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

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