June 2019

[1-Jun_19_Twini_Mini.jpg] The Museum’s ‘Twini Mini’ replica. There’s an engine in front, too.
Photo by David Schwartz

Trip Report: Lane Motor Museum
by David Schwartz

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jeff Lane established the Lane Motor Museum in 2002, donating a personal collection of 70 vehicles. Now there are over 580 vehicles in the collection, and the Museum, located in a former Sunbeam bakery, has a 40,000 sq. ft. main floor, enough to display approximately 150 cars. Additional vehicles are stored in an attached parking garage and in the lower level known as “The Vault.”

The Museum rotates its collection on a regular basis and runs several special exhibits a year. Vault tours are held on most Saturdays and Sundays and are highly recommended!

Budget an entire day to visit the Museum. Serious fans of unusual cars will have no problem filling that much time. They have a large microcar collection, one-of-a-kind vehicles, and “uniquely different” cars. The Museum slogan is “Unique Cars from A to Z,” and that is an understatement.

The car that started Jeff Lane on the path to collecting was a 1955 MG TF 1500, a Christmas present from his father when he was 12 years old. The MG arrived as a body shell, frame, engine and pile of parts. Jeff spent four years restoring the car and took his driver’s test in it. The TF has a prominent place on the main floor and is surrounded by other British cars.

Unusual Minis

The Museum owns about 40 British cars, including classic Minis wearing Austin, Morris and Innocenti badges. Custom and unusual Minis include a 1965 Austin Twini Mini replica, a 1976 Austin Reptune Mini GT Gullwing, a 1969 Austin Mini Convertible, a Chilean-built, fiberglass bodied 1969 Austin Mini, a 1960 Austin “Shorty” Mini 850, a 2/3rd-scale Morris Mini convertible, and a 1975 Morris Mini GT5 racecar. The Chilean Mini body shell was developed by Peel Engineering.

In 1962, BMC built an experimental Mini Moke with two engines to help its off-road capabilities. This inspired John Cooper to build a “Twini Mini” saloon with a second engine in the rear, for use as a rally car. While testing the Cooper Twini, a mechanical failure resulted in a rollover and John Cooper was seriously injured.

Downton Engineering also built a Twini and BMC may have built several. Research done by the Museum did not reveal any original Twini examples, so the only option was to recreate one. Work on the Lane’s Twini replica started in 2007. A cutaway drawing and photographs helped get the details correct. The car has a set of Smiths gauges for each engine and two gearshift levers linked together by a cross bar. The accelerator works both throttles and one pedal works both clutches.

June 2019

[2-Jun_19_Austin_Mini_Reptune.jpg] Mini Reptune kit car (from 1976).
Photo by David Schwartz

The Reptune Mini kit car is a fiberglass gullwing body designed to drop on a standard Mini, once the doors, roof, bumpers and lights have been removed. The kit was built in Ontario, Canada, and originally came with smoked acrylic gullwing doors. (The doors were not present on the Museum’s example.)

The 2/3rd-scale Mini was displayed next to a scaled-down Messerschmitt KR200. According to the museum website, the scaled down Mini was “built from body parts taken from a 1975 Mini, skillfully shrunken to approximately 2/3 the size of a real Mini.” The car looks much smaller than 2/3rd scale. It’s about the size of a child’s battery powered ride-in car.

Micros and Minicars

Of course, the Lane owns several cars built by the Peel Engineering Company, including a replica of the 1964 Peel P50. The P50 is known as the world’s smallest-ever passenger car. It is a three-wheeler, seats one person, has a 49cc engine with no reverse gear and weighs in at 250 pounds. Many readers have seen the episode of Top Gear where Jeremy Clarkson drove a P50 into the BBC Television Centre, in and out of elevators and down corridors, sitting in the car throughout his journey.

Somewhat taller than the P50 is the 1948 Lamar, described as the world’s narrowest car. At 2 ft., 4 in. wide, the Lamar was designed to fit through a standard British garden gate. The P50 is over 1 ft. wider. The Lamar’s target market was urban women shoppers. The car looks like it belongs on a children’s playground and sales were very limited.

The 1962 Sabra Sport Four was Israel’s first attempt at a sports car and is a marque that few are likely to be familiar with. Israel lacked a domestic auto industry at that time, so components were provided by 27 different British vendors, including Reliant, manufacturer of the tippy three-wheel Robin. The Sabra looks like a cross between an Alfa Romeo Spider and several different British roadsters.

