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Rallying and Testing of the Austin 1800
Your assistance is required to provide a comprehensive list and details of the Austin 1800's successes and otherwise in rallying - both in Australia and overseas.

Click here to see Ken Green and Patrick Farrell's BMC 1800 Rally Register.
AUSTIN 1800 Mk l Suspension Test - Castle Combe 6th August 1967

The Danube Rally winning car, LRX 824E, was taken to Castle Combe Circuit with the object of establishing whether the parts fitted to the suspension for the Danube Rally were improving the road holding and to attempt to reduce the rear end bouncing which occurs under extreme cornering, particularly on tarmac.


Group 5 twin carburettor power unit, 4.188 final drive.  Dunlop R7 (184 material) 550Lx13 tyres fitted to 5 1/2" x13" Minilite wheels.  Tyre pressures F 45psi.  R 40 psi (cold). Rack and pinion ratio 3.25: 1. Rear anti-roll bar fitted, standard rear bump rubbers replaced by Aeon rubbers, additional long Aeon rubbers fitted.

Suspension pressures 250 psi, trim height (hub centre/wing edge) 14 1/2" OSF, 14 7/8" NSF, 13" rear.  Spare wheel carried, fuel tank approx. 14 gallons at start.
Track - 1.84 miles.  Dry, smooth tarmac.  Weather - sunny, strong breeze.

Personnel present:

Driver - Clive Baker
Comps Dept. - W.R.Price, D.Pike, C, Humphries.

1.          The car was sent out on order for the driver to settle in and get used to the car.  Eleven laps were completed, settling down to a lap time of I min 26sec (77.02mph)

2.          Spare wheel removed, further 4 laps completed.  Considerable rear-end wallow and bounce.  Front tyres interchanged.

3.          Rear Aeon bump rubbers removed.  Five laps completed.  Handling becoming worse.

4.          Anti-roll bar removed from rear suspension - Only 2 laps completed, as car becomes very 'jumpy' and unpredictable.

5.          Rear Aeon bump rubbers are refitted to rear suspension. Immediate improvement, but not as good as original setting.

6.          Rear anti-roll bar refitted. The suspension was now at original specification.

7.          Suspension pressure reduced to 200 psi.  New tyre fitted to N/S front. The handling was immediately improved, lap times going down by 2 sec to
1.24.0.          (78.8mph) consistently over 7 laps. Trim height reduced by 1".

8.          The front Aeon Bump rubbers were now removed and standard bump rubbers fitted. The front-end balance became more unpredictable with increased under-steer and considerable instability on braking.
Lap times increased by 1 sec to 1.25.0. (77.9mph)


The handling on tarmac was at it's best using the Aeon bump rubbers front and rear and with the suspension pressure at 200 p.s.i. Without making alterations to the Hydrolastic units this seems to be the best set-up so far established.
Evan Green's Story

The first three marathons of modern times differed from each other in everything except the spirit of adventure they fostered. I've been in all three with varying degrees of non-success.

My car (an Austin 1800) was one of the front runners in the first marathon until the final day. Nothing but misfortune (and great adventure) fell my way in the second. The third seemed more promising for I led at one stage. But then, let's go back to intercontinental rally that restarted it all.

The London-Sydney Marathon of 1968 used a 16,000 kilometre-course that followed the heroic concept of travelling from one side of the world to the other.

This original race ran through England, France, Italy, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, West Pakistan and India, before cars were transported from Bombay to Fremantle for the crossing of Australia.

There were ninety eight starters, seventy two reached Bombay and finally, only fifty six made it to Sydney.

Ford made the biggest effort to win, with teams of Lotus-Cortinas from Britain, Taunus 20 MRS models from Germany and Falcon GT's from Australia.

It was a Lotus-Cortina that led for most of the event, with Englishman Roger Clark and Swede, Ove Andersson sharing the driving. They were first to Bombay, and led across the Nullarbor until valve trouble stopped them near Port Augusta.

Evan Green
In Memory of the great Australian Rally Driver Evan Green
From: Ken Green kengreen@landcrab2.freeserve.co.uk 

Where are they Now ??
Date: Sat, 25 May 2002

2001 a Landcrab Odyssey

Back in 2001, I was asked by the Landcrab club to set up a Landcrab Rally car register, this was done jointly with Patrick Farrell the Australian 1800 "Guru" and me in the UK.

During our frequent emails Patrick put me in touch with Bill Stevenson, a well known NSW rally driver so I could ask him about his Rally 1800 (second O/All in the rally championship in 2001 - well done Bill) - this would have been about May/June 2001.

In the course of our emails Bill said that he was thinking about buying an Ex Works 1800 that was in Queensland. I said something to the effect of how lucky he was and if he did not have it I would!!

I thought no more about it and nearly fell off my perch when in
September I got an email from Bill saying that he was not proceeding with buying the car and was I still interested in buying the car?

I of course said YES and was told the car was the Ex Tony Fall's car SMO 974G that had been in Gilltrap's Museum Coolangatta and it was also the car that Ken Tubman had used on the 1970 World Cup Rally and was still in World Cup trim.

Bill went to Queensland to look at the car for me and to "do the deal", this was for various reasons not until November 2001. The car was then transported back on a truck to Sydney.

