Tuesday 31 May 2022

Neville Trickett passes away

I'm very sad to report about the death of Neville Trickett who passed away last Friday on the 27th of May at the age of 87. Trickett was in the first place the brainchild of the original MiniSprint in 1964 as he was the man who came up with the idea of a chopped, lowered and sectioned racing version of the Mini. He built the first batches of cars but left the Sprint project early in 1966 when it was in full swing and when the Sprint was marketed and sold by businessman Geoff Thomas and race-ace Rob Walker. By that time he'd also become a works driver for Isuzu and raced his own ultra-light MiniSprint on many occasions, attracting the likes of Stirling Moss and Graham Hill. It turned the low-line Mini into a great success although many unofficial MiniSprint were built by privateers also. Until recently Trickett himself was happy to build you one, though. All you had to do was bring a Mini shell to his chateau in Normandy, France, where he lived and a few months later you could pick it up again, fully cut, sectioned and gas-welded. Or 'Sprinted' as the fans called it.

But after the original MiniSprint project of the mid-1960s Neville Trickett had a hand in many more car designs, and several of these were Mini based, too. There was the Codford Mini, instigated by David De Souza in '66 but designed by Trickett who said he never saw the car in the flesh. It was followed by the (Ford powered) Opus HRF and a beautiful Imp-based sports car for Janspeed. By 1970 Trickett had set up Siva Engineering in his native Poole, Dorset, where he probably became world’s most prolific kit car designer of its day. Together with his business partner Michael Saunders he launched a whole line of Edwardian looking cars with Ford Pop, VW Beetle or 2CV power. Doctor Who of the BBC science fiction series famously drove one. There were also the gull-winged and wedge-shaped Siva sports cars derived from the Janspeed-prototype and these ranged from the VW-based Siva S160 to the unique Aston-Martin V8-powered Siva S530. The latter became the star of the 1971 London Motor Show at Earls Court but vanished soon after. I happened to bump into the car in a Warwickshire barn in 2011! And then there were also the Mini-based Siva Buggy as well as the Mini-based Siva Mule. 

I have often thought of going to Trickett's chateau in France for an interview but somehow and rather sadly it never happened. Neville must have been a lovely man though and we did have contact by e-mail every now and then. When I asked him a question he was always happy to answer it and mostly very swiftly and in great detail also. In the kit car world he was a larger-than-life character and one who will be much missed.

A young Neville Trickett in 1965 with his own MiniSprint racer
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

In the workshop at Rob Walker's garage in '65 with CCC editor Martyn Watkins
Picture Cars & Car Conversions / Jeroen Booij archive

Trickett in action at the circuit in 1966 in his famous MiniSprint racer
UPDATE: Believed not to be Trickett but a customer
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The same car last March in Tokyo, where it is part of the Maruyama collection 
Picture courtesy Masayuki Arakawa

Neville Trickett at work in his chateau in France in 2018
Picture source unknown

Still working on Minis, he passed away at 87 last week
Picture source unknown

Minis were 'Sprinted' by many, but the only original came from Trickett
Picture source unknown

The 1966 Codford Mini was another Neville Trickett design - just three were made
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

It was followed by the 1970 Siva Buggy, again using Mini power...
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

...And the 1970 Siva Mule, a 'Mock-Moke' with fibreglass body
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

...And the Aston Martin powered Siva S530, which I found in a barn in 2011
Picture Jeroen Booij

The original MiniSprint brochure from GT Equipment Company
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

And one of the brochures for the Siva Buggy, called Minibug here
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Trickett was a very prolific kit car designer. This rare brochure shows many of his cars
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Friday 27 May 2022

Stimson Safari Six turns up at show

Earlier this week there was this lovely Mk1 Stimson Mini Bug that had resurfaced, today it's time for another great Stimson creation. This was one I'd heard about but which I'd never come across before - a black Stimson Safari Six, registered 'YTP 1L'. But here it is! These pictures were recently made by Marc Simonnet and show the car in all its shiny black splendour at a show. 

