Wednesday 28 June 2023

Le Mans Mini Marcos: now a comic book!

Yes, Le Mans Classic will take place this weekend but, no, 'La Puce Bleue' won't be there. A shame, I know, also because this year marks the centenary of world's most famous race. Although a major step in the Marcos' restoration was made last weekend (click) it is far from presentable at present. And so I'll just have to give up on another deadline I wouldn't have wanted to have missed...

Apart from the re-ignition of its restoration there is, however, some other really cool news. About a year ago I was contacted by Denis Bernard and Christian Papazoglakis who are respectively the script writer and artist of a great series of comic books about all the adventures that stick to the 24 hours of Le Mans. They had plans to make a special album for the Le Mans centenary with 24 of the best stories about the 24-hours races of the last 100 years. And they thought the Mini Marcos, coming 15th overall right in between the famous Ford-Ferrari War of 1966, was among those 24 best ones and deserved a place in it, too. There's no doubt I was honoured! 

And so I have made it to a comic book myself now. It's called '24 Heures du Mans - 100 ans d'innovations' and the Mini Marcos segment starts on a dark day in December 2016 when my friend Jurgen and myself saw the car - or what was left of it - for the first time on a shady address in Portugal where I was supposed to hand over a duffel bag full of money. Then it harks back to perhaps its finest hour in June of 1966, when the car held the entire audience's breath at Le Mans by having a flat tyre - with no spare at hand - right in front of the grandstand. It's something which really happened. Then over to the car's theft in Paris 1975 and to the the present day with the Marcos under restoration.

So if you are at the Le Mans Classic this weekend, do look up the publisher's stand (Editions Glénat) to purchase a copy of this great 56-page book or order it from their website here.

What? Me as a comic book figure! Finding the car in Portugal as pictured in the book
 From 24 Heures du Mans - 100 ans d'innovations

The story is titled 'La résurrection de la Puce Bleue' and is 1 of 24 in the book
 From 24 Heures du Mans - 100 ans d'innovations

 '24 Heures du Mans - 100 Ans d'innovations' is available now at 14,95 Euros only
Picture Jeroen Booij

Monday 26 June 2023

Le Mans Mini Marcos: back home

A trip up and down to Pau sees the Le Mans Mini Marcos finally back home in The Netherlands after more than 18 months. The car is on its wheels and the engine is in and runs. The engine is built to the exact 1966 Le Mans specifications and looks to have a power output which is near identical, too. And, boy, does it look and sound good and seem snappy! It's been dyno'd and has run for a couple of hours with running-in oil. It is ready to go now and seems very happy to rev high, which it does at a very fast response, too - movie and data will follow. 

But before it will have a go the car needs some more painting - doors and bonnet, then the yellow stripe and white roundels. I think it's safe to say though, that it does bring us in the final stage of the restoration - the building up of all the rest of the car. Doors, glass, rubbers, lights, interior, dashboard need to go in or be connected. The same goes for the brakes and all the wiring et cetera. There will be lots and lots of details that need attention next but I'm looking much forward to this stage and my mojo for the project is definitely back. Big thumbs up for Joost van Diën who accompanied me on the journey and was so kind to let me borrow his trailer and tow car. Again - he has been involved in the project from day one.

Back in The Netherlands with the Le Mans engine finally in. Yes, it needs wheel spacers!
Picture Joost van Diën

'La Puce Bleue' loaded up in the trailer in Pau, ready for the journey back home
Picture Joost van Diën

Starting it up with Philippe Quirière. I need to make a movie of the engine running 
Picture Joost van Diën

Thursday 22 June 2023

Le Mans Mini Marcos: reunion on its way

Exciting times. I will be in Pau, southern France on Saturday to pick up the one and only 1966 Le Mans Mini Marcos - on its wheels and with the engine running and dyno'd. Looking forwards to the reunion after such a long time. More to follow soon.

