Friday 24 February 2023

Ogles in Japan (4)

In this little series we have a look at the Ogle SX1000s which reside in Japan, and this is the next in line. Car chassis number 21 was registered '992 VWL' and last seen in the UK in 1986 when it was offered for sale in Biggleswade 'for restoring'.

It is then believed to have been sold to Japan and now seems to be the only car there of which the current whereabouts are unknown. The few pictures that I have of it are all made in the UK and the colour ones show it in a light yellow colour with four-spoke GKN wheels. But it has been listed as being gunmetal grey before, and according to one of my on-site informants 'A metallic silver or champagne gold Ogle has been seen at a company named ‘Coventry Garage’ in Hyogo in the 1980s'. And since it needed restoring, I think it may well have been this car. However, the garage doesn't seem to exist anymore turning this lead in a dead end..? 

So far all further details are unknown, so if you happen to know more about this one - do get in touch.

'992 VWL' seen at the Chequered Flag garage in London in the 1970s
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Cosmic wheels, bumpers painted satin-black - very much in seventies fashion
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

And now in colour - as seen at a meeting in the early 1980s
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Is '992 VWL' the same car that was seen in Hyogo, Japan later in the 1980s?
Picture Wikipedia

The last trace of the car in the UK is this advert from 1986. 'For restoring'...
Picture Jeroen Booij archive via Kees Plugboer

Wednesday 22 February 2023

Deep Sanderson 301 - where is it?

How many Deep Sanderson 301s were made? No-one seems to know for sure and all the figures that I have come across and heard about, including from its late-creator Chris Lawrence himself, can be taken with a pinch of salt, or so it seems.

But surprises still come. One was found in Mexico City two years ago (click), while a sole picture of another yellow mystery car (here) has been haunting me for some time, too. And now another sign from this car turned up in the shape of an old advert. I found it in a 1968 copy of Motorsport magazine, so very old indeed. But despite being a much darker colour it does seem to be the same car registerd 'CPP 929F'. Where is it now?

A Deep Sanderson 301 is seen for sale... in 1968. Another survivor?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Monday 20 February 2023

The Targa Florio Mini Marcos (1)

Mini Marcoses have been entered in a number of great races, and the 1967 Targa Florio is certainly one of these. Although it didn't finish the tough Italian road race, it is about time to have a better look at this unlikely entry. The car was run in the scorching heath of Sicily by a team of two Mini drivers from the opposite part of Europe: mid-Sweden. Jan-Erik Andreasson had been racing a Morris Cooper 'S' locally there and internationally at the Nurburgring 6-hours race of 1966. His pal Johnny Lundberger raced Minis from 1964-on with some international events on the racing calendar also.

The Marcos was Andreasson's car and had been built in the workshop of Ragge Håkansson in Köping, some 150 kilometres west of Stockholm. As a matter of fact Andreasson had two Mini Marcoses, both of them Mk3 cars. The Targa Florio car was the first to be built and according to Bilsport magazine it was a pure racer, built with Group 6 racing in mind, with integrated roll-over bar, 1299cc engine with twin-choke Weber carburetor good for 130hp and a Jack Knight five-speed gearbox plus a low weight due to "A lack of interior trim, soundproofing, Perspex glass in all windows except the front screen."

By the time the Bilsport reporter drove it, it had come back from Sicily and he wrote: "Under the supervision of friendly local police officers, we could take out the car for a short test trip on a road stump in Köping's new oil harbour."

He also gives us more insight into the car's debut race at the Targa Florio and the reason for not finishing there: "In spite of its age, the car has a rather brutal past. The idea was, when the car was brought to Sweden, that Jan-Erik would compete with it abroad where a prototype class of up to 1300 cc was introduced. The race debut was at Sicily in the famous Targa Florio race. The car was then run by Jan-Erik himself with co-driver Jonny Lundberger. The practice went without any major problems if you ignored the fact that the car was slightly too low geared. During the night between practice and race, Ragge Håkansson changed the final drive and it was this maneuver that sharpened the Swedish participation. After eight kilometers into the race and with the worst competitor Rauno Aaltonen in sight, despite the fact that the Mini-Marcos started several seconds behind the Aaltonen A-H Sprite, Jan-Erik suddenly forgot that the car was now on a higher final drive gearing and entered a corner at a speed corresponding to the lower gearing. At max. speed, the difference between the two gearings was 30 km/h i.e. 30 km higher speed in a corner where it already was close to the limit, is no doubt too much. You can easily imagine the outcome of this yourself."

