Friday, 15 December 2017

Dave and the Barford 'S' Mini Special

This is what I do it for. Three and a half years ago I wrote for the first time about a 1968/1969 Special, built by one DJ Barford of Peterborough (here), a car which had made it to Hot Car magazine in 1969. I concluded with: "So, DJ, if you ever happen to find these pages do let us know what happened to yourself and your groovy special!"

Now, some months ago Dave Barford did just that after his daughter had found the article. He promised me to send over some of the details if he was able to recollect them, too. Today I received a big manilla enveloppe with a tremendous amount of information. Dave, 22 at the time he built the car, wrote up the whole story in a beautiful hand written letter of 12 pages, illustrated with design drawings from his memory and over 35 separate old photographs with it. He writes: "Trying to find all the pictures from 50 years ago was very difficult, I even had to reprint some from old negatives that I found - the originals have disappeared over the years. I have tried to write a first-hand account of how I built the Special, but please feel free to adjust, modify, rewrite or alter as you feel fit!" Dave, you made my day. I will read your accounts this coming Christmas holidays. Thank you so much.

More to follow soon.

Left to right, Dave's first wife, his mum and DJ himself in 1969. The gull winged Barford Mini Special in the background
Picture courtesy Dave Barford

Thursday, 14 December 2017

And the nominees for Find of the Year are...

It's time to introduce you to the nominees for the 'Maximum Mini 2017 Find of the Year'. There were 10 cars suitable for a nomination - I picked out 5 of which I think they are the best. Now it's up to you to decide which one wins the title.

You will find the cars that have made it to the contest below. To vote simply go to the poll on the right side of this blog (click here if you read this through an email message) where you tick the box of your favourite find. The one with the most votes wins - it's simple as that. Now, over to the candidates


1. The Brickette racer

Initially a mystery Mini based racer, this Australian find turned out to be the Melbourne-build Brickette single seater, of which supposedly six were made. 

1. Dame Margot Fonteyn's coachbuilt Mini

It may have been based on a humble Mini 850, but this car was coachbuilt as early 
as in 1961 and... not just for any lady - Fonteyn was a prima ballerina

3. The Dutch Biota Mk1.5

This long-lost Biota is unique as it's no Mk1 and no Mk2 but a mixture of both since its Dutch builder preferred it just like that originally

4. The Australian Ogle SX1000

From England to Malaya to Australia - this Ogle SX1000 spent it's early life travelling. It was recently re-found and re-purchased by its earlier Australian owner

5. The Swiss Stimson Mini Bug

Very slowly information about the Stimsons that were sold officially in Switzerland comes to the light. This Luzern-registered car is one of them


Tuesday, 12 December 2017

More Brickette racers unearthed

Early this year photos of an Australian Mini based single seat racer, which seemed to link with Nota Cars at the the time, came by (click here). We wondered what it was. Well, things didn't last all too long. It took Jon Scott a week to find out it was named Brickette and probably built in a run of six in Melbourne (click here). They were supposedly built by the Hume brothers, not by Nota Engineering.

I can now say there's even more information as Alan Mead of Victoria, Australia, contacted me about the Brickette. He wrote: "Hi, I also have a Brickette, which is blue and I have photos of two other cars that are both red. I would be interested to make contact to further cover the history of these cars and how many were made." I'd like to learn more, too. Who helps us out?

Another Melbourne-built Brickette racer, seen here with its body on...
Picture Alan Mead

...and with the body off. Mini engine was placed in a modified Mini subframe
Picture Alan Mead

That's the car owned by Alan, with his son behind the wheel. Six were supposedly made
Picture Alan Mead

This picture comes from the cover of an Australian Mini club's magazine cover. 
Who was the man racing it?
Picture Alan Mead

It's one of two red Brickette's seen in the Aussie racing scene of the 1980s
Picture Alan Mead

The duo is seen here again in what has to be the paddock of a racing track
Picture Alan Mead

And here on the circuit itself. Note diminutive size! Do these cars survive?
Picture Alan Mead

Friday, 8 December 2017

Le Mans Mini Marcos: machining the crank

While I am still hoarding parts for my Mini Marcos project car, in the south of France Philippe Quiriere has started building the car's engine. You may remember that I wrote about the crank he'd found as it being something quite special. It's an AEG 480 that was bought new by tuner Jim Whitehouse direct from BMC’s Special Tuning department in 1966. Whitehouse was the man who set up Arden Engineering and developed the 8-port head, of which he sold the patent in '67 to... BMC.

Anyway: he never used the crank and sold it in 1968 to Jose Albertini, who owned the Le Mans Mini Marcos in 1970. Albertini also never used it, but that is going to change now. Philippe (who took it over from Albertini a year or two ago) is now using it for my engine. He wrote earlier this week: "Hi Jeroen. I just received the crank and it is now almost finished. It is also the most expensive Mini crank (for me)! But a nice part for your project. I give it now for the oil passage." Meanwhile, he added a little movie of it being machined. Love it.