In the meantime I had been doing some research on the car and had been very lucky to have got (by various means !!!) a copy of the original UK registration information for SMO 974G, it showed that it was a Morris and the chassis number started with MHS8D prefix, however, the car I had bought was an Austin with a AHSAD prefix to the chassis number. I knew however that without any doubt that the car I had bought was an ex works car so where did that leave us???

An email from Patrick Farrell confirmed that SMO 225G and SMO 974G were Morris's and SMO 226G and SMO 227G were Austin's and that John Taylor had owned SMO 225G (Aaltonen's car) but when it was rebuilt Tony Fall's name was found painted on the drivers seat!!

To add to the confusion, Evan Green's book - A Boot Full Of Right Arms - also said that the car Tubman drove on the World Cup Rally was Fall's old car and that his old car was used by Tubman as a survey car on the same event. This meant that by a process of elimination 225 was the Rallycross car. This was confirmed by an article in the July 1970 Australian Motor Sports of a road test of the rallycross car which they said was Rauno Aaltonen's car.

My next port of call was the Heritage Museum at Gaydon and when no one was looking, I opened the bonnet on SMO 226G - Paddy Hopkirk's car - and checked the chassis and commission numbers. This was as expected a Austin and the numbers - all of them including the engine number - were one digit different to my car!!

As I drove home from the museum it began to sink in that I had probably got SMO227G, but the strong feeling in Australia and of Evan Green's son Gavin, was that Evan's car was the one to have been scrapped to make the X6 Rally car. I then knew I had to get a copy of all the original registration information for all the SMO cars so I could for once and for all find out which car was which.

I eventually got the information and it confirmed that I had in fact got SMO 227G, not SMO 974G. By this time I had also had from John Taylor the chassis number of his old car - used as a survey car on the 1970 World Cup Rally and now registered in Australia on a private plate as SMO 225G - I had also got a copy of the FIA papers for the car that confirmed what John had said.

The bombshell was that the chassis number quoted was in fact that of SMO 974G - Tony Fall's car, not Aaltonen's - so the seat had been telling the truth all along!!

The London / Sydney numbers and decals had also been removed when the cars were used in local events. So with 3 identical cars in the workshop - at times without registration numbers, doors, bonnet or boots - it is not surprising that there was some confusion about the various identities. The facts based on the original Chassis, Engine and Commission numbers from the UK vehicle Licensing Archives were that SMO 226G was in the museum at Gaydon in the UK. The car sold to John Taylor was SMO 974G, not SMO 225G. The car I bought that was in the Coolangatta Museum displayed as SMO 974G was SMO 227G and the car used as the Rallycross car and scrapped was SMO 225G.

SMO 227G was now in Bill's garage in Sydney. I had arranged that Bill could keep the car until the New Year as we wanted to get as many of the original Leyland Australia London / Sydney people in Sydney to see the car as possible and also some of Ken Tubman's relatives wanted to see the car as well.

Then, you may remember, Sydney was surrounded by forest fires, I spent a few sleepless nights wondering if the car was OK - to tell the truth I was more worried about Bill's house.

The threat of fires gone and the car (and Bill's house) safe, we started to get the car shipped to the UK. Bill loaded the car onto his truck and went to work - It rained - not the normal UK style of drizzle but a full blown tropical storm - Bill came home to find the truck sunk up to its axles in the mud and the mud setting like concrete. He then spent a weekend digging out the truck and just as he got the wagon onto solid ground it started to rain again - but too late! The weather had had its chance and the car was duly despatched on the 'CS Optimist' on the 20th March 2002.

The car is now back on the road in the UK, the DVLA were very efficient in re-issuing the number, but I had to provide documentary evidence to both them and H.M. Customs and Excise showing that the car was SMO 227G, they then checked the numbers and re-issued the number - so SMO 227G will be seen gracing the car once more. If I had not researched the numbers and said it was SMO 974G as I was led to believe, they would have impounded the car as a fraudulent vehicle.

I must end with a big thank you to Patrick Farrell and in particular Bill Stevenson. Without them I would never have had the opportunity to own a piece of Motoring History that is a Works car. I hope that they will be coming to the UK in 2004 for the Landcrabs 40th anniversary "Bash" when I can buy them a beer.

If anyone can fill in any other bits then PLEASE contact me. I also think that the book should be written and we should pool all the information we have.

Ken Green
Contact Ken by emailing him

Here are two of Ken's Rally Cars.
Above: Ken Green's Rally Car parked at Abingdon

Below: His latest pride and joy: SMO 227G ex 1968 London-Sydney Marathon car driven by Evan Green and Jack 'Gelignite' Murray.
Stickers are from the World Cup Rally
Photos courtesy Ken Green
Evan Green at the wheel of one the 4 Works BMC entries
in the 1968 London-Sydney Marathon.
SMO 227G - Back home in the UK (at Ken's place) and looking GOOD!
Photo courtesy Ken Green
MTB 150G is now owned by Peter Locks in Surrey UK. He intends to use it on Historic events.
Standing beside the car is the President of the Blackpalfrey Motor Club of Kent, Doug Harris, who won the 1300cc class in the 1970 World Cup Rally.
Photo taken by Brian Millen, Chairman BpMC of Kent

Visit Ken Green's 1970 World Cup Rally Site
From: Ken Green  kengreen@landcrab2.freeserve.co.uk

1800 Rally Car Register
Wed, 18 Apr 2001

The Landcrab Owners Club (UK) has asked me to set up a Rally Car Register to trace the Competition History of the Landcrab and to contact as many individuals as possible who were or still are involved in driving navigating or preparing the cars.

