for Tony that was the start of a new restoration project: another Mk2 Jem! 

He now dropped me another line about that: "Hi Jeroen. I have just completed the full restoration of my second Mini Jem. I have owned this car since 1986, would you believe! It will hopefully be on the road within the next two weeks after a two year restoration. Everything is new and as good if not better than my last one. Serious illness due to Covid slowed things down but I got there in the end. I will send more pictures once on the ground and roadworthy. Keep safe. Cheers, Tony."

Well done Tony, I am glad to here you are back in good health and in Jem ownership and hope you will enjoy this car for many years to come!

Tony Fysh owned this Mk2 Mini Jem since 1986 but only just finished its restoration
Picture Tony Fysh

Back in 2017 he'd restored a similar Jem, which looked very good in light blue
Picture Tony Fysh

But he drove that car for just 550 miles before selling it through Maximum Mini
Picture Tony Fysh

"Everything is new and as good if not better than my last one", which says something
Picture Tony Fysh

Neat interior with roll cage and correct seats. You've got to love this Jem
Picture Tony Fysh

Thursday 24 June 2021

Ogle SX1000 racers for sale

Ogle SX1000s don't come up for sale too often, so I'd say it's worth an article when there's suddenly three of them on the market. And what's more: all three of them are fully race prepared! Let's have a brief look at them here.

First is the light blue car, chassis number 004 and registration VJN 392. This car was seen in a number of period publications as well as in an Ogle brochure and is said to have been used by David Ogle's wife. More recently it has been fully restored, using a brand new body by Nostalgia Cars. The original shell is still with it though. Furthermore it comes with FIA-spec 1293cc engine with special head and valves, fully balanced Arrow crankshaft and con-rods, forged Omega pistons and a 649+ camshaft, a Weber 45 DCOE carburetor, straight cut gears and much more. It's good for some 120bhp on racing fuel. There's a bespoke roll cage and Tillett seat and the car meets all competition safety requirements.
See the ad here - UPDATE: I understand that this is now sold.

Next in line is a 1963 car, and again no expense has been spared on this one to restore it and turn it into the midnight blue racer it is today. Registered since new as 843 GPH it has been raced in the UK for many years, but was only fully restored to its current condition more recently. Again it is built with FIA Appendix K regulations in mind, this time by Taylor Automotive in Sussex and it is done in style, too. New bumpers and grill were made from scratch and the original dashboard has been modified to fit around the full, welded in, Owens Fabrication roll cage. Swiftune built the 1380cc engine, now with twin SU H6 carbs and said to produce some 140hp! Again there's a Tillett racing seat and all the FIA requirements.
See the ad here

Last in line is the bright red car, chassis number 037, which was sold new to the US only to come back to the UK some six years ago when a full restoration was undertaken by IK Sport Classic of Holmfirth. They took it completely apart and used a new floor pan to rebuild the car. This Ogle had been raced for most of its life in the US and is not road registered. It comes with a 998cc engine now, competition prepared by Acespeed with DCOE Weber carburetor. There's a full cage inside plus race seat and harness and a standard Mini seat and belt for a passenger. When interested drop me a line and I'll pass you over to the current owner.

So... when you're looking for a racer that differs from the umpteen Minis and Mini Coopers available, this may well be a unique chance with three cars to choose from. They can be raced in a number of series events and they'll get you to the Goodwood Revival or Silverstone Classic.

Tuesday 22 June 2021

Brian Raubenheimer passes away at 80

I heard about the death of South-African racing driver and Mini Marcos manufacturer Brian Raubenheimer yesterday, who passed away at the age of 80. Brian started racing at 22 in an Opel Kadett but also drove a Lotus Elan and a Lotus Type 20 formula junior in South-African racing.

The Mini Marcos crossed his path when he met Chris Lawrence during a visit to the UK in 1967, who was working on the Le Mans car for that year. Raubenheimer, 27 years at the time, was attracted by the design and decided this was the car he wanted to built as a manufacturer himself. He managed to make a deal with Marcos Cars' Jem Marsh and completed a course at the Marcos factory in Bradford-on-Avon that same summer, learning all about moulding in fibreglass in preparation for his own manufacturing plant in South-Africa. To do so he moulded and built a car for himself and had that shipped over to South-Africa. A motoring magazine report: "It arrived by mailship in late July (1967-JB) and it immediately caused a stir in Durban and Pietermaritzburg. It is painted bright yellow. This particular car started life as a 1961 Mini Van which Brian purchased for R100 at Earls Court. It had 80,000 miles on the clock before he toured the continent with it and then stripped it to build the Marcos."

