Monday, 21 July 2014

Mini Beach Car makes it to auction

With only fourteen made the chances of bumping upon a Mini based Beach car are limited, but visitors of the Quail Lodge in California will see one on 15th of August this year, when one of them comes up for auction. According to Bonhams auctioneers' description 13 of the Beach cars were left hand driven and 'went to destinations in the United States, where they would serve as dealer and distributor promotional vehicles to promote the North American introduction of the new Mini'. Thirteen seems a bit of an exaggeration to me but fact is that this one came that way. It was used for promotion by San Francisco based Austin concessionaire Kjell Qvale. He kept it at his ranch and had it painted dark green at one stage before giving it to a friend named Keith Simon at around 2000. Simon started a restoration before selling it to Robert Forbes in 2007. It's now in its original Surf Blue once more. Unfortunately the original wicker seats, made by Lloyd Loom of Spalding have disappeared and have ben replaced by standard Mini seats with wickeresque fabric. Beach car owner John Reymondos wrote to me: "From personal experience, they are not comfortable at all, so that might be the reason…" He had Lloyd Loom made new ones for his car a couple of years ago, so they may do that again for this one - if you have the money left. The estimate is a whopping $70 - 90,000. That's £41 - 53,000. Worth it or completely over the top?

This Beach Car spent most of its life at a ranch in California, not on a beach
Picture courtesy Bonhams Auctions

With under 12,000 miles on the clock it looks superb in a very 1960s shade of blue
Picture courtesy Bonhams Auctions

Unfortunately the original Lloyd Loom wicker seats are not there anymore
Picture courtesy Bonhams Auctions

The engine is the original 850 although the unsynchronized 1st gear has been replaced
Picture courtesy Bonhams Auctions

I believe this is the car prior to being repainted in its original Surf Blue colour
Picture Jeroen Booij archive


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Minis at Le Mans (in 2014)

Hang on, Le Mans Classic was there, last weekend. And there were three Mini based cars competing in  this year's endurance race. The white/blue Mini Marcos from France that was seen there in the last two years made it to the La Sarthe track once more. Another Belgian Mini Marcos was there now, too. I'm not too sure about the first one being a 1965 car (it was entered as being such), but I'm positive about the Belgian car not being of that vintage. It was supposed to be so, never the less. French authorities - do your homework, I would say.

The Marcoses finished 48th and 59th in their class respectively. Last but not least was the Deep Sanderson 301 entered in Class 3 by a British team of Robi Bernberg and Paul Ugo. This is the car that made it to the real Le mans race in both 1963 as 1964, making this year's return a 50th anniversary!  Despite a very good start it slowed down considerably later in the event, eventually finishing 55th in class. I'm not sure if it was as fast as back in '64 but at least it managed to make it to the finish line in one piece unlike 50 years ago!

Great car, great picture. French Mini Marcos thunders along Mulsanne straight
Picture courtesy Facebook.com/formnfunction

Another Mini Marcos, this one from Belgium. That's definitely not a 1965 car
Picture courtesy Tim Scott / Sports Car Digest 

Deep Sanderson 301 - 50 Years have passed since this exact car ran at this exact place
Picture courtesy Ian Summerill 



Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Mini - histoires inédites

Fortunately I am not the only person making books. My French colleague Enguerrand Lecesne is doing the same, focussing on racing Minis in France mainly. His latest book 'Mini - histories inédites' (Mini-untold stories) has just been published and I received my copy this week. It does mention some Mini derivatives and so it clearly deserves a place here. The book is divided into 4 sections (Drivers, Tuners, 'All Genres', and Pictures) and it's the third part that appeals most to me. Here you will find stuff about racing Minis and derivatives in all sorts of races - again mainly French.