The main reasons for doing this are that the Competition History of the car is not widely known and much information is patchy or has been destroyed.
We wish to collect as much information on the competition history and modifications to the cars as is possible and record the information so that it will be available to anyone who may need it in the future or who are currently restoring or preparing competition Landcrabs in Europe, Australia or anywhere.

We would like to appeal to you for any information - photographs, technical data, stories or anecdotes etc about the cars in competition that you may have, any information however small will be useful.

Many Thanks Ken

If you can help out in any way it will be greatly appreciated. Contact Ken now.
Paddy Hopkirk's car now on display at the Gaydon Museum in the UK.
Photo courtesy Ken Green
David Garside - Wednesday, 5/1/2002

Just a quick note to say this site is excellent. I have in my possession the Castrol Monza endurance 1800 from 1967. Reg LBL 416E Old English White with Black bonnet, 24 gallon tank etc !! Does anybody out there remember this car and does anybody know of the whereabouts of the drivers?
It has been in our family for around 28 years!!

Many Thanks, Dave Garside

From: UK
E-mail: planet.reebok@ukgateway.net
From: Brent Benzie bbenzie@starkstate.edu 
London-to-Sydney Rallycars
Sun, 2 Jun 2002

Greetings from Akron, Ohio.
I have been reading with great interest the stories involving the L-S Rallycars and thought I'd add my two-bits worth.

During the (very) late sixties -- while I was working at Peter Manton Motors in South Melbourne -- I became friendly with a wonderfully generous and caring family called the Scotts who lived near Coburg in Melbourne and it was at their place that I first came across the Marathon 1800's.

As I remember it, Arthur Scott was the BMC/BL service rep for Victoria and he and his son, Rick, had worked on the cars at the service stops as the Marathon progressed through parts of Australia. I am assuming that the cars were parked at their home because BL either had no room for them at their facilities in Airport West (Essendon), or the local management didn't want anything more to do with them at that time. This would not be surprising given the emergence of the dreaded Lord Stokes in England.

Being a Mini Cooper man in those days, I had no real interest in the 1800's other than just a passing curiosity due to the one having been so close to victory -- being beaten by a Hillman Hunter of all things, for goodness sake.  There obviously was no justice in the world as we knew it at that time!

As time went on I forgot about the existence of the Rallycars and had gotten involved with the preparation of the British Leyland Works Team Mini Coopers (driven by James Smith et al) at Manton's, until one day (in 1970 I believe) a fellow came in to the workshop and asked where did I want the 1800 Rallycar parked?

Lo and behold, here was one of the ex Marathon cars on a transporter being delivered to our workshop for preparation into a RALLYCROSS car to be driven in the Calder raceway series by none other than Evan Green.

If my memory serves me correctly (and sometimes it doesn't do that too well after 30 - something years!) the car had been shipped from Sydney where some preparation work had been already done on it to convert it for this use -- but it was not really in very good shape after having been so well used for much of its previous life, so I duly set to work to put things as right as possible given the very limited budget allowed for this purpose.

Some of the things I remember about the car are the outstanding workmanship that had been used on it originally in its preparation for the Marathon. Things like the aircraft-type
wiring and switches, the special holders and brackets for tools and equipment and the built-in Hydrolastic pump where the production rear seat cushion would have been.

It also had doors that were extremely accurate reproductions of the original steel units except these were now aluminium (could have been fibreglass -- I'm not positive now). Also, it had an HRG aluminium seven-port crossflow cylinder head fitted with twin 40 DCOE Weber carbs and I know this was not the setup used on the Marathon.

After rebuiding this engine I took it to the dyno and was a little disappointed in the power
output -- around 150-160hp I believe (don't ask me what this is in KW as I've been living in the land of good old horsepower for too long!) but it did have good torque down low which would prove to be important in the Rallycross-type racing.

On its first day out the car proved to be an outstanding performer and handled the "JUMPS" much better than anything the competition from GM-Holden's or FOMOCO could throw at it. Evan did, however, complain of intermittent cutting-out of the engine after encountering the water jumps. This I traced to the forward-facing Weber trumpets sucking in water (Doh!) and a watershield was hastily constructed using the carefully-bent and riveted license plates from my Austin A105 which I had driven to the track -- so at least we did keep the car all BMC/BL!

As the season progressed, so did the horsepower (KW?) race and with the appearance of some supercharged and turbocharged cars from the Big Three, the 1800's handling/jumping advantage was to less effect and wins became increasingly hard to come by even with Evan's superb driving skills.

During the latter part of this car's competition life I left Manton's "to do my own thing" but was later told that the engine did indeed part company with the body after a heavy landing from the last big jump of one of the last Rallycross meetings. We all know the propensity of 1800's (particularly MkI's) to break their mounts so I'm not surprised this happened.

