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The Nota Fang

Many of us who followed motor sport in the 60's will recall sports car races with many Nota Clubmans in the field; this company had the expertise to produce a good sports car, but who would have expected a car that looked like a formula one? Welcome the Nota Fang.

Unlike other kits based around Mini mechanicals the Fang used mainly the front subframe and power plant, however in this instance it was installed in the rear. Although the Fang was not strictly a Mini special, it still qualifies as a classic to be sought after by Mini enthusiasts due to the use of familiar components and limited numbers. The body had a tubular steel space frame with semi stressed alloy tub section incorporating a roll bar. Among the built-in features were collapsible front and rear sections, as well as a fully adjustable and collapsible steering column.

The information reproduced here comes from sales literature of Nota Engineering at the time of production in the early 70's and from Modern World magazine dated May 1971. A new version with Toyota Camry power was produced a few years ago for the die-hard enthusiasts. This version was credited with a standing ¼ time of 12.2s, and was designated as the F1. Its price was listed at around \$35,000.

The Mini Jem

The Taylorspeed Jem is the result of British and Australian workmanship.

Taylorspeed of Adelaide negotiated with Jem in the UK to manufacture the Mini Jem based special in the Southern Hemisphere. The Adelaide firm decided that certain modifications would have to be made to the body for Australian conditions and this has been the subject of many hundreds of man hours additional work.

The Jem accepts all BMC Mini components from the 850 power train to the 1275 Cooper s power train. It will accept any combination of Mini goodies such as wide wheels, racing tyres, anti roll bars and can be fitted with either dry rubber or hydrolastic suspension.

Costs have been kept to a minimum and such things as door handles and hinges, window latches, petrol tank and cap, all lights, instruments, wiring loom and even the steering are all Mini. The end product is a two seater GT car with an occasional two behind, that is front engine, front wheel drive with about half the frontal area of a conventional Mini and two thirds the weight.

The Aircraft Industry have given assistance both by wind tunnel testing and stressing. They found it stable to 170 mph after a few modifications which are now incorporated into the design.

Using a standard Cooper S power train the vehicle will accelerate to 50 mph in five and a half seconds and reach a top speed of over 120 mph.

Assembly from the bare shell to the complete car will take about 50 hours or with two people working on it, about two weekends. Virtually no engineering skill or training and only basic tools are required for the complete assembly.

  • The body shell is jig drilled ready to accept front and rear subframes. Power bulge moulded into the bonnet to make room for extra large carburetors. Dashboard left blank for any instrument arrangement.

  • Full width sliding window for ease of arm movement, using Mini channels and locks. Will accept any type of Mini gear shift.

  • Designed to accept side draft Webber.

  • Has aero dynamic wind spoiler moulded in for maximum stability.

  • The whole car is made up of 2x2 layers of E glass bonded in a mold with resin and pigment. 

  • Wherever there is a pick-up point an 18 gauge plate is bonded into the shell to prevent tearing and also to spread the load.

  • At the front the main BMC metal cross member with 2x18 gauge fish plates is located on a jig and then bonded in. The rack and pinion mounting points are similarly located with 18 gauge plates. At the rear again all the pick-up points are backed by metal, with long metal stringers down the length of the rear floor plan. The roof is strengthened with an additional layer of 2 oz E glass. The door pillars have bonded into them a 1 x 18 gauge tube, bent over to form the pillar and the upper sill. The ends are flattened to be bonded to the side of the shell and take the load.

  • The central section is carefully worked out with box sections forming the strength and carrying the rigidity from front to rear. The box sections are wooden with glass fibre bonded over them to make a very strong monocoque section.

The Unipower GT

Here is another mutant Mini special, this time it's the Unipower GT. A car that opened the door for other Mini based variants but having a prominent role in the British TV series "Mogul". This series ran in the 60's and starred Ray Barret who was an actor from Brisbane.

The rear engined Unipower was initially produced as a sideline project by a truck conversion company and was introduced at the 1966 London racing car show. The original car was shown prematurely and had a few gremlins which delayed its sale as a kit car for a short while after its initial display.

