Mini Cooper S

24 PK

A Very Special "Privateer"

International Rally Result Table 1963 – 1964 – Mini Cooper ‘S’ – 24PK

March ’63 Lyon-Charboniere Retired – blown engine

Peter Moon / Terry Hunter TBA April ’63 Circuit of Ireland Retired – broken halfshaft

Peter Moon / Tony Hennin 15 April ’63 Tulip 41st

Peter Moon / Mike Cotton 134 June ’63 Coupe des Alpes 1st Class 3 / 2nd overall GTC

Peter Moon / Brian Culcheth 22 Nov. ’63 RAC Retired – gearbox

Brian Culcheth / Tony Straker 63 May ’64 IOM Manx Crashed

Peter Moon / John Davenport 01 Nov. ’64 RAC 2nd Autocar Trophy / 16th Overall

Peter Moon / Brian Culcheth 30

24PK – A very special ‘Privateer’ 24PK was purchased new in 1963 by Sir Peter Moon – a flamboyant rally privateer – from friends Barrie and Terry Burns who ran and operated a dealership at the Fox Garage near Bisley in Surrey. The garage has been operated and managed by Barrie’s son, Simon Burns for the past 20 years. Barrie sadly passed away some years ago but his wife Jill recalls Sir Peter Moon and his exploits, and the rally guys that met there during the early 60’s.

The car was prepared to ‘Abingdon works’ specification with a 997cc engine unit built by Don Moore (Automobile Engineer) of Cambridge - who was without doubt recognised as the best tuner of Minis during the 1960’s – building units for the likes of John Whitmore & Cristabel Carlisle. Don was a very unassuming man and many rally professionals expected Don to be made BMC’s Competition Department’s ‘tuner of choice’ - but for some reason this never happened. Brian Culcheth (BMC & Opel works driver) when commenting on his ’63 RAC drive with 24PK recalled……….’After 10 stages we were leading our class from Logan Morrison in the ‘works’ Mini when we lost 2nd gear. Disaster struck midway through the night when the gearbox gave up. Our engine had been prepared by Don Moore of Cambridge – and although Don did not get the ultimate in power, his engines had fantastic torque which enabled me to do so well without 2nd gear. When at last I got into the ‘works’ team I always asked for a ‘Don Moore’ engine. I enjoyed driving 24PK more than any other Mini as it handled so well – I think the 997cc engine was the perfect combination of power and weight distribution’. John Sprinzel at Lancaster Mews – 1963 At the same time, Peter Moon was as regular visitor to the UK rally fraternity, most of whom were working from lock-up garages in London’s Lancaster Mews – a triangle shaped alleyway off the Bayswater Road. The likes of John Sprinzel of Speedwell fame & all things BMC, Giulio Ramponi –once the elder Ascari’s mechanic & all thing Alfa – Tony Hennin, Les Perrott – to name a few. Tony Hennin – an automotive electrical engineer - and a close friend of Peter Moon – undertook 24PK’s wiring – setting up its bank of ancillary lamps which it still wears today.

1963 Lyon-Charbonniere Rally Terry Hunter re-united with 24PK - 2009 24PK first campaigned on the ‘63 Lyon-Charboniere rally driven by Peter Moon & Terry Hunter. Unfortunately this initial rally was short lived – the engine expiring at the start of the Solitude Ring Circuit race. I have not as yet been able to locate any photo’s or reports of this event – but Peter Moon recalled: ’I also entered 24 PK in the Lyon Charboniere Solitude rally, I remember driving to the Geneva Motor Show and picking up Terry Hunter who was driving with me. The first stage was the Solitude Circuit and the engine blew up and the car was sent back with R.A.C. recovery, but we had a great night out with the recovery crew and their wives’. In March 2009 I was exhibiting 24PK at the Race Retro Show at Stoneleigh when along came Terry Hunter and introduced himself as co-driver to Peter on the Lyon–Charbonniere. We fixed a date to meet up and after a spin in 24PK and a nice lunch at his local pub he recalled the short lived rally for me………… I remember we stayed at the hotel owned by rally ace Eugen Böhringer at the edge of the Solitude Circuit. I was down to drive the 10 laps of the Solitude prior to the rally proper and clearly remember overtaking a Ferrari when all hell broke loose – the engine expired and the cabin immediately filled up with smoke. On recovery we found the conrod had gone clean through the block – so a rather premature end to Peter’s first international rally with 24PK.

