UMD 534F – 1968 London to Sydney Marathon MGB
Following the purchase of the MGB we have discovered many various interesting items about the car and the event.
The Daily Express London to Sydney Marathon was the idea of Tommy Sopwith and Sir Max Atkin, Tommy a racing driver and Sir Max the Chairman of Beaverbrook Newspapers and a powerboat racer.
They called in Jack Sears the racing / rally driver to help with the organisation of the event, the idea was 10,000 miles in 10 days with the first prize being £10,000.
98 cars left Crystal Palace at 2300 hrs on the 24th November to tackle the first leg of 7,000 miles, with 72 cars arriving in Bombay on 1st December to board the SS Chusan and cruise across to Perth on 15th December in Australia to continue the last 2,500 miles to Sydney by the 18th December.
Details of the route and various photographs of the car on the event and now are available to view on our website www.mgb-register.org
The MGB was crewed by Jean Denton and Tom Boyce, sadly Jean; latterly The Lady Denton of Wakefield passed away aged 65 in 2001. Tom now lives in Guildford and I together with Roger Boys had a very interesting 2 hours with him, where he told us his story of how he built the car. A new MGB shell in British racing green was delivered to the London mews garage where Tom lived, it had come via Abingdon Special Tuning where we believe it had been seam welded.
Tom, a Canadian, had studied mechanical engineering in Toronto and at the Imperial College in London where he gained a doctorate in Engineering, his expertise was in improving the efficiency of the internal combustion engine, so he built the MGB engine which he balanced with a lower compression ratio than normal with standard pistons and a semi race cam. They were uncertain as to the quality of fuel they would be using, although they had a total fuel capacity of nearly 30 gallons with the extra tank in the boot and 3 jerry cans on the back.
To assist with the extra weight on the back of the car the, standard lever arm shock absorbers were upgraded to adjustable models, also fitted were extra telescopic springs with rubber top mounts developed by John Moulton for Tom, which fixed in mounts in the floor of the boot.
As they would be driving up to 1,000 miles a day it was decided to replace the passenger seat with a reclining bed, this was designed by the London Orthopaedic College and was tilted at 6 degrees, the driver’s seat was a bucket racing seat with a high back.
Tom took great delight in telling us of their secret weapon. Around the corner from the garage was the Ladbrook Grove Police station, the coppers would walk round most evening to see what work had been done, on the day before the event they made Tom and Jean horary police men and fixed a special police federation badge on the windscreen.
At MG Live this year where the car was displayed the MGB Register were asking MGCC members how they would like this special MGB to be restored, it has been decided that we should ideally make the car structurally safe and road worthy so it can be driven to MGCC events in the summer months with it maybe being displayed at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu or the British Motor Heritage at Gaydon during the winter months.
We have formed a project team to oversee the rebuilding and work that will be carried out on the car over the next few months, a draft budget has been prepared to control and monitor the costs. We have been very fortunate that various trade companies have offered us support and products that will be required, initially we must thank John Yea at British Motor Heritage for allowing us to store the MGB at Witney where we have been able to carry out the first part of the rebuild, also Matthew Hutchins at Moss Europe for their support with parts for the project.
Other items that have been donated is a Works Hard top in white also some Cibie lamps.
We are asking for donations to help restore the car with a minimum payment of £25 for this you will have your name displayed on a board under the bonnet or boot. We have opened a special new bank account for the accountancy of the restoration.
If you would like to contribute to the car please fill in the bank transfer and donation form that will be on the MGB Register web site shortly.
If you have any knowledge of the car or would like to get involved in its rebuild please contact John Watson on 07770 575 236 or email firstname.lastname@example.org