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  • Twini Mini

    I have been going through old copies of CCC and came accross one which always fires up my imagination. It dates from December 1991 and is about a Twini built by a Richard Mansfield (based around an Austin Seven, hence 'Off Topic' posting). Looking at DVLA, it has not been taxed since the time of the article.

    The vehicle details for ALB 288A are:

    Date of Liability
    01 11 1991

    Date of First Registration
    11 05 1962

    Year of Manufacture
    Not Available

    Cylinder Capacity (cc)
    2550CC

    CO2 Emissions
    Not Available

    Fuel Type
    Petrol

    Export Marker
    Not Applicable

    Vehicle Status
    Unlicensed

    Vehicle Colour
    GREEN

    Vehicle Type Approval
    null



    Does anyone know if the car still exists?

    Richard








  • #2
    imported post

    I remember the car at a few shows (Beaulieu?), also featured in Miniworld magazine at the time, I thought like many Mini's at the time it was exported to Japan, which would also explain the lack of any further UK road tax.

    More on the original Twini's:-

    "There were two Twini Mini's (and a Moke). One was built by John Cooper, in which John Cooper had his near fatal accident on the Kingston By-Pass. The other was built by Downton engineering and was the car which raced in the Targa Florio. Is main problem was weight which was not much less than a GTO Ferrari against which it had to race, Cooper's accident was the same week as the Targa."

    This is an account of Cooper's accident taken from Rob Golding's book ˜Mini“ Thirty Five Years On.

    "Failure seemed to dog the tracks of the Twini and enthusiasm was even further dampened when John Cooper had a horrific accident in a road-going Twini. It was the third in a series of accidents in which Cooper was involved and very nearly his last. He was returning from Fairoaks airport having been to collect his Tri-pacer light aircraft. This had crashed some months earlier when he and Lotus chief Colin Chapman were aboard with a professional pilot at the controls. I had cartwheeled on landing without causing injury to anyone. When he collected it, it had sustained further damage while on the ground. The tailplane was badly bent and had he failed to notice it before trying to take off, he could have been in serious trouble again. As it was, he was in a hurry on his way home to collect his wife, Paula, at Surbiton to join Salvadori for dinner.
    The Twini was equipped with two 1300cc engines, which were to have been tweaked up to 135 bhp apiece with fuel injection. Batting along the Kingston bypass at 100 mph, the steering arm that had been welded-up to the rear subframe came adrift. As the rack had been removed, the steering link had been used as a suspension arm. The wheel was suddenly free and made a sharp right turn. The car catapulted end-over-end into a wall, throwing Cooper clear but fracturing his skull. Few who saw him thought he would live. The first car on the scene “one that Cooper had just overtaken“ contained a lady who suffered a nervous breakdown as a result of seeing the accident unfold, and she tried unsuccessfully to claim for compensation from Cooper's insurance."

    There is quite a bit about the other Twinis in the book. The first one was a Moke that Issigonis built in early 1963. It had a 950cc engine at the front and an 850cc one at the back. John Cooper was shown the car and he and Issigonis both decided they would build a Mini-bodied version. Cooper completed his one day before Issigonis and had it ready for track testing within weeks. John Whitmore did the test driving. By April 1963 both engines were fully-tuned Coopers and the result was a 2.5-litre vehicle developing 175 bhp, and wheelspin on all four wheels.

    "The pic below is the Twini Mini (931 RFC)on the 1963 Targa Florio, drivers were Sir John Whitmore and Paul Frere. Two separate 998cc engine/gearbox combinations were used....interestingly....when the rear engine failed they just drove it around on the front, hence their poor placing."

    You can also see the air vents cut into the bootlid.
    Last edited by mab01; 09-06-10, 06:41 PM.

    Comment


    • #3
      imported post

      I think I saw it at a show at Gaydon a few years ago and it was sold to America. There is a letter about a twin mini in Classic & Sports Car magazine. I also think there was a feature in Miniworld or Mini Magazine after the Gaydon show.
      Sorry, don't remember which year but I think it was an Autumn show 2000 to 2002.

      Comment


      • #4
        imported post

        More on the Twini crash on the A3.....

        An excerpt from "John Cooper Grand Prix Carpet-Bagger" The Autobiography of John Cooper with John Bentley. John talks about the twin-engine Mini and the crash:

        "At the time, I happened to be using a twin-engine Mini destined to cause me a lot of grief. I had driven this car from our Surbiton garage to Fairoaks, left it there while I got a lift up to Luton by plane, where I picked up my Tri-Pacer and flew it back to Fairoaks.
        I had no sooner landed than someone told me there was an air display at Biggin Hill in Kent, that day, so a couple of the boys asked if they could cadge a lift and we went on by air to Biggin Hill to watch the aerobatics. When we got ready to fly back, “Sport” Martin, who was with me, remarked, “Have you inspected your plane, John? You’re supposed to do that before takeoff, you know:”
        “But it’s just been repaired,” I said.
        “Take a look anyway,” he insisted. And sure enough the tail of the aircraft was all bent over. Someone obviously had run into it while it was parked but had not even taken the trouble to leave a note. So once again the plane was pushed into the local Piper agent’s hangar, that happened to be at Biggin Hill, for still another repair session. I phoned the Fairoaks Flying Club to see if they could send anyone to pick us up. They could and did. They sent a man with a private pilot’s license (which he had only just obtained) to fetch us, and besides getting lost on the way home I just admit this chap frightened us to death! But somehow we made it back to Fairoaks in one piece and I got into my Mini for the delayed drive home.

