Tag Archives: Owen

Michelotti Mini – MG ADO70

After rejecting the ADO34 and ADO35 projects to put the MG name on a Mini based vehicle in 1966 the conglomerate known as British Leyland Motor Corporation Ltd since 1968 re visited the idea of building a Mini based MG in 1970.

BMC ADO70, Gaydon Motor Museum

Project code ADO70 also known as the Michelotti Mini seen here is based on a 1275GT chassis and running gear a model which had been introduced in 1969.

BMC ADO70, Gaydon Motor Museum

The only mechanical modification to the car was the fitting of twin exhaust tail pipes.

BMC ADO70, Gaydon Motor Museum

Paul Hughes at the BLMC Longbridge works was responsible for the split Targa top styling and when the drawings were complete another member of the design team Robin Owen drove the new Mini 1275GT with it’s twin tailpipe modification over to Studio Tecnico Carrozzeria G. Michelotti in Turin, Italy

BMC ADO70, Gaydon Motor Museum

For two months Robin oversaw the removal of the original bodywork and it’s replacement with the new design at Michelotti.

BMC ADO70, Gaydon Motor Museum

On returning the Michelotti Mini to the UK it was immediately apparent that the new body was too heavy and that the twin tailpipe modification was insufficient to make for the lost performance, or to warrant putting the car in production with an MG badge.

New safety and emissions legislation in the USA were also responsible for halting any further development of the ADO70.

Thanks for joining me on this “Michelotti Mini” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Mercedes Monday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now.


In Keen Anticipation – Owen Special

From the mid 1950’s to the mid 70’s Freddie Owen and his wife Pam lived in Esher Surrey, where Peter was the proprietor of Wellands Coach Builders.

Owen Special, Peter Newman, Chateau Impney

Alongside his business interests Freddie built a couple of Jaguar powered specials including today’s featured car which is powered by a six cylinder 3.4 litre / 210 cui XK140 motor.

Owen Special, Peter Newman, Chateau Impney

The Owen Special first registered on the road in 1962 is believed to have been built between 1959 and 1960 with a space frame chassis and aluminium body that anticipates the E-Type Jaguar launched in 1961.

Owen Special, Peter Newman, Chateau Impney

After used the car in competition into the 1970’s before he retired to the Isle of White, while the car disappeared to Belgium from whence mechanical aficionado Pete Waterman appears to have bought the car and had it restored by renowned Jaguar specialists Lynx.

Owen Special, Peter Newman, Chateau Impney

The Owen Special is seen in these photographs being driven by current owner Peter Newman, at last years Chateau Impney Hillclimb, who is keen to here from anyone who can shed any further light on the car, please do not hesitate to chime in below if you can oblige.

Thanks for joining me on this “In Keen Anticipation” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at another Dakar Rally challenger. Don’t forget to come back now !


Aqueous Friday – Silver Jubilee Silverstone Classic

Weather predictions have been pretty unreliable in this neck of the woods this year so when I was told that an aqueous qualifying day was predicted for the Silver Jubilee edition of the Silverstone Classic I paid little attention beyond checking my wellies and rain coat were packed.

Alexis HF1, Duncan Rabagliati, Silverstone Classic

Qualification started bearably moist as Duncan Rabagliati, driving his #7 Alexis Mk 1 and his fellow Formula Junior competitors hit the track.

Lister Chevrolet Knobbly, Roberto Giordanelli, Silverstone Classic,

As practice for the Stirling Moss Trophy came to an end I headed out to Brooklands where Roberto Giordanelli is seen kicking up a little spray aboard his Chevrolet powered Knobbly Lister.

Frazer Nash Supersports, Hall / Grant Peterkin, Silverstone Classic

As the Pre War Sports cars came out qualify for the Kidston Trophy the heavens opened up and I was caught in the wrong place in the wrong attire as Andrew Hall and Michael Grant Peterkin took turns in coming to terms with their severely under steering chain drive Frazer Nash Supersports on their way to fifth on the grid.

Jaguar E-Type, James Cottingham, Silverstone Classic,

Above James Cottingham drifts his #73 E-Type Jaguar through Club corner above on his way to second on the grid for the Tourist Trophy race.

Williams FW07C, Christophe d'Ansembourg, Silverstone Classic

Christophe d’Ansembourg entered Abbey curve backwards and is seen passing the apex at 90º to the track before recovering from the mother of all tank slappers without exceeding the track limits to qualify his Williams FW7C for the FIA Masters Historic Formula One Race 21st from 38 runners.

