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

3 comments:

  1. Will be sadly missed one of a kind r.i.p neville 🙏

    ReplyDelete
  2. Another of Neville’s designs which has sold steadily since the 1960s is the ubiquitous Harry Rose tub used on countless Bentley MK6 Specials which are still available today.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That’s not Neville racing the sprint in the photo, it’s the guy he sold it to who’s name escapes me.

    ReplyDelete