1963 Circuit of Ireland Rally Second up was the ’63 Circuit of Ireland (#15) – driven by Peter Moon & Tony Hennin - where it retired with a broken half shaft. Again as yet – no photos or rally report for this event – however, very fortunate to obtain an original copy of the Ulster Automobile Club’s Official ’63 Rally Programme which details a list of entries, with 24PK entered in Class 2 – Touring Cars – 850cc – 1300cc. There was also brief summary of a number of the drivers – Peter Moon was featured - in addition to Bill Fritchy - who was down to co-drive with Peter but had to decline at the last minute, replaced by Tony Hennin.

1963 Tulip Rally Undeterred, and car repaired, Peter went straight on to compete in the ’63 Tulip rally (#134) – co-driven with Mike Cotton - where once again it was to retire late on in the rally. Peter recalls……….. ‘I did the 1963 Tulip with Mike Cotton (He was a motoring correspondent and later connected to Porsche GB I think) as codriver. Starting at the Huis der Duin in Noordwijk in Holland I do not even remember anything about the rally my rally number from the start photo shows 134. Mike Cotton was introduced to me by Bill Fritschy (2x East African Safari Winner) whom I later in the 70s competed in Safaris in a Porsche with him’.

1963 Coupe des Alpes Coupe des Alpes ’63 Programme 24PK’s 3rd outing – and its most memorable - was for the ‘63 Coupe des Alpes (#22) Peter Moon / Brian Culcheth where at last 24PK found fame - taking 1st in class 3 and 2nd overall in the Grand Touring Category. To quote from the Autocar magazine of 05th July ’63 – ‘It was left to two Austin Mini’s (John Sprinzel & Sir Peter Moon) to carry the GT flag on the 1963 Coupe des Alpes and Sprinzel went & dropped it… when he rolled his Mini – Sir Moon (as the entry list termed him) carried the colours home to finish second only to the RollandAugias Zagato Giulietta’ Peter unfortunately put the car off the road on the first stage and badly sprained his ankle – so Brian was called upon to take over driving the event. Peter recalls…………. ‘On the Alpine I entered in G.T. Category as bonuses were paid as 2 rallies - one for Touring and one for G.T. The Touring class was full of factory cars so I was really looking for a class win in the small G.T. class. John Sprinzel and Willy Cave were in a works car in this class but crashed when ahead of us. On the very first stage I put the car off and hence lost any chance of a Coupe so it took the pressure off. You will notice my Bodywork modification was to cut the grill in half to make it a G.T. car. We drove the car there and then back to England via Switzerland. Tony Hennin was supporting us and we had very little help directly from B.M.C.’

1963 RAC Rally For the ’63 RAC, (#63) 24PK was loaned by Peter Moon to Brian Culcheth – co-driven by Tony Straker. Brian recalls…. Leading on the ’63 RAC ‘Peter Moon very kindly loaned me the car for the 63 RAC. (this sort of thing does not happen today!!) With same navigator Tony Straker - we had a truly great rally and one that sticks firmly in my memory. After about ten stages we were leading our class from Logan Morrison in the works Mini when we lost 2nd gear. These were the days when the RAC was a 5 day event. You went 3 days and 2 nights before an overnight rest then another 2 days and night. At the rest halt we were delighted to still be leading our class from Morrison. We drained the oil a few times as the magnetic sump plug was collecting the bits of 2nd gear floating about. Disaster struck mid way through the last night when the gearbox gave up. Our engine had been prepared by Don Moore of Cambridge and although Don did not get the ultimate in power his engines had fantastic torque which had enable me to do so well without 2nd gear. When at last I got into the works team I always asked for a Don Moore prepared engine. I enjoyed driving 24PK more than any other Mini as it handled better than any other. I think the 997cc engine was the perfect combination of power and weight distribution.’

