Tuesday, 31 May 2011

What is the story behind this MiniSprint?

Quite a few people have asked me whether the car you see on the pictures below is a real MiniSprint. In fact I do not know, although it looks to be a Stewart & Ardern Sprint. It is currently for sale for a hefty sum in central France and will need a complete restauration. According to the seller it is based on a 1963 Mini Cooper and is an original UK right hand drive with special dashboard and doors that have been modified with wind-up windows. The rear lights and wheel arches seem to be modified too. Click here for the ad. It comes with a French log book but without the delicate glass.

France based MiniSprint project car is for sale at a whopping 11,000 pounds

It could well be a S&A MiniSprint with the typical deseamed shell and rectangular headlights 

Steve Burkinshaw's car surely is a S&A Sprint. Note roof gutter that finishes at the b-pillar here
Picture: MiniWorld magazine

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Mystery Mini derivative (11)

I have had some comments on the fact that some the cars featured on my blog are Mini Moke derivatives rather then Mini derivatives. I know, but just like these cars too, so decided to include them here. As a matter of fact there are some cars that are 1100 based that I find interesting too but was unsure whether to include them or not in book or blog. Paul Wylde replied to that question with an example: the Navajo kit car that was made in the early 1980s in a workshop on the grounds of Goodwood. Paul wrote: "Definitely a rare beast so that's a yes from me. Cars like these have to be put down on paper so they will not be fogot." Tim Neal added: "Yes, include them. They tick all the boxes: Designer, A-series, Longbridge etc... unlike others!"

Anyway: I had some Mystery Mini (or well, 1100) derivatives to start with, so there we go. This one comes from Graeme Farr (the Kiwi with a soft spot for De Joux's, see here) and appears to be 1100 based. Graeme wrote: "This unknown Morris 1100 based car used to live in Wellington – I am fairly sure it was taken to the tip by the local council shorty after the photo was taken – probably in the 1990s. Shame". Question is: who knows more about it?

Spotted in Wellington by avid reader of this blog. What is this nice car?

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

And this is supposedly Mini Jem No.2

After yesterday's very early Mini Jem (click here) I have taken a deep dive into the archives to find out more about the car on the leaflet, but couldn't find anything. What I did find though was a nice article in a 1971 issue of Hot Car magazine, supposedly about the second Mini Jem built. It wrote:

"David Griggiths is 24, and drives a 1967 Mini Jem. It's his seventh car (...) When we say a '67 Jem, what we actually mean is a Mk1 Jem, registered in 1967. David bought the car in the summer of 1970, from the second owner, for £270. It was, apparantly, the second chassis on the road. When he bought it the engine was clapped, it needed two new tyres, wheel bearings, and the wiring loom was unspeakably bad; it wasn't colour coded and when somethings stops, as it frequently does, he has problems, to put it mildly (...) Originally this Jem had an SPQR gear linkage attached to the 850 gearbox. It wasn't up to much though, so when the engine was rebuilt it was replaced by an 1100 enclosed gear linkage (...) Gearchange is now super sleek, and with the low gear ratios of the 850 box the acceleration is such that wheelspin in first, second and third is possible in the wet. Top speed is around the 95mph mark. Performancewise it'll keep up with a Cooper S to about 50, when the S will just begin to show who's boss. (...) David has some very strong feelings on his car. 'I must say this', he said, 'I've never failed to enjoy driving it. It attracts attention, sure, but that's not a half of it. I love kit cars. The age of distinction is slowly dying. Just look around this car park: there's only half a dozen makes around.That's the whole thing about kit cars - however much goes wrong the individuality keeps you interested. Of course, water comes in something wicked on left hand bends, but it's something you either fix or put up with."

Now, after some fiddling with the DVLA website I was much surprised to learn that the car is still in the database, showing it was put on the road in March 1967. That sounds fair as the first Jem bodies were produced in the Summer of 1966 meaning it took a privateer a winter to turn an early body into a car. It was sorn in september 1988 which is over twenty years ago, I know. Something in me says it could still be hidden in a barn though...

Mini Jem number 2 with then-owner Griffiths in class dress. Where are they now?

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Could this be the Mini Jem prototype?

I recently came across this shoddy picture of a Mini Jem brochure. It features a Mini Jem Mk1, and a very early one it seems too. In fact I believe it has to be the earliest Jem in a brochure or leaflet, and perhaps this could be the prototype. The London address of Jem Developments that it states is the place where Jeremy Delmar-Morgan built his first few cars. There is another Mk1 brochure (see here, also for the Mk2 and Mk3 brochures) but that shows the address where production moved to in November 1966 and so the one featured here has to be older. Could the car shown on the pictures (registration KGH856C?) indeed be the prototype? Who knows more? Or who has a copy of this cool brochure?
Other then known brochures, this leaflet shows original address in London where 
Mini Jem was born. Could the car be the prototype? Also note delicious works Transit Van 

UPDATE 25 May: Richard Porter wrote: "Jem no. 5 is KGH 858D - could it be that one?" I think he is right - I'd totally forgotten about its registration number while that particular car was fully featured in 'Maximum Mini'

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Nose jobs new and old

Many efforts have been made to turn the standard Mini into a more streamlined package. Not easy, and if you did not want to spent all your money on a Mini Marcos kit, or whichever derivative kit there was for sale back in the 1960s, the way to go was to fit a stick on fibreglass front end conversion on your car. Several were on offer back then of which the Scorpion Hayley and Ridgway Sports conversions were best known. I even have a few brochures of these which I think are good fun.
Now don't think Mini nose conversions were a typical thing of the 1960s. As a matter of fact, a German company is doing just about the exact same thing right now for the BMW Mini. Look at that!


