Mini Magazine

Jeroen Booij takes a look at the TICI - a fun City car for the 1970s.

Said to be the shortest road car ever, the Mini powered TiCi was at least as smart as the Smart… but it still didn’t succeed.

- Words and Pictures Jeroen Booij

Anthony Hill was a lecturer in Furniture Design at the Loughborou­gh College of Art and Design. He was also responsibl­e for a number of everyday designs – from classroom furniture to demountabl­e stages and even a locomotive cab. He’d also worked as a designer at Ford in Dagenham in the 1960s, specialisi­ng in instrument­ation. So perhaps his plan to come up with a car of his own design wasn’t so strange. This

was in the late 1960s to a background of the sounds of traffic congestion, petrol sources drying up and an impending doom through congestion about to befall mankind. No wonder that Hill’s car design turned out to be something cheerful, economic and small, or more specifical­ly, diminutive.

Hill had been playing with the idea of a tiny city car that was able to park transversa­lly since 1966. His first prototype was a groovy two-seater, bright orange in colour, just over 50 inches long and powered by a 500cc Triumph motorcycle engine. Although Hill used it extensivel­y throughout Europe for a couple of years, it remained a one-off. However, the designer was now smitten by his creation and couldn’t wait to manufactur­e it. What he needed was a financial injection, which came readily when ERA and BRM-founder Raymond Mays decided to support the project. To make the car suitable for everyday use

as well as production it needed a few developmen­ts. Now with a length of 89 inches – still ultra short – and 850 Mini power behind the seats, the car was named TiCi (pronounced Tichy) when it was first announced in 1972. But it was also appointed the title of ‘City Sprint Commuter Car’ and called the shortest road car ever, when it made it to the London Racing Car show in January 1973. Press releases from the time

celebrated the quirky little car’s versatilit­y “It’s a city sports convertibl­e… a shopping run-about for the busy housewife… a buggy for fun on the country lanes… for the golf course… for the beach.”

PLASTIC FANTASTIC

TiCi’s fibreglass body shell, made by Bourne Plastics of Nottingham who were also manufactur­ing bodies for the Lotus Elan, came in four pieces: front, enginecove­r, dashboard and the actual monocoque. The latter even included moulded in seats, which weren’t very comfy despite Hill’s claims to ergonomic seating. The exterior colour was always bright yellow as colour coded gel coat was used. A Mini front subframe complete with engine and all the suspension parts plus locked steering

was bolted in at the rear. The front suspension used Mini links and coil spring/damper units. A specially made six gallon steel fuel tank was fitted centrally in the interest of safety.

Thanks to backer Raymond Mays, Hill managed to tie up with Stirling Moss for promotion. Moss made headlines by driving it through London traffic surrounded by dolly birds.

The car was offered for sale as a complete kit with step-by-step instructio­ns for £395. The car could even be winter proofed as a hardtop and doors were available as an extra, both at £35. “There is no need for improvisat­ion or of specialist knowledge to build a TiCi. If you’re capable of removing Mini parts properly then you should be able to construct your own TiCi in a couple of weekends!” heralded the brochure.

FOR SALE

Unfortunat­ely, despite the promotiona­l efforts and the financial backing of Mays, who believed it could become a big seller in times of oil crises, the TiCi didn’t become much of a success. A year after its introducti­on, just 40 kits were sold and by that time new VAT-rules for kit cars made it far too expensive.

Singer Eartha Kitt is said to have owned one, as well as Sinclair C5 mastermind Clive Sinclair, who supposedly converted his TiCi to electric power. Motoring journalist Chris Rees also owned one and recalls the time that a London cabbie pulled alongside him in traffic one day, asking what he had done with the other roller-skate…

 ??  ?? Even the colour choice was tiny - the TiCi was only available in yellow...
Even the colour choice was tiny - the TiCi was only available in yellow...
 ??  ?? A Mini engine and subframe was mounted at the rear. A roof section and doors were available as cost extras. The typically 70’s TiCi brochure.
A Mini engine and subframe was mounted at the rear. A roof section and doors were available as cost extras. The typically 70’s TiCi brochure.
 ??  ?? Anthony Hill, the TiCi’s creator had a background in industrial design and it shows in the well resolved lines of the car. Stirling Moss was drafted in to help promote the TiCi.
Anthony Hill, the TiCi’s creator had a background in industrial design and it shows in the well resolved lines of the car. Stirling Moss was drafted in to help promote the TiCi.
 ??  ?? Four seperate mouldings form the shell of the TiCi. The TiCi was just 89 inches long and could be parked nose in to the kerb.
Four seperate mouldings form the shell of the TiCi. The TiCi was just 89 inches long and could be parked nose in to the kerb.

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