Saturday 23 July 2022

12 Little Navajos - how many left?

When a Navajo, or Langridge Navajo, was offered for sale recently I received a great number of messages about it and dug out the files again. The Navajo really was an interesting little car built between 1984 and 1985 by racing car builder Alan Langridge in his ‘Image Race Cars’ workshop at the Super Shell building, on the Goodwood grounds and just next to the track. The Duke of Richmond was a backer of the project and worked with Alan Langridge to get the Navajo on to the road. The car was originally based on the 1100 or 1300 but Langridge reputedly didn’t like the Hydrolastic suspension and converted the cars back to coil shock absorbers. A basic kit consisted of a mig-welded and zinc-plated monocoque with a fibreglass bonnet, windscreen, and all the necessary mountings, brackets, fixings, nuts and bolts. The Duke of Richmond was quoted: “I could have a lot of fun around the estate with this car”, but it’s unknown whether he ever had one. Langridge moved to South Africa in the late 1980s and later to France.

I wondered wether the car for sale was one I'd seen before. It wasn't and I decided to make a list of cars that I know about. Supposedly 12 Navajos were made and have pictures of 10 of them, while one of these - the prototype - has been confirmed scrapped. Know more? Let me know.

SWY 185 was the Navajo demonstrator / brochure car. It's been scrapped
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The Navajos were built by Langridge's Image Race Cars in Goodwood's Super Shell building
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

SWY 185

ADE 378A

TSN 442M

Q279 EGV

Q413 NTR

Q494 XUX

Q580 CGY

Q621 FVT

Q683 CGY

Q627 ODW

Wednesday 20 July 2022

ABS to relaunch Alto Boxer kits

Don't think the Mini derivative is dead. After last week's launch of the Mengers Beach Mini (click) it is time for the next relaunch: that of the Alto Boxer. You will know by now that ABS Motorsport boss Tony Bucknall has a great ability of tracking down long-lost Mini based kit cars or their moulds, and he did just that with the moulds for the Boxer a while ago. He wrote: "They were stored in a lockup/garage, which was collapsing and it was at a point it had to be cleared."

Remarkably, an extra front end that came with the set is different to how we know it. Tony: "That front end mould isn’t the Boxer, but yes it's certainly for a Mini, the door and scuttle all look right. And yes there will be enough height clearance where the rocker top is. I don’t recall such a front end ever being on the market though." Same here.

The Alto Boxer never was a great seller but Tony never the less made a set from the complete moulds and will be happy to sell you one if you like. He continued: "I am going to offer the Boxer composites separately and as base kits for people to do their own cabrio conversion if they choose to. The actual body kit will work with out the Mini being cabrio’d however I am not sure how it would look! I have set up a section on the website for Mini based kit car composites, and will add the pieces as I get time (click here). I will also add the Stimson bug and the McCoy parts as I get time...       

Kudos to you Tony!

The Alto Boxer was a Targa conversion with a wild body kit of the 1990s
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Ultimate conversion? Very few were sold up until 1997 when production was stopped
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

But ABS boss Tony Bucknall found the kit's complete set of moulds recently
Picture Tony Bucknall

This is the mystery mould coming with the lot. Tony and I have never seen it before
Picture Tony Bucknall

A brand new set laminated from the moulds - kits are being offered by ABS now
Picture Tony Bucknall

All the different body parts for the Alto Boxer are there, including the hardtop
Picture Tony Bucknall

The kit exists of a great number of bits. The Boxer used Peugeot 205 rear lights
Picture Tony Bucknall

Rare example of a Alto Boxer Mini with not the full kit fitted to it. 
This one was restored over a long period of time by Scotsman Andy Middleditch
Picture courtesy Andy Middleditch

Friday 15 July 2022

Notas at Grafton hill climb

It's the 70th anniversary of Nota Cars this year and I understand quite a few of them will make it to the Grafton historic hill climb this weekend, among them several Nota Fangs. It would be great to see pictures of them, so if you happen to be around and have your camera ready - do feel free to share them. Enjoy the weekend folks.

John Seymour enjoying his Nota Fang
Picture Craig Watson

Monday 11 July 2022

Mengers Beach Mini is beautiful Beach Car replica

When Beach Car owner John Reymondos contacted me about a brand new Mini Beach Car replica made in Germany by Mini Mengers I had to admit I had to look twice. Was that really a replica? Well, it was and Dierk Mengers was happy to provide me with a press pack, showing the conversion carried out by him. From the press info: "To celebrate the 60th birthday of the Beach Mini, Mengers is giving Mini enthusiasts the unique opportunity to own their very own doorless fun machine. 60 years after the original Beach Minis left their place of birth, a new brother left our manufacture in Germany. We simply call it the Mengers Beach Mini."