And so... after only eight kilometers on the hot tarmac, the race ends for Andreasson and Lundberger. But back home in Köping the car is rebuilt and handed over to the Bilsport reporter, who adds: "The driving position is perfect. The seat makes it easy to handle the pedals without holding you tightly with your knees. Initially we had problems with the gear change reverse positions. First gear is to the far left and forwards, second in the normal position of the second, third is where first gear normally is etc. Ragge Håkansson gave order not to exceed 9000 rpm."

That's quite an order, which makes you wonder if the Marcos survived that! The good news that I believe it does, to this day even. So more about that in the next volume.

Two Swedish chaps on a hot Sicily with their Mini Marcos racer
Picture Gioacchino Guilotti

Jan-Erik Andreasson
Picture IMMS vintage photos

Johnny Lundberger
Picture Bilsport magazine

And the Marcos, built to Group 6 specifications by Ragge Håkansson
Picture Vittorio Giordano

It used a 1299cc engine with twin-choke Weber and Jack Knight five-speed gearbox
Picture Vittorio Giordano

On the start grid at the Targa Florio, Rauno Aaltonen's Sprite in front of it
Picture Gioacchino Guilotti

And off it goes, Andreasson behind the wheel, 130hp to run in on Aaltonen
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

But there had been an issue with the car's gearing...
Picture Rainer Schlegelmilch

...And so the final drive was changed overnight
Picture Geoff Goddard

It was to meet its fate after only eight kilometers on Sicily's hot tarmac
Picture Eric della Faille

This is supposedly Jan-Erik Andreasson walking away from the car after its accident
Picture source unknown

But the Marcos came back to Sweden, rebuilt and ready for another test drive here
Picture Motor Sport magazine

Friday 17 February 2023

Stimson's stories (6)

Following Barry Stimson's death on the last day of 2022 (click) this is another part in a series of interviews with the designer. This time about marketing the Stimson Mini Bug in print, on the motorshow and on television. "It was exactly like you’d do a documentary about the swinging sixties" Over to the late Barry:

"We went to France to get the pictures for the Mini Bug brochure. It was unbelievably fun to drive the vehicle there. You know it was in 1970 and not all the bloody tourists were there yet. The girl I took with me was Patsy and she can be seen in the brochure. She was known as one-eyed Patsy since she had just one eye, which you can't see because she's wearing sun glasses on the pictures. But she was a lovely soul. And a tough cook, too."

"The car on the Racing car Show stand still was the same car, I think. So much was happening at the time. Jem cars came to me because they’d seen the Mini Bug on television. Can we be agents for the Mini Bug, they asked. They seemed really nice people. The Mini Bug was also used on the Cliff Richard Show and Olivia Newton John was filmed in it driving it and then in studio shots with a wind machine whilst singing. It was also in a television series The Freewheelers (footage here). They asked me to talk about design on radio and tv – it was usually William Towns or me who was asked. The trouble is that in those days everything was shot on 16mm film. And although the BBC transferred a lot of the stuff; they scrapped a lot of it, too. There was also footage shot on the beach of Littlehampton for a motoring programme named Wheelspin. They just hired a helicopter and went filming for a complete day." (footage does survive though - see here).

"They were supposed to be difficult times but it didn’t affect me in the slightest. It was pure fun. A mate was stage manager of the musical Hair and another friend was Julia Goodman who was an actress. It was all fun, exactly like you’d do a documentary about the swinging sixties. It was all promo girls and Champagne celebrations. Meanwhile, I’d got involved with Ian Smith, who wrote The Lotus Story. He knew all sorts of people who said to me he wanted to get in business; we can sell lots of these - that sort of thing. That’s how Barrian Cars was formed, after my and Ian’s names. He was friends with people like Graham and Betty Hill and Colin Chapman. Rosalyn, Ian’s wife and I flew to Monaco for a promotional thing. Ian drove the bloody Bug to the south of France. Over there I was introduced to all the people and we had diner and all the rest. Ian clearly wanted to introduce the car to other people there and it was intended to drive the race circuit at Monaco with Jacky Stewart behind the wheel. But David Benson, a Daily Express journalist, took it on the course first and stuffed it into a wall. The wall fell onto a person working on the other side of it and there was a lot of commotion. They wrote it off and it had to be shipped back. I had to spend another two days with one of the girls, which wasn't too bad."

