Thursday, 29 September 2016

Is Corsican hatchback Mini a Radford?

Welcome back to Hatchback Mini news, where one story leads to another... and yet another! This time it's Dada Rotily Forcioli to get in touch. Dada is a forest worker on the island of Corsica and stumbles upon car wrecks regularly during his work. After seeing yesterday's mystery hatchback Mini, he found the time ripe to show his find, too. It's a Mini wearing Morris 850 badges, and one with a hatchback conversion, too. The base vehicle appears to have been white, but is repainted in bright blue, with a (once) Tartan red interior. Is it a Radford conversion? Dada found the car some four years ago in a forest in southern Corsica, 30 meters below road level, from where it must have come. He knows nothing of its history but is planning to retrieve the Mini from its woody location and restore it, though. Surely not an easy task, as it seems in a real bad shape. Perhaps a reader here may know more about it.

This Mini has been lying here for a long, long time and is in a real sorry state
Picture Dada Rotily Forcioli

But look at that. It's no ordinary Mini. This one has been converted into a hatchback, too
Picture Dada Rotily Forcioli

Badly bumped and detoriated, but the leftovers of the rear door are there, too
Picture Dada Rotily Forcioli

You can clearly see here where the boot lid was welded to the hatchback door frame
Picture Dada Rotily Forcioli

Corsican sun has bleached the Tartan Red interior. Is it a Radford? And who knows its story?
Picture Dada Rotily Forcioli

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Another mystery Mini hatchback

One mystery hatchback leads to another… Yesterday's photographs of the Sydney-built hatchback Mini prompted reader Roger Hunt to drop me a line about a car that he has. Roger wrote: "Hi Jeroen. I've had this car for some time. Have you seen a conversion like it anywhere else? I think it may have been for a disabled driver with a wheel chair but I'm not sure. Someone might have an idea of its history. It's a Mk3 shell with 1968 registration and automatic transmission. It may be a one off, I'm not sure, but I've never seen another one." Well, I'm not sure either, Roger, and I certainly haven't seen it before. It could even be a modification from outside the UK? I can't remember where I saw that Austin Mini 850 badge before, but I think it was on a non-UK built car? Roger adds to that: "I might send to the DVLA for its history to see if it's a UK car." Meanwhile, someone out here may give him a hand?

Not Wood & Pickett or Radford's - this is yet another Mini hatchback conversion
Picture Roger Hunt

Roger thinks it may have been built for a disabled driver but is not too sure about that
Picture Roger Hunt

Despite the 1968, it's a Mk3 shell. On paper it's a Morris 998, but badge says Austin 850
Picture Roger Hunt


Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Sydney Technical College's fastback hatchback

They certainly aren't the best quality photographs seen here, but at least they have emerged. Three more pictures of the Mini, modified by the Sydney Technical College in 1965 (see earlier post here) We can now see the car with its fastback hatchback closed, too, and have a detail shot of the faired-in headlights, which seem quite unique to me. The original caption with one of the pictures mentions it was built on a Morris 850 base and the paint job was done with Viton paint 'giving a deep red glow'. In 1967, the Sydney Technical College was responsible for this car, too.

Recessed headlights and a deep red glow certainly made this Mini stand out
Picture via Milton Lewis

But it's the rear that really differentiates it. Is this a hatchback fastback?
Picture via Milton Lewis

Different view, and now with the hatchback door closed. Who knows more about the car?
Picture via Milton Lewis

Thursday, 22 September 2016

The sad remains of Blackwatch 1

It's not the first time a Mini based oddity ends up on Ebay in a real sorry state. That happened now to the vehicle known as Blackwatch 1. Conceived and built in Leeds on a 1975 Mini 850 base, the car used a three-wheeled chassis of steel tubing and plain sheet aluminum body with a flat glass windscreen. It was sold to a farmer in Northwich, Chechire in 2005 still with its registration LDN 295N, but moved on soon after that without the number. Now that it's offered for sale again in Tiverton, county Devon, it's even much more naked with not much of its mechanicals left. See the ad here. There was also a sister car, known as Blackwatch 2 and also a three-wheeler, now with the number KDN 595N. The last trace I have of that dates back to 1998. Who knows more?

The leftovers of Blackwatch 1. A unique Mini based three-wheeler using Mini 850 mechanicals
Picture courtesy Ebay.co.uk

It gave joy to someone one day, but that looks long gone now. Also: what happened to Blackwatch 2?
Picture courtesy Ebay.co.uk

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Summer 2016 - a look back

Tomorrow marks the end of the summer. Fortunately, we still have the pictures. The ones below were sent over to me via email or Facebook in the last month or so and show a variety of Mini based cars on events and shows. I can't remember where all of them came from, so if you feel you need to be credited, just let me know.