Eventually, I lost track of the car but it would have been nice if I had taken a note of the body number along with my other notes and now could safely assume that it is one of the cars that were saved, but alas I did not.

In conclusion, thanks for allowing me to share some of my BL memories through the medium of this bulletin board, and to those of you lucky enough to own and enjoy one of the road-going versions of the 1800, I say thanks for your efforts at preserving an important part of BL's history!

Best Regards,

Brent Benzie

PS:  To your correspondent "Stanza",  Akron is a little ways further out than Kew!
From: Ian  Comport ian@powerline.com.au
Brent Benzie --&-- Austin 1800
Date: Tue, 4 Jun 2002

Just a quick note to those that may have read the L-S Marathon note by Brent. What Brent failed to tell the people is that he actually built an Austin 1800 Mk I rally car from the ground up.

The car was built for the 1979 Repco Reliability Trial and was car 158. The car failed to finish due to a mix up caused by trying to start the car whilst it was still turning over and jamming up the starter motor. The people in the rally thought they had seized the motor but when Brent got it back he removed the starter motor and fitted another and car came to life.

It has since been in the Dulux rally, two Alpine Rallies,(the ones that used to be part of the ARC and ran out of Albury). It was one of the first cars involved in the HRA.
Apart from the need of paint this car is still alive today. Many who have seen it in action linked it to LRX 824E so for fun I stuck that number on it.

When this car is at full tilt and in the rhythm, it has never ceased to surprise.

It actually clean sheeted some sections on the Anglia Memorial Rally.  This car has rallied and travelled along and survived some rallies that have torn other cars apart and is a testimony to the marque and Brent's skills.

The car looks like a cast off right now due to the poor condition of the paint work, but it is what is underneath that counts.

Brent may not like me blowing his trumpet for him, but the car has been to hell and back where so called better cars have fallen over. This car kept going and no enhancements have been made since Brent built it. Just a few motor rebuilds.

Tony Fall's Austin 1800 at the start of the Shell 4000 Canada Rally in 1968.
Photo courtesy Marcel Chichak.


An interesting story about this entry - by Ken Green

This car is not what it seems. In fact the factory swapped identities.

You will notice the car is an Austin 1800 Mk1. The car is in fact KOC 391E a Morris 1800 Mk1 that was built originally for the 1968 Monte Carlo Rally but had ORX 663F plates on it because they did not sell Morris cars in Canada so needed an Austin identity.

A new KOC 391E was built and used on the 1968 Safari Rally.

The Shell 4000 car was rolled in this event and scrapped. A new ORX 663F was built as a MkII and used by Terry Kingsley. Derek Bell and Evan Cook on the 1968 London Sydney Rally. Who says the camera cannot lie!!
AOB 987B Mk I on the 1965 Monte Rally - Wisdom / Edwards / Sprintzel
Photo courtesy Ken Green
Special Tuning Marathon car DBC 33K built for the World Cup Rally but did not compete.  Owned by Phil Taylor.
Photo courtesy Ken Green
Click here to see Ken Green and Patrick Farrell's BMC 1800 Rally Register
Dizzyak - then (above) and now (below)
Photo courtesy Joe Barling
1993 re-run Car 79
Photo courtesy Patrick Farrell
Poster courtesy Patrick Farrell
Hydralulic pump setup inside the BMC Rally Cars (1993 re-run)
Photo courtesy Patrick Farrell
LANDCRAB - by Ken Green (c)

Land Crab was the nickname given to the BMC 1800 cars that took part in the 1968 Monte Carlo Rally. They were first called Post Office Land Crabs because they were red in colour and had a habit of going sideways very quickly.

On paper the 1800 falls into what Abingdon called the "Barge" category they were heavy - 1150kg kerb weight without the rally equipment and big both inside and out!  Their saving grace was the Hydrolastic suspension, it was this much maligned system combined with one of the strongest bodyshells ever made by Longbridge that gave the 1800 the ability to travel quickly over rough rally roads.

It was more to do with the actions of the Publicity Dept. at BMC than with the Competition Dept. that the 1800 got its rally debut. This was the 1965 Monte Carlo Rally when a couple of Ex- Press (decidedly not express) demo cars were prepared for the event.  They were DJB 94B crewed by Raymond Joss and John Fitzpatrick - sponsored by ITN and AOB 987B crewed by Tommy Wisdom / Courtenay Johns / John Sprinzel - sponsored by The Daily Telegraph. Neither cars set the rally world alight. AOB 987B finished 32nd O/All and DJB 94B finished 29th O/All despite crashing due to brake fade.

The first true "Works" 1800 was LRX 824E, this was an ex Longbridge development car and was fitted with a full Group 6 engine - twin 2" SU carbs and 136BHP there was not time to paint the car the normal comp shop red so the black car was given a white roof instead.

The car was sent off with Tony Fall / Mike Wood to do the Danube Rally. This event started at Prague and used the rough roads across the back end of Rumania.  To everyone's delight and much surprise no doubt they won! Whilst this was good news for BMC, the hierarchy now saw the 1800 as a winning rally car, not good news for Abingdon.

The same car was sent with Brian Culcheth / Johnston Syer to do the Alpine, a fast road rally not really suited to a large heavy car but again the 1800 surprised everyone by winning its class against some exotic opposition.  Bob Freeborough also used the car to win the Moss Tyres National Rally.

