Thursday, 27 November 2014

BMW museum shows derivatives in 'The MINI Story'

You'll have to admit that BMW, as Mini's current custodian, is doing rather well in keeping the flame alive. As a matter of fact they open an exhibition tomorrow in Munich's BMW Museum called 'The MINI Story', emphasizing on 55 years of great little car design with 30 cars on display, and they were nice enough to send a press release with plenty of photographs over to here.

Yes, the emphasis lies on current models and prototypes for these, but interestingly for us lot there's a little more than the well-known classics they haul to every prestigious event. In fact they have made the effort to show some Mini derivatives! A tip of the iceberg, okay, but definitely worth a mention here never the less. There's an Outspan Orange Mini, a Wildgoose and Whitby Morrison Ice Cream Van, plus a rare four-door Mini built by our friends of Mini Mengers, who came up with the Mengers 3WP earlier this year. The expo will open tomorrow at 20:00, followed by a party into the early hours, and will last until 31 January 2016, so you've got over a year to pay the place a visit!

1969 Riley Elf and 1967 Morris Countryman, yes, but the Outspan Orange is the cool one here!
Picture courtesy BMW

 Pristine Wildgoose Super VEB and now-rare Whitby Morrison Mini Ice Cream Van
Picture courtesy BMW

This Rover Mini was converted by Mengers of Germany, who also build the 3WP
Picture courtesy BMW

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Broadspeeds on paper

Look at this, some nice Broadspeed related paperwork. First there's the advertisement of a GT of Cheshire's garage, that former owner Barrie Smith promised to send over. The asking price of 1600 GBP seems cheap now, but Barrie Smith eventually paid 950 GBP for it...
Next, Major Upsett posted some lovely Broadspeed press material on that great Mk1 Performance forum last week, and I include some copies here. There's a letter to the editor of The Motor magazine, dated December 1965, about Broadspeed's stand - number 46 - at the upcoming Racing Car Show of 1966 and a press release plus picture of the dual exhaust system that Broadspeed had on offer there. 

Advertisement from The Motor with the Broadspeed GT that Barry bought in it
Picture courtesy Barrie Smith

Tony Blore informs The Motor's editor about their Racing Car Show plans
Picture courtesy 'Major Upsett'

Broadspeed's new high performance 'GT 2+2' is announced in the press release
Picture courtesy 'Major Upsett'

Broadspeed's dual exhaust system was fitted top their GT as a standard
Picture courtesy 'Major Upsett'

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Mystery Mini derivative (39)

Believe it or not: this is my 500th post since I started this blog four years ago. And the very first was a Mystery Mini derivative (still unsolved!), so why not make the 500th again a mysterious Mini based motor?

The one shown here came to me via regular Miguel Plano of Canada. The car in question is advertised on a Canadian website and doesn't look like anything else I've seen before. Was it built for a specific (agricultural) purpose? It has some Moke styling cues, but is shorter and is clearly based on an ordinary Mini saloon. The Mini bonnet is still in place and I think the same goes for the inner fenders. But then the rest of it! It's considerably shortened and looks like something from the fairground! See the ad here. I have asked the seller for more information but he doesn't reply. Perhaps someone out here knows more about it?

The base supposedly is a 1968 Morris Mini with the conversion dating back to the 1970s
Picture courtesy

The car's rear looks like it was meant to be used as an agricultural machine?
Picture courtesy

Engine is said to be an 850 and looks bog standard. It's not seized but doesn't run either
Picture courtesy

The body conversion certainly hasn't left much place for the driver and passenger!
Picture courtesy

Friday, 14 November 2014

Swiss Radford hatchback is still out there

Interesting pictures of a stunning Radford Mini de Ville with hatchback have been sent over to me from Switzerland by avid reader Christian Amhof. And it's the same car reader Graeme Farr spotted back in 1987 outside Wood & Pickett's London workshops when it was revamped there. Graeme send over the photographs he took back at the time a year ago and wrote: "Attached some photos I took at W&P in 1987. I didn't get any photos of the McCartney Mini as it left the day before I was there. Just saw this Radford getting a WP makeover – the Radford dash was complete and in the skip – and Eddie (Collins-JB) said I could grad it if I wanted. But I had caught the train there so it was a bit bulky to take back to London." Now that's a pity, putting things mildly!