According to Mengers the car looks just like the original, but is different in many ways. But you will have to look pretty good to see that. Apart from the fact that a later shell appears to have been used for the conversion, I noticed smoother panelwork on the door cut-outs and some differences in the interior. Especially in the seats, which have been made by Lloyd Loom never the less - the company that was also responsible for the originals back in the early 1960s. They now look to be double-sided and finished with leather edges.

Mengers also ads: "Since there were no original blueprints available it remained unclear how and if the structure of a Beach Mini was strengthened to make up for the structural losses from removing the B-Pillar. 30 years of experience in converting classic Mini Saloons into convertibles helped us to find the perfect balance between lightweight and tough. The chassis of a Mengers Beach Mini stays stiff while not adding much weight compared to a regular Mini." Furthermore it is fitted with a 50hp strong 1000 cc engine rather than the 850 of the original and a fully synchronized and shorter ratio gearbox. Finally Mengers ads: "We can also imagine a fully electric Mengers Beach Mini."

Yes, this really is a Beach Car made recently and not one of the originals!
Picture Mini Mengers

It was made by Mini Mengers of Oldenburg in Germany and is now offered for sale
Picture Mini Mengers

Mengers says it is different from the original in many ways but you will have to look good
Picture Mini Mengers

Even the wicker seats were made by the same company which did the originals in 1962
Picture Mini Mengers 

Leather edges and back are a giveaway that these are different though
Picture Mini Mengers

The Mini's dashboard in its simplest and purest form, just like the original Beach Cars
Picture Mini Mengers

Engine is a 1000 cc now, good for 50 hp. But Mengers would also do an electric conversion
Picture Mini Mengers

With just 15 Beach cars built (plus a prototype) this may be the next best thing!
Picture Mini Mengers 

Mini Mengers plate shows this is Exklusiv Umbau (exclusive conversion) number 1
Picture Mini Mengers 

The original (Mary Falvey's car on the left) versus the Mengers replica - spot the differences 
Picture Bonhams auctioneers / Mini Mengers

Ogle SX1000: distribution- and cooling system

The Le Mans Mini Marcos is not the only project car in the Maximum Mini stables (ahem!) that's booking some progress (click here). Meanwhile the Ogle has received some new parts too: distribution- and cooling system mainly. Sipke Blom placed a new distribution chain and seal (the old chain was so loose it could almost be taken off without moving the gears), flushed and pressurized the cooling system and radiator, fitted a new water pump, hoses and clips to and from the radiator and all the necessary gaskets. We jump started the engine, which was now running so much smoother compared to when it was started first (here) and I was able to play a little with the accelerator pedal for the first time. Nice! Next step: wiring and brakes.

Ready to be jump-started with refreshed cooling system and distribution system
Picture Jeroen Booij

A new waterpump as well as a new distribution chain had just been fitted here
Picture Sipke Blom

Cooling system drained and cleaned, new thermostat, clips and hoses, radiator pressurized...
Picture Jeroen Booij

And starting it up again. It runs so much smoother now!
Video Jeroen Booij

My first time behind the wheel to play with the throttle pedal. Nice!
Video Jeroen Booij

Friday 8 July 2022

Le Mans Mini Marcos: Update from Pau (3)

With the Le Mans 24-hours race and Le Mans Classic now behind us, I have recently received many questions about how the Le Mans Mini Marcos project is progressing. I know there have been no updates since December (click here) so, yes, it was about time.

The thing is: it was very quiet from Mini World Center in Pau, where Philippe Quirière had put the car aside after they'd stumbled upon a difficulty in fitting the engine and with others projects having priority. But they've now picked up again with fresh courage and below are some pictures to see what they are up to now. The car should be up and running in mid-August when it comes back to The Netherlands. I will keep you posted, naturally.

Engine is in, but the Quirières aren't totally satisfied yet
Picture Philippe Quirière

Radiator is at its lowest in its modified shroud now but it's still tight
Picture Philippe Quirière

Ideally the subframe would have to be lowered slightly more
Picture Philippe Quirière

And so engine is out again
Picture Philippe Quirière

And Gérard Quiriere takes out the grinder. No, not for the body...
Picture Philippe Quirière

...But to make shims to lower the subframe by a fraction more
Picture Philippe Quirière

Wednesday 6 July 2022

Biota at 50 - return to Harewood hill climb

50 Years after a Biota won the BARC hill climb championship in 1972, Maximum Mini-fan Tim Harber went there again to reunite his car with then-winner Chris Seaman and have a go up the hill himself. He wrote:

"Hi Jeroen A bit about my little escapade to Harewood: 'All-time low-key motor sport celebration dept.!' Got a quicker engine in the Biota, got all the wheels pointing vaguely towards the front, put on some sticky rubber on its original 6 inch Mambas and tested it at Blyton and all seemed set for a good showing for the 50th Anniversary of Chris Seaman’s BARC hillclimb championship victory."

