Tuesday 28 June 2022

Works transporter Scottish style

This picture, shared on Facebook recently, was just too good not to show here also. That's the Stimson Mini Bug racer of Vince Gonelli on the back of a Ford Thames van that was converted in a pick-up. Gonelli ran Custom Hot Rodding in Edinburgh, Scotland, and was the Scottish agent for the Stimson cars. He was undoubtedly on his way to or from an autocrossing event here. Love it! More pictures and info about Gonelli's Stimson agency here . Could his old racer 'SSF 872H' survive?

Custom Hot Rodding works van and racer on their way in the early 1970s
Picture Facebook

Monday 27 June 2022

The Mini Metro based Roadster that doesn't exist

Okay, this has little to do with Minis. But I wanted to share it here never the less as it is such an interesting little piece of what could have been British motoring history. It's a Mini Metro based roadster prototype, or at least bits of it, offered for sale directly from its creator Nick Shakespeare. Nick was working for Austin Rover as a placement student in 1983 when he came up with the idea. He wrote: "They gave me a Metro rolling shell to build the project on which I did at home." And so a concept was born. Well, the design sketches for one such car plus the left hand side of its body, hand made in steel, to make pictures of what looked like a complete car. 

Nick continues: "But Roy Axe who ran Austin Rover styling did not see a future in MG at the time, so it wasn't progressed. Some early finite element structural work was done on the Metro body, which showed it lost 80% of its torsional rigidity when the roof was removed. As part of my degree I had to show how the structure could be strengthened and it ended up being stronger. They did make a Metro convertible subsequently."

Interestingly, the drawings do not show an A-series engine, but a 2.5-litre V6 placed amidships. A bit of a Unipower GT for the 1980s perhaps? Nick went on in engineering and design with various companies and set up his own company Bespoke Design Ltd 25 years ago, specializing in one-off and prototype car bodies. He kept the Metro Roadster side but offers it for sale now. "Would make a good wall hanging." he ads. See it for sale here.

The stillborn Metro Roadster looks like a real car, but that's a trick
Picture Nick Shakespeare

Design drawings date back to 1984 when Nick worked for Austin Rover
 Picture Nick Shakespeare

Hints of Jaguar's D-type?
Picture Nick Shakespeare

Ghost view shows V6 engine placed amidships
Picture Nick Shakespeare

'Panel Break Down' shows the number body pressings needed to build the car
Picture Nick Shakespeare

But only a left hand side was made in metal by hand and is the one seen above
Picture Nick Shakespeare

Nick kept it and offers it now for sale
Picture Nick Shakespeare

Friday 24 June 2022

Marcos and GTM Rossa shells for sale

A Mini Marcos Mk5 and GTM Rossa Mk2 body shell are offered for sale by HJ Pugh auctioneers this weekend in Ledbury. The Marcos (click here) is registered on a 1971 plate and wears chassis number 7514S, but could it even be a Mk6? The GTM (click here) comes with roll bar and glass. Despite the Marcos' registration it seems to me that both have never been on the road. They both certainly are nice project cars. Apart from these two, a great number of Mini spares is offered for sale, too. Have a good weekend.

James Bond's Mini Moke based Moonraker buggy

Information about James Bond movies is everywhere on the internet. But one car that even the hardest of Bond fans seem to have missed is the Mini Moke based buggy that can be seen (briefly) in Moonraker (1979). As far as I know it was the Mini derivative to feature in a James Bond movie, with the car being used in the secret headquarters of Bond villain Sir Hugo Drax. The scene is set in Brazil but it was actually filmed at the Pinewood Studios in London. 

Based on a British-built Mini Moke, the car was made specifically for the movie and designed by Ken Adam, who’d also designed the famous gadgets on Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 and his submarine Lotus Esprit, as well as several spacey film settings for Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove and 2001: A Space Odyssey. The body was supposedly made in plywood and used a huge Perspex windscreen. The whereabouts of the car are unknown but at least the design sketches survive.

The Mini Moke based vehicle as featured in Moonraker with Roger Moore
Picture: Internet Movie Car Database imcdb.com

This is a sketch for the vehicle by film production designer Ken Adams
Picture Jeroen Booij archive 

Adams had been responsible for a number of 'made-for-movie' vehicles also
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Monday 20 June 2022

Is American mystery racer an SWM prototype?

A mystery Mini based racer from the USA has intrigued me ever since I saw it for the first time in 2012. (click here). In the next years I got in touch with now-owner Steve Steeb of Michigan, who told me: "I have had no luck trying to identify it. I contacted a number of Vintage Racing people and a lot of Mini Cooper racers but have struck out." (his full story with more detail here).

