Welcome to totalkitcar online

WARM welcome to totalkitcar online…crikey, reading the latest press release from Great British Sports Cars this week made me chuckle. Nothing funny about their missive, you understand, but something within it got me thinking about a long ago, very different kitcar industry …

You can now buy a GBS Zero using finance to fund your purchase. Another example for an old kitcar dinosaur like me that just how far this industry has come since I first got involved with plastic cars in the early eighties.

If you mentioned the ‘words’ ‘hire purchase’ to Jem Marsh of Marcos he would have turned on his heels and walked off, stopping only to ask his son, Chris to escort you from the premises.

The thought of asking Marcos boss, the late Jem Marsh for car finance might well have brought a strong response. I like this photo of me and him taken at Prescott in 2009 for the Marcos 50th bash. He was in good form this day as he signed copies of his ‘Making My Marque’ book.

Jem didn’t suffer fools gladly. Not all in fact. If he didn’t like you, it became clear in a nano-second and I’d hazard a guess the price you ultimately paid very much depended on his opinion of you. He operated much like Tony Crook at Bristol Cars, I think, in that if he didn’t think you suitable for a Mantula and the like, you weren’t buying one. Not from him anyway.

I’ve got a whole bag full of Jem Marsh stories, most of which I couldn’t even begin to try and put in print, but I always got on well with him and I miss his regular phone calls, usually telling me where I was going wrong or moaning about someone or other. Entertainment was always guaranteed. However, the days he gave me praise. They were very special.

Who doesn’t like a Marcos. Great specialist cars

I’ll never forget the old Castle Combe Action Days in the eighties. Back then I worked on Kit Cars & Specials magazine and we sponsored those events so we always had a press day on the Friday prior to the public day. These were brilliant bashes. The editor, Martin Fostyer, would give us a list of cars we had to drive along with a clipboard and questionnaires on each car.

First on my list was the new Marcos Mantula V8 demonstrator, so up I strode to Jem (I didn’t know him then), full of South London brio and told him that his car was first on my list so where were the keys?

He looked right through me and said: “It can stay on your bloody list sunshine. You’ve got to be a man to drive my car.” A perfect put down and one that taught me a huge lesson, but he always denied ever saying that when I used to remind him of it.

He was great company though, old Jem. A regular visit to a Bradford-upon-Avon restaurant or pub with him for lunch in his latter years was always a treat (I ALWAYS ended up paying, though!) and invariably he’d be greeted by old Marcos employees from the sixties and he’d always have time for them and reminisce about the old days.

Going back to the finance thing. I was there in Engineer Road, Westbury the day a very brave man, a potential customer, interested in a Mantula kept asking Jem tricky questions, while I was looking around the showroom. Now, Marsh was a good salesman and could close a deal quicker than I can shut the curtains, but this man just wouldn’t shake on the deal, although he liked the car, and had enjoyed his test drive. I didn’t know where to look however, when he committed the cardinal sin that saw him get chucked off the premises – “Can I have an ash tray in it?” Jem’s reaction was pretty much what you’d expect and all he said as he gave the man a withering, despairing look was: “Chris, sort this bloke out, will you? I’m going to lunch,” as he barked “Come on you,” in my direction … Times and a man we’ll never see again, sadly.

Poor old Chris Marsh had to ‘sort out’ quite a lot of issues during his working week I think.

TKC Mag MARCH/APRIL 2017 is OUT NOW…in good – and bad – newsagents, via mail order and also on ALL digital platforms…

March/April 2017 issue out NOW – in good – and bad – newsagents, mail order or all digital platforms.