"Ian Smith also was a member of the Dog House club in Mayfair and I went there too, to meet up with some of these people. I wasn’t all too impressed, but it was agreed that Barrian Cars would give a Mk2 Mini Bug to the club for charity and they were raffling it off. The car got built but I wasn’t in a position to donate a kit to a bloody charity, I didn’t have any money, so eventually Lord Stokes of BMC supplied us with a brand new engine and sent it off. But when it came here there was no distributor cap and there other bits missing and so I phoned them up. A couple of days later, I had by now completely forgotten about it, a box was sent over which contained 20 distributor caps, 100 spark leads, five carburettors and all other sorts of parts. I rang them to tell them there were way too many parts and they told me these parts came in boxes of twenty or ten or whatever and there was no union job to take things oút of boxes. This is how British Leyland went under, maybe..?"

Making pictures for the brochure with One-eyed Patsy - "A lovely soul and a tough cook"
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

A great opportunity to drive the Mini Bug demonstrator over to the south of France
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The things you come across abroad... Barry jumped out, Patsy still in the car here
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The Mini Bug was to return to southern France soon with Ian Smith at the wheel
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Barry in his element on a cross-country road somewhere near the Mediterranean
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Racing Car Show time, more dolly birds needed at Jem Cars' display. The year? 1970
Picture Jeroen Booij archive 

Rare colour picture of the show. Mini Bug, Mini Jem and Jem Futura on the left
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The Morning Telegraph article by Ian Smith, who drove the Mini Bug all the way to Monaco, 
only to see it being written off into a wall by journalist David Benson there!
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Tuesday 14 February 2023

Phoenix Minis meet

The chances of stumbling upon a Mini based Phoenix, as designed and marketed by Paul Haussauer in the 1980s, are a zillion times smaller than bumping into whatever supercar. So how about these pictures? 

I remember well that when I was looking for a nice and clean Phoenix Estate to photograph for Maximum Mini 2, it wasn't quite as easy as it seemed. Despite 63 cars built they were thin on the ground. And the ones I was noticed about were in a pretty sorry state. Eventually I found a beauty of a car owned at the time by Sandra Payne. But I was really happy to see these pictures of three Phoenixes together at Bingley Hall, as photographed by Steve Locke recently. It's great to see that these cars are loved and cared for now. Well done owners!

That's one, two, three Mini based Phoenix Estates parked in a row!
Picture Steve Locke

63 Of them were made between 1982 and 1986, but finding one is not all too easy
Picture Steve Locke

Monday 13 February 2023

Bulanti Mini SS resurfaces

A rare Bulanti Mini SS that hasn't been heard of for a long time resurfaced in the hands of Peter Della Valle last weekend. Peter wrote: "We finally have one of the three cars and most of the moulds home. Now to remove the rat poop and go through it. It looks surprisingly better than we thought it might. We have compiled a fair bit of information now but any more info/stories would be much appreciated."

The rear engined Bulanti Mini was made in a quantity of just three by Brian Rawlings, who ran Bulant Motors in Annangrove, next to Amaroo Race Park in New South Wales, Australia. This particular one is the first one with an aluminium body and it is also the car that was featured in Maximum Mini 1, as photographed by Craig Watson at the time. Peter ads it is fitted with 1000cc engine and he plans a restoration of the car: "I look forward to hearing more about the history of them and keeping a record as a lot of the people that were involved in these type of things are sadly getting old and we are losing knowledge."

I couldn't agree more. A bit more Bulanti history can be found here as a start.

Australian Bulanti Mini SS stood for many years but is now off to a new home
Picture Peter Della Valle

 'KGV 775' is one of just three cars made. The whereabouts of the other two are unknown
Picture Peter Della Valle

 This car was made with an aluminium body, 'production' cars came in fibreglass
Picture Peter Della Valle

 Peter's car was the one seen in Maximum Mini also, but hadn't been heard of since
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Wednesday 8 February 2023

More about the Mini powered Ginetta G4 of Canada

Three years ago this Mini powered Ginetta from Canada was a total mystery. Slowly the voids are being filled in since Denis Caron bought the car, with no idea what it actually was. 

