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

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

Rear is largely similar to the Ranger Pick Up including a dropping tailgate
Picture courtesy

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

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

Friday, 5 August 2016

Remembering Kirsty the Flogle

Wearing chassis number FO 1 8 66 - for Fletcher Ogle number 1, August 1966 - it's 50 years ago that the Fletcher GT debuted. Speedboat manufacturer Norman Fletcher had acquired the Ogle SX1000 project and turned that into the Fletcher GT, which was first seen at Castle Combe when entered in the Hagley 100 race on the 20th August 1966. It used an ageing 1100cc engine at the time and a John Aley rollcage was fitted. The car was entered by Gilbert Baird and driven by John Handley and managed to win its class despite an aging 1100 engine.

More on the car's history here. We all know what happened to it more recently when in ownership of Paul Ogle, who'd lovingly named it Kirsty the Flogle (if you do not know what happened, click here, but be warned), so it's good to remember the car now that it would have celebrated its 50th birthday.

First of the Fletchers in the Castle Combe paddock, where it debuted in August 1966
Picture courtesy Paul Ogle 

Driven by former Broadspeed driver John Handley, it finished first in class
Picture courtesy Paul Ogle 

This picture, dating back to the 1980s, came to the light only recently. Note lack of grille
Picture courtesy Paul Ogle 

This is what it looked like when Paul had the car. Unfortunately it is no longer with us
Picture courtesy Paul Ogle

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Repairing a Jem - by Fellpoint in the '70s

Some great period shots came in via Jeremy Harrison‎, who's restoring a Mini Jem Mk2 and found out the car had undergone body repairs in the 1970s. And what's more: this job was carried out in Penn Garage, where Jem builder Robin Statham had his company Fellpoint Ltd based, and there are some good photographs to prove it.

Jeremy wrote: "After I bought this 1969 Mini Cooper 'S' based Mini Jem, a few years ago, I dismantled the car to a bare body shell and embarked on a complete restoration. After about 6 months, the original owner turned up to see the progress I was making and surprised me with a set of photos of car taken after it has been hit in the rear by a lorry, which pushed it into the car in front damaging both ends. He had had the car repaired by Fellpont, the builders of Mini Jems in the 1970s. My bare shell restoration is now almost complete, with the exception of the wiring and interior trim. It is now fitted with an MED 1380 Clubman engine giving 120 bhp with a 45 DCOE Webber carb, a close ratio, straight-cut, 4 speed MED gearbox, adjustable suspension with Konis all round and up-rated Cooper "S" disc brakes. It promises to be rather rapid when completed because it weighs only 5 cwt on the road." Love it!

A collision with a truck led to some severe body damage on this 1969 Mini Jem
Picture courtesy Jeremy Harrison

And not just the front - the rear had been hit, too, as can be seen here
Picture courtesy Jeremy Harrison

Petrol tank still in place but that body needed the craftsmanship of Fellpoint…
Picture courtesy Jeremy Harrison

Front repaired. Fellpoint Ltd. must have used the original car's moulding to do so
Picture courtesy Jeremy Harrison

And the same goes for the rear. All this was carried out at Penn Garage, Hazlemere Road, Bucks.
Picture courtesy Jeremy Harrison

This is how the car looked when Jeremy got hold of it. Note ingot an opening rear hatch now
Picture courtesy Jeremy Harrison

And once again it was stripped to a bare shell to undergo severe body restoration
Picture courtesy Jeremy Harrison

Almost there! It looks Jeremy's Jem will be resurrected very nicely soon
Picture courtesy Jeremy Harrison

Monday, 1 August 2016

Another Broadspeed GT replica - now from France

Work on replicas of the Broadspeed GT is going on in several countries, and over in France, close to Lyon, Olivier Filliettaz is slowly but surely getting his car ready. Olivier has been working from photographs to build the Mini of his dreams, as he wrote: "Hi Jeroen. I am 44 years old and bought my first Mini when I was 19. After having travelled to the UK at 20 where I bought my first copy of MiniWorld, I fell in love with the Broadspeed. Since that time I had a Van, Pick-up, Moke and a lot of Mk1/Mk2 Minis, several Coopers and Cooper 'S's, but I always longed for a Broadspeed GT. And so I bought a very poor Mk1 998 Cooper and started work on that. I have 'Sprinted' it and made a master mould from the roof to the rear back, working only with pictures. It's on the way now, as the fiberglass roof, taken from the mould, is on the car at this time. I think in the Spring or Summer of next year it will be driving. The car is for myself, but also to see how the job between fiberglass and steel will need to be done… I have also already bought a cut roof Mk2 shell, which will be turned into the second car…"