We’ve got plenty of stuff for you this issue, dear reader and here’s just a flavour of what we have for you…

DNA 2fifty Cal DNA is best-known for their modern Italian exotic replicas. We think their first crack at classics with the BMW Z3-based 2fifty Cal is a stunner …
Caterham Seven 310 The Seven 270 is a great car but add another 30-odd bhp and it becomes a real hoot.
Autosport International 2017 REVIEW If it’s January then it must be time for Autosport International. Here’s our review of this iconic event.
Upholstery Repairs – Part One

 

We welcome Rob Marshall to the TKC Mag team with the first of a two-parter dealing with how to repair irritating problems with interior trim. Part two next issue …
Ariel Profile A visit to the Somerset factory of Ariel where the workshop was a busy place with Atoms, Nomads and Ace bikes under build.
Future Donor The editor puts forward his suggestion for the next big donor vehicle…

 

JHL Minor Restorations Not kitcars but very mad conversions! A habit for fitting Ford Zetec engines into Morris Minors makes a for an eye-opening performance enhancement…
Ultimate Cobra Replica Build? Barry Boughton is a very interesting man. He is also building arguably the ultimate AK Cobra replica. We kick-off his build here.
Project OMG – HOT MODS damper conversion The dampers on our MG TF-based RPX were looking a bit worse for wear and so here’s how we fitted some superb Protech-based HOT MODS replacements. They are fab and make a big difference.
Pilgrim Speedster We popped down to Hayling Island to meet a man who loves his Pilgrim Speedster replica. No wonder he LOVES it…
Industry Greats – TIM DUTTON and DUTTON CARS I’ve known Tim for well over 30-years and he really is a man deserving of his place in the annals of the UK’s kitcar industry. Over 8500 kitcar sales guarantees my respect. Here’s his career story.
Fitting a remote brake servo Gary Stretton guides us through the process.

FIND IT IN GOOD NEWSAGENTS (and bad ones too, no doubt!) OR ORDER YOUR COPY BY MAIL ORDER NOW……UK CUSTOMERS HERE or MAINLAND EUROPE HERE or REST OF WORLD CUSTOMERS HERE.

FROM THE TOTALKITCAR ARCHIVE – LYNCAR

Made by Group C sportscar makers, Lyncar Engineering, run by the late, Martin Slater, and based in Slough, Berkshire.

Originally commissioned as a ‘one-off’ for the late US baseball star, Wilt ‘The Stilt’ Chamberlain, in 1986, dubbed ‘Searcher 1. The bodywork was created by Peter Bohanna, a steel and aluminium monocoque with steel tube subframes at each end, supplying the underpinnings, while power came from a mid-mounted Jaguar V12 engine.

Martin Slater, formerly of Lola and McLaren had been involved with the design of cars for F1, Formula Atlantic, Formule Renault, Group C and Thunder Saloons, and he was given the task of creating the chassis via his Lyncar Engineering operation. He came up with a superb riveted aluminium monocoque that was comparable with the leading sports-racers of the day. It also had to be spacious as the owner was 7ft 1in tall, after all.

Once the body and engineering parts were completed they were shipped to Richard Paul in California who did the final finishing and trimming out of the car, while he also built the Chevy V8 engine.

Despite having all the makings of a veritable supercar, Chamberlain drove around 400 miles in it and plans for a limited run of 100 cars came to nought as Chamberlain died in 1999. Incidentally, the Lyncar project supplied the windscreen for Lee Noble’s Ultima project.

Meanwhile, Slater had plans to put the car into production here in the UK and exhibited it at Stoneleigh in 1992 although again nothing came of it. The project lay dormant for several years before the late Keith Kirk of Fiero Factory and Auto Speciali purchased it in 2006 (he had liked the car when he had first seen it back in 1990) and heavily revised the styling and pretty much everything else, re-naming it Veleno (fully built versions were known as Predator). Kirk based his version on Toyota MR2 although he soon introduced a variant with a separate spaceframe chassis.

Another for the file marked ‘ones that got away’ for sure. What a talented bloke Martin Slater was.

SNIPPETS 1………Here’s our kitcar-related WHAT’S ON listing. We run this list on a separate page on the site but like to run it here from time-to-time too.