Audi 80 Quattro, Frank Wrathall, Silverstone Classic

With all wheel drive one might have expected Frank Wrathall to be a contender for pole in his Super Tourisieme Audi 80 Quattro however since the whole Super Touring Car qualifying session was run behind the safety car he was only awarded 13th place on the grid based on previous form.

Kurtis KK500C, Geriant Owen, Silverstone Classic

Conditions such as this would never be tolerated at Indianapolis but Geriant Owen put on a fine display of driving skill and qualified his 1954 Kurtis KK500C roadster a fine 12th for the Maserati Centenary Trophy race.

Nissan R90CK, Bob Berridge, Silverstone Classic,

Bob Berridge’s Japanese Group C spec Nissan R91CK will have been no stranger to monsoon conditions and so it was perhaps no surprise he qualified on pole for the Group C race, following in the US GTP spec #5 Spice SE90P is Steve Tandy who qualified 9th on the sadly depleted Group C grid.

Bizzarrini 5300 GT, Tim Harvey, Silverstone Classic

Roger Wills stepped down from driving his collection of cars this weekend and let Tim Harvey do the hard work, above Tim gets to grips with Rogers Bizzarini 5300GT which was awarded 7th on the grid for International Trophy for Classic GT Cars as once again the whole session had to be run behind the pace car.

Porsche 911 RSR, Mark Bates, Silverstone Classic

Mark Bates took full advantage of the tricky conditions to drift his Porsche 911 RSR to an unexpectedly high 4th on the grid amongst a gaggle of more powerful Lola T70’s and faster 2 litre / 122 cui Lola and Chevron sports racing cars on the FIA Masters Historic Sports Car grid.

Fortunately as we will see next week the rain eased off over night to make for an interesting day’s racing on Super Saturday.

Thanks for joining me on this “Aqueous Friday” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Secretaries Turnkey Racer – Shelby G.T.350 R #SFM5R098

Allegedly when Carroll Shelby first saw a Ford Mustang his original description was of a mere “secretary’s car”, but that did not stop him building a run of over 500 2 seat 350 G.T.350 variants to meet the Sports Car Club of America’s requirements and a special run of 34 G.T.350 R turnkey racers like today’s featured chassis #SFM5R098.

The 34 G.T.350 R cars were fitted with blue printed motors that produced up to 360hp, weight saving plexiglass side and rear window’s and Goodyear Blue Dot tyres mounted on American Racing 15″ x 7″ wheels.

Shelby G.T. 350 R, Concours On The Avenue, Carmel By The Sea,

Today’s featured G.T. 350 R, photographed by Geoffrey Horton at Concours On The Avenue, Carmel by the Sea, a couple of years ago is the 7th to have been built and the fifth to have been delivered to a paying customer in the form of Ned Owen.

Ned raced this car, which featured an Essex Wire Black stripe with orange pin stripe in SCCA class B Production races from 1965 to 1967 with Ford drivers Skip Scott and Ken Miles also said to have had one off drives in the car.

Shelby G.T. 350 R, Concours On The Avenue, Carmel By The Sea,

In 1967 #SFM5R098 was purchased by a Canadian who crashed it in 1969 after which it remained in an Ontario barn until it was bought unseen by Shelby aficionado Rick Kopec of Connecticut for $5,000.

Rick had #SFM5R098 restored to the condition it was in when bought new by Ned Owen only changing the race number from Owen’s customary #92 to #98 in deference to the cars chassis number.

My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for sharing today’s photographs.

Thanks for joining me on this “Secretaries Turnkey Racer” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Atgyfodwr Babs – BABS.

Count Louis Vorow Zborowski, the son of pioneer amateur racing driver Count de Montsaulvain who was killed on the La Turbie hill climb in 1903, became one of the richest teenagers in the world upon the death of his mother in 1911.

By 1921 he started building the first of a series of four gargantuan aero engined vehicles for competition at Brooklands.

Today’s featured car started life as the Count’s final project ‘Chitty 4’ perhaps slightly better known as the Higham Special which appeared at Brooklands in 1923.

BABS, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

With it’s with it’s 450hp 27 litre / 1647 cui V12 motor the Higham Special was and still is one of the largest piston powered vehicles ever to have been driven on a closed circuit.

The chassis proved to be too puny for the motor and could not be developed into a competitive proposition by the time Count Zborowski was killed, aged just 29, after hitting a tree in his Mercedes during the 1924 Italian Grand Prix.

