Competition GT Cars - Privateer Teams
These cars, built to a Competition GT specification, were supplied to customers whose intent was to go racing and whose specification benefited from the factory developments at the time. They competed in many countries across the World, both in hill-climbs and circuit racing at both National and International level, achieving some notable successes. The limited period in which the factory was active however, had an impact on these cars ongoing development, as often the early owners did not have the expertise to overcome some of the inherent characteristics, which required stringent adherence to setup to mitigate or there would be some interesting driving techniques to overcome !. As we will see, some owners made changes from the factory spec, with questionable benefits.
Chassis 1266.9 - Built January 1967
Owner : Anonymous (UK)
Presented at the January 1967 Racing Car Show on the UPD Stand, this was the third Unipower Competition GT chassis to be built and indeed only just made it to the Show as there was still work to complete the car. Despite considerable interest, the chassis was not delivered to its first owner, Janspeed Engineering until the 8th June 1967. Supplied to Janspeed without wheels/engine/gearbox/exhaust-system/Inlet & carburettor/fuel pump with the bodywork as displayed at the January Show, having slightly flared wheel arches and no other upgrades (Air-dam , special Wide-bodied rear clamshell, etc...), the car was therefore not as such, race ready as delivered. It was Janspeed Engineering's intention that they would complete the car themselves and use it to publicise their latest engine developments and products, predominately in the up to 1100cc class of motorsport, which was very popular at that time.
Janspeed then embarked on a race program following a 'shakedown' test at Castle Combe, where the Minilite wheels fitted by Janspeed protruded beyond the rear flared wheel arches. Its only International race was a non-championship sports car race at the GP of Madrid in July, held at the Circuit of Jarama in Spain. Painted plain White, a new wide-bodied rear clamshell complete with rear sill appendages to match and wider front wheel arches had by now been fitted, but without the front Air-dam. It finished a credible 6th in Class driven by Geoff Mabbs.
Following this event the car was painted Red and a version of the front Air-dam, as had been developed by UPD in 1966 was now fitted and the car entered in a number of events at UK circuits, beginning in August 1967. After around 7-races that year with Janspeed, the car was sold to Brian Harvey in March 1968, who with some support from Car & Car Conversions magazine, competed in some Sprints and Hill-climbs before it being sold again though U.W.F. Automative Engineering to Graham Goodman in June 1968.
Goodman ran the car in the UK during the rest of '68 and early '69 driven by Gideon Lloyd, interestingly now fitted with much larger F2 Brabham rear wheels, which must have played havoc with the rear suspension geometry. Some time during 1969 the car was sold and passed through another 6-owners, including two car dealers, with little known further driven history before being sold in 1992 to a Belgian, Roland Petit. Roland competed in the car at the Belgian circuits of Spa and Zolder (History/results still to be researched/confirmed), and certainly in some historic 6hr races at Spa. In 2013 the car was then marketed through Paul Grant, an Auto dealer in Brussels and subsequently bought by its next owner in the UK in the January of 2014, who aesthetically restored the car back to its livery at the time of Brian Harvey's ownership. Taking part in a few demonstration events and track days over the next 6-years, it was marketed again in around 2017 without success, finally being sold in January 2020 to a UK owner who wishes to remain anonymous, but who does not intend to compete with the car again.
The event history of the car is as follows, with many of these events still to be confirmed.
Chassis 768.42 - Built July 1968
Owner : Kelly Whittenauer (USA)
Imported into the U.S.A. in July 1968 by the Importers, Gorden Lamont Investments, this full Competition GT spec car was fitted with a Janspeed 1148cc engine. The cars first owner sold the car on in 1972 to Claude Houde who owned and raced the car in Canada for best part of 45-years before selling to another Canadian, Carl Lapointe in late 2016. The car then passed on to John Wittenauer in the U.S.A. in late 2018. The Wittenauers' have really joined the Unipower fold, having acquired two Unipower's, with John's wife Kelly having now taken 'ownership' of this car and is having a great time getting to grips with its unique handling characteristics, compared to her previous Mini racing experiences.
Chassis 867.23 - Built July 1967
Owner : Dan Viola (USA)
Imported into the U.S.A. in July 1968 by Robin Seel this Competition GT spec car was uniquely being flown over with Pan American Airlines by the American agents to display at the New York Motor Show before passing to its first owner Kris Harrison. Paul Richards would race the car at the Lime Rock circuit in a Group 6 race in October and later the car would be raced by its owner and Bob Barrell at Watkins Glen in 1969. The car was then sold to help finance the emerging racing careers of two to be famous drivers, Giles Villeneuve and Keke Rosberg, whom Kris was sponsoring through his business at the time. The subsequent owner went on to race the car, before four owners later and having been raced in SCCA events, it now resides in New York State.