Wednesday, 31 August 2016

An S&A MiniSprint in Japan - since new

Like so many interesting Mini based cars, quite a few MiniSprints found their way to Japan. But at least one of them was sold there originally, I have just learned from Suzuki Makotootoko. He is currently building a MiniSprint replica of his own and the car looks superb from what I can see. The base car is 1964 Cooper Mk1 and an original 1960s Sprint is used as an example. It seems like a 3" cut is taken from both the a-pillars as the waistline, rather then the 1.5 inches of the standard MiniSprints. Suzuki says the car is 172 cm high and adds: "With my my position it is quite different from driving an original Mini." I'm quite sure of that! He wants to have the car ready for next year.

Meanwhile, he shared another great photograph, with an anecdote unknown to me about a rare Stewart & Ardern Sprint sold new to Japan. "I fell for this car which lived in the neighborhood of my house in the mid-1960's. This particular Sprint still exists in the Yamanashi-prefecture of Japan."

A MiniSprint in the making. It's shares its looks with Trickett's original racer, including extra air vents
Picture courtesy Suzuki Makotootoko

This Stewart & Ardern MiniSprint was sold to Japan when new and still resides there
Picture courtesy Suzuki Makotootoko

Just like that: a British sister car. Note deseamed body, rectangular lights...
Picture Jeroen Booij

…and distinctive Stewart & Ardern Mini Sprint bonnet badging
Picture Jeroen Booij

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

How a Hawaiian ex-rental became 'Worlds Quickest Moke'

This story is not so much about a Mini derivative as it is about a much modified Mini Moke, dubbed 'World's most fun and quickest Moke'. It was sent over to me by Robert Philips who lived at Hawaii at the time, and I think it's worth an entry here. Decide for yourself! This is Robert's story:

"Many years ago, I acquired good old 895551 from the Budget Rent-A-Car people in Honolulu after a rental driver apparently tried driving it without any radiator water and with very little engine oil. Hence the price of $115.00 was about right seeing as how the engine was really and truly seized solid. My poor unsuspecting bride suddenly found herself driving a temporary tow car with a forlorn Moke at the end of a rope."

From Honolulu with love. Robert's Mini Moke in its previous life
Picture courtesy Robert Philips

"It required a complete body refurbishment and rust repair including a new paint job. The Hawaiian climate may be absolutely ideal for the human body, but a British car body covered with maybe one transparent coat of thin paint is no match for that humid climate. I performed a heart transplant with a Mini Cooper 1275 'S' donor with some internal custom goodies. That was followed by altered suspension, slightly larger wheels and tires and a simple roll bar. I then made custom fitted seats by sitting in Saran Wrap laid over fiberglass cloth and resin which had not yet set up. That is one way to learn that fiberglass resin setting up is an exothermic reaction, and will toast your backside as quickly as the Hawaiian sun. The refurbishment job was topped off by a lowered steering wheel and a new dash panel made from my wife's cookie baking tin taken when she wasn't watching. In the Hawaii autocrosses it upset the applecart for the local perennial class winners and was quickly moved from class D to C to B to A and then to 'All Modified' where it often competed for FTD runs. The NHRA timers at Hawaii Raceway Park certified a 15.27 elapsed time for the quarter mile."

Second incarnation: the Cooperized Moke is now taken to the track. Why not?
Picture courtesy Robert Philips

"After a Navy move to Pennsylvania in 1972 the car received some major work. A rigid roll cage was added. To a 1275 Mini Cooper S motor I added the two dual downdraft Webers on my custom intake manifold, an Iskenderian cam, magnesium push rods, high compression pistons, custom headers, lowered front and rear suspension, wide wheels, very wide CanAm qualifying tires, a very rigid roll cage, Mini Cooper disc brakes up front, custom fit lower seat, bench flowed cylinder head, radiused valve seats, fuel cell,and Koni shocks and ended up with the worlds most fun and quickest Mini Moke. Note the front tires are two inches wider than the rears, they were used CanAm qualifying tires I bought at a great discount from Roger Penske. Great adhesion as they really got very gummy when hot, my son's job was to pick out all the rocks and gravel which had vulcanized to the tire after each run. They were the same rolling diameter as the original Moke tires. Cornering was truly unbelievable. Top end was geared for about 88 mph at 6700 RPM and could leave rubber in third, and would take tight corners faster than you would believe. The super wide wheels and tires gave the car a definite visual relationship to the then popular toy cars for kids called Hot Wheels."

