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The 1966 Le Mans Mini Marcos: progress!

The 1966 Le Mans Mini Marcos: progress!
You may remember that, last December, after a very long and at some points nerve wrecking search, I was finally able to buy the 1966 Le Mans Mini Marcos. I found the car in Portugal and brought it over to my home, with the plan to fully restore it to the state it was in when it raced at Le Mans.

But with no mechanicals whatsoever (apart from the body shell, only the 80-litres petrol tank and pedal box survive) I had to make a plan to see how to turn it into a proper car again. This Mini Marcos came with some ultra rare parts when it was raced, and I want all of the right stuff back on it. So where to start? Well, I got a lead to a man in southern France – José Albertini - who owned my car in 1970 and who still may have one of the two original radiators it used at Le Mans. I phoned him up, hoping he still had it, and was pleasantly surprised. He was surprised, too, to learn I actually found the car. He told me that until recently, he had more of the car’s original parts, among them the wheels. However, he’d sold all of his stock to a Mini specialist about a year ago.

That’s how I got in touch with Philippe Quirière, who runs Mini World Center in Serres-Castet. He took a deep dive in the stock he’d taken over from José Albertini and came out with some remarkable finds. Not the radiator – I found out later that it ended up in Italy - but the original magnesium wheels used at the 24 hours race! Two sets, as seen on many historic photographs. He also came up with the car’s original gearbox with 3 synchros, Cooper ‘S’ straight cut gears and very, very, long end drive! For the engine we are now going to use a ’66 1275 Cooper ‘S’ block that is believed to have ran under a thousand kilometres from new. The crank comes directly from BMC’s Special Tuning department and has never seen use.

But I also needed a partner to do the body, and found that in Seventies Car Restoration in West Yorkshire. The shell needs quite a lot of work as it’s been modified at several points with the moulded-in roll bar and double skinned floors cut out. The chaps at Seventies Car Restoration are well-experienced in this kind of work. This summer they removed the many layers of paint one by one, by hand, revealing more of the car’s history. It looks now as you can see it on the pictures above and below. Oh - we not only perfectly located the racing roundels on doors and rear, but also the original start numbers ‘50’ that were painted on all those years ago!

Meanwhile, I continued researching the car’s chequered past and had many people sending me photographs, some of them taken by amateurs. But best of all was to get in touch with the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), organizer of the 24 hours of Le Mans race since human memory. They have their own Heritage department, which includes an archive spanning historic files on just about all of the cars that ever made it to the endurance race. Now, they do not send over their material to everyone and to say they take things seriously, certainly is no exaggeration. First, I had to prove my car was the actual number 50 at Le Mans in '66 and so I sent all of the possible evidence that I had over to an ACO jury. When the head of their Heritage department contacted me six longs weeks later with the now classic words ‘It's good’ there’s no doubt that this made my day! This means I now have copies of all the official documents, from the very first application form to all the records taken when they checked, verified, measured and weighed the car prior to the race. It's all dated and full of technical detail and it’s a gold mine for the restoration.

(Words and pictures Jeroen Booij)


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#2 Jeroen Booij 2017-09-25 13:54
Quoting Mark Robinson:
Great story Jeroen, and good to hear you've located some of the original parts. Did you get the radiator?

Thank you Mark. Monsieur Albertini says he knows the whereabouts of the radiator, but I haven't made the effort to track it down yet. Will certainly try to do that though!
#1 2017-09-25 10:59
Great story Jeroen, and good to hear you've located some of the original parts. Did you get the radiator?

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