This was one of the better looking specials and was quite expensive for its time, due to its having a fibreglass body bonded to a space frame chassis. A unique feature was the gear lever, mounted on the driver's right side. If you think that's odd, the change pattern was back to front, resulting in first gear being where fourth normally is and vice versa. Now that would be interesting at the lights!

These models were once again renowned for their road holding and performance and continued the tradition established by the Mini, the donor of the good bits. A range of six versions was available starting at a basic kit and progressing to a race ready model. The unipower inspired other builders to release similar types of vehicles and some became quite successful in later years. Only a few cars made it to Australia and since their numbers were small anyway, one of these would be a very collectable item indeed. To see the old TV series again would rekindle memories of these cars and show just how well they suited the role as transport for the man from Mogul.

The Broadspeed

The Broadspeed Mini, a vehicle that was stylish and well equipped, but expensive at the time of production.

These cars were originally produced in limited numbers in the UK by Ralph Broad, who had successfully modified and raced Minis prior to designing this fastback model. Its distinguishing feature was the extended Kamm tail, an essential item aiding aerodynamics at that time. The roof and rear end of the shell were fabricated from fibreglass and were reinforced with steel frame and inserts to give a strong and rigid body. The result was a car with all the Mini traits and a lot less weight.

As a road car it was under-rated by the motoring writers at the release due to bad finish and assembly - those poor souls also suggested that it was unattractive. Some of the criticisms were justified on the British cars, but when Brian Foley undertook local production the quality problems were successfully addressed.

The Foley-produced cars began with a Deluxe based unit as an entry model, followed by a 2+2 S version using Cooper S equipment. The Super Deluxe came with engine modifications such as a re-worked head (10.5:1), big cam and twin 1 ½" SU's, providing 90BHP and a rev limit of 8000rpm up from 6500. New Broadspeeds carried a full BMC factory warranty unless they were modified.

The Model with the bad attitude was the GTS. This car stretched Mini performance one notch higher - there were no apologies regarding noise, as this, combined with limpet-like grip and savage acceleration, made for one dynamic rocket ship. Here was a serious performance car that was accused of being overpowered as a road car, but, as a racing car, set new lap records all over Australia and its success became legendary.

On the dashboard, the matching 150mph speedometer and 10,000 rpm rev-counter indicate that this was no ordinary Mini. Down in the "herbs" department nestles a 1275 Cooper S power unit. For an extra \\$250 you could get a Broadspeed tune. This meant a modified head with bigger exhaust valves, ported & polished and a 10.5:1 compression. There was also a special exhaust manifold and a Broadspeed road/race camshaft. Twin exhaust pipes poked out the back, one on each side.


There are very few of these cars left now, and they remain one of the Mini's most valuable variants.  

The Pellandini

The Pellandini special was produced in South Australia in the early 1970's. These were among the prettiest Mini based specials. The car featured here is a coupe, but there were also roadster versions as well. The open top look really suited the Pellandini, however not enough interest was shown and production numbers were limited.

The car takes its name from the designer, Peter Pellandini, who had an ambition to expand on the virtues of the Mini and its components. The Pellandini used the Mini drive train and components, and was made from aluminium and fiberglass around a tubular spaceframe chassis. The engine was mid-mounted, and was either an 1100 or 1275cc. The alloy wheels were 10 inch up front and 12 inch at the rear.

The one piece nose section, hinged at the front and secured by over-centre latches, covered the radiator and spare wheel. Entry through the openings provided by the gull-wing doors, needed some agility to scale the high sills, but the cockpit was amply roomy and comfortable for two.

Facia design was unusal, with glovebox on the left, angled speedo in the centre, and a group of warning lights ahead of the 300mm leather bound steering wheel. The seats were trimmed with either leather or sheep skin to order, and had four point safety harness as standard equipment.The location and length of the pendant type foot pedals were arranged to suit the buyer.

Seven of the coupe models were sold, all in kit form. Occasionally one of these cars will come up for sale in the pages of used car magazines, so they are still out there to be found.