WHAT’S ON 2017
NEC Restoration Show NEC, Birmingham March 31-April 2
Kent’s All Ford Show Aylesford Priory, Kent April 23
National Kit Car Motor Show Stoneleigh, Warwickshire April 30/May 1
Spring Auto Jumble Beaulieu, Hampshire May 21-22
Bromley Pageant of Motoring Bromley, Kent June 18
Goodwood Festival of Speed Goodwood, West Sussex June 22-25
Summer Action Day Castle Combe Circuit July 22
Kent’s Kit & Custom Car Show Aylesford Priory, Kent July 23
Petrol & Pistons Croft, North Yorkshire September 1-2
International Auto Jumble Beaulieu, Hampshire September 2-3
Goodwood Revival Goodwood, West Sussex September 8-10
Kent’s Classic Car Show Aylesford Priory, Kent September 10
National MicroCar Rally Grasmere, Cumbria September 6-11
Rallyday (inc Davrian 50th) Castle Combe Circuit September 23
Restoration Show Stoneleigh, Warwickshire October 22
Classic Motor Show NEC, Birmingham November 10-12
WHAT’S ON 2018
Autosport International Show NEC, Birmingham January 11-14
Race Retro Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire February 23-25

SNIPPETS 2……..New event just announced by Great British Sports Cars is the ‘GBS Weekend’ that takes place on June 10-11 and consists of a summer open day at the company’s Nottinghamshire factory on June 10, followed the next day by a trackday at Rockingham circuit in Corby.

The open day will present the perfect opportunity to meet the GBS team, look around the workshop, machine area and showroom, partake of a good few biscuits and coffee and maybe even go for a test drive in a Zero demonstrator.

GBS’ Ruth Hall told me: “After a great trackday last year at Rockingham we have decided to go back again on Sunday, June 11. We’ve already supplied two race-spec cars to Rockingham and they use them extensively for their race school, corporate days and on their own trackdays and we’ve been working quite closely with them.

“They have kindly offered a discount for anyone wishing to take part in the trackday on the International Super Sportscars Long circuit layout. The trackday can be booked through the dedicated GBS Trackday page on our website, see link to our own booking page. – Places will fill up fast!

“Everyone is welcome to come and join us, we very much look forward to seeing you all over the weekend there will be unlimited tea & coffee and lots of delicious homemade cakes, biscuits that we will be providing for you all on both days.” So, there you have it. See you there.

More from www.greatbritishsportscars.co.uk or 01623 860 990.

SNIPPETS 3……..MEV customer, John Potter, who also owns and races a MEV MX150R, has produced a very good video on Mills Extreme Vehicles and the skills of Stuart ‘Stiggy’ Mills and as well as being informative gives a real insight into what makes the MEV marque and their vehicles so popular. See it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOoU2GofEAg.

Man with a big stick! Here’s Stuart Mills playing with smoke at a recent wind tunnel test at MIRA. You can read the report in the May/June issue of TKC Mag.

STEVO’S ALBUM TIP – BURNT OUT WRECKSWALLOW

Thanks for letting me know that you’ve been enjoying these fun little album tips. They are intended to bring you some great music – usually of a ‘crunchy’ guitar blues rock variety – that you may not have heard, while also being easy to find on Apple Music and the Android equivalent.

A new British classic rock band for you this week. If you like Bon Scott-era AC/DC and maybe a bit of Krokus, you will LOVE Gary Moat’s new band, Burnt Out Wreck and their debut album ‘Swallow’ is quite simply brilliant. The title track is a corker as are most of the other tracks.

Seek this one out on Apple Music or the Android equivalent.

STEVO’S REAL ALE RECOMMENDATION…………KESWICK BREWING COA BIT’ER RUFF

Thanks for the über positive feedback over this beer-orientated weekly item. It’s our weekly real ale recommendation as with over 800 micro-breweries in the UK, cask beer drinkers are spoilt for choice. Let’s just point out that we definitely don’t condone drink/driving rather than enjoying a pint in moderation during your leisure time…

Had the chance to sample a brew from Watermill Pub & Brewing Company, a very, tiny micro-brewery although there’s nothing small about their A Bit’er Ruff’, a classic, full-bodied golden brown bitter of 4.1% ABV, with intense hoppiness and a dry finish. A long-distance traveller, but a welcome one nevertheless.

The brewery is part of the Watermill Inn, located in the village of Ings in Cumbria very close to Lake Windermere. More from www.lakelandpub.co.uk.

Right, time for me to let you explore the site so I’ll just halt to wish you a great seven days and thank you for visiting – see you next Friday (March 24 – crikey, just nine months until Christmas – sorry!). Do enjoy your driving but please do take care out on the roads.

See Ya…

Best Regards

Steve