Jeroen is forced to rethink his bodywork plans, and tracks down a rare rad...
The latest from our Mini fleet, this time featuring Jeroen, Stephen and Neil.
You may remember that last year I teamed up with Seventies Car Restoration in Yorkshire to fully restore and paint the Mini Marcos shell. I couldn’t afford to pay the full price so we made a deal, but they ended up running behind on other (budgeted) projects so there was no time for the Marcos any time soon. I decided it might be better to pick it up and arrange something more local, so I booked a night crossing from Rotterdam to Hull and got back on the same ferry the next night, with the Marcos in my trailer behind me. Meanwhile, I’d made arrangements with somebody else to repair the body, fit the roll-cage and prepare it for painting.
And so, after many months, the fibreglass work finally commenced. The holes were tackled first and the much-butchered battery box was eventually re-made, after what turned out to be a bit of a puzzle figuring out how the battery was placed in the car. Initially we thought it was east-west, but it turned out to be longitudinal, as it would have conflicted with the rear subframe. The holes fit in with straps
to secure the battery. The front, with its much-modified bonnet, is also under repair now, with two more separated bits being re-used and fitting in perfectly. I delivered the petrol tank and front screen in order to make the body ready for these, too.
Next, the car’s rather unusual double-skinned floors, with balsa wood in between the two layers, came under scrutiny. It was used on very few MkI competition cars to give the thin bodies more strength. But since the top skin of my floors had also been
removed at some stage (probably because they got water logged), they need new balsa core wood and a new top layer of matting over them. My handyman started to clean things up and noticed unusual slightly raised bands running diagonally over both sides of the floor. Cutting away the top layer revealed that they hide steel strips, topped with similar balsa wood strips, which have been fibreglassed in. The steel was in a sorry state and the wood had turned into dust! No problem for this craftsman, though.
He took out all the corroded steel, made new steel and balsa wood strips to measure, and is ready to fibreglass them in. He decided to have the wood lacquered before matting them in, so they will last longer, but since the key to this restoration is originality it will be kept just like it was back in 1966.
Although the search for rare parts needed to build this car up continues, I’m happy to report that I now have the car’s original front radiator. The car was raced at Le Mans with an extra radiator fitted in the front, and rumour was that this part had survived over 50 years! It took some time to actually track it down. José Albertini, who owned the car in 1970, told me he took it from the car at the time and kept it for many years before selling it to Italy. There, this piece of Le Mans heritage ended up on another Mini Marcos. But which one, and where it was now? Eventually I tracked it down in Oxfordshire, UK, and contacted its owner, Martyn Spurrell. He knew all about the unusual rad and told me he’d taken it off to replace it with a more up-to-date one. Fortunately, he’d kept it, and after José confirmed that the images he sent were indeed the original radiator for my car, I agreed on a price and when he was in The Netherlands in April I picked it up. It’s a purposebuilt rad that appears to have stood the test of time. I’ll of course test it for leaks and refurbish it, though, to make it ready to be remounted after all these years!
“The steel was in a sorry state and the wood had turned into dust”
In its new Dutch workshop.
On its trip from Hull back to The Netherlands.
Battery Box repaired.
Double-skinned floors were housing unusual steel strips.
The original front radiator.
Body repair in fibreglass.
Being raced at Le Mans with an extra rad fitted up front.