Now, last week I bumped into some old pictures of a racing prototype built under the SWM name in Germany in the mid-1960s. This car was sold through auctioneer Bonhams (here), which gave some interesting information in its description. It was supposedly made in small numbers (6 to 7) by brothers Stefan and Wenzel Mannl of München. The cars originally used BMW 700 boxer-power 'which was later changed for an 850cc unit equipped with twin-plug ignition'. They were hill climbed and raced at a great number of events, amongst them the Ratisbona Bergrennen, Sudelfeld Bergrennen, Neubiberg Flugplatzrennen, the Schainsland hill climb, Rossfeld hill climb (where no less than 3 SWMs were entered in 1965) and at the circuits of Trier, Ulm-Laupheim and Innsbruck.

What struck me most is the body shapes and the size of the SWM prototype, definitely bearing similarities to our American mystery racer. At least more than any other contemporary racer car I can think of. Owner Steve Steeb ads: "Interesting. Similar wheel openings and front and rear profiles. I'll go back down the rabbit hole and see what I can turn up. I also recently contacted a guy in Florida who does a lot of research on American fibre-glass one-offs. I sent him a few pictures. He apparently travels sometimes and I am close enough to Detroit that maybe he could come see it someday. Meanwhile it is tarped and awaiting its turn in line (might be a few years!). THANKS for keeping me in mind! Cheers, Steve". Do let me know what you think, too.

This Mini powered racer has been a mystery for ages now. Can it be solved?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The car's owner believes it was never finished and has no clues about its identity
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

But looks at these two! They are SWM prototype racers from Germany
Picture Bonhams Auctioneers

They were raced in the mid-1960s and supposedly 6 or 7 were made
Picture Bonhams Auctioneers

Initially they used 700 cc boxer engines from BMW's small rear-engined car
Picture Bonhams Auctioneers

This example was sold by Bonhams auctioneers in 2011
Picture Bonhams Auctioneers

Thursday 16 June 2022

Ogle SX1000 number 8 - where are you now?

There have been a few brochures for the Ogle SX1000 and one of them clearly shows the car registered '201 ANW', which was chassis number 8 or so I have been told. I don't know much about what happened to it after 1962, but do know that it was owned by Mark Butler in 2008, in who's workshop I saw it at the time. It needed a full restoration but just about all of the parts were there. Mark, however, concentrated on the Unipower GT projects he had at the time (two cars no less) and sold the car.

Then there's another gap of eight years before another sign of life of chassis number 8 came. Reader Bart Vanreusel spotted the Ogle at the InterClassics motor show in Brussels in November 2016. The restoration was nearly finished by that time and the car was offered for sale once again. Asking price was a rather staggering 120,000 euros. I have no idea if the restoration was ever fully finished or if the car was sold. Who can tell where it is now?

UPDATE 21 November 2022: A nice message from Bertrand Smets, who has been - and still is - restoring this SX1000 in Luxembourg. He wrote: "Dear Jeroen, first of all I would like to thank you for the quality of your Maximum Mini blog. Here is some news about the Ogle SX1000 number 8: The restoration of the car is not finished! The car is part of my collection and will not change owner for a long time. I will send you some pictures of the car when it is finished. Sincerely yours" Thank you Bertrand!

Ogle SX1000 '201 ANW' was a brochure car back in 1962
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

It wore chassis number 8 and was supposedly gold in colour
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

This picture must be from the same shoot as the ones used for the brochure 
Picture Ogle Noor

Fast forward to 2008. Repainted red at some stage and needing full restoration
Picture Mark Butler

Strip down had begun but work stopped. The car was complete though
Picture Mark Butler

Note that hinges have been cut out from the body. Not a simple job to repair
Picture Mark Butler

Austin engine was there and seemed to be original, too. This was in the Midlands
Picture Mark Butler

And there it is again! Almost fully restored and on display at InterClassics Brussels
Picture Bart Vanreusel

Body repaired and fully repainted, the golden colour perhaps a bit light?
Picture Bart Vanreusel

Big carb, but engine bay looked good again. The asking price? 120,000 Euros...
Picture Bart Vanreusel

Wednesday 15 June 2022

The Badsey Eagle: what happened to it?

I found that the Badsey Eagle was never featured on these pages, so why not do a little write-up about it now? Perhaps anyone can also tell wether the car survives, too? 

William 'Bill' Badsey had been a furniture designer before he tried his luck with a sports car in 1978. It was based on the 1100/1300 range rather than the Mini and was a sharply styled two-seater with a Targa roof. The body was a fibreglass monocoque unit with steel reinforcement bars and was luxuriously equipped with electric windows and an onboard computer rather than the usual gauges. But the Eagle prototype was only just finished when Badsey emigrated to South-Africa. There he came up with a new vehicle: the wild Badsey Bullet three-wheeler with Suzuki GSX motorcycle engine. That generated a lot more attention than the Eagle, which was soon forgotten.

The sole Eagle prototype is believed to survive in South Africa though, but I have never seen any evidence of that. Who knows..?