Apart from his own yellow car the shipment included a brand new set of moulds plus six more Mini Marcos shells also. In his hometown of Pietermaritzburg Brian set up Raubenheimer Manufacturing Company (Pty) Ltd although fabrication of the shells was outsourced to Ashley Smith's Plasba (Pty) Ltd in Estcourt, some 60 miles further up north and Brian regularly went there in his Piper aeroplane. The South-African built Mini Marcos Mk3 was officially launched on January 3rd 1968 at the Estcourt factory. At the time the six UK-built shells were built up as cars, too, and there were another 13 locally made shells to be seen. In November 1967 the '67 Le Mans Mini Marcos came over to Africa and was arced at Kyalami by Jem Marsh and Raubenheimer. The car never got back to the UK and was continued to be campaigned in Africa. It is still there today (extensive history here).

Sadly, a disagreement with Marcos Cars in the UK soon spelt the end of South-African production. Initially even the moulds were ordered to be destroyed, but Raubenheimer managed to prevent this. But by December 1968 the South-African dream had fallen apart, all the manufactured cars were sold and the factory had closed. According to one source a total of 63 cars are said to have been made, 47 of which with shells made in Estcourt, but I wonder if this is true. The South-African Mini Marcos moulds turned up in 2017 here. Raubenheimer himself remained active in the car scene up until recently.

Brian Raubenheimer with the bright yellow car he moulded and built himself at Marcos Cars in the UK
Picture Classic & Performance Car Africa

Left to right: Brian Raubenheimer, Jem Marsh and Brian's father Rufus Raubenheimer 
Picture Classic & Performance Car Africa

The factory in Pietermaritzburg, with a number of finished shells waiting to be completed
Picture Classic & Performance Car Africa

Mini Marcos delivery African style. 47 shells are said to be produced in Estcourt, SA
Picture Classic & Performance Car Africa

Brian Raubenheimer behind the wheel of the 1967 Le Mans Marcos at the Kyalami 9-hours race
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Great start! Raubenheimer drove together with Marsh and they came 15th overal and 3rd in class
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Brian Raubenheimer remained a real motoring enthusiast until his death
Picture Facebook

Monday 21 June 2021

Marcos Le Mans works mechanic speaks

Eight years ago I found out who was the mystery Marcos mechanic who'd made the infamous overnight roof conversion on the 1967 works Mini Marcos for Le Mans that year. His name was Mike Treutlein and he turned out still to be working on classic cars in rural Bedfordshire. With a little (ahem) delay I thought it was about time to post a bit more about the meeting I had with Mike all those years ago, which gives a small but also a unique insight in Mini Marcos history, straight from the horse's mouth. Over to Mike Treutlein:

"The idea was we were going to have a girl's team and a boy's team, so we built two similar cars, one green and one yellow. Jacqui Bond-Smith and her sister were to drive the yellow one. Her dad used to race a car called the Wavendon Wombat. There were the two sisters and there was another girl" (this was Joey Cook, and I think it was in fact her father Arthur Cook who raced the Wombat-JB).

"My friend Mike Garton went to work for Marcos. I was working in a garage in Peterborough, but we built the two cars together. At the end of 1967 he got me a job at John Woolfe Racing. Jem, a man of very few words, and I got on reasonably well and I did the racing cars for him. Mike took over as production manager for the whole thing and was got to make a six-months waiting list as Jem used to take cars out of the production line all the time."

"We went to Le Mans with only two of us I think. We came in a tow car, but I can't remember what that was. I never spoke to the French guys who'd raced the year before but the scrutineers clearly didn't like our car and excluded it as they found the windscreen was just too low. I thought the screen was measured raked from bottom to top but it was measured in a straight line. I think it really shocked them when we came back the next day. We'd modified it overnight, but they couldn't find anything wrong with it. We placed the screen more upright, pop riveted the thing back in place with aluminium and painted it quickly with an aerosol. I don't think they liked us but they had to let us go."

"Unfortunately our car only lasted about over an hour. In the race one of the bearings blew apart which let all of the rollers go. One of them went into the oil pump and that broke it. The engine was a works rally engine, we didn't have much trouble with it when we did the testing. We were then so knackered we went to bed and just fell asleep for a really long time. We took both cars to Germany 500 kms race after Le Mans, but they ran into a tree there. We rebuilt it when we were back home."

"Chris Lawrence was a friend of Jem's and I remember we spent a lot of time working on the car and making it ready. After the car packed up Jem said let's take the oil pump out and see what's wrong with it. The oil came out like silver paint. The needle roller was stuck and it took us about an hour getting the oil pump out."

Mike also gave me the contacts for his fellow works mechanic Mike Garton, who'd worked with him building both the Mini Marcos works cars. I understand Mike Garton passed away recently, but I was lucky to speak to him before that and will share his information here later this week. In the meantime I also found a little but lovely bit of film footage taken during the scrutineering of the 1967 Le Mans car just after the roof had been modified overnight by the two Mikes. Note the French scrutineer scratching his head, clearly not knowing how to tackle this! 