Much more mods lead to 'Worlds most fun and quickest Mini Moke'
Picture courtesy Robert Philips

"It has been an absolutely incredible car to drive. It will thirst for faster and tighter corners long after I have run out of bravery. In 21 autocrosses and 10 Pennsylvania Hillclimbs it has earned 16 First Place (including 5 Fastest time of day runs), 11 Second place, 1 Third and 3 Fourth place finishes with no DNFs. After taking an FTD in a Corvette Club sponsored autocross in Virginia Beach the car was dis-invited to any future Corvette Club sponsored activities. Some of these events earned the SCCA Northeastern Division Championship in the Solo I “E Mod" Sports Racing class, and second place in the Pennsylvania Hillclimb Series in Mod I, ( a class for any modified production car or any race car under 1300 cc displacement)."

Entry in 21 autocrosses and 10 hillclimbs earn 16 firsts including 5 FTOD runs
Picture courtesy Robert Philips

"The slightly more aerodynamic front end treatment happened after a Giants Despair Hillclimb during which event I demonstrated the value of six point seat belt/shoulder harnesses. That was accomplished by using a snow fence and earthen embankment to stop from about 40 miles per hour in about four feet. The test is not to be recommended if you have any regard at all for your neck, and will definitely rearrange the front end of your car. Also added some lexan deflectors under body and at base of the shovel nose to 'enhance ground effects'!"

Aerodynamic alterations to enhance ground effects were born out of - ahem - necessity
Picture courtesy Robert Philips

"The four carburetor stacks were very scientifically designed by hammering a towing bar ball into the end of some copper sink drain tubing to make a flare, and then finding a chrome shop. With less than $1,200 invested, the Mini S Moke proved to be a very good value for the money, more so if I were able to melt down some of these dusty trophies. So you see, one need not have a Ferrari or a Lotus to have a ball on four wheels!"

UPDATE 17:30: Two more bonus pictures were just sent in by Robert. Enjoy!




Monday, 29 August 2016

Marcos Euregio Meeting 2016

Last weekend saw an invasion of plastic cars, little and large, in the far-East of Holland, when the third Euregio Marcos Meeting made it to that part of the world. There were not as many (Mini) Marcoses as there were in the previous two years, but it was a good (and very sunny) day out never the less. Below you'll find a selection of pictures with some captions. Thanks Frank and Rolf for organizing this one!

The Mini Marcoses of Jouke Boersen (yellow Mk4) and Frank Morskate (Mk3 Le Mans replica). The big Marcos behind them is an intimidating LM600 racer of 2000
Picture Jeroen Booij

Frank had organized this year's run, but unfortunately his own car didn't make it to the drive itself due to a fan failure (and boy, was it hot!). He brought it over to the finish never the less
Picture Jeroen Booij

Another big Marcos worth a mention here is Remco Bruins' beautiful GT with Coventry Climax power
Picture Jeroen Booij

And another, slightly later, GT. Starting location was the garage of Hans Sieverink in Haaksbergen, which specializes in British classics. It's called S+S Tuning and you can find them here
Picture Jeroen Booij

Another Hans - Hans Efde - has been a Midas enthusiast for longer then I can think of. He's seen here with his current Midas - a gorgeous Gold Convertible
Picture Jeroen Booij

When he bought the car it was equipped with a turbo charger, but Hans got rid of that. The tuned MED engine makes it quick enough and is totally spic and span, too
Picture Jeroen Booij

Raymond van der Klugt plus turbo charged GTM Coupe plus girlfriend. He owns a Mini Marcos, too, but that is still under restoration
Picture Jeroen Booij

The GTM's profile may be good, but you won't see the Martini striping from its side. The brand new wheels, arches and tyres that Raymond just fitted are better visible, too
Picture Jeroen Booij

That's Jouke with Daphne again, a photograph I simply had to make (click here and here, too) but this  time their latest family member Tess joins them, too. Congratulations, again!
Picture Jeroen Booij

The Euregio meeting would not have been complete without Ed 'The Hat' Darwinkel and his trusty Midas Gold, which is still in use on a daily base
Picture Jeroen Booij