Radford or Wood & Pickett? Well, a bit of both really! Seen here at W&P in 1987
Picture courtesy Graeme Farr

Brand new dashboard had just been fitted, the old Radford one ended in at the skip... 
Picture courtesy Graeme Farr

Base vehicle is a Mk2 Morris Cooper (S?). If you look closely you can see Geneva plate
Picture courtesy Graeme Farr

Meanwhile, Christian has seen it several times in his native Switzerland, and it appears to have changed next to nothing since its 1987 overhaul, still wearing the same colour and trim. Christian wrote: "I have seen it several times at the British Car Meeting in Morges, but the car never wears a number plate nor can you see the owner… I heard of another W&P car in Switzerland which once belonged to the Shah of Persia."

Interestingly, the supposed Shah's car was in at W&P's workshop at the same time back in 1987 when Graeme was there - more on that later. For now: who knows more about this intriguing pair of coachbuilt Minis?

The same car last year. Only the reversing light seems to have been changed...
Picture courtesy Christian Amhof

Interior, too, is still all the same, spotted here at the British Car Meet in Morges
Picture courtesy Christian Amhof

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Mystery Mini derivative (38)

I still have quite a few mystery motors left in the files, several of which come in the shape of a 3-wheeler so let's post another one up here. This car was bought in the UK in 2007 by Dutcham Peter Hintzen and for him, too, its origins are shady. Peter wrote: "It's a Heinkel prototype, as far as I know the only one in existence, and built by Noble Motors Ltd. of Piccadilly, London. According to the UK registration (511 KPU) it originally used an 803cc engine (could that be Morris Minor?-JB) and it was road registered for the first time in 1957, but the first private owner is listed in 1974. In 1998 it was given a 1275 Mini engine."

Peter thinks it was meant to become a Heinkel Kabine based sports car, made to look like a Morgan three-wheeler after Morgan had stopped production of their own trike. I am not too sure about that, though. To me it looks much like a privately built special, maybe based on a Heinkel chassis. I asked 3-wheeler authority Chris Rees who wrote: "Your trike isn't one I've come across before. Metal-bodied so most likely a one-off. It's possible it is based on a Noble 200 chassis, I suppose, but it has the look of a 1970s special. Do let me know if you find out any more…"

Over to you!

Oddly enough Peter's Mini based 3-wheeler is registered as a 1957 Heinkel
Picture courtesy Peter Hintzen

 Peter thinks it's a Heinkel factory prototype, but these shapes ooze something else
Picture courtesy Peter Hintzen

 Straight panels, wood bits and a most unusual chassis tube (?) in the interior 
Picture courtesy Peter Hintzen

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Arthur owned that Status Minipower

It's really nice to get in touch with people who have found these pages through searching for more information about a car they used to own. One of them is Arthur Bills, who came here looking for all things Status Minipower related. Arthur owned one of these great little cars in the 1980s. In fact it was this car, at one time owned by this man.

Arthur wrote: "Hi Jeroen, These photo's do not answer the question as to the current location of the car because they were taken in 1984, when I owned it. The owner before me was a Chinese student who abandoned the car and went to live in Singapore. It was parked in the front garden of his landladies house and was in poor condition, missing its cylinder head, radiator, manifolds, carb and exhaust system. There was a small amount of damage but it had not been vandalised. The cylinder bores had rust damage so I fitted a complete engine from a donor car (1275 Austin), single 1 1/2 SU on an inlet manifold made by sawing the exhaust half off a standard BL cast iron manifold and welding a water pipe to it. I fitted a 3-into-1 exhaust manifold and an exhaust system bolted up with parts from the local repair shop, as I could not find a local Status dealer! The radiator was replaced with the one from the donor car and I had to replace steering column lock and ignition switch because the key had gone missing. Triumph Herald steering column if I remember correctly. A few other minor repairs had to be done mainly because it had been parked outside exposed to the weather for so long."

