Race Retro celebrates 50th anniversary of London-Sydney marathon image

Race Retro celebrates 50th anniversary of London-Sydney marathon

Race Retro, powered by Motor Sport, will celebrate one of the most famous events from the rallying era to mark the 50th anniversary of the first London-Sydney Marathon with a display of four cars that were synonymous with the epic rally at Stoneleigh Park from 23-25 February.

In 1968, 72 cars crossed the starting line at London’s Crystal Palace, embarking on a 7,000-mile route covering eleven countries in as many days. They drove off into the night and towards the ferry to Paris. From there, the crews rallied across Europe into Belgrade, the former Yugoslavia, and through Iran to India.

From Bombay, the crews and cars boarded a cruise liner for the eight-day journey to Australia – with the strict ruling that no one could do any repairs to their cars during the voyage.

Arriving in Perth, the crews battled for the next four days to reach the finish line in Sydney, with Andrew Cowan, Colin Malkin and Brian Coyle the victorious crew in the Rootes Motors’ Hillman Hunter.

Whilst the original car was not able to join Race Retro, Gordon Jarvis’ excellent and correct replica copied from Andrew Cowan’s car, and approved by him, will be on display in Hall 1 at Stoneleigh Park.

Second place finisher and famous rally driver, now President of the BRDC, Paddy Hopkirk will be on the Motor Sport Live Stage on Friday 23rd February to share his memories of the event.

The Hillman will be joined by the Ford Cortina GT, sponsored by RTS Motorway Remoulds, that was crewed by Bill Bengry, Arthur Brick, John Preddy. The Cortina, which is being shown for the first time since its recently completed restoration, is shown with thanks to Bill’s son Theo. It was remembered by spectators and enthusiasts for it’s over the roof exhaust system.

Car number one, which led the charge from the start line but sadly retired before Bombay, also joins the celebration. The BMC1800 was driven by Berwyn Williams, Martin Thomas, and Barry Hughes. 

The final car of the four is the Royal Navy BMC 1800 ‘Landcrab’ which finished in 31st place. The decision to enter the car was too late for it to be done by the normal Works’ Competitions Department, so a group of apprentices built it as a project, using all the Works’ parts and spares from the ’Stores’. It is still recognised and qualified as a Works Car nevertheless.

Show organisers send their thanks to Ted Taylor and London-Sydney 50 Organising Group for creating this fitting tribute.

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