Trevor Pyman, a registrar of the Ginetta Owners Club and the author of the history of the Ginetta G4 wrote to me that several G4s were actually exported to the Montreal area of Canada in 1965/'66 with a few of these currently missing. "This body shell may well be from one of these", he said. 

But then Ivan Samila threw another light on the case: "I came across this car in the mid 1980s in a shop in Barrie, Ontario. They guy who was building it was a fiberglass fabricator. He has his own moulds that he had taken off of an original Ginetta, as far as I recall. He was hoping to sell them as kit cars. I don't know what ever happened to the car or molds." Eventually he found an old invoice dated 1987 from the shop, revealing a name: "I found the fellow's name who was building this car. The fellow is Tony Mailes. I saw the car April 20 1987. I have tried to locate him but have not been successful."

Fast forward another couple of years and the picture below turns up, made by David Lindsey. He wrote: "I was at a Mini Meet East in Toronto or Maryland and came across these guys working on this car. I was so taken by the engine configuration that I just pulled a snap. That was years ago. Cheers!" 

David believes it must have been in 1994 when he took the picture. And since it was seen on a meeting, more people will know about it I would think. Who's next to drop me a line about it? Are you still out there Tony Mailes?

Made by a man named Tony Mailes in Barrie, Ontario: a Mini powered Ginetta G4
Picture courtesy David Lindsey

Monday 6 February 2023

1500th post!

Well-well, another milestone reached - this is my 1,500th article here in Maximum Mini. I hope you still enjoy it.

If you can handle more Maximum Mini from my hand you can read this month's MiniWorld magazine with a comprehensive report on Mini based fire engines from all corners of the world, from the UK to The Netherlands and Denmark to even the USA and Australia. Or go for this month's Classic & Sports Car magazine, which has a 6-page feature on how a rather amazing Mini advertisement film was made in central Amsterdam back in 1975, with interviews from the people involved who explain how exactly they did it. Buy those mags to keep me going.
One more little piece of news: work has started on a new Maximum Mini book. Don't hold your breath as this one is going to take an awful lot of work, but then it's going to be something quite special.

Meanwhile, keep those questions, messages and snippets coming as well as these will secure this little corner of the world wide web to continue for years to come.

Mini based fire engines from all over the world in this month's MiniWorld
Picture MiniWorld magazine

And the making of a 1975 Mini advertisement film in Classic & Sports Car
Picture Classic & Sports car magazine

Friday 3 February 2023

More Unipower GTs for sale

Many people have said to me that if I ever know of a Unipower GT for sale, I should let them know. Well, I keep on doing just that. After last year's duo (this one and this one) here's another two!

Both cars that have made it to the market now are Mk2s but they couldn't be more different. First of them is the racer that has just been restored by Howard Darby and Bob Neville, which has been seen here several times before. I was much-surprised to hear of it being for sale and asked Howard about it. His reply: "Yes it’s true: LTM 80G is for sale. Both Bob and I will be really sad to see the car go as it was never our intention to sell it." Howard also told me that sad family circumstances mean that he has his hands tied for 24 hours a day, which does not allow him to commit any time to the car, adding: "It’s been a difficult decision, but at least Bob and I have rescued and restored a Unipower GT."

Let's hope the car now finds a good new home. It's ready to go and offers a great opportunity for someone to take it to racing tracks, road rallies or hill climbs. The price for all this? £84,000. See the ad with spec and more information here.