A road test of LRX 824E at Mira recorded a 112mph top speed and a  0-60mph time of 6.7sec. Quite respectable for 1967.

For the 1968 Monte Carlo Rally, three cars were prepared in Group 2 single carburettor form. They were KOC 391E driven by Brian Culcheth / Mike Wood,  LOF 179F driven by John Sprinzel / John Ryan and LOF 238F driven by Peter Jopp / Willy Cave, the best result was 24th by Brian Culcheth.

The Kremlin at BMC now believed that they had a car capable of winning rough events not suited to the Mini Coopers, so 3 cars were prepared for the 1968 Safari Rally and a programme of testing undertaken at Bagshot.

Three new cars were prepared for the event registered as ORX 661F, ORX 662F and KOC 391E.   They were air lifted to Nairobi but the event proved to be a disaster for the cars, problems with the front suspension sidelined two of the cars and the third stopped with a wrecked engine when the oil cooler burst.

BMC knew what the problem with the suspension was but were unable to find a solution in Kenya.  So soon after this, BMC sent Brian Culcheth on the equally rough Acropolis Rally to see if they had sorted out the problem - he finished 10th after having a problem with a puncture on a very muddy section.

The old KOC 391E that had competed in the 1968 Monte Carlo Rally and now mysteriously re-numbered as ORX 663F was shipped out to Canada to do the Shell 4000 event driven by Tony Fall. He rolled the car but went on to finish second in his class.

The 1968 MARATHON 1800's

The cars developed for the Marathon were the result of the experience gained on the Safari and the Acropolis Rallies. Freed of the usual rally minefield of regulations - the Marathon rules boiled down to any two wheel drive car was eligible with a maximum height stipulation so that the car would fit into the hold of the SS Chusan, the rest was up to you.

Development work was put in hand and over of 600 hours of testing was done round Bagshot.   RMO 723F a new car incorporating some of the rally car modifications was sent off to survey the route with Paul Easter, Henry Liddon and Tony Nash as crew.

The exploits of the survey would almost fill a book, but after coping with burst suspension, leaking oil coolers and floods, the car finally expired near Indore with a blown head gasket and finished its trip to Bombay on the back of a lorry.  Den Green the works mechanic who was supposed to drive the car back to the UK inspected the 1800 and found it also had a cracked block and the suspension was "shot". The car was left in Bombay, I wonder if it ever came back to the UK?

The final specification of the Marathon cars was based on the newly introduced Mk II 1800S models but with some major modifications, they were built up from bare shells, they had Mk I suspension with the larger front displacers fitted to the rear to cope with the increased load. The body was strengthened in the area of the boot floor and the suspension housings to allow the fitting of Koni telescopic shock absorbers front and rear and a rear anti roll bar fitted - this had been standard on very early Mk I cars.

The engine was not highly tuned, it's capacity was increased by +80 boring to 1894cc. The camshaft was the standard MGB grind and the head was re-worked by Downton. The inlet was 1800S with twin 1 ¾ SU carburettors and the exhaust was special exiting through the rear apron.
The output from this little lot went through a competition clutch to standard gearbox ratios and gave a reliable 100 bhp at the lightened flywheel - about 77 at the wheels - not much for such a heavy car.

The diff was 4.1, again from the Mk I and they ran on 13" Minilites shod with 175/13 Dunlop SP 44, or for the Nullarbor in Australia SP Sports.
A most important modification for anyone who has tried to corner quickly in an 1800 was the steering rack, with a bicep tugging 3.25 to 1 ratio - the standard Mk I car had a 4.4 to 1 ratio - fed through a 16" Mountney wheel.

The interior was fitted out for the 3-man crew and the rear seat could be turned into a bed. A Hydrolastic pump had pride of place on the rear parcel shelf. Some, but not all of the windows were perspex and the doors bonnet and boot were aluminium skinned to save a little weight. 26 gallons of fuel in twin tanks filled the boot, so the spare wheels had to go in the only place left - the roof! The finished car with crew weighed in at around the 2-ton mark.

Five cars were prepared by Abingdon, four rally cars and a service car, two other cars were also prepared at the factory for the Red Arrows and the Royal Navy teams.

The car and crews were: -
SMO 223G          This was the Service car and did not have the Roo bar fitted
SMO 225G          Rauno Aaltonen / Henry Liddon / Paul Easter
SMO 226G          Paddy Hopkirk / Tony Nash / Alec Poole
SMO 227G          Evan Green / "Gelignite" Jack Murray / George Shepheard
SMO 974G         Tony Fall / Mike Wood / Brian Culcheth
VLM 128G          J.Hans Hamilton / Phillip Stearns / Ian Lees-Spalding (The Royal Navy)
ORX 663F          Terry Kingsley / P. Evans / Derek.Bell (The RAF Red Arrows)


The factory entered the Triumph 2000 and the Maxi but Special Tuning were kept busy preparing the nine 1800's used by the private entrants.
The cars were based on the London/Sydney specification and cost about £2000 just for the preparation, however only 3 cars finished the event. The best placed car was OOH 774G driven by Phil Cooper / Bob Freeborough / Reg Redgrave. It came home in 9th place and was the second private entrant to finish, a very good effort as the owner Reg Redgrave was on his first rally!