Lecesne has been trying hard to find out more about the long-lost and reputedly stolen Le Mans Mini Marcos (more here). And despite having no clue where it ended up, some new information plus a few pictures, has made it to the book. Apparently the car was rallied later in its life and also used to go on a camping holiday by its last owner! Another Mini Marcos mentioned is a car that was entered in the 1000 kms of Paris in 1966, as driven by Claude Swietlik and Adam Potocki and finishing 17th there, just before the Le mans car which was also entered and came home 18th. Where would that be now?

Other interesting stories include the Targa Florio 'Twini', a much-campaigned French MiniSprint GTR and several French DIY-Sprints. Broadspeed is described in the Tuners-section. The GT gets just a brief mention but an unknown picture (to me) of John Fitzpatrick racing it at Mallory Park compensates for that. That sums this book pretty much up - the amount of (French) pictures is pretty amazing and if you wouldn't even understand what's written about them, you'll love the period atmosphere they ooze. Available at 39.90 Euros plus P&P from the publisher.

208 pages and crammed with period pictures - this book is another milestone 

French Mini Marcoses galore - Lecesne just keeps on chasing these cars

Friday, 4 July 2014

Postman Pat's car exists - and is Mini based

Ha, this is a good one! A real-life Postman Pat car based on good old Mini mechanicals. It was supposedly built for a landlord as an advertising vehicle some 25 years ago but has only been used for a couple of years. The seller says: "Complete with a few engine parts missing but could be got back on road again with some work. Many long hours were spent on this project and it seems a shame to send it to the vehicle graveyard." Good point. See the advertisement here. It's based in Cullompton, Devon, which looks like a real-life Postman Pat village to me, too...

Postman Pat exists… or at least his car does. It was road legal, too…
Picture courtesy ebay.co.uk

Cars do not become more boxy than this. Not too much space for parcels though...
Picture courtesy ebay.co.uk

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Maximum Mini 2 is here!

The original Maximum Mini (still available from me, too) and the brand new volume 2
Picture Jeroen Booij

I won't bore you with the troubles to get hold of some of the pictures and many of the people to interview in the past 5 years, the lay-out difficulties, the many file-adjustments needed, unexpected bills from printers, hick-ups at the port customs, more unexpected bills, transport logistics and storage problems - Maximum Mini 2 is here!

And you can simply buy it direct from me by going here (click).

You will also find a few sample pages there. In total the book counts 128 pages and is similar in shape and size to the original Maximum Mini book. It comes with over 500 pictures that have not been seen in print before, while much of the information was cobbled together by interviewing the designers and builders first hand. Oh - none of the cars in this new book has been featured in the first volume.

The full list of cars that have made it to a chapter:

ABC Tricar • ABS Freestyle • AEM Scout • AF Spider & Grand Prix • Alto Duo • Andersen Cub • ASD Hobo • ASD Minim • Aurora BMC • Autocom Mini Buggy • Beach Car / Riviera Buggy • Brookwell Trifid • Camarotta • Codford Mini • Crayford Mini Sprint • Elswick Envoy • Fisher Spyder • Foers Nomad • Gecko • GP Yak • Greenwood Mini ‘sidecar’ • GTM Rossa • Hrubon Phaeton / Schmitt • Hustler 4 • Hustler 6 • IGM Minbug • Jackson Sportster • Jiffy • Jimini & Jimini 2 • Lawther GT • Libra Magnum • Magenta • Martini Mini ASC • Metron • Mini Beaver • Mini Mare • Minissima • Minus Maxi • Mosquito / Triad • New Era Mini • NJC Mini • Phoenix • Quasar-Unipower City car • Radford Mini De Ville • Ranger Cub • Roles XS-3 Road-star • RTV • Saga • Scamp Mk1 • Scamp Mk2 / Mk3 • Sekura Mini • Siva Mule • Status Sabot • Stewart & Ardern MiniSprint • Stimson Scorcher • Stimson Trek • TXC Tracer • Whitby Mini-Warrior • Wildgoose • Wood & Pickett Mini Margrave

If you want your book signed or if you like me to dedicate it to a loved one, just let me know and I will be happy to scribble something in your copy.