June 2019

[3-Jun_19_1932_Helicron.jpg] Propeller-driven and steered by its rear wheels, the 1932 Helicron.
Photo by David Schwartz

The Museum owns several French-built propeller-driven cars, including a 1932 Helicron. It is unclear why anyone thought mounting a propeller on the front of a car was a good idea, and only one Helicron was produced. The Helicron steers using its rear wheels, and there is a video on the Museum website showing it being driven.

Numerous one-off prototype cars were displayed on the main floor. Streamliners included a replica of the 1933 Dymaxion, designed by Buckminster Fuller, and the oval-shaped 1946 Hewson Rocket, plus three teardrop-shaped cars designed by James Martin: a 1928 Martin Aerodynamic, a 1932 Martin Martinette, and a 1950 Martin Stationette, which featured wooden monocoque construction (you have to admire Martin’s perseverance).

Another odd one, the 1967 Gyro-X two-wheeled, gyroscopically-stabilized vehicle, was reported to reach speeds of 125mph using an 80hp Mini Cooper S engine.

As a microcar fan, I was familiar with the Zundapp Janus 250 from pictures in books and magazines, but had never seen one in person. Fortunately, the Museum owns a nice example from 1957. The Zundapp is like a two-headed BMW Isetta, in that it has a refrigerator-style door at each end. The car is symmetrical when viewed from the side. Passengers enter through the rear door and can face either front or rear. The engine is mounted between the two rows of seats, which can be folded down to provide a double bed for camping.

The Museum website (www.lanemotormuseum.org) provides details on the cars in this article, a complete list of the collection, and videos of unusual cars being driven. Click on the “Events” dropdown for Vault Tour information, and the annual “Rally for the Lane,” a fundraising event where you get to drive cars from the collection on a full day rally.

To see more photos of my trip, go to the NEMO website’s Gallery under “Events.” And for a chance to see and ride in some unique cars in the greater Boston area, don’t miss Gould’s Microcar and Minicar Classic, July 12-14 in Newton, Mass. Visit www.bubbledrome.com for more information.

June 2019

[4-Jun_19_1950_Martin_Stationette.jpg] An even smaller Woodie than David’s Traveller, the Martin Stationette from 1950.
Photo by David Schwartz

May 2019

[1-May_19_Lemoine_Gallagher.jpg] Getting down to business...
Photo by David Schwartz

NEMO Annual Meeting Report
by David Schwartz

WESTBOROUGH, Mass., Mar. 31 — This year we held the NEMO Annual Meeting at Owen O’Leary’s Restaurant, a brew pub with two locations in eastern Massachusetts. They feature an Irish pub menu and a good beer selection. We reserved the lounge, a semi-private room that opens onto the bar. We had a great turnout, with 25 adults and one child in attendance. The meeting started with a social hour followed by an à la carte lunch.

In the last issue I reported that Charles Laughton worked for BMC. Charles saved a variety of Austin marketing brochures from 1956 and 1957 that he shared with us before lunch. Charles also brought an 8x10 movie star-worthy photo with him at the wheel of the top-down 1957 Austin-Healey 100-6 he once owned.

Every year we hold a free raffle of Mini or classic car-related items donated by members. Faith Lamprey handed out raffle tickets as people arrived.

There was a special drawing for the soon-to-be-released book, Mini 60 Years, by Giles Chapman. Dave and Barbara Newman won the book and Faith provided a sign-up sheet for members to purchase copies at a discount. The regular raffle prizes included a yellow Hrach Moke T-shirt, stacks of magazines, books and toys, etc.

After the raffle we moved on to the business meeting. Dave Black provided the financial report. The NEMO bank balance is healthy, with the Holiday Party being our major expense, followed by British Marque subscriptions.

Dave also provided an update on the Hrach Fund account, which is in honor of founding member Hrach Chekijian. Ken Lemoine started the Fund in 2015. Its charter is to help young people get involved in the British car hobby. Thus far the Hrach Fund donated a new convertible top for 17-year-old James Nifong’s MGB. John Gallagher, who won the Hrach shirt in the raffle, auctioned it off to raise money for the Fund. Ken was the high bidder. Please contact Ken at alvis1934@aol.com if you would like to suggest a worthwhile project or recipient.