Ed is seen here demonstrating the versatility of his Midas to an unsuspecting passer-by. What's more: the passer-by turned out to be a true enthusiast who's owned a Biota in the past. More to follow soon!
Picture Jeroen Booij

This is Peter Camping and his Midas Gold Convertible with hardtop. Peter is one of my most faithful readers and has provided this blog with many great finds in the past. Keep 'm coming mate!
Picture Jeroen Booij

Keith and Ruth Rose, who previously owned a string of Kingfisher Sprints, brought over their GTM Rossa from Somerset. Well done guys!
Picture Jeroen Booij

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Celebrating the Unipower GT (2)

On the roads to Beaulieu, last weekend, there were some strange sightings. Ultra low Lamborghinis, revving McLarens and speeding Ferraris mostly. They were there for the first Supercar Weekend held on the lawns of the National Motor Museum. Driving my trusty old Killjoy 2.0i it was rather amusing to be let in to the driver's gate and quite a few people tried to make me rev my car (which I did, too, of course). Anyway: I went there as on one of the fields saw a gathering of Unipower-people. Gerry Hulford - who everyone who's ever had anything to do with Unipowers will have come across to - had dusted off the phone list of Unipower owners and had rung a few. Not many had managed to make it over (but then most of them would have had to come over from Japan), but the few that did, formed a nice little group of enthusiasts.

Gerry himself was there with his infamous ex-works racer that he owns since 1976. You know the car was used for testing at Le Mans in ’69 (here and here) and Gerry has campaigned it since he had it in an array of colours and incarnations, but fully restored it last year. He told it seemed at first impossible to get hold of the original UNC threaded rose-joints, which the car needed, but by sheer luck eventually managed to trace several new old stock sets. Gerry: “When I first got it on the track after the restoration at Goodwood I was expecting the opposite lock stuff I knew so well, but there was nothing of the sort. For the first time I drove the car like I felt it should be.”

And then there was Tim Carpenter. Tim owns his Unipower since 1982 and fully restored it in 1983. However, he hardly drove it after this and had it stored for decades. Tim: “I remember the last time I drove it my wife had serious troubles getting in, as this was two weeks before our son was born. He is 23 now.” The 50th anniversary, however, made Tim rebuild the car’s mechanicals all over again and it now comes with a fully blueprinted 1398cc engine, delivering 93bhp on the brake and a neatly balanced weight distribution of 52% at the back and 48% at the front. Tim got it MOT’d only two weeks prior to the event and bravely drove it over from London to Beaulieu. “It was such a revelation driving it out of the workshop when it was finished. I then came to the motorway and though – why not? When I then came to the point that virtually nobody passed me I knew I was doing about 80mph and it was running very sweetly. On the rolling road we’d revved it up to 6,000rpm, which makes up to about 100mph, but I stick to under 4,500rpm now as I am still running in. It’s done only 170 miles since the rebuilt.” Tim never the less took it to the parade at Beaulieu, showing the car being revved up to a thrilled audience.

Other Unipowers on show where Mark Glashier’s left hand driven Mk2, which was originally sold to the US but beautifully restored by Mark Butler in the UK some years ago. It's the car that's featured prominently in the original Maximum Mini book. Mark (Glashier) remembered the 1969 Motor Show, where the Unipower was on display and looked for one for many years until this car came up for sale only in 2010. He drove it over to Beaulieu in wet conditions, so he's not afraid to use it either.

And then there was a bit of a surprise in the shape of Thomas Jay's Mk1 GT. In fact it is the car seen here before, with some photographs from its first owner Peter Knowles. Thomas owns it since 1971, but unfortunately crashed it (or 'pranged it' as he says) in 1975, after which it hasn’t been seen in public. Thomas: “It bump steered and caught me out one day. But at the time I also had a 3-Litre Volvo, which was quite a bit more convenient for the girlfriends, if you see what I mean.” But it was great to see the car, as Thomas had trailered the wreck over to from of Herefordshire, too. He surprised those present with a newly made chassis as he really is planning to turn it back to its former glory – work is finally commencing!

