Tuesday 28 November 2023

Meeting up with Julien Vernaeve

I just drove 500 kilometres to pick up one single photograph. Have I gone mad? Probably! But then it wasn't just anybody who handed the picture over. I got it from Julien Vernaeve, the 1960s BMC works rally and racing legend plus BMC and Jaguar dealer and... Belgian concessionaire for the Ogle SX1000 in 1962. Vernaeve was the man to import my car to Belgium - still the only SX1000 sold new to the European mainland as far as I know. So, yes, I was very eager to speak to him. When he told me on the telephone he'd also found an old picture of the car with himself and his personal registration on it, nothing could stop me.

Vernaeve is 92 years old these days and does remember the Ogle well. He did recall it was the same bronze colour as it is today, and I learned about some more details and how he got to import it. A book about his racing career was written a couple of years ago and he gave me a copy of that. In it many pictures of racing cars, Mini Coopers and Cooper 'S's with his private plate '3995.N' and with co-drivers such as Rauno Aaltonen, Andrew Hedges, Paddy Hopkirk, Tony Fall, John Fitzpatrick, John Handley, Geoff Mabbs, Henry Liddon, Tony Pond...  His daughter Eveline had arranged the meeting at the family Jaguar dealership which is run by herself and her brother Luc today. When we were finished Julien and his dog jumped into his Jaguar F-Pace and were off. What a man! 

Julien Vernaeve, 92, at the family Jaguar dealership with the Ogle SX1000 picture
Picture Jeroen Booij

Me and Julien in the showroom. Vernaeve drove with all the big names in the 1960s
Picture Eveline Vernaeve 

A signature in the book about him that I was handed over. Thank you very much Sir
Picture Jeroen Booij 

And off in his Jaguar F-Pace again. Vernaeve Jaguar of Ghent has been a dealer for decades
Picture Jeroen Booij

Thursday 23 November 2023

Ranger - the haunted Pick-Up

Still a great little hummer - the Ranger Pick Up. The way to 'transform your old, rusty 1100/1300 into an exciting all purpose road car' in the early- to mid-1970s. Initially the car was made at an old used car lot in Romford, but when the Pick-up turned out to be profitable, Ranger Automotive Ltd. was set up and the whole project was moved to more suitable premises in 1972: a disused 1920s cinema in Leigh-on-Sea, formerly with 1,200 seats and its own orchestra. What's more: the old theatre was supposedly haunted! A few six-wheelers were made as well as one twin-engined variant by former Broadspeed engineer John J. Thomas.

Ranger Pick-Up - made in an abandoned and haunted cinema in the 1970s
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Some 300 were made between 1971 and 1976, making it a success
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Most Pick-Ups use the 1100's rear lights turned sideways - this one doesn't
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Monday 13 November 2023

Another Ogle SX1000 find in the USA

Another Ogle SX1000 turns up in the USA, where it has been left deteriorating for many years now. 
I'd heard about an Ogle in Pennsylvania and had even seen some pictures of it in various states taken throughout the years. But it is only now confirmed to be the same and wearing chassis number 23 by the car's owner and the man who has it in storage for him. I got in touch with the latter and he wrote:

"Hello Jeroen, Thank you for your note. I do not own an Ogle, but one of my friends does. I do have it stored for him at my farm. The car did not have a drivetrain and is in pretty rough condition at this point. The seats were never with the car, but much of the other interior items including the dash have been stored out of the weather. The missing main parts of fiberglass are still stored with the spare parts." 

He was kind enough to make some pictures and send them over. He also gave a telephone number of the owner to get in touch directly, which I have tried straight away but so far to no avail. I'll keep trying. The car does look pretty sorry for itself, especially compared to earlier pictures when it wasn't exactly a concours car either but when at least the body seemed okay without the major cracks front and back it has now. Let's hope somebody, one day, will take the effort to restore it.

Ogle SX1000 in Pennsylvania is now confirmed to be chassis number 23
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The car has been here for a long time and has deteriorated badly over the years
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Believed to have been red originally but not much of the paint is left now
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Friday 10 November 2023

Classic Motor Show 2023 - the Mini derivatives

Go to the NEC this weekend for the Classic Motor Show and you are likely to bump into the Minikits Club there. They have another great display of Mini based cars with a Siva Buggy, Jimini 2, Stimson Safari Six, wild Scamp Mk3 and rare Turner Ranger. Great stuff! Last year they even won a Classic and Sports Car Club Award for their effort. 