The Badsey Eagle was made in the UK but moved to South-Africa with its builder Bill Badsey
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The 1978 car was based on the BMC 1100 or 1300 using a fibreglass monocoque shell
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

But once in South-Africa Bill Badsey concentrated on the '81 Badsey Bullet. Note SA plate
Picture Veloce.it

Monday 13 June 2022

Status Minipower spotted - in 1984

This great picture of a Status Minipower at show in the UK in 1984 was posted recently by Richard Dean. The car is the one registered 'YVF 904L' and despite having been in touch with some of its previous owners and despite a sign of life dating back to 2020, I still don't know where it is now. 

Stuart Hards owned it from late 1982 until August '84 when he made a deal with Mike Wilsdon who took it over at the Hindhead show, possibly when this picture was taken? Ten years ago he wrote: "It was fitted with an Austin 1100cc engine but was pretty quick due to the lack of weight. Handling was very good, ride was a bit harsh! Don't know how it would cope with all the speed humps we have now, as it was quite low!" (full story here) and for its last sign of life click here.

Also note the Lotus Seven kind of car next to it, which looks pretty big. I don't know if you ever saw a Seven yourself but compared to just about anything on the road today that is a very small car...  

Status Minipower 'YVF 904L' at a show (Hindhead?) in 1984. Where is it now?
Picture Richard Dean

Friday 10 June 2022

Brooks Mini Special was to become the new Lightburn Zeta

I got in contact with Dennis Brooks of Adelaide, Australia, who's father Samuel built a most interesting and Mini based car in the late 1960s. Dennis wrote: "My father was a fiberglass product engineer at a business called Lightburn's who produced two small Villiers-powered fiberglass cars, one called Zeta and I forget the name of the open two seater sport (it was the Zeta Sports - JB). He particularly hated the Zeta and it was his intention to persuade them to produce something more appealing. He logged 4,000 hours on this project in a shed at home in Adelaide. But Lightburn ceased vehicle production before he finished the project. He entertained the idea of producing a kit car but lost interest. By the mid 1970's he was building large ocean going yachts in New Zealand using a technique called C-Flex sandwich construction, designed by Roberts. He was a skilled fiberglass boat builder in the UK in the 1950's and was head hunted and sponsored to emigrate to Australia in 1959."

Quite a story! And it's surprising at least that the Mini, which Brooks created never got any more attention. Dennis continues: "The car's body was all fiberglass, originally 1965 deluxe 998 steel chassis between the sub frames. It had a longer nose and longer tail, with 11 inches extra length overall, wind up windows and a one inch shorter windscreen from a Morris Minor 1000, Volkswagen rear quarter windows, stock rear window and 1100-esque fold down boot and tail lights. Compared to the standard Mini 100 kg weight was saved."

So what happened to it? Dennis: "It was built in 1968 and finished in '69 and is seen at the Mini dealer (Boniley's Motor Center, South Australia) on these pictures where it was to get the suspension charged. I acquired it in 1974 from my father who built it and it was the first of four Minis I owned. I sold it in '76 and it ended up in New Zealand. Don't know where it is now. I wish I still had pics of it as finished!"

And he had another little surprise: "Don' know if your interested but I have a photo of another car made by Samuel. A Morris minor 100 utility converted to a five seat wagon. Sam converted 3 Morris utes, this was our family car when I was about 4yrs old, 60 years ago now. Enjoy. Regards, Dennis"

Love it! Now, is there anyone who would know more about Samuel Brooks' Mini Special. Could it still be somewhere in New Zealand?

The fibreglass bodied Brooks Mini Special, made by former Lightburn engineer Samuel Brooks
Picture courtesy Dennis Brooks

That's Samuel Brooks. Note the lack of a window frame on the driver's door, glass is just visible
Picture courtesy Dennis Brooks

Mini rear window but "1100-esque fold down boot and tail lights. 100 kg weight was saved"
Picture courtesy Dennis Brooks

Plus another Samuel Brooks-creation: a Morris Minor 'Ute'. One of three made
Picture courtesy Dennis Brooks

Thursday 2 June 2022

Mystery Mini derivative (81) - Mini Spiaggina

A Mk1 Mini that was converted into some kind of Beach car and called 'Mini Spiaggina' ('Mini Beach') was seen for sale in Rome recently. It makes me wonder what exactly it could be. Said to be a February 1967 car it may well be an early conversion, but by whom? It's certainly not an Innocenti Mini Mare, but also not one of the other beach car-esque conversions from southern Europe that I know of: the Arco Iris Mini from Spain, the Kosellek Mini from France or the Jacky Mini Plage, also from France. 

The Mini wore an 'LE' plate which came from the province of Lecce or 'The heel of Italy' on the Salento peninsula in the very south-east. That seems a suitable place to drive a Beach Car. It sold swiftly for not very much, too. Somebody who can tell if the base vehicle was an Innocenti? And who knows more about this nice little conversion anyway..?

The mystery Mini Spiaggina as it was seen for sale not long ago in Rome
Picture Subito

Was the conversion based on an Innocenti built Mini? Made in Italy?
Picture Subito

With so many coachbuilders there in the 1960s it would make sense to be a local build
Picture Subito

'LE' registration means it was used in the Lecce province on the Salento peninsula
Picture Subito