Unipower GT number 2 is another Mk2. But other then Bob and Howard's racer 'RFS 479H' is a car that has only had two owners since it was sold new in 1969. Nick Gerolemou bought it second-hand in 1975 from former dealer Monty & Ward in Kent, while the first owner had supposedly been a Scottish lady. It's a very late car, according to Nick one of the last if not the last to leave the factory and it has some unusual specifications. I visited him years ago to see the Unipower, which had then already been stored in his barn for at least 35 years. He added then: "Hi Jeroen, I do not know for definite if mine was the last one built but in its favour is the different suspension and the 'H' registration, never seen or heard of another 'H' Unipower. When I find the log book the chassis number will help. Monty and Ward almost certainly sold more than three, they were always advertising in Exchange & Mart for used Unipowers." Nick did find the logbook in the end and he was right in it being one of the very last cars built. You can read much more about the car here

I have tried to get in touch with Nick now again, but didn't succeed and now understand it's also due to regrettable circumstances that he is selling the Unipower, so I can only hope he is well. I do understand though that he did start a restoration on the car but didn't finish it. The body has apparently been restored and repainted in its original white, suspension and brakes have been rebuilt and the same goes for the 1275 'S' engine. Priced at £49,000, see the ad here. Another great opportunity surely.

UPDATE 21 September 2023: Those prices don't seem to be realistic. 
The yellow car was sold and is now offered again for £50,000 (click here), the white one was sold and offered to me by its new owner for £17,000 (click here).

This Unipower has been hill climbed and raced in the past
Picture Duncan Hamilton - Rofgo

Wide! 'LTM 80G' is a Mk2 Unipower GT
Picture Duncan Hamilton - Rofgo

And it was fully restored in the last two years
Picture Duncan Hamilton - Rofgo 

An ex-Peter Filby car, you may know it from his publications, too
Picture Duncan Hamilton - Rofgo 

Not for shopping. Full cage and full-race interior
Picture Duncan Hamilton - Rofgo

FIA race-spec Cooper 'S' engine built by Roger Heavens
Picture Duncan Hamilton - Rofgo

'RFS 479H' is an even later car which was put in storage for decades
Picture Jeroen Booij

It's one of the very last cars built and has had only two owners
Picture Jeroen Booij

Dashboard has been altered but overal this car is very original
Picture Jeroen Booij

I understand the suspension has been fully rebuilt by this time
Picture Jeroen Booij

Just like the original 1275 Cooper 'S' engine as well as the body
Picture Jeroen Booij

Thursday 2 February 2023

Eclipse needs saving

Bound to be an unsolved mystery for the rest of its life, the surprise was great when in December 2019 this Mystery Mini Derivative turned out to survive. I mean, it was seen in Wellington, New Zealand in the early 1980s and then believed to have been scrapped shortly after this picture was taken by Graeme Farr. It was also identified by a previous owner back in 2019 as the Eclipse.

Now, fast forward another three years and the one-off Eclipse still hasn't moved from the breaker's yard in Horopito. Steve Harris spotted it there only yesterday. Come on guys, what are you waiting for? All those boring cars that are being restored are the same - this one is unique. Don't tell me in another 10 or 20 years that I didn't warn you. This car needs saving.

The one-off Austin 1300 based Eclipse is still waiting to be saved in Horopito, NZ
Picture Steve Harris

It was long thought to be gone forever, but it's still there. What a shame
Picture Steve Harris

Wednesday 1 February 2023

A Biota in a British garden

About two months ago I wrote about the long-lost Mini Jem Estate, which turned out to be still alive (click here). And it wasn't on its own. From the article: "It's still in the UK and it's not the only exiting Mini based car the current owner has. More to follow." Well, the other car didn't come with much information - in fact there were just two hazy pictures of it and I was hoping for more, which doesn't seem to come. And so I'm sharing them here now.

Yes, that's a Biota and it seems to be one that hasn't been seen before (well, not by me). From what we can see it looks incomplete and pretty sorry for itself standing out in the cold. Is it a Mk1 or a Mk2? I can't really see it but tend to believe it's the latter with the non-opening bonnet bulge. Remarkably, a dashboard doesn't seem to have been fitted. Has this car ever been on the road at all? Engine and front suspension are there but again it's hard to say anything about these due to the picture quality. So there we go. Any further information about this car would be highly appreciated!

UPDATE 11:50: Biota Mk2 owner Robert Scott conforms it to be a Mk2: "Definitely a Mk2. Brake and clutch master cylinders are forward of the front bulkhead line, just like mine."


Hardly protected to the elements: that's a Biota out in a garden. Was it ever on the road?
Picture via Paul Wylde

What's this? It's an under bonnet shot, seen from the left hand side of the car with the 
bonnet hinged forwards. Anyone who can make something out of it?
Picture via Paul Wylde