Mystery Begra & Beach Car Photos

Lee Clay - Charlotte NC Mystery Car 1974-1984? - Is this Begra 3-003?

Ed Templeman writes - I found these photos that I took of Lee Clay's Beach sports racer. 
The car was a Fiat powered car with inboard rear brakes . I think it had
Astec heads from California. I crewed some for this car it was raced by
Lee in the middle 70's out of Charlotte NC. The photos were shot mainly
at Charlotte Motor Speedway at an SCCA race.
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Jim Hahn - Texas Mystery Mk4B 1965

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Raced by Jim Hahn in the Dallas area 1967-68. Built from a kit - I have numbered it s/n 102A since it was built between #102 and #103. Hahn moved to Florida around 1968 but I don't know whether he still had the car then. Possibly he took it there and then abandoned it

Diemond Mystery Car

Glen Diemond found this car in a vacant lot in Florida about 20 years ago.  This definitely looks like an early Mk4B front and rear body and parts of the frame are certainly Beach-like. It has an early-style portal frame. It is RHD but does not have the later instrument pod. Many features match the Jim Hahn car - fuel tank filler location, RHD, no instrument pod, early portal frame instrument panel, layout of footwell braces, Mk4B style midsection & doors, etc. The full-width roll hoop was obviously added later.

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Myron Munchak Begra 1965-66?

Myron Munchak crashed in what appears to be a Mk3 Begra (Saab-powered) at the Weatherly Hillclimb around 1965 or 66. The chassis was destroyed, but Joe Christ bought the body for $100 and put it on his homebuilt chassis (Elva copy). This car clearly has a Mk3 tail and probably  Mk3 nose. After several intermediate owners, the car returned to Joe's son Chuck. This has long been thought to be Frank Stark's Mk3 s/n 003, but it now appears that the times don't fit since Stark remembers selling his car in 1967. Could Munchaks' car have been the Mk1 Begra (with new nose?) after Wes Glantz owned it? Could it have been the Mk2 Begra with new front and rear bodywork? Or perhaps it was some other chassis which had been fitted with Begra bodywork?

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1967 - Joe Christ "Brand X" Special - homebuilt chassis with body from Munchak car after crash
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1967 - Joe Christ "Brand X" Special
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Joe Christ "Brand X" Special
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2002 - Chuck Christ - "Brand X" chassis with new body made from molds of Begra #3-002
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2002 - Chuck Christ - "Brand X" chassis with new body made from molds of Begra #3-002

Bill Harris Mystery Car 1973

Bill Harris bought this car (advertised as a Beach) from a field in Lakeland FL in January 1973. He modified it extensively and ran it as the Harris-Honda. It had a Saab or Fiat rear end when he got it. The tail looks like an early Mk4 (not Mk4B) and the nose looks like a Begra (except for the twin radiator openings). I am not sure about the chassis at all yet. What car could this be?

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Purnell/Simmons/Bible Mystery Car 1973-78?

Mike Purnell (Tullahoma TN) bought a RHD Begra/Beach in Tampa in the spring of 1973 and ran it 1973-74.  It had an Imp engine, Fiat transmission, and finned rear drum brakes. Mike sold it to Warren Simmons (High Point NC) who installed a Fiat engine and front disk brakes, and painted it white and yellow. Warren later sold it to Tom Bible (also in NC).. Tom installed a Suzuki engine and later sold it to someone in SC. It may have ended up in Kissimmee FL. What car was this? It was called a Begra at the time, but this is the first I have heard of a RHD Begra. Or was this a RHD Beach? The photos below from Mike Purnell show what looks like a Beach Mk4B-II nose with a Begra Mk3 rear - note there is no center firewall body section as on the Mk4. 

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Mike Purnell - Rd. Atlanta
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VIR August 1974

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Photos below are from Warren Simmons -

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Possible history - This might be the Ford-powered car built in Britain as a kit and then brought to the US, owned by James Switzer of Ft. Lauderdale, and then sold to James Welz of Tampa. Welz remembers it having what looked like a Formula Jr. rear suspension with large finned drum brakes. Welz sold it without engine in 1973. Possibly someone bought it and installed the Imp engine before Purnell acquired it.

Rita Wetzel Mystery Car - 1970-75

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Savannah 1973

Mk4B nose
Mk4B-II tail
Mk4B-II doors
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Rita Wetzel bought this car from Gene Beach in 1970. She sold it around 1977 to John Robinson who raced it until 1980-81 (including 1979 runoffs). Probably the car raced by Andy Johnston 1980-81- see photos below. Present whereabouts unknown. Was this chassis #115? But it is LHD without the RHD instrument bubble - maybe an earlier chassis?

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1980 - Andy Johnston
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Andy Johnston with new bodywork - 1981?
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The old bodywork ended up on another (non-Beach) car.
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Letter from Rita Wetzel (Jacksonville FL) to Norris Haynes 10 Apr 1975
Dear Mr. Haynes
    Enclosed are several shots of the Beach Honda, also an envelope for their return. As I mentioned on the phone I do have an interested person from Orlando - hopefully he will let me know about the sale by next week. The body & frame were bought in 1970 from Beach in Clearwater (he since has gone out of business) - I think I bought the last model he made. The engine was obtained new in early '71. It took us a year and a half to build the car and thus the first full season was in '72. 
    I kept the engine stock that year & it was maintenance-free. I made a practice of changing the chain every 3rd race weekend as a safety measure - a diamond chain seems to be the strongest and least prone to wear. The engine has a self-lube system for the chain and this appears to be sufficient. They say that the chain is the weakest link in the set-up but mine has been trouble free. My own driving style is such that I do not abuse the engine - I am not a "lead foot" and have only blown one engine (in 1968) in my driving career which began in 1959 with an A-H 3000.
    The price of the car and trailer is $3800. The investment in the whole outfit is about $5500. I don't think people are realistic knowing as to what it costs to build a dependable, competitive car - but, for me, it was worth it because I had my most enjoyable racing year in '72. In '73 I went on active duty with the Coast Guard - the car was garaged here while I was gone. Late in '73 I had the local Honda dealer put the 836cc kit in; it consisted of boring, pistons, heavy-duty valves & springs, porting & polishing and a high rev cam. The bottom end was not altered. I have no spares because I've not needed them.
Thanks for your call & interest in the car.

Wetzel's Competition Record
April 1972 - PBIR FL - 2nd in class - Regional
May 1972 - Lakeland, FL - 1st in class - regional
July 1972 - Lakeland FL - 1st in class - Regional
Aug 1972 - PBIR FL - 3rd in class - Regional
Aug 1972 - Savannah GA - 2nd in class - Regional
Oct 1972 - Savannah GA - 2nd in class - National
Oct 1972 - PBIR FL - 1st in class - Regional
Nov 1972 - ARRC Invitation - 5th in SE Div
Sept 1973 - Savannah GA - 2nd in class - National
Oct 1973 - ARRC Invitation - 2nd in SE Div
July 1974 - Gainesville FL - 1st in class - Regional