A very nice looking Stewart & Ardern MiniSprint, built in 2004. It's for sale, too, and I have a close up of the flyer under its wiper. Drop me a line when interested
Picture courtesy Phil Wells

Same event (Tewkesbury Classic Car show), different car - Bob Hart's lovely Mini Beach Car
Picture courtesy Phil Wells

Estate version of the Foers Nomad. These cars have a reputation to last forever
Picture source unknown

And another… Judging by its grille, this one appears to be in a kind of identity crisis!
Picture source unknown

Dutch registered Midas Gold was seen at the Zinkhutter Hof in Germany. I do not know it
Picture courtesy Hubertus Hansmann

We all know this one, don't we? The ex-George Harrison Radford Mini DeVille at Windsor Castle
Picture source unknown
Certainly different, but I'm not sure if I would dare to drive this Scamp Mk2 on the motor way!
Picture source unknown

The Wildgoose Super VEB, which starred in Maximum Mini 2, seen here at the Goodwood Revival
Picture source unknown

Elsewhere at Goodwood, the restored Broadspeed GTS was reunited with John Fitzpatrick
Picture courtesy John Fitzpatrick


Wednesday, 14 September 2016

What's the story behind Magic Alex' Mini?

Does the supply of Beatles-related coachbuilt Minis never dry up? It seems to be the case, after another Mini with a heritage incorporating The Fab Four has emerged - this time in Greece. Regular contributor John Reymondos knows more about it. He writes:

"Hello Jeroen from rainy Athens. You might be able to help me with information about a special Mini. A friend of a friend got his hands on a this Mini from Alex Mardas (a.k.a. Magic Alex), and he is trying to find out more about it. Apparently the car was a gift from John Lennon to Mardas. It seems to have been customized in a quite professional way, so I exclude any Greek period tuners. The bucket seats are period correct and dated. From the DVLA I get that this is an Innocenti Mini 1300, with year of manufacture 1975 but first registered on the 22nd May 1978. Any help will be appreciated. Warm Regards, John."

That's certainly interesting. John further adds the owner believes it could be a Pavesi conversion, but I would definitely say it looks more like a Wood & Pickett job to me. Not only do the wheel arches and nudge bars fit in with their coachbuilt Minis of the day - the seats look like Recaros to me, of which W&P were the importer to the UK. So… who knows more about this intriguing little car?

'Magic' Alex Mardas with John Lennon and Paul McCartney in New York in 1968
Picture: Alamy

The car looks like a W&P conversion to me, with typical wheel arches and nudge bars
Picture via John Reymondos

The interior is a mixture of standard Innocenti with many electrical add-ons - all believed period
Picture via John Reymondos

Recaro seats were introduced to the UK by Wood & Pickett in the late-1970s, so these fit in, too. 
This actually is a W&P publicity shot, showing similar seats
Picture Jeroen Booij archive


The engine (a 1300 on paper) may have been fettled with, too. Who can tell?
Picture via John Reymondos

'VOG 583S' is applied to a 1975-built Innocenti 1300. No W&P badges though...
Picture via John Reymondos

Period flyer from Wood & Pickett showing the nudgebars they had on offer for Minis
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Meet the Party Yak

Think of the Grantura Yak as a Spartan workhorse? Think again. World most lavish Yak lives in Trinidad and Tobago with Richard Sookdeo. Richard purchased the car from an oil company called Trintoc (now Petrotrin) and wrote: "They used the car for expats to drive between buildings / plants and it was eventually left abandoned (the shell alone) and we made the necessary arrangements and purchased it. We later bought a classic Austin Mini and started our restoration project . The car carries a two series number plate which shows how old it is in Trinidad (PH - 8414) and our schemes go like PH-PZ; PBA-PBZ; PCA-PCZ; PDA… with PDM being present. The yak now has a Metro 1300 engine with a Weber installed and is upgraded to original Mini disc brakes at the front. It was further customized with a sound system which compromises of some dvd screens and a box in the back of the car - everything could be removed to show the original car at any given time."

It seems Richard even used the car at his marriage. Thanks for getting in touch!


This looks like a fairly standard Grantura Yak, but then you haven't seen all of it...
Picture courtesy Richard Sookdeo

 … television screens, neon lights, stereo systems and a dashboard unlike any other 
Picture courtesy Richard Sookdeo

 It's Richard's pride and joy and he even used it at his marriage. Congratulations mate
Picture courtesy Richard Sookdeo

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Touch wood - Hustlers make money

RM Sotheby's had their London sale last evening where the very last lot from a highly impressive lot list was a bit of a surprise: a Hustler 6 In Wood. Not your ordinary Hustler In Wood - if such a thing exists - but one that comes in a lovely Marine-theme. It's a car that came past here some five years ago when it was seen for sale in Italy (here). From the sales blurb: "If you would like to upstage your friends with a Mini Moke or Fiat Jolly, this is your car—the ideal partner to a Riva or Pedrazzini." And somebody clearly fell for that idea as the car made a strong £13,500 (although there even was a £20-30,000 estimate…). Two years ago, RM did sell another Hustler 6 - a Huntsman - for £11,500, though...