BMC bought home the Hopkirk car and that can be seen in the Gaydon Museum, it is not 100% in its original condition as it was restored to do the Pirelli Marathon afterwards.

The other SMO rally cars were left in Australia. By a twist of fate, Andrew Cowan used SMO 227G  - the ex Evan Green car - re-registered ATF 353, to win the Southern Cross Rally in 1969.

All told, nine Marathon 1800's survive with three other cars whose fate is unknown - there may still be another one out there somewhere!


SMO 223G The Works Service /Recce Car. In the UK 

SMO 227G Evan Green's car now returned to the UK and owned by Ken Green (no relation).

SMO 226G Paddy Hopkirk's car now in the Gaydon Museum 

SMO 225G Rauno Aaltonen's car - was left in Australia  ATG 353 and RTC 333

SMO 974G Tony Fall's car - was left in Australia  AZN 256

VLM 128G  The Navy car, reputed  built as a semi-works car by apprentices at Abingdon.
In private hands in the UK

NAM 616G Used by David Corbett on the 68 London/Sydney and the 1969 Monte and by Jeremy Rugge-Price on the 1970 London/Mexico, now owned by Ted Taylor.

MTB 150G Used by Bob Eaves on the 1968 and & 1970 Marathons.

OOH 745G The Met Police entry in the 1970 Mexico Marathon
In Mouldsworth Museum in the UK.

Australian registration numbers - We have AZN 256, RTC 333, AZN 520 and ATG 353 attached to Ex-Works cars in Australia
The numbers would change when the car moved from state to state.
The factory may have also swapped numbers or parts for when John Taylor was rebuilding SMO 225G the supposed ex-Aaltonen car he found that the drivers seat had Tony Fall's name printed underneath!

The other 'Works' car  ORX 663F was the RAF entry and came back to the UK in a RAF Hercules that just happened to be handy! It was a well-used car even before the event.

There is one other surviving Special Tuning Marathon car DBC 33K built for the World Cup but did not compete. Now owned by Phil Taylor

(c) Ken Green - May 2000
SMO 233G     Photo courtesy Bill Price

SMO 233G was a Morris 1800, built up from a bare shell during 1968 in the Competition Dept at BLMC Abingdon. It was made to be used as a survey car on the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon Rally.

Whilst it shared many of the rally car modifications it was not a full blown Marathon car it lacked the famous Roo bar for example, normal bumpers were fitted instead.

The car left England with Brian Culcheth and Henry Liddon as crew.  It followed the Marathon route and part of the task was to check the notes made using the 1800 RMO 723F by Paul Easter, Henry Liddon and Tony Nash. This car had a number of mechanical breakages and finished the survey to Bombay on the back of a lorry.  Abingdon hoped that this car being closer to the Marathon specification would have a more trouble free run.

When the car arrived in Delhi it was garaged into a secure compound secure then Culcheth and Liddon took a flight home with the precious survey notes.

SMO 233G stayed in Delhi until collected by Evan Green on his way to England. He smothered the car in BMC Australia stickers and the Australian flag was given pride of place on the bonnet  as it was on the Rally car. He then travelled the Rally Route in reverse from Delhi, including the infamous Khyber and Lataban Passes to Turin where the car was left at the Motel Agip, which was to be the site of a control on the event.

Several of the photographs taken by Evan Green of SMO 233G have been said to be of the rally car because they show rally number 31 on the door, however, if the 1800 has bumpers and no Roo bar it is of the survey car. The Rally numbers may have been put on by Evan Green or later by BMC Australia doctoring the pictures as part of pre-rally publicity.

SMO 233G stayed at the Motel until the day of the Rally when Stuart Jackson - a member of the Abingdon Parts Department -was driven out to Turin by Bill Price who was sweeping the Marathon route.  SMO 233G was then driven back to England by him its part of the event over.  SMO 223G still survives and is still in England.

My thanks to Bill Price ex Abingdon boss who supplied most of the information and photo.

(c) Ken Green - August 2000
Mike Jordan's Landcrab
Photo courtesy Ken Green
The car with the roof box is RMO 723F
This was the factory survey / test car for the 1968 London-Sydney Marathon route from England to Bombay.
It was crewed by Paul Easter / Henry Liddon / Alec Poole. The car was only fit for scrap when they got towed into Bombay!
Photo courtesy Ken Green
Car 71 - NKG 77G  Vantona Everwear - Field / Tilley / Jones (foreground)
and Car 70 - VTC 1G Wilson's Caravans - Taylor / McDonnell  / Wilson.
Photo courtesy Ken Green
King Cog's Story of the Pirelli Classic Marathon of 1988.

Having been a founder member of the Historic Rally Car Register in 1987, and organiser of their first demonstrations and rallies for historic rally cars, I was naturally very keen to participate in what turned out to be the first of many major events for classic and historic cars, Philip Young's Pirelli Classic Marathon of 1988. I was given the job of copying, onto each competitor's Europe map book, the route from Tower Bridge, London, to Cortina d'Ampezzo in the Dolomite region of Italy, and back to the Royal Automobile Club in London. Quite a job, I still have the original map book with Philip's markings on it.