The Higham Special was acquired by former Chief Leyland engineer John Godfrey Parry-Thomas, who gave up his career at Leyland to found his own engineering company and to pursue speed, for £125 from the Zbrowski estate in 1925.

BABS, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

Welshman JG Parry-Thomas modified the Liberty motor, fitting 4 carburetors and piston’s of his own design but neither he nor future World Land Speed Record holder John Cobb had any success at Brooklands.

However when JG focused his attention on setting World Land Speed Records on the Pendine Sands in North Wales, where Malcolm Campbell had become the first person to exceed 150 mph in 1924, the Higham Special which he renamed BABS started to find it’s legs.

On 28 April 1926, JG drove BABS to a new flying 1 mile World Land Speed Record with an average over two runs in opposite directions of 171.02 mph / 273.6 km/h.

BABS, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

In February 1927 Malcom Campbell returned to Pendine with the first Bluebird powered by a W12 Napier Lion motor and raised the Land Speed Record to over 174 mph.

Nearly a month later on March 3rd 1927 while attempting to regain the World Land Speed Record on the Pendine Sands BABS rolled, it is now believed due to a collapsed wheel, and JG became the first man to die while making a World Land Speed Record attempt.

Following the inquest into JG Parry Thomas’s death, believed incorrectly at the time to have been the result of a snapped drive chain, BABS was buried in the Pendine Sands which later became a military firing range.

BABS, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

42 years later in 1969 Owen Wyn Owen an engineering lecturer at Caernarfonshire Technical College in Bangor managed to negotiate permission from the military and the descendants of the Parry Thomas family to excavate BABS, during the recovery the drive chain that was presumed to have snapped and caused the accident was found to be intact.

Owen Wyn Owen then spent the next 15 years restoring BABS, which can usually now be found at the Pendine Museum of Speed, back to running order, initially the only way to get the motor running was to tow BABS up to 60 mph behind a Land Rover and then bump start the motor !

In 1999 Owen Wyn Owen was awarded the Tom Pryce Trophy which was engraved with the legend in Welsh “Atgyfodwr Babs”, resurrector of Babs in English.

Thanks for joining me on this “Atgyfodwr Babs” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for Maserati Monday. Don’t forget to come back now !


First Australian – TVR Grantura Mk3 #9/686

The MK3 and later TVR Grantura’s, first seen in 1962, featured a new chassis designed by John Thurner to primarily accept either 1622 cc / 98.9 cui or 1798 cc / 109.7 cui four cylinder MG motors.

TVR Grantura Mk3, Oulton Park

It would appear that while enquiries about racing a TVR in Australia Peter Owen inadvertently was appointed TVR’s Australian Agent. In 1964 today’s featured car chassis #9/686 fitted with the larger MG motor became the first TVR to be imported to Australia where Peter registered it for the road and took it to the Sydney Motor Show.

TVR Grantura Mk3, Oulton Park

During 1964 Peter also clocked up a couple of wins at Oran Park and Warwick Farm before employing a rising star, Kevin Bartlett, to drive the car.

TVR Grantura Mk3, Oulton Park

After being campaigned down under until the 1970’s #9/686 was bought by French Journalist Christophe Wilmart just over ten years ago who brought it back to Europe and had it prepared for historic racing.

Current owners Colin and Helen Elstrop bought the car, seen here in the paddock at Oulton Park last weekend, to the UK in 2007 and have raced it regularly since.

Thanks for joining me on this “First Australian” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I be returning to Redhill Village Hall for Breakfast. Don’t for get to come back now !


Rubery Owens Last Stand – BRM P201/01-R

After a dismal 1973 season in which BRM did not even mange to clock up a non championship victory the team lost their primary sponsor, Philip Morris, to McLaren.

However Louis Stanley who managed the team for longtime BRM backers Rubery Owen managed to put a deal together for Frenchman Jean Pierre Beltoise, Henri Pescarolo and Francois Migault to drive for BRM in 1974 with backing from the French oil company Motul.

BRM P201, BRM Day, Bourne

The Motul deal was interesting because all three drivers were also members of Matra’s dominant sports car team which won at Le Mans and the 1974 World Sports Car Championship who were sponsored by rival company Shell.

Not only that but in agreeing to finance three drivers at BRM Motul reneged on a deal that was to have brought Ron Dennis and Niel Trundle into Formula One as team owners of Rondel Racing. The Rondel car was sold on to become first the Token and later the Safir while Dennis and Trundle eventually teamed up to take over McLaren in 1981.

