News : MG Car Club rescues rare rally car

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

The MG Car Club’s MGB Register has found and rescued a works-backed MGB that contested the 1968 London to Syndey Marathon.

dishevelled, but complete, ex-London to Sydney MGB is set to return to the road
Dishevelled, but complete, ex-London to Sydney MGB is set to return to the road

UMD 534F was not a works entry, though the car received significant support from the BMC Competitions Department and was driven by Jean Denton.

Jean was well-known for her rallying exploits, spending three years as a professional driver before enjoying later success as a business woman, a minister in the Government, before becoming a Dame in 1991.

It was prepared for motorsport by Tony Denton, her husband, alongside Tom Boyce who would also serve as navigator on the rally.

Sills clearly need work, but the MGB is complete and relatively solid
Sills clearly need work, but the MGB is complete and relatively solid

To prepare it for the rigours of the rally, the B underwent significant preparation work, including double welded seams, uprated headlamps and a double fuel tank the filled the boot. The passenger seat was replaced by a bed, which could be converted back into a seat for use during the day, while a selection of spares stowed beneath it.

The Denton/Boyce team would finish the rally in 42nd   place overall – the first and only sportscar to complete the event.

The car has been in dry storage since the 1980s and the MGB Register intends to restore the car to its period works condition, with support from British Motor Heritage and Bicester College’s Motorsport students, supporting the Car Club-sponsored Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs’ apprenticeship scheme.

Spare wheel carrier and pop-off fuel filler are evidence of rallying history
Spare wheel carrier and pop-off fuel filler are evidence of rallying history

While the competitive history of the car is well noted, the MGB Register is keen to learn more about the car, particularly its time after its life in competition.

The B will be displayed at the Club’s annual show, MGLive! which is already marking the 60th Anniversary of the BMC/BL Competitions Department.

Anyone with information regarding the car or its history is welcome to contact the MGB Register’s Chairman, John Watson, who can be contacted via email chairman@mgb-register.org

Competitions Department badge is worn, but still there...
Daily Express London to Sydney badge is worn, but still there…

Craig Cheetham

A serial impulsive car purchaser, Craig has had his name on over 200 V5s over the past 20 years. 10 per cent of those have been either 800s or Austin Allegros, with between 10 and 20 cars usually owned at any one time. Started out as a local newspaper journalist then worked for car mags including Auto Express, Classic Car Weekly and Land Rover Owner. Worked inside the car industry for a decade as an employee of General Motors, now works for a news distribution agency. Home based, which is dangerously convenient for further irrational heap purchases. Lover of all makes of car since childhood, with a particular leaning towards Austin-Rover... Father of three boys, so hoping to spread the car love. Other passions include rugby union, travelling and eating out.

3 Comments

  1. The seat could be converted into a bed? Anyone small enough to sleep in a B probably wouldn’t be tall enough to see over the steering wheel!

    Definately worth restoring- hope they do it to original rally spec, including spare wheel on the bootlid (although I’d imagine that would limit rear visibility somewhat).

    Also hope they keep the period numberplate style- too often, cars of this age and later get their early black letters on white or yellow plates replaced with silver or white on black- which would still have been within period (up to about ’73 I think), but by the late 60s silver/white on black plates were very much on the way out, generally found on cheaper cars and tractors. Certainly, a ‘showpiece’ product such as this B wouldn’t be seen without the newer style.

    • As a matter of fact, a B probably has more leg room than any other car. There is certainly sufficient length to accommodate my 6 foot frame prone, provided the seat can be fully reclined

  2. I don’t want to detract from the piece but “London to Syndey” is a brilliant typo.
    Sounds like some close relations to the Hiltons

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