Safari Sixes that I know of are in the list below. Drop me a line if I miss out on any other cars:

NPX 144J - red
NGF 419K - red
JYM 2K - orange
GOT 133K - yellow
EAW 340L - red
PGF 289L - beige
YPX 676L - yellow
YTP 1L - black
Unregistered car - blue

Perfect car if you like to get some attention at the local car show: Stimson Safari Six
Picture Marc Simonnet

This one looks to be in an excellent condition and has to be the only one in black?
Picture Marc Simonnet

As with Stimson Mini Bugs there are Mk1's and Mk2's. 'YTP 1L' appears to be a Mk2
Picture Marc Simonnet

Wednesday 25 May 2022

Rare Mk1 Stimson Mini Bug reappears

You may have come across one or two Stimson Mini Bugs, but chances of it being a Mk1 are low. These early cars were only built for a very short period of time in 1970/1971. Of the approximately 180 Bugs built in total, just some 20 were Mk1s with their sharper body edges and different detailing. Survivors are very rare.

But one great looking example of such a car has turned up recently in the East of England. Multiple Stimson car owner and great enthusiast of the marque, Paul Wylde, contacted me about it: "Hi J. Look what has just come out of its hiding place. It's been locked away for years and the best one I have seen. It's a Mk1 Minibug that's been in the family of the owner for years and he will not part with it. I have only ever seen one other Mk1 survive."

The car's owner added: "We've had the car in the family since the early 1980s. I'm just trying to decide what to do with it. It was in my late dad's garage and has not run for years." I love it!

Rare Mk1 Stimson Mini Bug survives in what looks to be a great condition
Picture through Paul Wylde

Roll over bar and plastic windscreen were original extras at 7 and 8 pounds respectively
Picture through Paul Wylde

Now that's simplicity! This Mk1 Mini Bug looks very original to me
Picture through Paul Wylde

Engine is an 850 from a 1961 Austin Mini and the car is registered as such
Picture through Paul Wylde

Monday 23 May 2022

Could this wreck be Laurence Harvey's Mini Margrave? UPDATE: Not Harvey!

I may be on to something here. A Wood & Pickett Mini Margrave that has been offered for sale on Ebay recently could hide an intriguing past as I think its original owner may have been the actor Laurence Harvey. Harvey reputedly had Wood & Pickett commissioned to coachbuild not one but two Mini Margraves for him back in the late 1960s. The cars had minor differences and were registered 'KUM 1' and '1 LPJ' at the time. The latter was deep dark brown in colour and famously used in a W&P promotional picture with John Paul (click here) while it was also used in promotional photo shoot when Harvey picked it up.

Later a number of Wood & Pickett Minis made it to the Mini Festival at Brands Hatch. Harvey's '1 LPJ' was there together with a sister car registered 'SLW 25F', and I believe this may very well have been 'KUM 1' on a new registration. The two look very similar to me, perhaps only apart from their registrations. Both have no mirrors, no arch extensions, a sun roof, the same grille, same chrome side strips, same badges, same aerial, same Shadowlite windows and of course those oblong headlights and spots in the grille. Do have a good look at the pictures and let me know what you think.

UPDATE 13:20: Stop press. 'KUM 1' was not sold to Laurence Harvey when it was new but to His Highness Mohamed Bolkiah of Brunei

That's a Wood & Pickett Mini Margrave with the oblong headlights conversion
Picture Ebay

Just like Laurence Harvey's. As a matter of fact I believe these two actually are the same
UPDATE: Not Harvey's but His Highness Mohamed Bolkiah of Brunei
Picture Jeroen Booij archive / Ebay

Actor Harvey had two Minis converted by W&P at the same time. 'KUM 1' was one of them
It was seen on Wood & Pickett's price list for 1970 as shown here
UPDATE: Not Harvey's but His Highness Mohamed Bolkiah of Brunei
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The same car again in front of Wood & Pickett's Park Royal, London premises
UPDATE: Not Harvey's but His Highness Mohamed Bolkiah of Brunei
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