It's not very often that I get into a car myself! Here in the utterly exciting Fisher Spyder
Picture Peter Speakman

And more 'Making of Maximum Mini 2'. This is the ABC Tricar that took me so long to find
Picture Roy Kirkham

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Digitally detailed Mini Marcoses

A chap under the nom de plume of Boxman dropped me a line recently, about the Mini Marcoses he created for a computer game called GT Legends. "I hope you appreciate my work, that was done with a lot of support from your work." I do. As a matter of fact I was impressed by the detailed job he'd done on these great little cars. Have a look below.

Finest hour Mini Marcos - the 1966 Le Mans car built by Jean-Claude Hrubon
Picture courtesy Boxman

Works Mini Marcos - the 1967 Le Mans car, which survives in Africa
Picture courtesy Boxman

Heroic Mini Marcos - the 1967 Targa Florio racer believed to survive in Sweden
Picture courtesy Boxman

Local Mini Marcos - the 1966 ART (Algemeen Racing Team) car at Zandvoort
Picture courtesy Boxman

GT40 Mini Marcos - the German Gulf-liveried car, at the Nurburgring
Picture courtesy Boxman

Heritage Mini Marcos - the 2012 Le Mans Classic car driven by Remy Julienne
Picture courtesy Boxman


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

European Mini Marcoses unite

Marcos fans from Europe are gathering together for the Euregio Marcos Meet on Sunday 31 August in The Netherlands, and several Mini Marcoses will be attending from far and awide. There have been meetings like this in the 1990s and some fans of the marque have now teamed up to give it a new lease of life. As a matter of fact not all of these chaps are Mini Marcos owners, which means there will be Midases, too, and some Pimlicos have also been confirmed to make it over to this part of the world. I have been asked to form another display of Mini derivatives, something in the vein of Blyton Park, so let me just see if there is enthusiasm for that by responding below.

The idea is to gather at this restaurant in Oosterhout, NL at around 10:00 for coffee and tea and a lunch slightly later on. After lunch there will be a ride to Boxtel, some 30 miles to the east, where a brand new classic car showroom will be open for anyone driving a British car. Costs are calculated at a modest 15 Euros for the lunch plus 5 Euros for entrance to the showroom in Boxtel - any passengers pay 8 Euros to get in. For the first 150 cars and their drivers and passengers entrance is free though. Interested? Drop a line to the organizers on euregiomeeting@gmail.com

Big Marcoses, Mini Marcoses, big flares and mini skirts. Let them all revive!
Picture courtesy NL Mini Marcos en Marcos club

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Updates from the Antipodes

Benie from Australia dropped me a line last week about one of the more exotic Mini based sports cars he owned one day - a Pellandini. He wrote: "I bought the third Pellandini built in about 1971 into New South Wales. It had push up headlights, gullwing doors and a Perspex windscreen. It had Mini front uprights and specially designed aluminium rear uprights held by unequal length wishbone suspension. The front rollcentre was one inch lower than the rear (to use 10" rims on the front axle and 12" rims on the rear) and it had coil over shocks. It used mini standard rack and pinion steering. Peter Pellandine told me he once worked at Lotus cars and copied the all-fibreglass Lotus Elan. I think it had a similar frontal profile of the Lotus 23 sportscar. The Mini-engine in my car was mounted just forward of the rear axle. It was light weight and I could lift the front by myself and the rear without the engine installed. I built the engine and put it in. It came in a half race /half road setup with race tyres and was really quick, especially in hill climbing and on the track. I had it painted before delivery in a Holden lime green colour."Benie is willing to dig out his old photo files, so we may see some nice old pictured of his car in the near future. I'm not sure but I think it could be the same car as the one on the pictures below, which were sent to me a long time ago. I do not know anything else about the car in question. Maybe somebody else here does?