1964 Isle of Man (Manx) Rally There followed the spring of ’64 which saw 24PK entered into a number of local UK events prior to its first international outing for the Isle of Man Manx rally (#1) – driven again by Peter Moon with co-driver John Davenport. This event was to prove rather tragic in more ways than one, with 24PK blowing it’s engine on the way to the start. BMC comps. department however came to the rescue – offering Peter the standard 1100 engine taken from Pauline Mayman’s rally 1100. This went well as the drive ratio was excellent with lots of torque. Probably too well - as when leading on the penultimate stage – and pushing hard – Peter spectacularly rolled it – with 24PK finishing up on its roof!

1964 RAC Rally Flying over the Carron Valley Bridge Last but no least - the ’64 RAC (#30) – with Peter Moon, once again re-united with his buddy Brian Culcheth. By now 24PK had been re-shelled into a ’64 Cooper ‘S’ body which originated from Stewart & Arden Ltd of Acton. Peter believes it retained its original sub frames, ancillaries and interior – he recalls….. ‘Yes, I think that the 1964 RAC 24PK could have been described as a complete ‘Full Works Spec’ 1275 – although not built in Abingdon but Wantage - it was the same in every way. The bodyshell may well have come through Stewart & Arden and the engine was a hand built ‘works’ engine built under Cliff’s guidance’. ‘Cliff’ being Cliff Humphries who held various positions within the BMC Abingdon competition department during the 60’s/70’s – but predominantly specialised in engine management and development.

The story continues:

There is no doubt that 1963/64 seasons were the high point in 24PK’s competition history. In the late 60’s she was sold to John Sprinzel – who had so many cars going through his garage at that time, he does not specifically recall 24PK. Thereafter, I was able to ascertain it being autocrossed successfully by Peter Brindle in the ‘70’s and pretty much retired thereafter. This information remains uncorroborated from an old history sheet that came with the car – no author & undated. Sometime in the early 80’s it was in the hands of one Richard Wells – he was well known to the MCR Cooper S guru – John Kelly – who visited with him just prior to his death from cancer in 1997. My current V5 for 24PK indicates one Karon Teichman as the prior owner – wife of Peter Teichman – who presumably owned it prior to its acquisition by Tom Turkington for his Mini collection at Ballywalter. Tom displayed it in his Museum – along side GRX5D (ex Paddy Hopkirk) - until both these cars were purchased by Gerry Wadman of Sussex Sports Cars of Lewes. I purchased 24PK from Gerry. In 1993 24PK was offered for sale by UK classic car dealer Hendon Way Motors – no details yet of seller / purchaser. It was also offered for sale by the UK classic car dealer Nicky Paul-Barron – date unknown. Whilst in the true sense of the word 24PK cannot be characterized as an ultimate BMC ‘works car’ – it was nonetheless prepared by those same talented Abingdon engineers, electricians and craftsmen – and certainly acknowledged and assisted by the BMC works team on a number of occasions. In fact, as a result of its somewhat maverick status it has achieved certain notoriety – being the subject of numerous magazine articles and book reviews.

In May 2008 we took 24PK to the International Healy weekend at Goodwood to meet up with Brian Culcheth and his wife Shelia. Brian hadn’t seen the car since the 60’s and it was a happy reunion with a drive around the car park – he hadn’t lost his touch! Since then we have spent time with Brian & Shelia at their lovely home in Somerset – where Brian kindly presented me with the original ’63 Alpine programme. We look forward to welcoming them to Sussex later.

Taken from the book "A Very Special Privateer"

The car is supported with documents, photographs, programs and so much more, a real treat to read through.