        Talk about jumping from the frying pan into the fire! That night I was having dinner with Roy Salvadori at his house in Esher, along with Bruce McLaren. My wife, Paula, was going to be there, together with the other wives and the whole thing had been planned in advance. But Fate had decreed otherwise. On the way home from Fairoaks to Surbiton (where I planned to stop off and change for dinner), something let go in the Mini while I was on the Kingston Bypass. The car went end over end with almost no warning, and the next thing I knew was that I woke up in hospital without knowing where I was or how I had got there. My first recollection, in fact, was a vague belief that the jockey who had flown us back from Biggin Hill to Fairoaks had become involved in some terrible shunt.
        One often wonders if when there is trouble ahead, things tend to build up to the final situation. First, there had been the incident of the bent tail on my damaged plane, which I had nearly flown back without knowing it. Suppose we had taken off—what would have happened? We might have run into serious trouble. Then that harrowing return flight to Fairoaks with our lives in the hands of some character who didn’t seem to know much. Our landing a bit late and my hurrying off in the Mini to get home and change, although in the ordinary course of events I wasn’t one to go very fast along the highways. My racing days were already a decade past.

        Then, as I lay there in my hospital bed, things began to sort themselves out. I remembered driving along the Kingston Bypass and being pleasantly aware of the tremendous power of my little car, with two Mini-Cooper engines stuffed into one chassis! I recalled experiencing a sense of great pleasure at the terrific road-holding and neutral steering character of the car. I even got as far as a vague recollection that something had let go at the back, though in that split second I had no idea what it was. Later examination did establish the cause of the accident, which, I think, could fairly be called unusual.
        This particular Mini actually had two front subframes, installed back to back so as to accommodate both engines—one up front and the other at the rear. The subframe fitted at the back had, of course, been modified to perform its particular job, although it was basically the same as its front counterpart. We had removed the rack and used the steering links as another suspension arm which pivoted on the subframe. Unfortunately, it was one of those steering links that let go. To get into slightly more detail, it was the ball joint on the end of the link which we had secured to the subframe instead of the rack itself. We had been testing this car some time previously in the snow, because the twin-engine Minis were very good under severe conditions. Following a demonstration to the Press boys, the car had been put aside so that we might install some better engines with a view to racing it. I think that what happened was pretty clear. One of the ball joints had somehow got snow in it, which produced enough rust to make the whole thing sieze up and break off. As a result, a rear wheel suddenly made a sharp right turn—there no longer being anything to keep it going straight—and as I was motoring along at probably 100 mph, the result wasn’t hard to imagine. A sudden veering to one side, followed by a number of somersaults!

        I wasn’t strapped in when all this happened. A lot of people later said that if I had been using my seat belt I probably would have killed myself, but I think that the opposite would have been true and I might have escaped serious injury, particularly since the car didn’t catch fire. What did the real damage was when I hit my head on the doorpost during one of the rolls.

        The place where the accident occurred was a very fast stretch on the Kingston Bypass, and interestingly enough, after all these years, there is still a deep gash along the wall where the car finished up.

        At this point it might be appropriate to talk about the origin of this interesting machine. In those days, Alec Issigonis (a brilliant automotive engineer with BMC—the British Motor Corporation—about whom I shall have a lot more to say later) was a great one for thinking up new ideas, and it was he who had discussed with me the notion of putting two engines in to a Mini. The layout was so compact and took up so little room because of the transverse mounting of both units, that it seemed like a natural to try out. By then, Alec had spent a lot of time—both of his own and that of BMC—developing a machine called the “Moke”, which was intended primarily for the Army. It was in fact a Mini-Jeep, so built that the windshield would fold flat and the steering wheel could be collapsed, allowing these vehicles to be stacked into an aircraft or a ship like layers of biscuits, one on top of the other. The very small wheels and general compactness were of course a great asset.