Scorpion Hayley nose conversion has to be best known Mini nose job. According to designer Chris Humberstone 1000s were sold, but I never saw one! Note standard Mini grille turned upside down

Ridgway Sports conversion: another stick on job to make your Mini more aerodynamic, or at least make it feel aerodynamic. Kit came with extension indicator leads, connector nipples and self-tapping screws!

But hang on, how about this one? A modern day nose job for the BMW Mini called the Cobra conversion. It clearly is inspired by the AC Cobra hence its name. At least it makes an everyday Mini individual

I'm not photoshopping this. The Cobra kit really is available, and the original bumpers including airbag deployment are maintained. Prices start at 2100 GBP or 2380 euros unpainted

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

SHADO Jeep is alive

Remember the Mini Moke based SHADO Jeep used for the UFO television series (click here)? Arch Mini derivatives fan Paul Wylde found some more pictures of the car on the world wide web recently. I especially like the behind-the-scenes black and white pic that clearly shows the A-series lump. The best thing is that one of the cars survives in Italy.
SHADO Jeeps lined up together with Commander Straker's cool coupe. That, too, survives 
On-board shooting. Plenty of room for the camera man next to A-series lump but mind that carburettor!
Best bit is that one of the six-wheeled Mini based Minivans survives. It's in Italy if you wondered

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Time warp Cox sold

Another unspoilt and early Cox GTM (more here and here) appeared for sale lately in Stockport, Cheshire and has meanwhile been sold for 1,800 pounds. According to the seller the car was on the road for three years only before being garaged for the next forty years. A time warp!

No flared arches, no added spoilers. This Cox GTM is truly unmolested
V5 documents are missing so unfortunately the new owner will have to re-register it
Cortina rear light clusters are a cool period touch. Hole in rear end seems odd  
A thorough clean should do a lot good here. Note typical period thread on tyres

Steel monocoque is rusty but at least the interior is unspoilt too. Dash is as in early brochure

Engine and gearbox were not included in sale. Rear subframe is said to be okay 
Chassis number GTW/1/130GTM may be of 30th car produced from batch of 55 in 1967

Monday, 16 May 2011

Camber GT survives...as a convertible!

Appologies for being so slow with updates on my blog but things have been hectic around here. I drove a rally for the first time in years (with the plain stupid new Mini Countryman, dreaming of driving a real Mini or better: a derivative) and wrote more stories in two weeks time then I did in the two months predecessing.
Meanwhile news on the Mini derivative front continues to flow in, too.

Latest is an update on the Camber GT that I wrote about in the files before. It's the car known as 'HPN14D' that was described here. It was probably the first Camber GT built and was converted with a Maya GT nose section later in its life and probably converted to targa roof specifications in the seventies or eighties. I was contacted by Daniel Boucher recently who appears to own the car to this day. Daniel wrote: "I was given it by a nice chap in Wimbledon. It was painted blue and had been converted into a convertible. It had a Cooper 1275 engine and Cooper S brakes but when I received it it was a rite heap and I spent about a year restoring it. However, I have had problems with retaining the original number plate as I cannot find the chassis number. The DVLA have not been helpful one bit and wanted to make it a Q registration. But it is on the road using a Mini registration at the moment because I refuse to make it a Q car."
I am not too keen on the conversion but am thrilled to learn that the car survives. Daniel agrees and states that he would prefer to bring the car back to its original condition with a roof. Now that's an idea...

From a closed Camber GT to a Maya GT to a targa to a convertible. Old soldiers never die...


Cabrio conversion seems odd, but at least the car survives. Is it the only Maya front end surviving?

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Lord Snowdon's coachbuilt Mini

You may have seen enough of the royal affairs recently, but it made me remember there was a member of the British royalty with a Mini one day. I even thought it was a coachbuilt car. And, yes, it appears to be so as Lord Snowdon and Princess Margaret used to drive a modified Austin Mini Cooper 'S' in the swinging sixties. The car was said to be coachbuilt although you cannot see too much of that on the pictures that I found. I also have no idea who carried out the conversion. Could it be Harold Radford? I noticed that on one picture it came with added foglights in the grille plus 'Austin Cooper' boot script on the bonnet. The car is still registered but appears to have been sorn in 1977. Could it still be in royal hands?

UPDATE 6 November 2013: Conversion was carried out by Hooper of London.

Lord Snowdon and Princess Margaret with their Mini. I reckon they could have taken that Rolls-Royce too

June 1965: Princess Margaret takes 3-year old Lord Linley home after an ear operation.
Note added foglights in the grille and different badging on the bonnet...

...a footman opens the door, but the 3-year old Lord prefers to go elsewhere...

...but off they go in the supposedly much modified coachbuilt Mini, chauffeur driven too...

...who needs a child's seat anyway? It's all smiles buzzing around in a Mini!
But where is the car now? And who carried out the conversion?