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Lot No. 160 - 1961 Deep Sanderson 301 Prototype - Le Mans, Spa, Nurburgring Veteran

Estimate: £46,000 - £50,000

+buyer's premium of 15% including VAT @ 20%

On offer is the Prototype Deep Sanderson 301 designed by Chris Lawrence, which ran at Le Mans, Spa and Nurburgring in 1963/1964 and is now eligible for every 1960's Sports Car GT race and has been invited to the Goodwood Revival and the Festival of Speed. The first Mini derivative to go International Sports Car racing, as opposed to rallying, preceeding the Mini Marcos by four years. The prototype was originally registered as 2 ARX but that number was transfered to the 302 Le Mans car of 1968. This car is road legal and is registered on a 1970 plate, which was issued when it was sold by LawrenceTune. The engine is producing 114bhp at the flywheel/105 at the wheels, about the same as a decent FJ engine. On the rolling road the car was rated at 126mph at 6,500. The engine builder warrants the engine up to 8,000rpm. We estimate that with the correct gearing, 163mph could be achieved on the Mulsanne Straight. It has a superbly slippery body, and was timed at 154mph in 1964! The full story of the Deep Sanderson is told in detail in Chris Lawrence's book ‘Morgan Maverick', a dedicated copy of which will be included with the car for the successful purchaser. Chris drove the car at Goodwood in 2009 at the Festival of Speed. Featured in Jeroen Booij's book ‘Maximum Mini'. The Deep Sanderson was chosen as Octane's pick of Mini specials in October 2010, and has also had featured in Mini World and Classic and Sports Car, and is often referred to as ‘the prettiest Mini Special'.
Details Specification

Chris Lawrence had been making Formula Junior 101 single seaters, to the strict Lurani Formulae, since 1959. Their results were satisfactory but not great, winning a few minor UK races. He called them ‘Deep Sanderson' combining the title of a jazz record, 'Deep Henderson', that his Father's group recorded with the name of his Uncle, Tony Sanderson, who funded the project. In 1959 Chris won the Freddy Dixon Trophy - the UK's domestic sports-car championship - in a Morgan +4. He went on to take the Morgan to Le Mans in 1962 and won the 2-litre GT class. In the meantime, his team at ‘LawrenceTune' had decided the vogue for inexpensive sports cars was worth getting involved with, so they developed the Deep Sanderson 301 Sports Coupe. This used the Mini Minor engine, but in the rear. Launched at the 1961/62 Sports Car Show at Olympia, the prototype car was made in metal, from which moulds were taken and a limited run of ‘production' fibre-glass bodied kits were sold. It is estimated that 17 were made in total, including the prototype ‘works' car - which is offered for sale here today. Chris wanted to race a car of his own design at Le Mans and so the prototype was further developed to be a racer. At Le Mans in 1963 it ran for 20 hours, leading the Index of Performance, until it was disqualified on a spurious technicality - the reason later being admitted to Chris that the ACO could not bear to see an English Mini Based car taking the prestigious ‘Index' - as it turned out, no car was running in Chris' class at the end of the race! The car ran in 1963 as a 998cc car, by 1964 it had been joined by an all fibre-glass team mate. Chris secured BMC Factory support and had a pair of experimental Abingdon workshop 1293cc engines for that years' Le Mans. In the meantime, the ‘Metal' 301 had competed at Spa and Nurburgring. Le Mans 1964 was a bit of a disaster, as 2 ARX crashed in final practice - the rear engine cover blew open at over 150 mph, scaring the driver and he lost control forcing the car to retire. The second car lasted under three hours before a head gasket failure put them out of the race, before No2 Driver Gordon Spice was able to even get a chance behind the wheel, thus postponing his Le Mans debut! This put Chris off returning to Le Mans for four years until in 1968 a re-worked Deep Sanderson, the 302 was entered, this time powered by a 1500cc Ford Cortina engine, and featuring a lengthened wheel base but it lasted only a few hours. The prototype 301 was sold by LawrenceTune in 1970. Since then it appears to have been used as a road car but still retains its Le Mans lights and the BMC experimental engine. Discovered in a shed in Leeds in the early 2000s. It had previously been restored and raced a little in the late 1980s and early 1990s but had been stored for a decade or more. The current owner took the car back to Chris Lawrence, who undertook a full restoration, before it appeared at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2009, where it climbed the hill in under one minute. It was then a featured part of the Mini 50th Parade at the Goodwood Revival that year and was one of the cars "cartoonised" in the programme as a Dinky Toy. In 2010, the Deep Sanderson raced in the Fordwater Trophy with Simon Diffey behind the wheel. He qualified in a solid 13th place, coming home in 11th, after being baulked by a Sprite driver who was recovering from a pit stop and wouldn't let Simon pass; the Sprite came home 19th of 20 finishers, seven laps down! Simon's times were all comfortably in the top ten and he was reaching speeds in excess of 125mph on the Lavant Straight. Offered with its MOT and in a race-able state, all that would be needed is the proverbial "spanner check" and this "Pocket GT" would, subject to an entry, be ready to take to the track once again. We are informed that, as it ran at Le Mans "in the day", it would be guaranteed acceptance at Le Mans Classic in 2012. The car comes with an extensive history file; two crates of spares; a set of 4 wheels and is also the basis for a "Bang" 1:43rd scale commercially available model. It has been a "star car" in articles and features in Mini World, Classic and Sportscar and Octane in the last couple of years. 

Year of manufacture:
Deep Sanderson
Chassis number:
# of cylinders:
Engine capacity:
Body colour:
British Racing Green
MOT Expiry:
Friday 07 October 2011
Right-hand Drive
Registration number:
DGN 804 H (WAS 2 ARX)
Engine number:
BMC Works Experimental
Interior colour:

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