I was well in with Ron Whitehead at the time, he ran BL Heritage's restorations for the BL museum and had helped me with spares for my ex-works World Cup Rally Triumph 2.5 PI.  I was privileged to visit the vast hangar in which many rare prototypes, one-offs, competition cars and odds and sods were hidden. that's another story, but the upshot was that Ron and his boss agreed to lend me the ex Hopkirk 1800 that had finished 2nd on the 1968 London-Sydney Marathon.

It had just 14,000 miles on the clock, one owner and one rally only! Brought back from Oz it had toured the dealerships and then left to gather dust. So after 20 years dozing in a corner, it was transported to Bristol and the workshop for keeping young offenders out of trouble by letting them work on cars, run by Hugh Currell. The task of making it fit for several thousand more miles proceeded apace, carefully supervised by Hugh and myself, having just retired from the Police helped a bit.

To save the original aluminium skinned front doors with their L-S rally decals on, we replaced them with standard items, but kept the bonnet and boot lid. We replaced the vestigial roll cage and the puny driver's seat (how Paddy managed all that distance on that very minimal bucket seat we shall never know) with more substantial items, and fitted a rather nice steering wheel that I happened to have won as a trophy, the original being not to the liking of our driver. New 3-point seat belts were a must.

The engine was stripped and the only worn items were the piston rings. However we were quite unable to find new rings of that size, even trying MG specialists like Brown and Gammons, so the old ones went back in. A little smoke was the only clue. Obviously all the systems were checked, and we indulged ourselves by painting our names on the wings (mudguards) under the rather more famous ones, otherwise it was pretty well just as it was 20 years earlier.

We decided on a threesome to occupy the seats, as had been the case in 1968. It was going to be a heavy car, but we were in it for the experience. I was going to navigate, Hugh would be riding mechanic, and our driver was to be Martin Clark, a vastly experienced and highly skilled Bristol rally driver with experience in everything from Porsches to Minis.

We had all competed in and organised road and stage rallies, but across Europe and back was going to be something very different!

End of instalment #1.
Martin Jubb (aka King Cog) - the premier expert in all things Halda
See his site on Halda products
At the start on 19th June 1988 on Tower Bridge - London.
L. to R. Hugh Currell, Martin Clark, Martin Jubb (aka King Cog, BA).
Photo courtesy Martin Jubb
From: Ian Comport  ian@powerline.com.au 
Subject: Rally Cars History 
Date: Tue, 23 Jul 2002


My car was Car 158 in the 1979 Repco Reliability Trial.

It was prepared by Brent Benzie who has comments (see above). The car did not finish the event because the driver who got it stuck in sand, tried to restart the beast whilst it was still running and jammed it all up. He pulled out thinking it had seized up when all it required was another starter motor and it was ready to go.

Brent and some of his Australian friends could be able to help you with more information. I know between 1980 and and when I got the car in 1987 it had done a few rallies including a win in the Dulux rally. The car was white, then blue. The car in the 1969 rally I seem to think was one of the ex L-S cars?

Patrick Farrell should be able to put most of it together, Brent and his Australian contacts could tell you a lot, Brent worked on the Rally Cross Austin 1800 which Terry reminded me of, and I am willing to chase up any other leads I have because I too am keen to see a definitive book on the Austin 1800 and its competition history.

From: Ken Green  kengreen@landcrab2.freeserve.co.uk 
Subject: Rally Cars History 
Date: Thu, 11 Jul 2002

Patrick Farrell and myself taken the first steps in charting the competition history of the Landcrab.

We now need the help of the people who read the bulletin board and visit this site.

There is a lot of information on European cars and the London/Sydney (Thanks John)

I have started a World Cup Rally site look here

We have very litle in the competition history and development of the Australian cars we know that a Landcrab won the Southern Cross in 69 but not much more.

What about the Round Australian Rally, The Endeavour Rally ??
We need pictures results recollections of events.
People out there say they want a book - well to do that we need information otherwise it will be a very small volume!!

I have started a site but need to fill it

BMC 1800 "Landcrab" Rally Cars - charts the history of the BMC 1800 car in competition.


Ken Green


Let's all chip in to help Ken and Patrick source ANY information about Rallies the Landcrab has participated in.

On the 23rd Feb. 2003, The Landcrab Owners Club were able to get together three of the 1800's that took part in the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon.

Thanks to the BHMT museum we were able to wheel out Paddy Hopkirk's 1800, SMO 226G that came 2nd Overall and picture it with SMO 227G used by Evan Green, and MTB 150G used by Bob Eaves.

The latter two cars also competed in the 1970 World Cup Rally and are still in use today.

We believe this was the first time these cars have been together since 1968.

Photo courtesy Ken Green

In 2004 we are celebrating 40 years of the Landcrab at Gaydon when we hope to have as many of the surviving Marathon cars as possible present.

We also hope to be able to re-unite cars with crews.

Tim Kennon's Austin 1800 Rally Car
Photo courtesy Ken Green
From: "KEN GREEN" <kengreen@landcrab2.freeserve.co.uk>
To: "John Roach" <austin1800@engineer.com>
Subject: SMO 974G
Date: Sun, 22 Jun 2003

Hi All,

Tim Kennon from Victoria in Australia has entered his Ex works Landcrab SMO 974G (used by Tony Fall in the 1968 London - Sydney Marathon) in the re-run of the 1953 Redex Trial.