"Sadly all the other 'masses' of Biotas that I know of personally (3) weren’t able to attend the Harewood Classic meeting. Robert Scott’s one expired at Blyton and all the overseas ones couldn’t make it so Chris Seaman and I had a solitary celebration – you can see in the pictures of me and him we weren’t exactly thronged, but hey ho – a 1972 victory is a victory and I can’t think any other Mini-based kit car has actually won something major (15th at Le Mans is posh but…). Can you?" Er... I'll have a think about that, suggestions welcome!

"The car played up on the day so I wasn’t able to win (my excuse) but at least I stayed on the track and didn’t roll it! It’s still on its 50 year-old rear shocks and springs which means that it squirms about a bit too much on acceleration and you can see it a bit in the video (not as much as the V8 MGB!) so more things to be done… At least I was parked next to a Davrian which for once made my plastic one look relatively glamorous. Thankfully my mate Stuart was there to do the video and take some stills. Tim" 

Well, Tim's messages always put a smile on my face and this one is no exception! To thanks again Tim for all this and do continue to fly the Biota-flag. There were two more Mini based sports cars tackling the hill and they can be seen in the video footage, which I have added below. Go to 0:57 for Tim's Biota in action; to 2:36 for Allan Scott in a Mk3 Mini Jem and to 3:53 for David Smith in a Mk4 Mini Marcos.

Tim at Harewood hill. "The car played up on the day so I wasn’t able to win (my excuse) but at least I stayed on the track and didn’t roll it!"
Picture courtesy Tim Harber

"Got a quicker engine in the Biota, got all the wheels pointing vaguely towards the front, put on some sticky rubber and all seemed set for a good showing"
Picture courtesy Tim Harber

Tim and Biota ex-works driver Chris Seaman (right) looking for the car's Mini engine
Picture courtesy Tim Harber

The winners of the 1972 BARC hill climbing championship having a laugh. 
Chris Seaman and the works-Biota in the centre
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Chris Seaman with the trophy! Does he still have it, I wondered..?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

It just asked for a little re-enactment, and there you go. Well done boys!
Picture courtesy Tim Harber

And moving images! Go to 0:57 for Tim's Biota; 2:36 for Mini Jem and 3:53 for Mini Marcos
Video courtesy Tim Harber

Monday 4 July 2022

Sweet! Outspan Orange Mini in Beaulieu

When a picture is tagged as one of 'the best photographs of the day' by one of Great Britain's most respected media, it may just be good enough for a place on Maximum Mini, too, won't it? This one was seen in The Guardian last Friday, with the caption reading:

"A Mini Outspan Orange is driven through the grounds of the National Motor Museum in Hampshire during a preview of The Story of Motoring in 50 Objects. Six of the vehicles were built to promote Outspan oranges in the 1970s. They were constructed by Brian Waite Enterprises and incorporated many components from the popular Mini."

Picture Andrew Matthews, The Guardian

Friday 1 July 2022

Morris Bishop reunited with MoBi-One

A while ago I received a message from a reader who'd spotted MoBi-One at Prescott Hill, and wondered if stunt driver, multiple record holder, motorsport champion and the car's owner Alastair Moffatt (do have a look at his website here) had any particular plans with the car. 

He replied: "Morris came over last year with his wife for tea and let me borrow his book on MoBi. I’m thinking of getting it going and documenting it with a friend to maybe doing a small book on the car and it’s story." I love the idea of that. I also happened to be close to Morris Bishop's place in Spain a week later and wondered if we could arrange a little meet and greet. Unfortunately Morris (now almost 92 years young) happened to be away: "Just to let you know that we are in England at the moment - It would have been lovely to see you!", he wrote.

Better next time. Alastair did send over a few pictures of Morris being reunited with his old car though, which was fantastic. Thank you chaps!

Alastair Moffatt (left) reunited Morris Bishop with his old autotest car MoBi-One
Picture courtesy Alastair Moffatt

The car was shown at Prescott Hill recently, where a reader spotted it
Picture Andy Parkinson