"The Status was my daily drive for more than 3 years and the only problem I can remember was excessive play in an inboard wishbone bush discovered at an MOT test. These tests usually consisted of 10 minutes checking brakes lights, steering etc, followed by the mechanic taking it for a 30 minute test drive! Punctures could have been a big problem - no spare wheel - but I only ever had one and that was conveniently across the street from a tyre depot. Driving the car was amazing even with a 1275 engine acceleration was very good and the faster you drove around corners, curves roundabouts etc the happier the car felt and the drivers smile got bigger. Car park barriers and similar obstructions did not stop you as the car was so low it was easy to drive underneath them. One disadvantage was the amount of attention you got from almost everyone. A 15 minute trip could take twice as long because somebody wanted to look at the car and talk to you about it. Once I escaped a well deserved ticket when 2 policemen spent so much time checking out the Status and talking to me, that they just let me go without even a caution."

"The last time I saw the car was approximately in 1993 looking as it does in the other photographs. I have many happy memories of the Status and would like to thank Brian Luff and Nigel Harper for designing and building such a wonderful car. I have had many cars over the years and the Status is one of the few that I wish still belonged to me, writing this article has bought back many memories of the good times I had with the Status."

That's a great story Arthur, thanks a lot for sharing it here. The pictures have now also confirmed the car's registration number 'HON 893N' and I am happy to tell the DVLA still recognizes the number as a green Status. It's been off the road since 1985, or so it seems, but chances are its still out there. The hunt goes on.

Arthur with the Status Minipower at Stoneleigh in '84. He used it as a daily driver for 3 years
Picture courtesy Arthur Bills

Only 8 out of 20 Minipower chassis were sold with the purpose made body
Picture courtesy Arthur Bills

Designer Luff said that this is how the Lotus 7 S4 should have looked like
Picture courtesy Arthur Bills

This particular car was built up by Nigel Harper and later owned by a Chinese student
Picture courtesy Arthur Bills

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Is this a prototype Scamp?

I am not sure, but the hulk of rust you see below may represent a very interesting piece of Mini-derivatives history. Ian Whitehead got in touch about it recently because he bought the thing, not knowing what it was. He wrote: "Hi Jeroen, Ian here. I don't no if you can help, but I've just got this Mini and all I've been told is that it's not a Scamp. Have you come across this model before?"

I hadn't, but I was pretty sure it was a Mk1 Scamp never the less, 
with the signature chassis frame and shapes looking very similar to me. And because this car came with a different front I just thought it was a Scamp that unfortunately was butchered up at one stage in its life. Or maybe at the very start of it, since these cars were sold as kits to people who built them in whatever way they liked...

But then Ian came back to me, writing: "Yes, I think you're spot on the main frame being an early Mk1 Scamp and I've found out that both front and back have not been built to Scamp spec. Also, it's not on the log book as Scamp - i
t says body type Robert Mandry. But as it took four hours to get it out of the barn and only cost £100 I'm happy…"

Now, that triggered me, since Robert Mandry was the man who originally designed the Scamp. It may be a very early example of the species then…? That may also be the reason why it is different. Or as Ian put it "In the early design stage perhaps he hadn't been up the pub enough!"

The car is registered in 1966 while Mandry did not start any earlier then 1968 with his Scamps. The 1966 D-reg could very well be that of the Mini donor - a 998 with automatic, but since it's registered as a Robert Mandry special it could well be something else, too. Ian adds: "Most of the fittings are Mk1 Mini, even the front drums are single cylinder so they are pre 64?" Who knows more about it?