NOS BMC Special Tuning crank is nearly ready for assembly in the Le Mans engine
Picture courtesy Philippe Quiriere

Here you can see it being machined in France, earlier this week
Video courtesy Philippe Quiriere

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

The Green Mean Machine - that other GTM

The year is not yet over, which means it is still 50 years ago that the Cox GTM came to life. Just in time to share some more GTM photographs then. Now. The most famous of all the cars made by Bernard Cox, Howard Heerey, Patrick Fitch and Peter Beck plus all that other men who built GTM cars? Surely that red Car and Car Conversions car, right? I agree. 

But there was another GTM that could be seen in CCC's competing Hot Car magazine, and later in Custom Car magazine, too. It was nicknamed The Green Mean Machine thanks to the very green shade of paint used on its body. It actually was the first demonstrator built by Howard Heerey in 1969. He recently wrote: "The Green Mean Machine as featured in Custom Car July 1970. They loved it and reckoned it could blow the doors boot and bonnet lid off its competition. Still love the colour that I mixed, so Seventies." Thanks for that Howard, the GTM is still going strong after all these years. But does anyone know what happened to the Green Mean Machine?

Article in Hot Car magazine - they certainly loved the GTM too. Just like CCC
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

This photograph was published in Custom Car magazine - another 1970s mag to have
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

These pictures are from the Hot Car shoot, and later ended up in the famous Filby Files. 
I was kindly allowed to copy them 
Picture The Filby Files / Jeroen Booij archive

'LLG 187G' was the first demonstrator built by Howard Heerey in 1969
Picture The Filby Files / Jeroen Booij archive

That's technical editor Paul Davies behind the wheel, clearly enjoying the drive!
Picture The Filby Files / Jeroen Booij archive

Here parked in the paddock at Oulton Park. Heerey: "I reckon it looks great next to the 911"
Picture Howard Heerey

The car was seen in several advertisements, too. This one from Hot Car again
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

And one more. Now, where could the Green Mean Machine have gone to?
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Monday, 4 December 2017

Fletcher GT goes rallying

We now know there have been several MiniJems that were used for auto crossing. But how about a Fletcher GT for rallying? The first of the two images below was kindly sent over by former Fletcher owner Paul Ogle, who's much loved car was sadly joy-ridden and burnt two years ago now (report here). Paul wrote: "Hi Jeroen. As Christmas is well and truly on its way, I thought I'd share a pic with you from the 1970s. This is the other running Fletcher that was the sister car to my car. I believe this was originally the 1967 racing car show car with the distinctly re-fashioned rear. This car later went rallying as apposed to track racing from what I have discovered so far. (more on the car here-JB). Have a great Christmas Jeroen Hope to catch up again at some point soon. Regards Paul."

That's lovely mate, thank you! Meanwhile, I found another shot of the car in the files at the same event. It turns out to be the Castrol National Rally of 1979 with the car being driven by Leigh MacLachlan and Nick Doughty. It would be awesome to learn a bit more.

Fletcher GT goes rallying. Note distinctive rear lights from an Austin Balanza
Picture courtesy Paul Ogle

Same car at the same event. Drivers were Leigh MacLachlan and Nick Doughty
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Who will be saving these Stimsons and Siva?

Last year a collection of three Stimson cars plus a sole Siva Buggy was seen here (click and scroll a little down). I have now learned the cars are still there, still looking sorry for themselves, and we now know the location, too. The picture was taken by Dafyn Jones, who found them by chance. He wrote: "Took a wrong turn near Accrington and saw these in a tumbledown warehouse" We see a Stimson CS+2 (BEF 216Y), a Stimson Scorcher (Q837 SOS) and a bright green Siva Buggy with no visible registration. It looks to me as if the other white Mini Bug (VOA 879K) is still hiding behind the CS+2, too. Dafyn adds: "They are at the bottom of Mill Road, Great Harwood in the remains of a collapsed industrial unit." Here you go folks. If they are worth serious money in 10 years time, don't say I didn't tell you these were rotting away right there, right now.

Stimson CS+2, Stimson Mini Bug, Stimson Scorcher and Siva Buggy are still out there
Picture Dafyn Jones

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Le Mans Mini Marcos: leaky tank now skillfully restored

In the last couple of months I have become a real hoarder of classic parts and by now the post man knows me by name. I am planning to put all of them together for one picture when all have arrived or have been finished. Well, that's all bar the body and the engine and suspension as these are currently not with me. You will remember the body is in Yorkshire, UK, with Peter and Paul of Seventies Car Restoration, while the mechanicals are currently being built by Philippe Quiriere of Mini World Center in Pau, France. The plan is to have the body finished and painted by next July, then take it over to Le Mans Classic somewhere from 6 to 8 July 2018 and then drive on to Pau in south-western France to fit the mechanicals at Philippe's.