Among the other Unipower owners who made it to Beaulieu without their cars was Nick Gerolomou of Kent who’d used his car as a daily driver up until 1977, when he parked it in his garage. Nick has recently started a rebuilt and tried hard to trailer over his car, but couldn’t make it after the straps to attach it to the trailer were stolen on the morning of the show. Bummer! Good luck with the restoration job, never the less Nick and thank you once more for the 'Unipower 50th' baseball hat you gave! Gary Marlow was another Unipower owner present. He bought his car after an 18-year long negotiation with the former owner and is hoping to finish it in another couple of years, too. Last but not least all three generations of the Hofmann-family – Paul, his son Oli and his grandson Robin, had come over from Zürich, Switzerland to celebrate 50 years of the Unipower GT. Paul and Oli have another restoration project at home (the red care here), while they have restored another Swiss car in the past (this one).

But the greatest surprise may have been the attendance of both Unipower GT instigator Ernie Unger as well the car’s designer Vale Dare-Bryan. The illustrious duo hadn’t caught up for decades and were excited to see interest in the car still hadn’t faded. Apart from some amusing tales, Dare-Bryan had brought over some photographs and his sketchbook of the mid-1960s, giving a fascinating sight to the GT’s origins.
Thanks everyone for making the celebration become what it was.

The Unipower GT display at the Supercar Weekend at Beaulieu. Mini Miuras anyone?
Picture Jeroen Booij

Wow! What was the last time you saw three shining Unipower GT's together?
Picture Jeroen Booij

Looking beefy from any angle: the ex-works GT. In fact it carries chassis number 2
Picture Jeroen Booij

Crowd puller. Gerry did a superb job in restoring the car. Not for the first time...
Picture Jeroen Booij

Ernie Unger with Tim's GT - the first production car made, back in the summer of '66
Picture Jeroen Booij

And again… From left to right: Tim Carpenter, Val Dare-Bryan and Ernie Unger
Picture via Tim Carpenter

Tim is happy with the result of his hard work. And he's right. The car is superb
Picture Jeroen Booij

Mark Glashier now owns this ex-US lhd Unipower, restored by Mark Butler
Picture Jeroen Booij

Pranged and parked since 1975: Thomas Jay's Mk1 GT will need lots of work
Picture Jeroen Booij

All the parts are there, but it's not going to be easy to get them together again  
Picture Jeroen Booij

Thomas' car was registered SJB 402G and was described here before (click)
Picture Jeroen Booij

Work has now started on the rebuild of the car and a brand new chassis is the first step
Picture Jeroen Booij

From the sketch book of Val Dare-Bryan. Over 50 years old, but as if he drew it yesterday!
Picture Jeroen Booij

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Celebrating the Unipower GT (1)

I went to Beaulieu last weekend to have a bit of a celebration for the Unipower GT's 50th anniversary. I'll make a full report later this week, but here are already two little movie clips taken from the passenger seat of Tim Carpenter's freshly finished GT. The car is the very first production GT (more here), which Tim owns since 1982. Since that time it covered under 500 miles, but Tim now drove it over from London to Beaulieu and it's in fantastic shape and certainly looked, sounded and felt very good. More to follow, also about the other cars and people who'd made it to the party.

UPDATE: Sorry! The second video is too big to upload here, but you can see it at my Facebook account here.

Video: Jeroen Booij

Thursday, 18 August 2016

An Andersen Cub - but not as we know it

This is one Andersen Cub variant I'd never heard of: the Military version, named RTPV Cub, for Rough Terrain Patrol Vehicle. According to the leaflet testing by the British Army proved its strength, but I am not sure about any survivors. It would be nice to learn a bit more about it though...

Was Military RTPV Cub more then a Cub in disguise?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Said to be air portable and British Army tested - are there any RTPV survivors?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Wayne Morris' Andersen Cub was given the military theme, but is not an RTPV
Picture courtesy Wayne Morris


Friday, 12 August 2016

The last W&P Mini? - a remarkable story

This could start an interesting conversation. Tom got in touch about a car, which he thinks could be the last Mini coachbuilt by Wood & Pickett. He wrote: "Jeroen, as promised here some pics of something
potentially interesting, the allegedly last ever build W&P Mini. The story I've been told goes as follows:

The then owner of W&P decided to have another Mini fitted out in around 1986, thinking it would sell quickly and make some money.  A brand new unregistered Mini was sourced and converted in the style of the well known cars from the late '60s and early '70s. The night before the finished car was to be transferred from the workshop to the sales room, a break-in happened at the workshop and the car was stripped off its interior and other bits. An insurance claim followed, the car was a financial write-off and Mr. W&P had his quick sale. The words insurance fraud were mentioned as part of the story I was told."