If you enjoy what I do here on Maximum Mini and would like to help me continue, then I would very much appreciate a donation towards keeping this blog going. Click here.

Marcos works mechanic Mike Treutlein: "I don't think they liked us but they had to let us go"
Picture Jeroen Booij

"After the car packed up Jem said let's take the oil pump out and see what's wrong with it. 
The oil came out like silver paint."
Picture Jeroen Booij

French scrutineers are clearly puzzled after Mike Treutlein and Mike Garton modified the roof
Video Automobile Club de l'Ouest

Thursday 17 June 2021

Mystery Mini derivative (77)

This agricultural oddity has turned up for sale in North-Wales. It looks to be a cross between a Scamp and an RTV but I guess it has no links with these. Remarkably, it does use both the Mini subframes, with the standard dry suspension and comes with a 998 engine simply driving the front wheels. It does look ever so rugged and strong with its chassis from square tubing and those big Terra tyres. The seller writes: "I am told that a great number of Minis have been converted in the past when they were particularly cheap to buy and run, to be used on golf courses, farms and construction sites till more modern machines have been developed."

Indeed, this one could well have been made with on of these ideas in mind. Who knows more? The ad can be found here.

Tractor? Mini harvester? Crop sprayer? Airport vehicle? Golf cart? I don't know!
Picture Ebay

It looks like a cross between a Scamp and an RTV, both by Robert Mandry...
Picture Ebay

No 4WD though. It uses all of the Mini suspension, both at the front as at the rear
Picture Ebay

Engine is a 998 and it seems that the builder liked BMC's green paint colour!
Picture Ebay

Tuesday 15 June 2021

Andy's Ogle - floor back in

A month ago I wrote about the rediscovery and daring restoration of Andy Varnam's Ogle, which seems to be a prototype car (click here). 

Meanwhile, Andy certainly hasn't been sitting on his hands. I can say as he keeps me posted on the car's restoration. He bought new floor panels, sills, inner wheel arches and a rear subframe mount panel and started welding with what was left of the original car. In the meantime he'd also taken off the subframes and the engine out and brought these to the sandblasters and also blasted the bulkhead and firewall. A week ago he wrote: "Think all the welding is done. Just a clean up now." The body, by that time, had been on and off the chassis a few times for test fitting. Andy: "The body wants a bit of jiggering to get it correct on the chassis, but it seems to be okay."

Now that's what I call a cracking job - more to follow! 

Clean steel to start with as most of the original floor had turned into dust
Picture Andy Varnam

Measuring up. Holes in the much-rusted bulkhead can still be seen here
Picture Andy Varnam

Wheel arches back in place, almost ready for test mounting onto subframes
Picture Andy Varnam

There you go. And on its side for better access
Picture Andy Varnam

Body going back for test fitting - and not for the first time...
Picture Andy Varnam

"Body wants a bit of jiggering to get it correct on the chassis" said Andy
Picture Andy Varnam

Monday 14 June 2021

Return to the scene

It seems that slowly but surely the action is returning to the classic car scene with several events returning to the calendar and actually taking place! Below is a selection of pictures sent to me and found online from Mini derivatives that could be seen in the last week or so.

60 Years of the Mini Cooper was celebrated at the Circuit de la Châtre in central France last weekend,
 with lots of Minis and Mini Coopers attending as well as this Mini Marcos, seen here early 
morning in the pit street
Picture Gérard Zanol

And it wasn't the only Marcos attending the sunny event. Two more of them seen here front row
Picture Gérard Zanol

And two more Mini Marcoses, both Mk4s seen at the National Mini & Metro Show at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon. The yellow car is owned by Des Bennett and the orange one by Richard Porter, who both built it from new and still own it after more than 40 years!
Picture Richard Porter

London Concours was one of the few events that took place last year. It returned to the city for 2021 where it took place at the fields of the Honourable Artillery Company from June 8-10. Stunning place with some stunning cars. See the Unipower?
Picture Tim Scott 

Last year Tim Carpenter's Unipower GT was on display here; this year it was Gerry Hulford's car, looking ever so good in the sun. Remarkably, the wing mentions Stanley Robinson and John Blanckley as drivers who, as far as I know never drove this car. Very confusing!
Picture The Sporting Minis

Derek Wilkins brought his ex-Cars & Car Conversions Cox GTM over to Shelsley Walsh last weekend, where 60 Years of Jaguar's E-type was celebrated together with the Mini Cooper Register
Picture Ian Hunt

Jamie Crudgington is having fun in the gorgeous Mk1 Mini Jem of his father Pete. They brought it to a track day at Mallory Park a few weeks ago and will be racing it at Donington soon in an action-packed field
Picture Pete Crudgington