It is a Scamp Mk1, there's no doubt about that. But could it be a prototype?
Picture courtesy Ian Whitehead

Front is very different from the Scamp as we know it and it's oddly registered, too
Picture courtesy Ian Whitehead

The very boxy chassis frame leaves no doubt about it being a Scamp Mk1 
Picture courtesy Ian Whitehead

But the car's rear is even simpler than that of the Scamp Mk1 that we know...
Picture courtesy Ian Whitehead

Thursday, 30 October 2014

2 Former Broadspeed owners call in

What a coincidence to get in touch with not one but two former owners of the same Broadspeed GT this week!

First of them was Barrie Smith, who was a keen racing amateur at the time and bought the 1966-car registered EOP 89D second hand for £950. He wrote: "Originally it was bought by a wealthy chap called Bateman who lived in Kent near us. He then sold it to Cheshire’s Garage in Westgate, and that is where I bought it in around 1969, so it was a bit over two years old. I used it for a couple of years before selling it on. I do not remember where or to whom. I have the original advert from Cheshire’s Garage that I can send to you next week (I have told Barrie I am looking forwards to this-JB). I only did one sprint with it, organized by the Margate and district motor club at Manston airport".

But the best bit is that Barrie has some gorgeous old pictures of the car, taken during his ownership, see below. Like Barrie, I do not know who owned the car after he sold it, but in 1977 it was taken over by Greg Jones, who also contacted me this week, through his son. He wrote:

"In 1977, I bought EOP 89D, the white car seen on the front cover of Car and car Conversions magazine in January 1967. When I bought her she was metallic brown and I used her for fun until 1980. At Silverstone in 1978, people hardly new what a Broadspeed was and took little notice. The GT would out pace my brothers new V12 XJS up to about 85mph. Then I advertised it in Motor Sport magazine and was phoned by Tony Bloore, who was a director of Broadspeed. He had a poster of EOP 89D and EOP 88D at the show with his wife standing between them. Apparently, the 89D and another GT were given as prizes by the Daily Express. Tony Bloore did not buy 89D because it snowed before seeing her and he bought the original Scimitar supposedly owned by Prince Phillip. I eventually gave 89D to my nephew who sold her to someone in Henley in Arden, Warwickshire. I presume he restored her to being white as in photos seen in recent years."

And, indeed, the car has meticulously been restored in recent times. Unfortunately we don't see it very often anymore. Will we see you at Blyton Park next year, Chris?

The Broadspeed GT at Cheshires garage in Westgate. It was here that Barrie paid £950 for it
Picture courtesy Barrie Smith

 In the garage workshop. Note BARC badge in grille - Barrie was a keen racer
Picture courtesy Barrie Smith

 EOP 89D seen here at one of many race meetings which Barrie attended during ownership
Picture courtesy Barrie Smith 

 Barrie with the car in his young days. He kept it for some years but raced it only once
Picture courtesy Barrie Smith

 This is they only picture that I have of the car when it was brown, as it was when Greg Jones had it
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

'EOP 89D' as it is now. Fully restored to what could be a better than new specification
Picture courtesy

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Autotesting a Stimson Trek

One of the good things about a blog is that you can share lots more information than you can in a book. It's the main reason why I started these web pages years ago, and I shouldn't forget to dig out some nice anecdotes I have come across in all those years researching our beloved Mini based cars. Take the Stimson Trek, for example. Fully featured in Maximum Mini 2. You may be surprised that this very tall and seemingly top-heavy vehicle was heavily auto tested back in the 1980s.

