Tuesday, 26 October 2021
Friday, 22 October 2021
A picture of the second (of two) built Magnum Spectre was posted on Facebook this week. The car appears to be fully restored and I'd love to hear more about it.
The two Spectres were made in the mid-1970s by carpenter Rohan Ash and his mate Arthur Wilshire of Auckland, New Zealand. They bought two written-off Leyland 1100s, one for each, and started work on the cars that were inspired by the Alfa-Romeo Carabo concept car. A magazine article was their only reference. Floors and mechanicals were retained, including the hydrolastic suspension and drum brakes, but they replaced the 1100 engines with 1275s from Mini Cooper ‘S’s. Some 30 metres of 25mm square section steel tubing was used to make a frame to place over each of the 1100 floorpans. The car’s bodies were made in fibreglass. Scissor doors like that of the Carabo were deemed to complicated and so Ash and Wilshire settled for more conventional opening doors. The hexagonal pattern of the rear lights, made of two layers of polycarbonate, proved to be another challenge. The interior was a mix of Mini, Datsun and home made parts. Once finished the duo offered replicas for sale from $8,500 but soon decided it would be too much work for them to run the business and deliver the kits.
Both Ash as Wilshire used their cars on a daily basis for many years. Ash supposedly gave his to a museum in 2003, although it ended up in private hands some time later. Wilshire moved to Australia, taking his Spectre with him and the car seen on the Facebook picture is his car, on a Queensland plate with appropriate 'O KIT 2' number. It's now painted bright orange and has undergone some changes. It's got bigger wheels and wider arches while the pop-up headlights have been replaced by more conventional units. I wonder if it is still owned by Wilshire?
Thursday, 14 October 2021
As we saw last week a Peel Viking was autocrossed on the Isle of Man (click here), but it wasn't the only Viking on the island. Stephen Callow owns one, too. He wrote:
"Hi, here’s a picture of it from a few years ago parked with another Mini restoration project I have. It is pictured on your site when it was in the UK registered 'RET 680J' – a friend brought it back to the Isle of Man in the early 2000’s for a classic car hire business he started which didn’t success so I bought the Viking but haven’t got around to starting on it. The pics someone took of mine parked at the side of the house are quite old now and sadly it hasn’t improved but at least glassfibre doesn’t rust – the blue Mk1 Cooper is crumbling!"
"Mine was registered MAN70P when originally on island, then went to UK and became RET680J. It’s back on a 2003 IOM number plate now and has 1275 engine, discs, and needs a full restoration. Apart from Neil Hanson’s red one I have only seen one other in the flesh and that was autocrossed by Mike Hewison and had the front end cut off after a fire. I think it was scrapped, but knowing the IOM there’s one or two lurking in sheds."
I have added more pictures of Vikings on the Isle of Man. It would be lovely to hear from when you can fill in more about these cars.
Wednesday, 13 October 2021
Monday, 11 October 2021
Stephen Callow recently contacted me about Timeire, the Special built by Tim Conroy (see here), but the conversation moved towards Peel Vikings soon and more particularly towards Vikings on the Isle of Man. Stephen owns a Viking himself and lives on the island.
But before describing his and other Peels from from the Isle of Man, let's have a look at one local car first that was perhaps a bit of a legend on the island for a while. Stephen sent over an interesting picture of that: "This was Mike Hewison’s Viking local autocrosser with some flames!"
I did recognize the car from a shot in The Filby Files, when Peter Filby wrote about it: "There's only one example left on the island and, as you can see from the action shot, it's got much the same problem as a Manx car, only at both ends. It's path in life is as a very quick autocross Special shared by James Howe and Philip Speedie. I know it's quick because the lads let me trash it around a large field recently vacated by several cows. Dung racing I think they call it."
I think Hewison must have crossed it after Howe and Seedie did? I also have a picture in the files of what is believed to be the body of this particular car, but I can't remember where I got it from, so do let me know when it was you. Stephen said: "Must be tucked away in the garage with Mike’s other Mini’s – he has a lovely Sprint and some nice Mk2’s." As always, more information is much welcome.
Friday, 8 October 2021
More good news about the Micron GT: the long-lost car that was found last year by your's truly (click here). And after finding the car, it's builder has now been located also! That's Brian Bray. I received a message from his son:
"Hello Jeroen, I have been given your e-mail regarding the Micron. I am Matthew Bray, son of Brian Bray the man who built it. I have never seen it as I was born in 1969 but I am a car enthusiast myself. Brian is still alive and kicking at 81 and I’m sure he would like to see it. Hopefully you can arrange something?"
Contacting the current UK based owner of the car was easy, but unfortunately he had to tell me the car is in France at the moment awaiting restoration. The idea was to bring it back some time ago but with the travel restrictions this hasn't happened yet. Let's hope it's possible to rejoin car and builder soon!
Next question was if Brian had some historical pictures of the car. Matthew replied: "I am sending you the only three pictures we have of the car. My father says he has no pictures of the build." But Matthew was kind enough to supply me with his dad's phone number so that I could ask him for some first hand information directly. Over to Brian Bray:
"I built it in a garage and my brother Rex didn't have a hand in it. But I sold it soon after it was finished to build the second car. That was a much better looking car with opening doors, the Micron Mk2. It didn't have a wooden chassis but a steel tubular chassis. Even the floorpan was steel. But it was also rear engined using a Mini engine, too. That car was never finished and not registered although I used to drive it around an airfield. It was almost finished before I sold it to fund my first aeroplane project. I sold it to two lads many years ago, but I can't remember who they were. I wanted to pick up flying and built my first first plane not much later. In the end I built six aeroplanes."
Matthew and Brian hope to find back pictures of the Mk2, which I am very curious about. In the meantime Matthew did come back to me with another lovely message: "I thought you may be interested to see the first place trophy my father won from Hot Car. Hopefully we may be able to see the car again one day should it return to the UK. Best wishes, Matthew."