November 2021 - the last time I saw the car. Reunion now on its way
Picture Joost van Dien

Engine, built to original 1966 spec by Philippe Quiriere, will be in and running
Picture Jeroen Booij

Tuesday 6 June 2023

Is Crayford Mini Mojito a Beach Car replica?

Hey! A brand new Mini based car to be unveiled, that's been a while hasn't it? 
You may or may not have noted that the Crayford name was revived recently and they now unveil their first new car during the London concours that has just opened its doors at the gardens of the Honourable Artillery Company’s headquarters in central London. Ladies and gentleman: the Crayford Mini Mojito.

There seems to be little doubt about the Beach Car inspiration, although there are several differences, too. A full floating canopy roof in the first place, which only one of the original Beach Cars had the one-off Crayford Carnival, which was made in 1980. You also won't find wicker furniture inside but leather instead and a floor made of teak wood. There is also 'An optional fully-electric powertrain that’s been designed and built in the UK and neatly packaged under the bonnet'. Crayford’s director Kent Thirley told Classic Driver: “The Mojito is built for today’s market and meets the expectations that come with that. It drives and handles as well as it looks – pretty special". Is it a Beach Car replica? More or less than Mengers' Beach Mini, which was unveiled a year ago? 

Thirley further adds: “For me, Crayford is an icon of British motoring and we’ve spent the last two years assembling a team to revive the brand in a way that remains loyal to its 64-year heritage and creative spirit. The original mission statement penned by the founders of Crayford in the early 1960s was ‘to design and build cars that are unique, to redefine what’s possible when you harness devotion and innovation'". No price has yet been mentioned, further information can be found here.

Crayford Mini Mojito is unveiled today at the London Concours
Picture Crayford Automobiles via Classic Driver

Mk1 Mini based, but styling is sharper than the original Beach Car 
Picture Crayford Automobiles via Classic Driver

And then there's a fully floating canopy roof for a change!
Picture Crayford Automobiles via Classic Driver

Hang on... the 1980 Crayford Carnival one-off had that, too
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

"The Mini Mojito's look is authentically 1962 and stylish simple"
Picture Crayford Automobiles via Classic Driver

No 'Lloyd Loom' wicker this time, but cream coloured leather instead
Picture Crayford Automobiles via Classic Driver

757 UYN started life as a standard Morris Mini in 1962
Picture Crayford Automobiles via Classic Driver

Original Mini Beach Car (top) and Crayford Mini Mojito below
Picture Crayford Automobiles via Classic Driver / archive

Monday 5 June 2023

Ogling to the Octane Scramble

Now that the SX1000 is on the road I'm all about classic car meetings these days. Latest was the Octane Scramble 3. A beautiful drive right through the heart of the Dutch bible belt to get there - on a Sunday morning with churchgoers out in force - and then the gathering itself on the serene and rather beautiful surroundings of a monastery.
I wasn't the only one who'd made it in a Mini derivative. The Birchall McCoy of Peter Ecury was parked in a corner while Hans Efde and Peter Camping had both come over in their Midases. Another great day out. The pictures are from Johan te Keurs, his full series can be found here.

And yet on another field full of classic cars! Little DAF makes Ogle looks tiny
Picture Johan te Keurs

The car behaved well with new radiator and dampers. Steering rack is next now
Picture Johan te Keurs

I really feel the need to stress once again that it does look better on pictures!
Picture Johan te Keurs

Midas Gold twins of Hans Efde and Peter Camping were there, too
Picture Johan te Keurs

Hans (black shirt) explaining an unsuspecting visitor about the virtues of Midas ownership
Picture Johan te Keurs

Nice and well-used Birchall McCoy has to be the only one in The Netherlands?
Picture Johan te Keurs

Unfortunately I didn't see the car's owner, fellow-scribe Peter Ecury
Picture Johan te Keurs

Find the Mini derivatives to see for yourself how small they are compared to the other cars
Picture Octane Magazine NL