This 1983 built Hustler 6 In Wood in full Marine theme could be the ideal tender
Picture courtesy RM Sotheby's

All the bells and whistles, including highly varnished wood just like a Riva's deck
Picture courtesy RM Sotheby's

A 10-seater to bring all your mates from harbor to boulevard and back. Note ladder!
Picture courtesy RM Sotheby's

1275 A-series engine looks tiny under that wide bonnet. This car was in Italy 5 years ago
Picture courtesy RM Sotheby's

Flags, chrome horns and scuppers - there's even a pair of water skis on the top!
Picture courtesy RM Sotheby's

RM sold this car two years ago at Beaulieu, when it made £11,500. Not bad either!
Picture courtesy RM Sotheby's

This was a Hustler Huntsman of 1986-vintage and looked in a superb state either
Picture courtesy RM Sotheby's

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Another Unipower nears its resurrection

Another update on a Unipower GT - this time it's the car wearing chassis number 40. Formerly registered as 1275 U in the UK, it was . Before it got that number it wore XGH 7G. New owner Stefano Possati of Bologna, Italy, bought it in 2011 and is now about to complete the car's restoration. He wrote to our friend Tim Carpenter: "Some years ago I've bought in UK the dark metallic red 1275U car that I see also in your website. The car seemed to be, at the time, extremely original (forgetting the original colour that we have found was light orange at the beginning) but in need of a deep restoration. Now we are close to the end. I'm very proud to say that the gearbox now has first speed up on the left and the others consequently where you would expect them to be. The car was born with a Cooper 'S' engine that has been rebuilt with a wonderful alloy MOWOG 8-port head and Solex carburetors but it is not yet fitted. For the moment there is a long stroke 1460 MED engine with (very) fast road setting, 5-speed gearbox, 3.1 final ratio and LSD. It seems extremely powerful and flexible and I can confirm that the gearshift operates as in the other cars, first, up at left; second, down at left and so on, right until the rear gear down at right. The reason why I rather like this scheme is that I have two sons and one brother that are in love with classic cars and that could, at one time, like to drive the Unipower, too."

"The car's exterior colour is now white and the body is kept original original, although now fitted with 12"wheels (not out of place in the Mini world in the very late 1960s). The interior has been rebuilt in a 100% original way, including the Webasto sunroof. The suspensions geometry and the brakes principles are standard in my car, but shock absorbers and KAD front disc now are the best the 12" wheel can accept. The only thing I made, even before testing the car, is to add a discreet but fully functional spoiler below the two front air ducts. My only complain is that I had to register the car here in Italy, so the wonderful 1275U plate is now just a paperweight. The Unipower is now in its final assembly phase. I believe it to be a Mk2 as the rear light are horizontal and, looking at the grp rear end, certainly original."

Thank you for that, Stefano and Tim! All I can add is that it seems to me that little expenses were spared in this restoration. Oh - and the car most certainly is a Mk1; the rear lights (of a Hillman Hunter) were added in the 1980s.

Already in its 'Regal Red' colour, but here still with its earlier plate XGH 7G
Picture courtesy unipowergt.co.uk

Same car, different plate: 1275 U number was added by former owner Geraldo Martini
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

The car was equipped with a 1275cc Cooper 'S' engine when new in 1968 
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

This photograph dates back to 2010, when the car was offered for sale in the UK
Picture Jeroen Booij archive/Ebay.co.uk

Some bits were missing and it needed lots of work, but it made strong money
Picture Jeroen Booij archive/Ebay.co.uk

Note Hillman Hunter rear lights. These are not original though and were added in the '80s
Picture Jeroen Booij archive/Ebay.co.uk

The same rear, now with its new Italian number fitted to it and almost ready to roar again
Picture courtesy Stefano Possati

Stefano added a small front splitter to the car, just like it had back in the 1980s
Picture courtesy Stefano Possati

It's got a 1460 MED engine now, mated to a 5-speeder, 3.1 final ratio and LSD
Picture courtesy Stefano Possati

The dashboard and rest of the car's interior are like it was, but again fully restored
Picture courtesy Stefano Possati

Suspension wasn't modified much, but everything has been refreshed
Picture courtesy Stefano Possati

This car came with a Webasto sunroof as a factory option, it seems. It's still there
Picture courtesy Stefano Possati