That has to be one of the most surprising motor sports appearances in the past 50 years. Mike Bennett who ran the Mini Register told me years ago about it. I dug up the message he wrote to me, which unravels the full and most unlikely story:

"Hi Jeroen. You may already know some of the following but I am happy to include it just in case. The rights to the Trek and the moulds were bought by a couple of guys from the Wirral, Merseyside. Their names were Sandy Lee and John (Im afraid I cant remember his surname). Sandy and John set up a company called Trek to manufacture the car and operated out of a unit on an enterprise park in Birkenhead. They sold a few cars locally and then got some orders from Spain. Following this they obtained a deal from a company that were selling them through the Debenhams store chain. Things were going well and then they received an order from this company for what I think was 25 complete cars a month. To cope with this volume, they took on another unit, bought a chopped strand fibreglass spraying machine and took on more staff. Then things went wrong, the cheques from the company that ordered the run of cars started to bounce and despite all attempts by Sandy and John, Trek went into liquidation."

"I got involved when I visited the company to take a look at the car. I was competing in autotests at the time in my Mk1 Cooper S, the national autotest championship was evolving at the time with cars in the Mini classes being significantly lightened. I did not want to modify my S in this way and was looking for an alternative car. Sandy and John suggested I tried their demo car in the car park and after a few handbrake turns I tried a reverse flick and managed to roll the car. I was very concerned that I had damaged their car but Sandy and John were very pleased!, they had been trying to roll the car on the beach to prove that the roof bars were strong enough and had not managed to do so, as the car had survived the roll with just a few scratches to the paint they were very happy. The upshot was that they gave me a kit to compete in the national autotest championship. I had a very rusty 1275GT at the time and with the help of a friend built the car in a fortnight just in time for the next round of the championship. The arrangement with Sandy and John was that after each event I would take it back to the factory so that they could give it a good check over and see if any improvements could be made, they were very keen to use the experience in motorsport to improve the car.
The car consisted of a tubular chassis with two substantial roof bars that acted as the windscreen support at the front and ran to the rear of the car. You drove it sitting astride the chassis, motorcycle style, with the gearlever between your knees, the bench seat across the rear could accommodate two passengers. A complete Mini subframe and steering rack bolted to the front of the chassis and the Minis rear trailing arms bolted directly to the rear. A pair of coil-over shock absorbers replaced the Mini rear springs. The body consisted of two mouldings, the main tub and the detachable bonnet."

"Initially the car was a real handful to drive on autotests, with the roof bars and the large windscreen, the car was very top heavy and also very light at the rear, under heavy braking the rear wheels would rise two feet into the air. Constant improvements through the year made it more competitive but it was still someway short of the autotest Mini specials (Minis with the roof cut off right down to just over the rear wheel arches) that were in the same class. It didnt help that I was in the same class as Russ Swift and John Underwood, both of whom are multiple British Champions, so I finished the year with a string of 3rd in class awards. Plans were being made for a new car for the following year with a lower centre of gravity but that was not to be."

"Sandy and John were real enthusiasts and took a great delight in the Trek venture, it is a great shame that like so many of the others in your book, it was the business side that spelt the end. Cheers, Mike."

I hope you are okay, Mike, since I haven't heard from you for a while.
Meanwhile I attach some pictures of different Stimson Treks I collected over time. Anyone else who has one?

I photographed this Stimson Trek in 2007. It was owned by Steven Dale at the time
Picture Jeroen Booij

This one (GHU 43B) came up for sale on eBay in 2009, looking good (apart from that seat)
Picture Jeroen Booij

While this one made it to the well-known auction site in 2011 - again with a seat placed on it
Picture Jeroen Booij

This is a picture from my archive, and I can't remember where it came from
Picture Jeroen Booij

This Trek was a full restoration project and was part of a collection of Stimsons
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

This Stimson Trek chassis was part of that same collection. I have no idea if it survives 
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Back on track

That was a rather long silence on here, but all for a good cause. I have been traveling to see some splendid cars and meet their enthusiastic owners. The scene below is one of several I stumbled upon. No, I'm not telling you where or what, but it may be no surprise that the car in the centre of the picture is the one that brought me there in the first place. Yes, it's another Unipower GT. And I can tell you it wasn't the only thing of interest in there. Do you recognize the others on the picture?

Centre stage for the Unipower GT in a superb collection of cars
Picture Jeroen Booij