Lorine Karabec led a discussion on East Meets West Mini Meet 2019, June 24-28 in Snowmass, Colorado. There was a post in the NEMO Google Group about hiring a car transport company to drive six to eight classic Minis from New England to Colorado and back. Given the short New England driving season, though, members did not want to be without their cars for an extended period of time. It appears there will be little if any NEMO presence at East Meets West Mini Meet 2019.

Faith proposed adding a PayPal option to the website for membership renewals and new members. NEMO may still have a PayPal account from when the club last sponsored Mini Meet East. Stay tuned for additional information.

Yours truly provided an update on the NEMO Facebook page, which currently has 832 follows and 789 likes. Last year Iain Barker created an associated NEMO Marketplace group where members can buy and sell cars and parts, or post wanted ads. This is a closed group, which means members must be approved. To date, we have approved all membership requests. The group has been fairly active and has 259 members.

May 2019

[2-May_19_Karabecs.jpg] ...with a few laughs thrown in.
Photo by David Schwartz

I then led a discussion on the Connecticut MG Club’s 32nd Annual “British by the Sea,” which takes place on June 2nd in Waterford, Conn. (details and registration forms at www.ctmg.com). Classic Mini is the featured marque in honor of its 60th anniversary. Classic Minis will be parked at the front of the show field with modern MINIs two rows back, and we want to have a record turnout of cars. Please invite all your Mini/MINI friends. The British Marque vendor booth will be up front with the Minis, and we are bringing a pop-up tent so club members will have a shady spot to gather.

We invited Zach Barbera to bring his historically significant 1963 Works Mini to BBTS (see Iain Barker’s article in the March 2019 issue). Zach is interested, but will need to have his car trailered from northeastern Mass to Waterford. John Gallagher may be able to provide an enclosed trailer, but we also need a tow vehicle. Please contact me (David Schwartz) at (508) 561-3462 if you have a trailer and/or tow vehicle and the expertise to be able to help.

Bruce Vild gave an update on the British Motorcar Festival, June 7-8 in Bristol, R.I. This event is organized by the same people who run the British Invasion in Stowe, Vt. The format is very similar to Stowe and the Festival is much closer to home for many NEMO members. The show venue is Colt State Park, which overlooks Narragansett Bay.

NEMO member Chris Izzo, a major force in British Motorcars of New England (BMCNE), invited NEMO to attend their events. Chris provided an overview of numerous shows and tours that have been added to the NEMO calendar.

Last but not least, Bruce moderated a discussion on Minis and Mini Variants. This discussion had been going on for months via e-mail and in the NEMO Google Group, with the intention of resolving the issue well before Stowe, where the question came up last year and led to one entrant’s protest after class awards were announced.

Members were happy with the food, drinks and service at Owen O’Leary’s Restaurant, though the space was noisy so that it was difficult to hear some soft-spoken members during the business meeting. For 2020 we would like to find a pub with a fully enclosed function room suitable for 30 people.

May 2019

[3-May_19_Honey_I_Shrunk.jpg] Compared to the other cars, David’s Mini Traveller looks like it could inspire a new movie — Honey, I Shrunk the Woodie Wagon!
Photo by David Schwartz

Mini Among the Woodies
by David Schwartz

Last September, my wife Betty and I drove our 1968 Morris Mini Traveller to the Woodie Car Show in Wareham, Mass.

The show sponsor was the Yankee Wood Chapter of the National Woodie Club. The event was held on the grounds of the A. D. Makepeace Company, one of the oldest cranberry growers in the country. A great bluegrass band played for much of the day and excellent barbecue was available for lunch.

My car was the first Mini-based woodie to attend this event. It was dwarfed by the huge American woodie wagons, sedans and convertibles. Many cars were true works of art, sporting panels of ash with mahogany trim, all varnished to a gleaming mirror finish.

The oldest car was a 1924 Ford Model T Depot Hack, and the newest was a ’70s-vintage station wagon with vinyl wood-grain siding. There were several preserved original cars and even a modern surfer-dude hot rod patterned after a Model A.

The way-back in one station wagon was filled with period-correct picnic baskets and luggage. Another car had child-sized fabric dolls sitting in the third-row seats that the owner had made to amuse her grandchildren.

