Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Not so local Mk1 Mini Marcos

It seems that yesterday's Mk1 Mini Marcos was much appreciated by many of you, so why not show you another? This particular one was photographed by my friend, the artist Rens Biesma (who once made this!). Rens took these pictures when he lived at Malta in the 1980s. According to him the bright orange Mini derivative could be seen in several racing events on the island and was used hard, too! Although perhaps not so pretty as yesterday's car, once again this clearly is a very early Mini Marcos with all the correct features still in place. It's unclear what happened to it, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was still on the island. Do let me know if you like these early Mini Marcoses as I have quite a few more images in the files.

Maltese Marcos sits very low and comes with very wide front track
Picture courtesy Rens Biesma

The body may look somewhat tired - under its bonnet it's all shiny!
Picture courtesy Rens Biesma

Datsun 240Z rear lights [update: they are Alfa-Romeo lights!] are not exactly gracious on tiny GT
Picture courtesy Rens Biesma

Car's interior is pretty much straightforwards, but then this is a racer
Picture courtesy Rens Biesma

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Local Mk1 Mini Marcos

It's been over a year that fellow Dutchman Gert-Jan Westerveld tipped me about a Mk1 Mini Marcos with a nice slice of racing heritage - see here. And since being a big fan of the earliest and original of Mini Marcoses I always wanted to have a look. By now I have moved house and live in fact not too far from where the thing is located. And so, when I was on my way earlier this week I decided to pay it a visit. And there it was, in a corner of a show room in between modern Euroboxes, looking splendid in all its tinyness. Although it's on display in a showroom the owner is not looking for a buyer, although he may be tempted by a really good offer, or so he told me. One thing is for sure: it's the best Mk1 I have ever seen.

Despite widened arches, all the typical Mk1 features are still there 
Picture Jeroen Booij

Original narrow number plate recess. Bulge neccessary to locate big Webers
Picture Jeroen Booij

Chassis plate is still where it should be, showing its early number 6129 
Picture Jeroen Booij

Interior, too, is just as it should be for a Mini Marcos Mk1. Very period
Picture Jeroen Booij

Apart from chunky 45 carburettors there is an Arden crossflow head, too
Picture Jeroen Booij

Friday, 24 February 2012

Book: A-Z of Kit Cars

Now this is an eagerly awaited book! Totalkitcar's editor Steve Hole has been working for ages on his 'Definitive encyclopaedia of the UK's kit-car industry since 1949', or so I understand. So when it finally arrived earlier this week it distracted me more then slightly. And there is plenty to be found. This book lists over 1,500 cars which have in common that they were all available from the UK in kit form at one point or another. That means in the first place it is a hefty tome: there are 296 pages full of facts about all these funky creatures, including the name(s) of the company(ies) responsible for them and an approximate built number. Some makes and a few builders such as Geoff Jago and Jem Marsh have been highlighted with  a full page while other cars are mentioned in only one or two lines. 

There are a few surprises, as for I never knew the MacKintosh M1C was revamped into a car named ADT Sprint which eventually led to the MacKintosh M3. Hole also mentions a mock-Moke made by Lynx of Stokes simply called Lynx. 25 are supposed to have been sold between 1983 and 1984, but I'd never even heard of the ting. And there's the Skip 1000 three-wheeler that was new to me, too. All in all I counted 132 Mini based cars of which twelve were Hustlers, five Dominos, six Mini Marcoses and seven Stimsons. Things go wrong at the Ranger chapter, where the models are mixed up or have a wrong picture, like the Grantura Yak and Siva Mule come with an intriguing but incorrect image. A pity, yes, but then I know for sure it would be impossible to make this book without any fault or omission. Of course there are more cars then the 1,500 or so mentioned - and I miss some really quircky and cool ones - still then this has to be the most comprehensive book of its kind.

The A-Z of Kit Cars is a true encyclopaedia with lots and lots of info

It counts 132 Mini derivatives of which most are mentioned briefly

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Bitten by the Bison (7)

Gladly, I am not the only person who'd been messing around with plaster over the last few weeks. In fact our own handyman, better known as 'Buffalo Bill', made some great progress on the CJC Bison project car (click here for his earlier adventures). He worked as hard as always to turn the former garden ornament into the 'Lamborghini Mini' that it was before. This time, he wrote: "The front spoiler of the Bison was pissing me big style. I'd repaired/improved it once, only to rip the damm thing off the first time I drove out the garage. So I jacked it up, drew a line from the front of the tyre level with the anti-roll bar and onto the front spoiler, marked it, and chopped the lower bit off. I could maybe go a little more, but have to allow space for the funnel thing that the air hoses attach to. I fired it up and drove up and down the bumpy drive, it didn’t catch and I managed to snatch second gear once, so that’s a big improvement!"

"Next, I made a steel frame that picks up on the bumper mounts, so the bumpers are stronger - the metal bit bolts to the chassis, but isn't removable, but would still (if you wanted) allow the body to be removed of the chassis. The lower point was fixed (so that the front anti roll bar was hidden and to protect it as its more of a square edge to hit) and it looked rubbish if the whole thing tapered up, so I angled the edge parts to give a lot more space (it tends to be the outer corners that get the damage anyway). It still needs a final sand and a couple of little bits extra, but I'm quite pleased with it, the whole front is a lot stronger now. I also removed the lights (for access) and roughly swopped them left to right as it looked rubbish before as the lamps where too far in board - I think the maker made an error as there is no reason to have put the lights more in than out (if you see the pictures, you will see what I mean - it looks miles better) I then discovered that one of the lamps was broken, and seen late 1970's square Cibie lights are not exactly 10 a penny, I have filled the holes up, so will have to look for something better - I'm thinks a pair of twin round ones, to fill the box shape more and maybe not have to open as far. Happy days..."