And the other one when mister Harvey collected it at Wood & Pickett's in 1970
The actor had just broken a leg. This car was registered '1 LPJ' but wore fake plates 'LH 1J' too
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

'1 LPJ' was also famously used on this Wood & Pickett promotional picture with John Paul
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Over to the Mini Festival at Brands Hatch, supposedly 1968 but probably later. I think the car on the left is 'KUM 1' re-registered 'SLW 25F' as it is virtually similar. Harvey's other Margrave on the right
Picture Jeroen Booij archive / The Filby Files

Same plate. 'SLW 25F' is still with the Mini Margrave from the Ebay ad
Picture Ebay

So... is 'SLW 25F' actually 'KUM 1' as it was commissioned by Laurence Harvey? 
I cannot be 100% sure but I do think it is
UPDATE: Not Harvey but His Highness Mohamed Bolkiah of Brunei
Picture Ebay

Friday 20 May 2022

Dutch Mini Marcos history unravelled (1)

When Mini Marcos-aficionado Joost van Diën suffered from Corona a month ago and had to go in quarantine for some time, he decided to see if he could find out a little more on the background of his yellow Mk2 Marcos. After all he knew the car had probably spent all of its life in The Netherlands, but its history was still mostly unknown to him. Well, he got more than he bargained for after asking around. In fact he got in touch with the family of the car's original owner, Kim Koopman, who were equally surprised to find out the Marcos survived as Joost was to hear from them!

The man himself had passed away, but his relatives were eager to arrange a meeting and so Joost went over to catch up with the family and the man who'd helped Kim to build it: Thys Pollé. Thys remembered the car particularly well and was happy to be interviewed. He told Joost that he and his mate Kim went to the London Motor Show in 1967. Together they ordered a new shell in early '68 through the newly appointed Dutch concessionaire Sportscar Import in Haarlem, not far from where they lived. In fact they ordered two shells, one for another friend too, both in yellow. They were told there was a delivery time of 6 to 8 weeks, but when the duo hadn't heard a thing after 13 weeks of waiting, they decided to write to Jem Marsh. A neat answer was typed out on Marcos Car Ltd. paper but still the two men had to wait until mid-1968 for the body to arrive in their hometown of Halfweg. But then the build started using Kim's 1965 Mini Cooper as a donor vehicle. There are some pictures of the build, as there are some of Kim driving the just-finished Mini Marcos on the Zandvoort track in order to get his racing license in early '69!

It takes the Dutchmen another two years to get the car fully ready for racing, but then it's looking mean with flared arches, metallic blue / matt black paint applied by their mate Piet Walraven and the 12" rose petals taken over from Tonio Hildebrand's Broadspeed GTS! (here). What's more: the Marcos is by that time equipped with a Don Moore tuned 1295cc 'S' engine, which came through the ART (Algemeen Racing Team) and it was believed to be very quick, too. The Marcos made it to a number of races throughout the '71 racing season, all at Zandvoort, and finished second in class in May while coming home 6th overall in August that year. The Koopman's turned out to have plenty more pictures of the Marcos being raced and in the pit at Zandvoort. One shows it on the track with the white/green ART Mk1 Mini Marcos also. Kim Koopman sells the car in 1972 never to see it again. But its history does not end there. More to follow!

That's how the shell arrived from the UK to The Netherlands. It remains unclear if this is the Koopman car or the second one sold through Sportscar Import of Haarlem at the same time
Picture Koopman family archive

Finished and registered for the road. This is late '68, early '69
Picture Koopman family archive

Parked casually on the street. Cosmic wheels, Morris Mini Cooper in front
Picture Koopman family archive

And off to the Zandvoort circuit in order to get his racing licence!
Picture Koopman family archive

Two years later and the car is now painted metallic blue and ready to race
Picture Koopman family archive

It's fitted with a 1295 Don Moore tuned engine and 12" rose petals from the Broadspeed GTS!
Picture Koopman family archive