My car won a trophy for the longest distance driven. After the show, most woodies participated in a driving tour through cranberry bogs, forests and on a historic road. The tour ended at an ice cream stand.

Owners I spoke with had no idea Mini produced woodies, though they were familiar with the Morris Minor Traveller. Everyone was welcoming and excited to see us. The organizers invited us to attend the 2019 National Woodie Meet, August 8-12 in Ogunquit and Wells, Maine. I promised to reach out to NEMO members that own woodies.

If you can’t make the national event in Maine, the Yankee Wood Chapter will be holding a show on September 14th in Wareham, Mass.

Watch the NEMO calendar for links to the National Woodie Club website and Yankee Wood Chapter Facebook page.

May 2019

[4-May_19_Mini_Variant.jpg] We have all agreed: this is a Mini Variant.
Photo by Bruce Vild

So, What Are Mini Variants?
by David Schwartz

As mentioned in the Annual Meeting report, we have been holding an open forum with the goal of arriving at a clear definition of Mini classes in time for the 2019 British Invasion. (This pertains only to Minis, not MINIs.) The club reached a consensus that should avoid the registration confusion and controversies of previous years, and everyone, at least in NEMO, is on board. Michael Gaetano, the Invasion’s Event Organizer, is on board as well.

The classic Mini classes will be separated by year as in previous years, but the Variant class will have a clear, consistent definition. Cars will be segregated by body style rather than what’s under the hood, where they were made, whether they have surfboards on the roof, whatever.

In other words, anything that’s not a saloon will be placed in the Variant class, the hypothetical arrangement and description being as follows:

Class X: Mini Saloons, 1959-1969

Class Y: Mini Saloons, 1970-2000

Class Z: Mini Variants, 1959-2000 (Non-saloons, including Vans, Estates, Mokes, Pickups and Cabrios, plus Riley Elf and Wolseley Hornet).

For members unfamiliar with terms from the other side of the pond, a “saloon” is a sedan and an “estate” is a station wagon such as the Austin Countryman or Morris Mini Traveller. Included now in the saloon classes will be the “foreign” (i.e., non-UK produced) Minis, such as the Innocenti Mini, as long as they have the familiar Mini saloon body style.

Although the Riley Elf and Wolseley Hornet technically are saloons, they have a different body style from other Minis due to their extended trunks and therefore will be grouped with the Variants.

Mike Gaetano has agreed to replace the 2018 class listings “Austin & Morris Mini, 1959-1969” and “Austin, Morris & Rover Mini, 1970-2000” with “Mini Saloons, 1959-1969” and “Mini Saloons, 1970-2000.” This will include the non-UK produced Minis other than Austin, Morris or Rover (for example, Leyland Minis), formerly classed with the Variants simply because they were non-UK models with subtle differences from their British cousins. The British Invasion class list will also include the note describing Variants.

The definition of “Variant” is sometimes called into question. Based on research done by members of NEMO, body style is the one thing that people can agree on, as we did at our Annual Meeting. We think these definitions will help car owners identify where their vehicles should be placed on the show field at Stowe, and may be useful for class registration at other multi-marque meets as well.

April 2019

[1-Apr_19_PhilCarbFieldRepair.jpg] Infield carburetor repair on Phil Darrell’s Mini at BBTS.
Photo by Iain Barker

British by the Sea: Looking Back
by David Schwartz

WATERFORD, Conn. — The Classic Mini will be the featured marque at the 2019 edition of British by the Sea (BBTS), so this seems like a good time to report on the 2018 event — looking back by looking ahead.

The weather in Waterford was sunny but not too warm, which led to a good turnout of cars. Harkness Memorial State Park is a beautiful venue and all show cars park on a large lawn with a view of Long Island Sound.

There were eight or nine classic Minis present, but only four modern MINIs. (There was also a 1965 MG 1100 registered in the MG Saloon class. The MG 1100 shares Mini underpinnings.) Most of the Minis were owned by NEMO members, four of whom drove their Classics to the show for the first time. Three of the four Minis had mechanical issues getting to BBTS but at least they made it, in my case just barely.

I had wanted to drive my 1968 Mini Traveller to BBTS several times, but the car always seemed to be up on jack stands in my garage when the show came around. In 2016, my car made the drive from Framingham, Mass., to Stowe, Vt., so I assumed the trip to Waterford, Conn., would be uneventful.