Step 1: Mark a line onto the 'snow plough' before chopping the lower bit off

Step 2: After the actual chopping, make a steel frame to improve bumper mounting

Step 3: Angle the edges in fresh fibreglass. Well done! Now look for new head lights

Monday, 20 February 2012

Ralph Broad at speed

Allright. Let's continue with some historic film footage. Like Friday's cool Catalunyan Unipower (click here), today some equally rare footage - four minutes long - of the Broadspeed GTS plus its creator Ralph Broad. It's from the Media Archive of Central England (MACE) and has been circling around the web for a while now, but is certainly worth a look if you have not allready seen it.

The film was shot in January 1966 (not too long after this pic was taken), and shows a 39-year old Broad driving the car at Oulton Park and being interviewed about it. Interestingly, Broad mentions particular interest in the car from America when the interviewer asks which market he is aiming for: "Mainly the American market, which I think there should be a very good sale for this kind of car in America. In fact I've had several American clients of mine..." (followed by a part in fluent Brum which I am unable to decipher).

I am not sure if - in the end - any car made it over to the USA. Other then Spain, where several are reported to have ended up (and vanish, or so it seems, more about that here). The GTS from this movie clip eventually ended up in The Netherlands (more here). Anyway: this nice little film certainly is worth a look. Click here to see it, and don't forget to turn up the sound!

Ralph Broad driving the Broadspeed GTS at speed at Oulton Park

Is my hair okay for filming? GTS certainly looks good, even static

Broad mentions interest in GTS from American customers in particular

And there he goes again for a fast round, now wearing racing overalls

Friday, 17 February 2012

A Unipower in Catalunya

From what I understand is that originally 3 Unipower GTs made it to Spain. Or perhaps only 2 made it to Spain and 1 to Catalunya, as a film on youtube now proves of the existence of a GT in that autonomous part of Spain. The car in question was driven in the 1973 season by local boy Miquel Brunells who'd previously raced a Mini known as 'The Soap Pill' in and around the local mountains and on the track in Barcelona's long distance races. He became a local champion in 1970 and 1971 and even won a national championship in 1972, leaving much bigger machinery behind. However, for the 1973 season Brunells decided he needed something new. A Unipower GT became his weapon of choice and the car's original 998cc engine is swapped for the 1275 unit of Brunells Mini, supposedly good for 90hp. The GT is entered in four road races in the 1973 season: Montserrat, Castillo Montjuich, Sant Cugat-Tibidabo and Montseny and during three of these events (it wears three different numbers) a camera man managed to shoot some footage of the low slung Mini derivative.

You can see it by clicking on the film below. Never mind the dreary music and feel free to skip the first two minutes or so when Brunell's Mini is depicted. Because the good bit starts at around 2:20 when the Unipower is shown in full Technicolour - like Brunell's Mini light yellow and green. I think it is some fantastic film with the car driven hard on twisty maountain roads (Brunells almost loses it at 3:31). I'd never seen something like it before with a Unipower in it.

After the yellow and green GT Brunells went on to drive a Brabham Formula 2, a Lola racer, rally Fiestas and Group 2 Escorts and even Ducati motorbikes. What happened to the Unipower? That's a mystery, or so it seems. One of the supossed 3 cars imported into Spain has been for sale for quite a while now but it is said not to be the Brunell's car (see it for sale here). Many thanks to Stef Wray for the tip and 'pepsimes' for uploading the video on youtube.
PS: what on earth is the thing at 3:26? A Morris Minor?!


Miquel Brunells (1940-1993) dominated Catalan racing scene in the early 1970s
Picture courtesy Escuderia Auto Layetana

Brunell's 1275 powered Unipower GT during one of four road races in 1973
Picture courtesy Escuderia Auto Layetana

The car was road registered in Barcelona, here at the '73 Sant Cugat-Tibidabo race
Picture courtesy www.racing-files.com

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Maximum Mini's return

Well, well. The last weeks have been - erm - different. After having bought a new house, moving into it appeared slightly more complicated then expected. While the weeks passed I have seriously altered my skills as a bricklayer/plasterer/carpenter/painter, but writing about Mini derivatives was on the bottom of the priority list all that time. That will change from now on, as the end of restoring (rather then moving) house comes near. But where to start? I have received several messages (sorry if I have not been able to answer you properly, I certainly will, it's only just that computer and network are functioning properly) and some were very interesting. One dear reader bought an Ogle SX1000, another a Mini Marcos and one even a Status 365! Then there have been some updates on pictures that I posted and stories that I wrote (more on that later this week), and as always - and do keep them coming - people have advised me about cars that have made it to the market. One I'd like to start with is a pretty special and very rare one: an ASD Minim. I wrote about that car earlier (see here) but have never seen one of the presumed six cars made, in the flesh. An unfinished one turned up in Milton Keynes last month (it looks to be the same as the one in the earlier article), and it still hasn't lost much of its intriguity. Where did it go to now?

ASD Minim's chassis certainly was influeced by Lotus. Tub in front fits over backbone

The body is somewhat strangely proportioned. Did you ever see a finished car?