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Rare Standard Atlas Kenex Minibus Feature
Introducing Brian Birch's Kenex Minibus Conversion
The wide opening rear door
Today there is a wide choice of People Carriers or MPVs, or whatever you want to call them. In 1959 if you wanted to carry lots of people the choice was rather more limited.
One of the options then was this Kenex conversion of the Standard Atlas Van. No fewer than 12 seats were fitted so you could definitely take all the kids and their luggage too. Unfortunately, it still looked like a van, even if the kind people who did the conversion did put in four side windows. Like modern MPV's they did however do clever things with the seats, like tilt some and enable some to be removed. Which only goes to prove there is very little that is invented by modern day advertising agencies. most things have been thought of far earlier.
That said, it is difficult to imagine 12 people being carried in this Atlas for a journey of any reasonable length. It's
got just 948ccs and 36 bhp. That's a whopping 79ccsand 3bhp each!! And lets face it, its about as Aerodynamic as an upturned bucket. Its little wonder then that the owner, Brian Birch, says that the speed is restricted to 45mph unloaded. He hasn't yet tried driving it with all his friends
onboard, but, just as a test, he did try loading it with a few of them at the Standard Triumph Picnic.
This view is through the wide opening rear door where there are two double seats each side, so four people can be carried. In front of that there are two rows of three seats meaning another six are accommodated. And we do mean friends of course, as you are all pretty close and its best if you know each other very well. That makes 10 seats.
The other two seats are up front for the driver and passenger. The shot below shows these two seats with the engine cover between them. You will notice that the driver's seat is different, that is because the original owner suffered with a bad back and specified a higher seat back than would have usually fitted -
They appear to be happy in there!
The drivers seat is larger than the passengers
This shot also shows the "forward control" aspect of the Atlas Van. The gearbox is so far back that the gearstick has to be angled forwards, and even so, the driver has to reach behind him to operate the 4 speed shift. As there is so little power available to him, he has to make quite a few changes to keep things moving along.
You can also make out that there is room behind the drivers seat for the spare wheel
Two shots below show the arrangement of the front row of seats behind the driver. You will see that the double seat tilts upwards to allow passengers to reach the row of seats behind. Alternatively, the whole row can be simply unbolted to provide cargo space.
Now we come to the interesting arrangement for the middle row of seats. The three shots below are pretty self explanatory, the middle seat moves forward a few inches, them tilts upwards over one of the side seats to allow un-
Substantial overhang of the body over the chassis is a feature of the Atlas
Strategically placed rubber device on the panel, prevents damage by the wide opening nearside door and it acts as a catch to keep the door in the fully open position
Finally we have a couple of earlier pictures, supplied by Steve O'Hara, to go with this feature. The first shows the Van its previous home, where it had laid undisturbed for many years. The other shows work in progress on the engine to restore it to full health.
Atlas as found.....Our first glimpse of the Atlas where it had stood since 1981.
Atlas engine..... A view of the Atlas's 948cc engine from the nearside, with cylinder head and other items removed during restoration.