Mystery Pellandini looks as though it could do with some tender loving care
Picture Jeroen Booij archive, source unknown

I can see some traces of lime green paint on that shell, so could it be Benie's old car?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive, source unknown

Meanwhile, in New Zealand, a genuine Broadspeed GT has been sold swiftly through this website. The car was advertised on the Maximum Mini forum (worth checking here) by its second owner who'd taken care of it for 29 years. The 1967 GT was imported into New-Zealand in 1971 by Miles Udy who previously worked at Broadspeed in the UK. It is said to be the only Broadspeed GT with dry suspension and is correctly registered as 'Broadspeed GT'. Apart from being painted a Rolls-Royce metallic red at one stage it is very original and comes with 5" Minilites and a bucket seat believed to come from one of Ralph Broad's old racing cars. I wish the new owner all the best with it, and do keep me updated about this little stunner!

One owner for 29 years and sold swiftly through the Maximum Mini forum
Picture courtesy Justin Toebes

Friday, 20 June 2014

Barnfind Biotas and a long-forgotten Jem

Over two years ago I posted an article about the MiniJem estate that was supposedly factory-built. See here. Was there anyone out here who knew what happened to the car? Well, it took a while, but I have finally found out that it does still exist. Steve Padfield dropped me a line, saying: "I own the prototype Mini Jem Estate you have listed, that I bought from Mike Brown. It is still safe and I hope to restore it one day but as usual there are more projects than time. I plan to paint it light blue once I have tackled the crazed gel coat as I have an unfortunate history with motor vehicles painted white. The interior will be light grey. Knowing it is such a rare car I will be restoring it as far as possible to original specification. Retirement is in the near future so perhaps then."

Steve Padfield owns the MiniJem estate nowadays - seen here in 1993
Picture courtesy Jeroen Booij

Steve also wrote me that he has another nice project awaiting restoration: "I also have a Mk2 Biota that I rescued from a peacock farm in mid-Wales where it was being used as a roost. The upholstery suffered being buried under **** for so long. Another rescued project awaiting time…" Great stuff Steve, do not forget to send some pictures! As a matter of fact it's not the only Biota that has been recovered recently. Paul Wylde sent me some pictures of a Mk1 Biota that had been locked away for 30 years. Paul: "The guy was going to use it for parts until I told him some history about them!" Well done, mate. And keep us posted.

M-reg Biota Mk1 has been locked away for 30 years before being saved last week
Picture courtesy Paul Wylde

It's a Mk1 with the rarely seen triangular blinkers. Needs some work though!
 Picture courtesy Paul Wylde

Engine is of unknown capacity but SUs with nice trumpets may direct to power
Picture courtesy Paul Wylde

Friday, 13 June 2014

Deep Sandersons were heroic too!

Okay, I could have expected some comment calling Hrubon's 1966 Mini Marcos 'Le Mans most heroic entry' (click here). The Deep Sandersons that made it to the track in 1963 and 1964 were also pretty heroic, indeed. So here some pictures which I haven't published before to compensate for. Full stories on the cars at 24-hour race here for 1963, and here for 1964. Enjoy.

Pit scene of 1963. Chris Lawrence and Chris Spender in light blue overalls
Picture courtesy J.D. Belanger

Little and large - the 'clockwork mouse' is overtaken by big Ferrari 330 LM
Picture courtesy J.D. Belanger

Another great action shot during the race. Has it just passed a Ferrari 250 GTO here?
Picture courtesy LAT archive / Classic & Sports Car

The two Lawrence Tune entries for 1964 next to each other. Car at right is crashed later
Picture courtesy acheritage.co.uk

The pit lane in that year. Gendarme overlooks Deep Sanderson 301 prior to start
Picture courtesy acheritage.co.uk

Here together with Triumph Spitfire of Rob Slotemaker who'd tested the DS' engine!
Picture courtesy Jeroen Booij archive