Sadly, the British car gods were against me, and a few miles before the I-395 exit the engine started losing power. I decided to press on since it was only ten more miles to the venue. I managed to coax my car onto the show field, but was fairly certain the trip back would be on a flatbed.

BBTS was the first long-distance outing for Iain Barker’s 1967 Mini Cooper S. The engine ran hot on the 120-mile drive down and the car experienced electrical gremlins, possibly due to the original Lucas control box overheating. Engine heat may have caused the voltage regulator cut-out mechanism to expand, holding the contacts open and preventing the battery from charging via the dynamo.

When Phil Darrell and Iain fitted Phil’s 1972 Mini with a 1380cc A+ engine, their goal was to have the car ready in time for BBTS. They made the deadline, but Phil’s car stalled out en route at a gas station due to running rich and flooding. Fortunately, he was able to get it restarted and made it to the show.

April 2019

[2-Apr_19_DianneMini.jpg] No problem with Dianne’s Mini!
Photo by David Schwartz

Iain, Phil and I spent much of the show with our car bonnets raised, trying to sort out various mechanical issues. Lots of British car owners stopped by to observe and offer advice.

Iain helped with my car, and we pulled spark plugs and wires checking for a difference in engine rpm. The diagnosis was a blown head gasket, so my car received a ride to Dave Black’s Mini Barn courtesy of Hagerty towing insurance, squeaking in just under the free mileage limit.

Phil and Iain were able to balance the carbs on Phil’s car right there on the show field, using nothing more than a piece of fuel hose as a listening tube to get the airflow at an even hiss by ear. Iain had a battery jump pack as a backup, and found that once the voltage regulator had cooled off it charged normally again.

Dianne Izzo was the only first time NEMO attendee whose Mini didn’t have a problem. Of course, she earned this privilege the hard way, as her 1973 Austin Mini had been in the shop since shortly after she acquired it in 2014. Congratulations, Dianne, it was great to see your car on the road and at the show.

More than 350 British vehicles typically attend BBTS. The Connecticut MG Club posted a photo album from the 2018 event at www.flickr.com/photos/ctmgclub/albums/72157703046010272, and their website, www.ctmgclub.com/BBtS.html, features a drone video from a prior year. In my experience, BTTS is second only to the British Invasion, and there is something different and unusual every year.

For 2019, we want to have a record turnout of classic Minis at BBTS. The date is Sunday, June 2nd, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Our little cars will be at the front of the show field with MINIs two rows back. The Connecticut MG Club plans to place the British Marque vendor booth up front with the Minis, and yours truly is bringing a pop-up tent so club members will have a shady spot to gather.

Pre-registration is $15 and runs until May 24th, or you can register at the gate for $20. The registration form can be downloaded from www.ctmgclub.com/BBtS.html. There is a “2019 Registration” link on the right side of the page. We hope to see you on June 2nd.

April 2019

[3-Apr_19_A50.jpg] The Austin Cambridge A50, as seen on the show field at British Legends Weekend last year.
Photo by Bruce Vild

It Was So
by David Schwartz

Two astute readers reported an error in the “British Legends Weekend (BLW) Car Show” article that appeared in the December NEMO Newsbeat. There was a right-hand-drive Austin Cambridge A50 at the show, and I stated that the A50 was never exported to the US. Clearly, the Internet was wrong.

I received a phone call from NEMO member Charles Laughton who regaled me with stories of his days working for BMC, stating unequivocally that A50s were imported into the US. (Now we need to convince Charles to write some articles about his BMC experiences!)

I also had a pleasant e-mail exchange with David Whall, who provided the following information:

“I well remember two A50s as a child growing up in southern New Hampshire in the 1950s. One could be found in the town of Windham while the second could be spotted in Lee. Both were black.

“I also seem to recall an A90 from the period but could be mistaken — it might have been an A50 after all. Needless to say, the A50 was a rare sight as these were the only ones I recall.

“If I remember Austins too well it is probably because as I child I collected Dinky Toys and my collection included a beige-and-blue-trim pre-Pininfarina A105, much on the stylistic lines of Keith Hartinger’s A50 at BLW.

“As further verification the A50 was exported to the USA I would cite Road & Track’s 1956 Road Test Annual, which on page 59 has a test of the Austin Cambridge. The test report (#F-10-55) listed a top speed of 75.6mph and 0-60 acceleration of 24.4 seconds. POE list price was put at $1,895.