"The still unregistered car then spend over 25 years at the yard of a company specialised in selling insurance damaged vehicles in Shropshire, occasionally being moved about by a forklift truck if required. Eventually the owner of a small repair shop local to me mangaed to purchase it and started to fit it out - potentially another one looking for quick and easy money. He had no idea what the car originally looked like so he did what he fancied, fitted what he could source resonably cheap and what he thought the car might have looked like."

"He eventually managed to get it registered with an age related registration and put it up for sale. By the time I took these pictures, about two years ago I think, the price had dropped from, I believe, £16k to just under £10k. Considering that W&P would not want to know anything about the car - apparantly the previous owners of the company were a little dodgy to say the least, and the general condition and repair quality of the car, I made a lower offer which was refused. It was then fitted with a 1275cc engine and automatic gear box, as far as I could make out much older than 1986."

"The seller claimed that he was in email contact with the person who originally fitted the car out but had the moved to Australia and had confirmed the authenticity of the car. The car then disappeared from the spot after a while, so I assume it had found a new owner. If you are really interested, I will try to find out where it went, just let me know. Cheers, Tom." Well, that's unnecessary to ask. Thanks for the contribution Tom and do keep us posted if anything news comes along!

UPDATE 14:30 hrs: 
I have received an anonymous message from a self-proclaimed 'WP Expert'. He wrote: "I am a WP expert and this is only a 'copy' by persons unknown. Among other things wrong: roof edges near 'B' posts wrong, position of small windows wrong, shape and size and position of rear oval wrong, rear pockets not modified, vinyl roof design/finishing is wrong, etc. This is just another fantasy and 'made up' fake WP. Sincerely."

Well - okay. Thank you mysterious message writer.

UPDATE 15:00 hrs:
Or is he totally wrong? Henk van Brakel spotted the car at around Christmas 1980 (?!) in the Wood & Pickett show room at Berkeley Square, central London. That would definitely make it an official car, I'd say. Henk's pictures are attached below.

As seen some two years ago: reputedly the last Mini built by Wood & Pickett
Picture courtesy Tom

The car comes with a history including theft, insurance fraud and quick profits
Picture courtesy Tom

W&P apparently doesn't want to know about it, although the company's name is spread all over
Picture courtesy Tom

Oval rear window is typical for the company's later cars, as are little side screens
Picture courtesy Tom


This definitely looks to be the same car. Picture was taken at around 1980 though
Picture courtesy Henk van Brakel

What's more: it was taken at W&P's showroom at Berkeley Square in London
Picture courtesy Henk van Brakel

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Another Ranger 4 reappears

In early 2014, a very rare Ranger Cub 4 appeared up for sale. Well, the body for such a car - see here. A second four-wheeler Cub has now come up on the same well-known sales website and I believe it could well be the car that made it to the 1975 Speed Show in London. Where the earlier Cub 4 was black - like the one seen in promotional photographs; this one is red in colour, which matches with the picture I have of the 1975 Ranger stand. The car is is for sale in Telford, Shropshire and the seller states the following (bad grammar warning): "Ranger kit car mini based kit car logbook says mini pick up date of reg is 5/2/1968. Had this car in px of another car. It's not running I no nothing about the car. needs lots off work . I have the v5 (log book). Must be paid for and picked up with in five days. Cash on collection." Definitely not the best advertisement, but certainly a rare treat? I believe just four bodies were made...

That's a Ranger Cub for sure. But not as we know it (if we do at all)…
Picture courtesy ebay.co.uk

...As this one comes with the pick up rear and four rather then three wheels
Picture courtesy ebay.co.uk

Rear is largely similar to the Ranger Pick Up including a dropping tailgate
Picture courtesy ebay.co.uk

Not sure what happened to the car's nose, but it won't be rust. It was registered NEG 241F
Picture courtesy ebay.co.uk

London Speed Show 1975. The same car? Behind the black Cub three-wheeler is a Cub 4
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

This black one, registered 524 NOA was used for all the publicity pictures
Picture Jeroen Booij archive