Another club attending is Midas Owners Club with a lovely Mk3 Mini Marcos jammed in between two Midases and somebody spotted a coachbuilt Mini, too, believed to have been built by former Wood & Pickett employees. Have a good weekend.

A Mk3 Mini Marcos sandwiches by two Midases!
Picture Midas Cars

And five more Mini based cars on the Minikits stand
Picture Paul Wylde

Restored Stimson Safari Six is among them
Picture Paul Wylde

And how about this? A lovely and road registered Turner Ranger
Picture Paul Wylde

This coachbuilt Mini is said to be built by ex-W&P employees
Picture Marc Eden

Tuesday 7 November 2023

Meredith Mini Special goes Dutch

It's good to know that the Meredith Mini Special survives. I did receive a few pictures of it recently, showing the car on its Dutch registration '03-YD-10', which it received after it was sold from the UK 10 years ago and imported to The Netherlands next. Yes, it's a bit of a Triumph-Ford-Mini-hybrid, which was made by Douglas Meredith of Welshpool (click here). 

Anybody who knows where in this country the car is now? It doesn't seem to come out very o=ften, but I'd love to see it in person one day.

The 'Mini by Meredith' mixes body elements of Ford, Triumph and Mini
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Blurred plate seems to be the British one (KEJ 411P) here, taken prior to re-registration?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

It is on Dutch plate '03-YD-10' since 2014 and does come out rarely, or so it seems
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Outside seems most unusual, but there's no doubt this is a Mini engine, an 1100
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Seats and more bits of the interior came from a Mini 1100 Special also. Where is the car?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Friday 3 November 2023

Steve owned that Broadspeed

Two years ago a Broadspeed GT changed owners and eventually found its way to the USA (click here). The car turned out to be 'WUX 421', which had previously been owned by Graham West of Burton-on-Trent. West had was actually also the man to build it after he got hold of an unused Broadspeed GT roof/rear section in 1971 and decided to graft it on a Mk2 Mini with flared arches and E-type inspired interior (click here). 

Now, another previous owner of the same car contacted me: Steve Philpott. He wrote: Hi Jeroen, I was interested to see your blog regarding the new found Broadspeed that is on its way to the USA. I was a previous owner and would be interested in any information on her refurbishment. I have to say she didn't look like that when she left me, she was metallic maroon with Minilite mag alloy wheels. Any information would be good Kind regards, Steve"

I asked for a bit more info and he came back swiftly: "I owned WUX 421 from 1975 to 1982-ish. It was in a dull red colour when I bought it and I had it resprayed in metallic maroon. It had racing seats, and the Jaguar dashboard. It was sold as a complete car but the engine was blown. I would love to see photos of WUX and could probably say what stage she was at. I would suspect that she may have been stripped down and the various parts used for other projects. I don't have any pictures of her at all, which is a shame."

Well, I had some, and shared them with Steve and have added them below, too. Next reply: "Thanks for the photos. That is indeed WUX 421 as I sold her, apart from the Castrol sticker. There was a lot of work done and a few things missing or replaced. There looks to be something not right with the front end light cluster and headlight mounting. As regards the paperwork... Hmm... There's a story there..."

It was only then that I noticed this car has extra bars in its front side windows, a feature I haven't seen on any other of the Broadspeeds. Steve: "I agree it has the same doors. It has had extensive bodywork done. It was registered on the official logbook as a Mini Monza when my ex-wife bought it and she blew the original engine up. She sold it to me and I put a bored out 998 engine in it. I wonder if it had a new front end? When Graham had it, it had a Mk2 Mini front end. In Jeff's photos it looks like it's a Mk1. Also there were yellow side lights and reflectors front and back. I read somewhere about electric windows... Not on WUX 421. I have been trying to find Peter Pentz, but not having any luck."

Thank you Steve! Maybe Peter will read this and drop another line..?

The Broadspeed GT as Steve Philpott remembers it. This is in the 1980s
Picture Colin Baines

"It was in a dull red colour when I bought it and I had it resprayed in metallic maroon"
Picture Colin Baines

This is the car in 1996 when it was stripped and offered for sale again. Note extra bar in windows
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

And this is it in 1971 when Graham West had just finished it. It was red then
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Last time seen: two years ago, when it was in transit from the UK to the USA
Picture Kingstown Shipping Ltd