Meanwhile, I had some troubles with the petrol tank. The idea was to use electrolysis in order to de-rust the inside. I’d heard about this, had a look at some DIY movies on Youtube and it all seemed pretty straightforward. Well, I had all the ingredients necessary, had the sender unit in the tank closed and had the set-up ready. But when I filled up the tank with water I soon found that it wasn’t as good as I’d expected. Water leaked from three places on the seal and I had to give up the whole electrolysis plan. Blast! And so I decided there was only one way to go: order a new Mini Van petrol tank (this was used as a base for my tank), cut the old one open, do the same with the new one and weld the bottom half of the new one to the top half of the original one. I contacted my friends at MiniSpares North and they were ever so helpful. They sent over a new Van tank at a special price and it came quickly, too.

Now, welding up a tank isn’t too easy and I was lucky when an old acquaintance told me he new just the man for the job. Martin is an old blacksmith who has been dealing with this sort of job for decades. I called him, drove over to his wonderful workshop where he examined the tank. He saw immediately that it had been autogenously welded and he agreed to do it exactly similar. And he did a marvellous job. He cut the old tank open on the exact seem where it had been welded by Jean-Claude Hrubon all those years ago and placed it together right there, too. He also replaced the old drain plug, blasted the inside and sprayed the outside beautifully in the correct paint. Job done! Meanwhile, I used my electrolysis set-up to de-rust the paddle box and its separate pedals and the few steering column bits that I had. It worked beautifully, too. Stay tuned.

Big petrol tank is visible through the car's rear screen, seen at the Le Mans pit here
Picture Jeroen Booij archive

Ready for action, with the tank closed up and about to be filled with water and soda mixture
Picture Jeroen Booij

Ouch! Leaks stopped play and there was no way I could use my electrolysis set-up here anymore
Picture Jeroen Booij

The original tank had to be cut open, just as well as a brand new one. With the genuine piece of Le Mans history seen above now not being used anymore
Picture Jeroen Booij

But here's Blacksmith Martin with the original top and new bottom mated together again. He welded them up just like Jean Claude Hrubon did over 50 years ago
Picture Jeroen Booij

Friday, 24 November 2017

Mystery Mini derivative (47)

Believed to have been photographed at the Earl's Court London Motor Show on the stand of BACO Aluminium in 1963, this is an intriguing one. I was sent the picture by arch-enthusiast Miguel Plano, who asked me: "Could it be Mini based?" I think it could, judging from the wheels and that tall engine space. I'm not so sure about the year though, as it all shouts late 1960s / early 1970s to me. BACO (for British Aluminium Company Ltd.) does not exist anymore, so we cannot ask them. But somebody should surely know more about this car?

BACO Aluminium built their own car and showed it at Earl's Court. Was it Mini based?
Picture via Miguel Plano

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Mini Trafalgar Coupe unveiled

It's not too often nowadays that a brand new Mini based car is launched, but it's the case now with the Mini Trafalgar Coupe, built and marketed by Garage Minimum of Kanazawa in Japan.

The car made its debut at the 25th Japan Mini Day last weekend. As you can see it is a fastback Mini in the style of the Buckle Monaco, Ecurie de Dez 2+2, New ERA Mini Coupe, Automotive Refabrication Fastback Mini and ABS Mini Coupe. But it's fully built by Garage Minimum itself, which based its demonstrator on a 1994 Mini Mpi. It certainly looks good. First the roof of the donor Mini was cut off half ways, the rear screen pillars were slightly raked, and the shape of the new roof was made using steel strips, sheet metal and filler. Next a mould was made from that to fabricate the actual roofs in fibreglass.

Garage Minimum now offers replicas to customers, priced at ¥ 700,000 for the conversion. Contact them here for more information.

UPDATE 12:20: Another message from the manufacturer: "I am now manufacturing No. 2 car. It is planned to sell with a complete car. I think that it will be finished around January next year. Car No. 3 is ordered by another customer, and it will be produced after that."


A brand new Mini based car: the Mini Trafalgar Coupe by Garage Minimum
Picture courtesy Garage Minimum

Fibreglass roof is one part and is beautifully fitted to cut and shut Mini shell
Picture courtesy Garage Minimum

Smooth conversion with no roof guttering and seams at the back
Picture courtesy Garage Minimum

Mini based coupes came from the UK and Australia - this one is Japanese
Picture courtesy Garage Minimum

Donor vehicle was a 1994 Mini Mpi, roof was cut half ways and rear screen raked
Picture courtesy Garage Minimum

The new roof shape was now fabricated. Note modified rain gutter
Picture courtesy Garage Minimum

Next, a mould was made to reproduce more Trafalgar Coupe roofs
Picture courtesy Garage Minimum

Seen here fitted to the demonstrator before being painted and finished
Picture courtesy Garage Minimum