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The End of an Era

Geoffrey Weiner with J7 ERA

Geoffrey Weiner of Brighton, Sussex, acquired the registration J7 ERA in 2003 and it is, appropriately, assigned to his 1991 ERA. Mini Turbo.

“Mine was described as the last one off the production line,” Geoffrey says. “The car was featured on the cover of Mini World magazine, and in a two-page article within the publication naming the original owner. I had already been in contact with him at a Mini club gathering at Brooklands and had asked him if it was for sale. He said he would consider selling and made contact the following year, when I purchased it from him in nearby Eastbourne.

“The ERA [English Racing Automobiles] Mini Turbo was the replacement for the 1275 Mini, but it was launched at the same time as the VW Golf. The Mini, being dearer, was outsold by the Golf, which became the favoured vehicle for the ‘boy racer’. Very few ERAs were built and they are a rare sight on the roads today. Most were produced in British Racing Green and had a glass panel pop-up sun-roof and front spotlights as standard, but the best feature of all was the very plush interior with racing style seats and special eight dial dash, all finished in grey. The marque is now recognised as a true classic and prices reflect this.

“I’m a true car nut and I love classic Minis,” says Geoffrey, “but, alas, I’ve rather grown out of them. My new love is the Morgan sports car, a marque to which I’ve been loyal for some years now. I currently have a Morgan Plus Four Commemorative Centenary model from 2009. I did a part exchange with the Mini Turbo to acquire a special Morgan which was a Le Mans ‘62, a special edition built in 2002 to commemorate Morgan’s class win victory at La Sarthe in 1962. A small number were produced in 2002 as a limited edition comprising the Plus Eight and the 4/4. Mine was a 4/4. Why not a Plus Four? Well, records show that, in 1962, Chris Lawrence of the famous ‘Lawrence Tune Co.’ of Acton, London, took a 4/4 and had it converted to Plus Four spec at the Morgan factory for the race with full factory backing.”

Geoffrey is in the ‘automobilia’ trade, that’s to say he buys and sells automotive items of classic interest, such as motoring badges, car mascots and the like.
“I have sold off most of this stock in recent years,” he says “and now concentrate on acquiring the prestigious Lalique glass car mascots, designed and produced by the well known French artist and entrepreneur Rene Jules Lalique during the inter-war years of the Art Deco era.

“Back in 2011, I was asked to put on an exhibition of them in London and this was a resounding success with visitors from all over the world. This year I will have a book published covering them in detail, the first ever dedicated to the subject!

“I acquired a derelict site in Brighton and, after many months of negotiation between my architect and the local council, got planning permission to build a dedicated gallery for the collection. It was important to have them on display in natural light and so the roof is constructed of special light-intensive sun-dim panels to show the mascots in the best light.”

More details may be found on Geoffrey’s Facebook page ‘Unique Lalique Mascots’

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