Take a poor Mk1 Mini shell and lots of fiberglass to build your dream car. Olivier does it!
Picture courtesy Olivier Filliettaz

Taken directly from the mould - a brand new roof/rear section, ready to fit to a Mini shell
Picture courtesy Olivier Filliettaz

Like so. First car will be Olivier's own proto but he is thinking of building more of them
Picture courtesy Olivier Filliettaz

Olivier's Broadspeed GT replica should be finished by next year. We'll keep an eye on the project here
Picture courtesy Olivier Filliettaz

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Resurrection of the Sandringham Six Mini

Another mystery solved! The mysterious Sandringham Six Mini that was seen here twice (here and here) with the request for more information rung a bell by reader Kees Plugboer, who'd seen it in a magazine and started a search in his attic. Out came a June 2000 issue of Mini Magazine with, indeed, a feature on the car. And it's an interesting story, too. As believed, the car was owned by Sandringham Motors boss, Peter Jones, and dreamt up by his brother John. Peter was quoted in the article: "I'd never driven anything like it. Having various motor dealerships, I'd owned 19 new Rolls-Royces and Bentleys, plus Mercedes, Aston Martins - all sorts of cars. But I used that little Mini so much, and even transferred my personal number OD 1 to it, which seemed quite appropriate really." Initially, the car came with the standard Clubman-front, but when Peter's wife had a collision with his Rolls-Royce Corniche, and the grille had to be replaced, the idea came to fit that to the Mini.

Peter continued: "Then, for some reason, after driving the car for about four yearsI sold it to a family in Norfolk. I kept the original pate, of course, so the Mini was back on its original number BWS 30S. I regretted it almost immediately, as you often do - I really missed the car, and not long afterwards I tried to buy it back, but they had already sold it on Traveling around the country, I always kept an eye out for it - after all it wouldn't have been difficult to spot!" Eventually the car was found in a scrapyard near Great Yarmouth, where it had been lying neglected for eight years. Despite the fact that most of the remarkable Mini was ruined, Peter did buy it back 'for silly money', with the idea to fully restore it to its former glory. Well… Peter, back in 2000: "Of course, I'd have to restore it - we have all the facilities. That was the original plan, and I even acquired a couple of old Minis and put them aside to use as donor cars for the job. But now that we've had a chance to look at it properly, it's beyond that, totally rotten - except for that grille of course! So we're going to start again and build a replica around that grille."

The article mentions that Peter bought a brand new heritage body shell plus engine and reckoned it would cost him some 14,000 GBP by the time it was finished. "But it will be my personal car for the rest of my life." he added. "I've certainly learnt my lesson - there's no way I'll ever sell this one!" Now, once again, how did it end sixteen years after the article was published? The search continues...

The car before the grille of Peter Jones' Rolls-Royce Corniche was fitted to it
Picture courtesy Mini Magazine

Mini Magazine had a nice feature on the Sandringham Six Mini back in June 2000
Picture courtesy Mini Magazine

And reader Kees remembered it, dug it up, scanned it and sent it over. Hat tip to you!
Picture courtesy Mini Magazine

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Market round up

Let's have a little look at cars that made it to the market recently, as there were some interesting offerings. Some of them can still be found online, so be quick if you are interested...

This Wildgoose VEB comes with build number ME 50, so is perhaps the last one made?

It's for sale in The Netherlands (£16500...) but is still on its original 1967/68 UK plates 

This cool Siva Mule is in Somerset and it may well be the best you will ever find

The seller writes that 8 were made, but there were 12. Still not too many though!

An lhd Unipower GT was seen for sale in Kentucky briefly before the ad disappeared

Unusual overriders may have been there for American legislation reasons? Asking price was $25,000

1972 Wood & Pickett Mini Margrave looks splendid and comes with full vehicle history 

It has a lovely oxblood leather interior, but unfortunately misses the signature W&P dash

This very nice Andersen Cub from Coventry (ad here) is registered as a 1966 Morris Moke

I have lways had a soft spot for the Whitby Mini-Warrior. This one sold for just over 300 GBP...