“I read the print edition of British Marque. I mean, what would you expect from someone who actually remembers a 1955 A50 or an even earlier A40!”

Thank you, Charles and David.

April 2019

[4-Apr_19_OriginalAirCooledResister.jpg] The original resistor, which may burn out and cause the cooling fan to fail.
Photo by Iain Barker

MINI Cooling Fan Repair
by Iain Barker

Well, it seems that low-speed cooling fan failure is a common fault as modern MINIs start to age. There are many reports from MINI Gen1 owners on the Internet forums — fewer for Gen2, but my 2009 JCW has the exact same symptoms.

To determine if your MINI has the problem, start the engine and turn on the A/C via the “snowflake” button. The radiator cooling fan at the front of the car should spin. If it doesn’t, the resistor that drives the fan at low speed has burned out.

Replacements for the OEM resistors are available, but fitting requires disassembly of the front of the car (aka service mode) to access the radiator, which is several hours of labor.

For Gen1 MINIs, there is a hack to splice an external resistor into the wiring loom in order to bypass the failed resistor. I traced the fan wiring on my Gen2 JCW using a voltmeter, and realized the same external resistor bypass can be done by just adding jumper wires at the control relays. No modifications to the wiring loom are required.

April 2019

[5-Apr_19_NewExternalResister.jpg] A solution — a replacement external resistor, bonded to the chassis, as a bypass.
Photo by Iain Barker

Basically, instead of the original tubular air-cooled resistor, a higher-power external resistor with an aluminum heat sink is bonded to the chassis with thermal glue.

Solder two 16-gauge wires to the external resistor terminals and insulate with tape or heat-shrink, then install as follows:

1. Open the fuse box and remove both fan relays.

2. Insert one resistor wire into the low-speed fan 12v switched contact #30.

3. Insert the other resistor wire into the high-speed fan 12v switched contact #87.

4. Push both relays firmly back into their sockets, to jam the wires in place.

5. Use thermal glue to fix the resistor to the metal chassis of the car as a heat sink.

The bypass works as follows: When the low-speed fan relay clicks on, 12v are fed from #30 through the resistor into the output side #87 of the high-speed relay, which is wired directly to the fan. When the high-speed fan relay clicks on, the resistor has 12v on both sides so does nothing, and 12v at #87 go directly to the fan.

The Amazon part numbers are B015Z195A4 for the resistor, B072MSXHJD for thermal glue.

Caution: Incorrect wiring can cause fire or other damage. Proceed at your own risk.

March 2019

[1-Mar_19_ZachAndHisMini.jpg] Zach and his car.
Photos by Iain Barker

A Remarkable Works Mini at ‘Caffeine & Classics’
by Iain Barker (with Zach Barbera)

Steven Lichty organizes the biannual Caffeine & Classics Road Rally to Gloucester, Mass., and I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend by Zach Barbera. I had not met Zach prior to the event, but was acquainted with him and his car through the on-line Mk1 Mini forum. Zach is the owner of an Mk1 Mini with a unique history.

The event is very informal — coffee and donuts at Steve’s house, meeting other classic car owners, and then a leisurely drive in procession on back roads to the destination, which was a picnic on the cliff edge next to the quarry at Halibut Point State Park.

There were around a dozen classic cars at the meet, including a rare Triumph TR8 3.5L, an MGA, our two Mk1 Minis, a TR6, various classic Porsches, and even “modern classics” such as a Subaru Impreza. I thought the Minis would be the smallest vehicle in the group, but then an immaculate Fiat 500 Cinquecento arrived. There was even a very nicely restored wooden boat, a 30-year labor of love by its owner.

For me, Zach’s Mini was without a doubt the most interesting car in attendance. It is well documented that on March 7, 1963, five brand new standard Mini 850 body shells were taken from the production line and built up by hand at BMC, upgrading the performance by using Formula Junior race engines provided by John Cooper’s engineering works. These five cars became the very first ‘Mini Cooper 1071 S’ cars, of which a total of 4,030 were eventually produced. Zach owns car #3 from that build, originally registered in the UK as 289 JOB, and it is in remarkably good condition given its age and provenance.