BRM P201, BRM Day, Bourne

Plans for the 1974 BRM challenger were started in 1974 when Bourne resident Mike Pilbeam was entrusted with the design of the new car which shows a combination of influences including the triangulated cross section of the monocoque as first seen in Gordon Murray’s 1973 Brabham BT42, side radiators and all round inboard brakes as first seen on the 1970 Lotus 72 and an airbox that might not have looked out of place on the 1973 Championship winning Tyrrell 006.

While in no obvious way original the striking P201 did differ from all of those that influenced it’s design in one important aspect namely in the engine bay where a revamped BRM V12 with new narrow angle 48 valve heads was to be found said to capable of 460hp at 11,000rpm in place of the Cosworth DFV which powered the rest of the field apart from Ferrari.

BRM P201, BRM Day, Bourne

Jean Pierre Beltoise was the first to be allowed to dump his aging P160 to give the P201 it’s debut in the 1974 South African Grand Prix where he qualified a respectable 11th and lasted the distance in a race noted for a high rate of attrition to finish a credible 2nd 33 seconds down on Carlos Reutemann who won the first race of his career aboard the Brabham BT44.

BRM went on to score just two more points in it’s long and turbulent history at the Belgian Grand Prix where Beltoise came home 5th. The rest of the year was a disaster for BRM with Pescarolo scoring a best tenth place finish at the German Grand Prix in his 201 which did not appear until Swedish Grand Prix.

BRM P201, BRM Day, Bourne

Francois Migault only had two starts in the P201 in Holland and Italy retiring from both races. The Italian Grand Prix the only one in which 3 P201’s started marked a particularly low point for the team as all three cars were out by the end of the fourth lap.

The Italian Grand Prix marked the last appearance for both Henri Pescarolo and Francois Migault for BRM at the season ending Canadian and US Grand Prix they were replaced by Chris Amon who’s own 1974 programme had come to a halt with a failure to qualify in Italy.

BRM P201, BRM Day, Bourne

The Canadian Grand Prix neither car covered sufficient distance to be classified with Amon starting from the back of the grid lasting ten laps longer the Beltoise who started 17th and retired on lap 60.

At the US Grand Prix Beltoise disgraced himself in qualifying by trying to go to quickly too soon damaging his car and injuring himself on what proved to be his final run in a World Championship Grand Prix while Chris qualified 12th and finished 9th two laps down on Carlos Reutemann’s winning Brabham BT44.

BRM P201, BRM Day, Bourne

At the end of 1974 Rubery Owen pulled the plug on BRM, after initial BRM backer Alfred Owen had died earlier in the year. This should have meant the end of BRM but some how Louis Stanley managed to save the team going into the 1975 season.

Mike Wilds with an independent backer sponsoring him got the single Stanely BRM entry for the two early season South American races but retired his P201 from both.

1974 European Formula 5000 champion Bob Evans was then given the drive achieving a best 6th place finish in the non Championship Race of Champions before the Stanley BRM’s 1975 season fizzled out prematurely at the Italian Grand Prix.

BRM P201, BRM Day, Bourne

Not knowing how to disappear gracefully the Stanely BRM P201 appeared at the 1976 Brazilian Grand Prix with 1973 European Formula 5000 champion Ian Ashley at the wheel after qualifying 21st Ashley retired with oil pump failure after 2 laps. Allegedly this entry was made simply to continue BRM’s record of entry each year since 1950.

For 1977 the Stanely BRM fiasco continued with a new model the P207 which was packed into a crate to big to be air freighted to the Argentinian Grand Prix, after retiring from the Brazilian Grand Prix in the new P207 Larry Perkins was given a run a P201 for the 1977 South African Grand Prix qualifying 22nd Larry brought the P201 in 15th on what would be the models final World Championship Grand Prix appearance.

BRM P201, BRM Day, Bourne

Stanley BRM soldiered on for the remainder for the remainder of the season until disappearing for good from the World Championship circuit at the Italian Grand Prix.

Most of Stanley BRM were acquired by cereal millionaire John Jordan in 1978, and a new car the Jordan BRM P230 was built for British Championship events with the P207 also appearing in the same series.

BRM P201, BRM Day, Bourne

Today’s featured car BRM P201/1 seen at BRM Day in Bourne a couple of years ago is owned by Bruce McCaw, the driver was listed as TBA and his identity has yet to be established though we can say it is definitely not Bruce.

Thanks for joining me on this “Rubery Owens Last Stand” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at another Maserati 250F. Don’t forget to come back now !