        The first twin-engine setup was in fact installed in a Moke, which was also Alec Issigonis’ idea. The thinking behind all this was very good, intensely practical and typical of the man. Normally, the most expensive item on a four-wheel-drive vehicle is the transfer box, in addition to which—or perhaps because of which—handling problems always seem to arise. At least they did in those days. But the idea behind the twin-engine Mini was much simpler. Each power unit operated independently of the other, and fitting a second engine was cheaper and simpler than the complications and cost involved with the usual transfer gear. Admittedly, a small amount of load-carrying capacity had to be sacrificed, but with transverse engines it didn’t amount to much. Against this, the actual performance was enormously improved.
        There were other considerations too. If the car was on a flat road you could use the front engine alone, or the rear. There was no need to use both. The inactive one simply stayed in neutral. What in fact this amounted to was that you always had a spare engine available for use on difficult terrain such as, for example, the desert. The same was true under conditions of snow and mud. With both engines going, you would then have the finest imaginable vehicle for those conditions. And the cost was less than using a transfer box for four-wheel drive with a conventional layout. I think, despite my accident, that the advantages easily overruled the drawbacks. Our military people, on the other hand, disagreed. They decided they would sooner spend the money on a transfer box than on an extra engine. I think they made a big mistake, and most certainly my accident was in no way related to the basic principles upon which the twin-engine Mini was designed. Until the moment of that shunt, the little car had run beautifully and displayed great potential.

        Unfortunately, Issigonis did not have any interest in marketing a twin-engine Mini for sale to the general public. His sole interest was beamed toward the use of this car for military purposes. I don’t think he really saw any future in a passenger car so equipped, although for my part, as soon as I got involved with this setup I immediately started to build a regular bodied, twin-engine Mini for my own use—with the help of Isssigonis, of course. My idea was to produce a thousand of these cars to get the design homologated by the FIA and win saloon (sedan) car races and rallyes. I am still convinced that with more development work—strengthening the gearbox among other things—this dual-engine Mini would have been a great success and a sure bet to win rallyes and closed circuit races as well. It would have been a natural, for example, at the Nurburgring.

        We had started off with two 1000 cc engines, but the car in which I crashed had two 1300 cc power units, which was really going some! These were just stock 1300’s, but our intention had been to put in two full-house racing power units! What this would have meant is not hard to imagine when you consider that our later, fuel-injected 1300 cc engines were producing 135 bhp apiece! We could also have used ZF self-locking differentials front and rear, instead of the normal production type. Given 270 bhp in a car weighing about 12 cwt (1,344 pounds), we would have obtained a power-weight ratio of under five pounds per bhp, which at any time and even in straight–out competition cars would mean terrific acceleration and performance."

        John goes on to describe how a lady who witnessed his crash experienced a “nervous breakdown” and tried to claim compensation from his insurance company. Apparently this wasn’t successful. He was in hospital for three weeks and spent two or three weeks recuperating at Littlehampton. It was because he enjoyed the place so much that he moved to the South Coast for good.

        Comment


        • #5
          imported post

          hanlminiman wrote:
          I think I saw it at a show at Gaydon a few years ago and it was sold to America. There is a letter about a twin mini in Classic & Sports Car magazine. I also think there was a feature in Miniworld or Mini Magazine after the Gaydon show.
          Sorry, don't remember which year but I think it was an Autumn show 2000 to 2002.


          Dear Lord Cotswold, Richard Mansfields excellent car was indeed sold out of the country. I did have the opportunity to travel in it. I am not aware of its return to the U.K

          Relatively more recently we have enjoyed seeing another superb piece of engineering in the context of a second twini mini seen at Beaulieu etc. as well as in the MCR magazine. Old age unfortunately means that I am unaware of the name of the builder of this second car. I am sure that someone will update us.

          Really enjoyed reading the quoted section of Grand Prix carpet-bagger. I could hear John recounting the story himself!

          Comment


          • #6
            imported post

            rambling wrote:
            hanlminiman wrote:
            I think I saw it at a show at Gaydon a few years ago and it was sold to America. There is a letter about a twin mini in Classic & Sports Car magazine. I also think there was a feature in Miniworld or Mini Magazine after the Gaydon show.
            Sorry, don't remember which year but I think it was an Autumn show 2000 to 2002.


            Dear Lord Cotswold, Richard Mansfields excellent car was indeed sold out of the country. I did have the opportunity to travel in it. I am not aware of its return to the U.K

            Relatively more recently we have enjoyed seeing another superb piece of engineering in the context of a second twini mini seen at Beaulieu etc. as well as in the MCR magazine. Old age unfortunately means that I am unaware of the name of the builder of this second car. I am sure that someone will update us.

            Really enjoyed reading the quoted section of Grand Prix carpet-bagger. I could hear John recounting the story himself!

            Neil Preston built a superb Works Replica based twini which I saw at Mini in the Parkor Curborough. It was sold to Florida. I'll try and find a photo.

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            • #7
              imported post

              Thanks Cymro, I knew someone would update my piece. Neil Preston, that's correct. I guess that there is a fair bit to find in our magazine about him. Well done!

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              • #8
                Back up for sale !

                http://www.minimania.com/web/id/8628...ale_Detail.cfm

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                • #9
                  I am alive and well. I have only just got my computer up and running hence the late reply. My Twini was sold to a collector in Japan. It was quiet easy to build although I did make it a bit harder for myself by building it as a period show car. I have notes and sketches of the build. So if any competent mechanic out there would like to have a go at building one I can supply you with copies and advice, it is easier than you think.

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