Another track day, another cool Mini derivative. That's Guy Loveridge with the Ogle SX1000 in between a wide variety of other racing cars at Blyton Park in Lincolnshire on June 2nd
Picture Guy Loveridge

The National Mini Cooper Day at Beaulieu took place last weekend, too, and saw things turn back to as they were two years ago. Seen here a particularly nice MiniSprint, a Stewart & Ardern built car? 
Picture Richard Porter

Another rarely seen Mini derivative at the National Mini Cooper Day and like the MiniSprint it's another Neville Trickett design, too: a Siva Mule of which 12 were made in the 1970s
Picture Richard Porter

Friday 11 June 2021

Biota returns to Harewood - and meets an old friend

Biota owner and Maximum Mini fan of the first hour Tim Harber was in for a surprise last weekend at Harewood. He wrote:

"I wanted to go to Harewood two weeks after Prescott, which was my ultimate goal after 10 weeks of changing power unit and gear change etc etc. (Didn’t fancy hitting a bank with the sheet of aluminium with a bit of padding as a seat and a lap seat belt so we fitted an old race seat and harness). At Prescott I'd not been allowed to run competitively as the Biota doesn’t have a current spec roll cage – they chose to use some stricter rules so I just got to do a 'fun run' - so not timed and not supposed to go fast! They even wouldn’t let me wear my helmet as it might make me keen to go too fast!" 

"Harewood was where Chris Seaman won the 1972 BARC Hillclimb championship in the 'works' Biota. I e-mailed Harewood to transfer my entry to my circuit racer as I imagined they wouldn’t let me run the Biota and it got sent to their technical dude. He replied saying I could run! Even better – it was Chris Seaman himself who is the Technical one even now!"

"I got there late Friday night for nice sunset pics and did my runs the next day (not quick as it’s got a standard 1275 with a long (3.1) diff, but happy enough to get there and take part. Got to meet Chris and chat and take pictures (he was the hairy one in the original pics). So, the scene is now set for next year to get a beefy power unit with an LSD to take me nearer the front of the class. I was last this year in the sports car class so all to go for. I did 78 seconds up the hill whereas I had done 71 seconds in my 1965 blue racer before so I was really happy with the handling considering it’s on its original rear (motorbike derived) shocks and springs. Onwards to final victory!"

"I have been emailed some other Biota owners to encourage them to go next year with as many others as can be dragged there. If we manage a picture with 3, it will be a world-first! All good fun. Tim"

Now isn't that a lovely message! Thanks again very much Tim and let's see who else will make it to Harewood in the next year.

Tim Harber (left) with Chris Seaman, who won at Harewood in 1972 in a Biota
Picture courtesy Tim Harber

There's the winning car in the centre, Chris Seaman with long hair in it
Picture courtesy Tim Harber

Biota promotional flyer: Chris Seaman 1st overall, John Houghton 3rd overall
Picture Jeroen Booij archive 

Early morning, beautiful view. "I imagined they wouldn’t let me run the Biota"...
Picture courtesy Tim Harber

But then Tim found that Chris Seaman was Harewood hillclimb's "technical dude"!
Picture Phill Andrews

He made it in 78 seconds up the hill with some room for improvement
Picture Phill Andrews

Wednesday 9 June 2021

Ranger Cub 4, new and unbuilt...

A rare Ranger Cub 4 has just made it to the market. While the three-wheeled Ranger Cub proved to be a hit for a short time in the mid-1970s, the four-wheeler version wasn't. Just four of them were sold and it seems that this one was never built. It's an empty shell which will need all the necessary Mini parts to turn it into a car. It's for sale in Sunderland, north-east England.

Remarkably, two other Ranger Cub 4 have been seen for sale in the last few years. There was another empty shell, also black, in 2014 (see here - it's not the same is it?), while a red car turned up in 2016 (see here). There was also the black car built by John J. Thomas and registered '524 NOA' that was used for some promotional pictures also. The red car may have been the one shown at the London Speed Show in 1975? Bot Cub4s can be seen in the pictures below. 

UPDATE 17:30: The two black shells are the same after all, or so I have been told by two different readers. Thank you chaps!


A rare Ranger Cub 4 is offered for sale in Sunderland, Tyne & Wear
Picture Ebay

No engine, no suspension, no mechanicals whatsoever. It's never been built
Picture Ebay

Just four of these Cub 4s were made and it seems that at least two of them were black
Picture Ebay

Brand new shell! Building it up will need plenty of drilling and a donor Mini
Picture Ebay

The Ranger Cub 4 was a miniature pick-up, the later Ranger Pick-Up was far more popular
Picture Ebay

'524 NOA' was built by John J. Thomas and used for promotional causes
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

London Speed Show 1975. Behind the black Ranger Cub is a red Ranger Cub 4 and a Ranger Pick-Up
Picture Jeroen Booij archive