March 2019

[2-Mar_19_ZachEngine.jpg] Detail of the Mini’s engine. Plaque on valve cover reads, ‘Special parts are fitted to this engine. Stage III BMC/Downton. BMC Special Tuning Dept., Abingdon, Berkshire’.
Photo by Iain Barker

The car was initially used in-house by the BMC publicity department for photographs in the ‘1071 S’ launch brochures, and loaned for industry and journalist test drives, reviews, etc., through 1963. Charles Griffin, head of BMC engineering, bought the car used in September ’64 for his son. But with the 1275 S coming out shortly afterwards, he did not keep it long. The car was sold and successfully rallied in club events by several owners through the 1960s and ’70s.

Joe Barbera acquired the rather worn-out remains of the car in the ’90s after the end of its rallying career and had it shipped to Singapore, where he was working as an ex-pat at the time. He then commissioned a local restorer, David Works Garage, to rebuild the car to its factory specifications. The original engine was long gone, but was replaced with a period authentic Downton/ST Stage-3-tuned 1071 of similar vintage and specification.

As a spokesman for David Works explained, “[We] built it for Joe over 20 years ago. That Mini has an original Works FJ Downton motor from Greg Hales, Safety Fast Engineering. We supplied a full straight-cut competition gearbox using the triple-three casing.”

Zach inherited the car at the passing of his father, and had been researching its history on the Mk1 forum, which is where we got connected.

It was great to see the car running on the drive, and especially to hear the throaty roar from the peaky camshaft of its Stage-3 engine, and the whine of its straight-cut racing gearbox.

March 2019

[3-Mar_19_HarleyQuinn.jpg] ‘Harley Quinn’ was a Birchmire favorite.
Photo by Wendy Birchmire

Rally for the U.S. Coast Guard
by Wendy Birchmire

On February 2nd, the MINIs of Boston group held a “Pay the USCG Rally” to help Coast Guard families in need due to the government shutdown. This was one of many rallies held throughout the country to help these men and women, who were working without pay.

Kristin Masta orchestrated this daylong event and it went flawlessly. A dozen MINIs gathered in Bedford, N.H., to begin the Rally. Although the temperature was near zero degrees, the group braved the elements and stood proudly by their cars talking all things MINI. Most cars were filthy and covered in road salt, but they still looked beautiful to me.

At the appointed hour there was a radio check and then off we went. Prior to turns or traffic lights, directions were given via walkie-talkie. A “sweeper” bringing up the rear called in to report whether all cars made it through a light or if some were waiting. This system is great at preventing cars from getting too far apart, and me from getting lost!

After a stop at Panera in Leominster, Mass., everyone gave donations to Kristin so she could pass them along to her contact in the Coast Guard. There were supermarket gift cards and loads of non-perishable food.

Following a bathroom and refreshment break, a few MINIs dropped out of the caravan and several more joined in. Next stop was New Country MINI in Hartford, Conn., to collect more donations. At the dealership we were greeted by members of Nutmeg MINIacs, a Connecticut-based MINI club (Connecticut being “the Nutmeg State”). We took a dinner break at the Plan B Burger Bar in West Hartford, and still more MINI conversations were had. Then it was over…

The Rally was a huge success. Kristin’s MINI was filled with food items and she collected $1,100 in gift certificates. Once again, MINI owners proved they are generous and sensitive to the needs of others!

March 2019

NEMO Annual Meeting Mar. 31!

A reminder: our Annual Meeting will be held on Sunday, March 31st, from 12 noon to 4 p.m. at Owen O’Leary’s, 17 Connector Rd., Westborough, Mass., (508) 366-9262, www.owenolearys.com. We reserved the lounge, which has high-top tables and space for at least 30 people.

Owen O’Leary’s is an Irish pub with a good beer selection. Food and drink will be ordered à la carte.

We will be holding the usual Giveaway Freebie Raffle, so if you have any Mini-related items you would like to donate, bring them along. An evite will be sent to the membership list in late February with another reminder in March.

Also come with any thoughts you might have about the ongoing “What is a Mini Variant?” controversy. We’re committed to helping Michael Gaetano settle the question before registration time for the next British Motorcar Festival in Bristol and British Invasion in Stowe (in June and September respectively).

Owen O’Leary’s is located on the eastbound side of Rt. 9, about 1 mile west of I-495. It shares an entrance with a Hampton Inn. There is another Owen O’Leary’s several miles away in Southborough, so be sure you punch the correct address into your GPS.


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