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.