This started from Sydney on Sunday 22nd June 2003.

It goes for 29 days and covers about 9.000 klm.  

The 1953 event was won by Ken Tubman in a Peugeot. Ken used my car (SMO 227G) to compete in the 1970 World Cup Rally.

Tim sent me a  pic of the car - now registered in Oz as SMO 974G - before he went to the start.

I was able to get him a new Commission and Chassis plate for his car to complete the resto.

The restoration must have cost a fortune as the car was very badly crashed both on the 1993 London - Sydney re-run and the round Australia in 1998. 

The Morris badge on the back came off my green MkII, this now has a Morris 1800S badge. It is nice to know that a small part of my car will be doing the rally.

More pics / results etc as I get them.

Tim Kennon's Austin 1800 Rally Car
1953 Redex Trial Re-run - outside the old Parliament House Canberra ACT.
Photo courtesy Tim Kennon (c)
Bill Stevenson [Sydney]
1953 Redex Trial Re-run
Sun Jun 22 2003

Hello All,

I had an interesting morning today, I went to the start of an around Australia rally celebrating 50 years since the first Redex Trial, won by Ken Tubman in a Peugeot 203.

Starting from the old showground at Moore Park (Sydney) the event had over 100 entries, mostly Pugs. There were 30, Peugeot 203's.

If your car had done an around Australia rally it could be a later model. George Reynolds and Barry Ferguson were there in VW's, John Bryson was navigating in an EH Holden and of most interest to us Landcrabbers - Tim Kennon had SMO 974G entered. The car has been fully restored since it's 1995 accident and looks absolutely fabulous. These Works BMC 1800's are definitely evocative machines sitting in all their glory, waiting to do battle at the start of an event like this. It just looked the bee's knees. Can I have 227G back please Ken?
I guess I'll just keep dreaming.

Ironically, this car was driven by Ken Tubman in 1970 World Cup Rally - Australian Reg. AZN 256 (see Ken Green's story above)

Photo of Tim Kennon's Mk II Austin 1800 courtesy Rob Turner (c)
Another pic from Rob Turner of Tim Kennon's Austin 1800 Rally car. (c)
From: "Rob Turner"
To: "John Roach" <austin1800@engineer.com>
Subject: 1968 Austin 1800
Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2005

Good morning John,

I have two Digital Images of the 1968 Marathon Austin 1800 taken at Old Parliament House, Canberra on 20/7/2003, the last day of the 2003 Peugeot Redex Round Australia Rerun.
You will see that the cars in the second photo are attached to snatch straps. This was an impromptu demonstration of the strength of the Chamberlain Tractor, which was geared for 60 Miles Per Hour highway speeds. The Chamberlain Tractor participated in the 2003 Redex Rerun on the Melbourne to Sydney leg.
Rob Turner
Burradoo, NSW
Member, Peugeot Association of Canberra Inc.
             Peugeot Car Club of NSW Inc.
             Rover Owners Club Inc.
             Rover Car Club of Australia Inc.
             Rover Sports Register

Ian Comport's Austin 1800 Rally Car
at the start of the 1991 Alpine Rally (Australia)
Another view of Ian Comport's Austin 1800 Rally Car
(after the 1991 Alpine Rally)
Larry Lebel
We Finished 16th
Tue Nov 18 2003

Fellow Canadian, Marcel Chichak, and I finished 16th on the Totem (TSD) Rally 2003 with me driving my 1971 Mk II Landcrab and Marcel navigating.

There were 26 finishers out of the 31 entrants. In the three car Historic Class we were second behind a 1974 BMW 2002tii and in front of a 1971 BMW 2002. We also finished in front of two Saabs in the Historic Equipped class (equipped = a rally computer).

There were some long regularities of 6" to 8" of fresh snow with only the ruts of the previous cars to follow and where the specified speed up to 72 kph was impossible to maintain. That's my excuse anyway and I am sticking with it!

To our credit, we overtook three of the cars that started ahead of us on one section and two on another, even though we were well behind ourselves. But perhaps credit should go to the front-wheel drive of the Landcrab as the cars we passed were rear-wheel drive.

If an overtaking award was given we might have won it.

Marcel navigates with a Halda Twinmaster and a digital clock and makes the time calculations with a Curta calculator which he operates non-stop. He calculates enough timing points that the blame for not doing better clearly falls squarely on the driver's shoulders.

The Landcrab performed flawlessly. On the way home the electrics cut out at night on the freeway in a rain storm. The main wire on the alternator wasn't connected properly on the spade connector. The spade was wedged between the connector on the insulator jacket. It had been like that since the spring when I changed the water pump.

Had this sent to me. The British Army did do Rallying as part of the "Training" They used modified staff cars.

Ken Green 15 April 2004

Sorry about the quality of the attached! It was a poor photo to start with and time has not been kind to it. The car was driven by Major M.B.Bailley on the Kirroughtree stage of the 1968 Scottish Rally.

I am sure that you receive much better quality photographs but at least it is a change from red and white!

Best wishes,
Don MacDonald,