Concentration before racing. Koopman and Pollé built the car together and took it to the track
Picture Koopman family archive

And action! Koopman raced the car throughout the 1971 season
Picture Koopman family archive

Always racing under number 2 - '1' was allocated to Arthur Banting who drove the Broadspeed
Picture Koopman family archive

This colour image gives a good idea of what the car looked like. Blue was a Ford colour
Picture Koopman family archive

Seen here in action against Hans Casteleyn in the Mk1 Mini Marcos of the ART
Picture Rudolf Bouten

Back to home after a day at the races. The Koopman family still lives at the same place
Picture Koopman family archive

And this was last month! Same car at the same place, not too much changed here!
Picture Anne Nobels

The Koopman family happy to be reunited with their dad's old racer! Joost in striped shirt
Picture Anne Nobels

Thursday 19 May 2022

It runs!

Yes, the sound of it is rattling and clanking, but at least after decades of standstill the Ogle SX1000's engine runs once again. Next step: new water pump, distribution and wiring.

Video Sipke Blom


Wednesday 18 May 2022

Unipower GT returns to Prescott Hill

The Unipower GT restored by Howard Darby and Bob Neville made it to the Prescott Hill climb last weekend. And interestingly, the very same car had a go there back in 1991. The official records mention that it was then entered in Class 6 for Sports Libre Cars of 1300- to 1600cc and driven by Arni Wookey and Chris Gow.

I contacted Chris Gow about it and he wrote: "It was never hillclimbed extensively as that was its one and only event. It didn't run well. Upon investigation the head gasket had blown."

Now that the car has been fully restored, Howard Darby had a good weekend with it and added: "We did five runs up the hill including two practice runs. Revs were limited to 6000 rpm so we weren't expecting a fast time. The 1991 best time was 64.91 and our lowest time now was 63 seconds. Peter Clark, the driver, reported that the handling was good." Thanks chaps!

The Unipower at Prescott Hill on Sunday April 14th 1991 
Picture via Pete Flanagan 

And the same car at the same place last weekend
Picture Howard Darby

Tuesday 17 May 2022

Adam's MDV 4 is now looking for a new owner

After I wrote about the little-known MDV some years ago (click here) I got in touch with Adam Adamson, who owned one of these cars. He then wrote: "Hi Jeroen. I am the owner of the MDV Van you mentioned in your blog and was wondering if you had any information on the vehicle as all I've been told Was that they were built by Bedford city council. My father owned it for approximately 15 years. After his recent passing I've acquired it and I’m looking to restore it. After looking (not very well) into the history of the van eventually I came across your post and was overwhelmed to find not only other examples but my exact registration and colour description. Any information would help massively to bring the life back into the van."

But as so often things went differently. Adam contacted me again last week about the project, which had been stalled: "The engine was rebuilt when my dad first bought the van by a close friend who was a Mini enthusiast between 2005 and 2007. It was 'supposed' to have been rebuilt again over lockdown 2020 by a mechanic friend of my dad but unfortunately my dad died before they finished so the engine is rebuilt but needs few bits reattaching. Radiator, air box/filter, battery. They had also lost the keys."

Adam is now looking to sell the car. It's complete with logbook and old MOT's up until 2008. Remarkably, the car was first registered on 01/07/1983 while Multi-Development (Yorshire) Ltd. was wound up in July 1983. Adam: "I have a brief memory of my dad going to an antique fair in it towing a caravan and I’m sure he said he couldn’t do more than 40mph but he loved it." Never the less Adam now offers the car for sale through Maximum Mini - see the ad here.

Ultra rare brochure of the MDV, made in Bradford, West-Yorkshire
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

A copy of it comes with the car that is offered for sale by Adam
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

'ARB 82Y' was registered in July 1983, when the company behind the MDV was wound up
Picture Adam Adamson

This was the only photograph I had of Adam's car. It's one of 5 MDV's that I know about
Picture Jeroen Booij archive