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Rally cars


Many of you will know that BMC competitions department raced Mini's, and the odd Morris Minor. But did you know that once upon a time they even used the trusty 11/1300?

The sad truth is the 1100's never really took off as a rally car, as they were always overshadowed by the smaller, lighter, and faster Austin Healey 3000 and the Mini Cooper S.

After the launch of the Morris 1100 in August 1962, the works department entered two into the Liege-Sofia-Liege rally. This took place in September 1962, and would provide some rough terrain for the 1100. However, both 1100's would have experienced teams on board. Pat Moss and Pauline Mayman crewed 677 BRX, while Peter Riley and Tony Cash crewed 877 BRX.

Regulations for the 1962 event allowed the cars to be lightened. So BMC set around removing most of interior (they found this worked, and carried out later by a means of cost cutting!!). Perspex windows replaced the standard glass items, and the bumpers and their lips were chopped off. Highly tuned (but still only in the testing stages) twin carb engines were fitted. The front panel has a hole cut in it so an oil cooler can be mounted behind. To better protect the cars undercarriage substantial sump guards were fitted. Both cars were finished in Smoke Grey with a white roof.

The car crewed by Pat Moss and Pauline Mayman

The car crewed by Peter Riley and Tony Cash, seen here in some rough terrain!

A snap shot of a rest point.

Ouch an 1100 near snow! Let's hope they didn't use salt on the roads...

Peter Riley retired near Trieste with flywheel/crankshaft trouble whilst Pat Moss had the rear suspension brackets welded up, only to retire with a blown engine near to the split. That was the end of the Morris 1100 and its short competition career. Quite simply, the MG 1100 offered the same engine that was in a much higher state of tune that its standard counterpart. Group 2 regulations at the time also forbode the addition of another carburettor to the 1100 engine.

The first outing for an MG 1100 was at the London Rally. It was crewed by Paddy Hopkirk and Jack Scott. This car had previously been used as a recce car for the Liege. The London race was only open to private drivers, and therefore the entry was not through BMC. During the race Hopkirk and Scott were plagued with clutch slip, but managed to finish the race, although the placing is unknown. It is possible that more "undercover" BMC cars were taking part at this event as both Derek Astle and Pauline Mayman were competing in Morris 1100's and both were well connected with the competitions department at Abingdon.

The first official outing for an MG 1100 was at the 1962 RAC Rally and crewed by David Seigle-Morris and Rupert Jones. It was a short race starting in Blackpool. Sadly, the team retired in Scotland with piston failure.

David Seigle-Morris and Rupert Jones take the first competition MG 1100 out.

Two MGs were entered in for the 1963 Monte Carlo Rally, although the car was technically on loan to John Cuff. Raymond Baxter and Ernie McMillen in the official entry (a new red MG) 399 CJB. CJB finished fourth in class, the best result for any 1100 in an international rally. John Cuff's car was written off after being run into at the back by a Triumph TR4, which in turn pushed it into a Mercedes in front. Both the other cars managed to continue, but the 1100 was somewhat reduced in length!

With the launch of the 1071cc Mini Cooper S, the end was near for the MG 1100 as a works car. The 1100 range was selling well (better than the mini!), and therefore competitions didn't need to be won. 339 CJB was converted to left hand drive and loaned to French duo Bernard Consten and J Herbert for the 1963 Acropolis Rally.

The last BMC entry for an 1100 saw 399 CJB cleaned off (and painted with a white roof!), on the Spa Sofia-Liege rally, one year after the first competition appearance of the model. Ironically, the Mini Cooper S was considered too fragile for the event at this stage of its development. Unfortunately the MG was retired due to a ball joint failure.

In 1964 399 CJB was loaned to Tommy Wisdom and John Miles for the Monte Carlo Rally. The entry was made in the name of BSM (British School of Motoring). It is presumed that the car finished the race, but as Paddy Hopkirk won the race in a Cooper S, the crew results are untraceable as the press followed the win more closely.

There are also two known outings on the East African Safari Rally in 1963 and 1964. The car entered in the 1963 event was a Morris 1100, while in 1964 an MG 1100 was used. Both times, the cars failed to finish. These cars were not prepared by Abingdon but, probably, by the local BMC importer Benbros Motors of Nairobi. Aaltonen was always keen to compete on the safari, and did own an ex-works 1100 at one time.

399 CJB on a final outing.

399 CJB was owned by the foreman at the competitions department. He used the car for a number years at MG Car Club test for a number of years, before selling it for scrap in the early 70's to a Scrap dealer in Birmingham.

It has been confirmed that an 1100 Club member now owns 877 BRX, and is currently carrying out a full restoration on the car. The current owner confirmed to that the car still retains it's Perspex windows.

In 1968, two cars entered the London to Sydney marathon. An all Australian crew lead by Eileen Westley took a Morris 1100, and an Austin 1300 Countryman crewed by Dennis Cresdee. Eileen made it all the way, but sadly Dennis never reached Bombay.

Number 41 taking a well earned rest!


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This page was last modified on Saturday, 14th November, 2015 @ 17:05:30 CET