A true barn find for the digital age, the rusting shell of the Mini DART was discovered on eBay by Stefan Wray in 2008, who promptly bought and restored it to its former glory, ready to take it to the race tracks.
The unique Mini DART (which stands for Dizzy Addicott Racing Team) was built by aviation and motor sport legend, Desmond ‘Dizzy’ Addicott, in 1963. Dizzy raced between 1955 and 1964 and was known as one of the real characters of the racing world at the time. He was also a test pilot for Vickers, testing planes such as the Jet Provost and the Vickers Vimy. Later on in his career, he became an air display pilot and flew planes in a number of films, including The Dirty Dozen and Mosquito Squadron.
The DART was based on a Morris Mini Van, bought by Dizzy for just £5, which he chose due to its longer wheelbase and is more stable at speed than a saloon. Dizzy proceeded to apply his knowledge of aerodynamics to streamline the car, and worked with Formula One driver Paul Emery to bring the project to life. After testing it at the wind tunnel in Weybridge, the pair took the completed car to the 1964 Racing Car Show, where it caught the attention of Jem Marsh of Marcos Engineering fame.
Jem suggested that the DART should be manufactured as a fibreglass monocoque, but a disagreement between Dizzy and Jem over the quality of the fibreglass shells that had gone into production meant that only one true DART currently exists today. Dizzy subsequently sold the design of the DART to Jeremy Delmar-Morgan, who developed the car into the Mini Jem. Meanwhile, Jem Marsh took the rejected fibreglass shells and used these to create the Mini Marcos.
Both the Mini Jem and the Mini Marcos were popular kit cars until the mid-90s. The Mini Marcos set four British land speed records, no doubt thanks to Addicott’s expertise. However, the DART itself disappeared into obscurity, until Stefan discovered it on eBay in 2008.
Stefan said: “I was scrolling through eBay and I found it. It was an incredibly rusty shell. Someone had started to restore it in the 80s, but then stopped and it had sat outside for years.”
After purchasing it, Stefan proceeded to get it competition ready. He said: “The DART didn’t have an engine when I purchased it, so I got Nick Swift from Swiftune to build an engine for it and things started to take on a life of their own. We got in touch with the right people at Goodwood and they seemed to like the car, which made me like it more! I’m not brave enough to circuit race it myself, so Nick drove it at Goodwood in 2010 and won the Fordwater Trophy.
“It seemed like the stars really aligned for us in 2010. In 2009 we hadn’t even got the car started, but we finished rebuilding it on the 50th anniversary of the Mini.”
Although not keen to circuit race the DART, Stefan has competed in hill climbs before and is looking forward to his first Chateau Impney Hill Climb.
He said: “I went along to watch last year and it was all so well done. It seemed like the ultimate hill climb for period cars, an absolute must-do for 2016! I’m really excited to be taking part, although the nerves are starting to kick in already.”
The Mini DART is sure to be one of the more unusual competition cars at 2016’s Hill Climb, and will be one to watch in the paddock and on the course. We can’t wait to see this modern-day barn find in action and look forward to seeing if it will claim any trophies at Chateau Impney.