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1974 AUSTIN 1800 Marathon Rally Replica Series II

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Seller

daisy may

1974 AUSTIN 1800 Marathon Rally Replica Series II

  • Location: Abingdon
  • Odometer Reading: 46040
  • Chassis Number: AH4SE-93009A
  • Engine: 1798
  • Gearbox: Manual
  • Color: Red/White
  • Interior: Black

Background

Built by BMC between 1964 and 1975, the Austin 1800’s ungainly looks were a bit of a surprise given that it was credited to both Alec Issigonis and Pininfarina. However, it did lead to it being christened and colloquially known as the Landcrab, so swings and roundabouts, eh?

And yet, looks aside, the Austin 1800 was a relatively sophisticated car for the period with Hydrolastic suspension, self-dimming rear lights, and an inertia-controlled braking system. In fact, it drove so well that it was crowned European Car of the Year in 1965, which was high praise indeed given the Rover P6 had won it the year before.

Badge-engineered versions of the Austin 1800 were sold as the Morris 1800 and the Wolseley 18/85 but all featured an innovative interior that, despite the presence of the sort of wood and leather fixtures and fittings that were obligatory in every British car with luxury pretensions, was fairly minimalist in design. 

The earliest cars were said to have been released somewhat prematurely, which led to some judiciously engineered revisions being quietly launched in 1967. The full-blown Mark II cars arrived in 1968, and the Mark III cars arrived four years later in 1972. These later cars included a refined six-cylinder engine and cars thus equipped were marketed as the Austin 2200/Morris 2200, and the Wolseley Six.

All-in-all, around 386,000 examples were built and sold, and the range died in 1975 when it was replaced by the sleek, futuristic Austin Princess. 

But, the reason you’re reading about the Austin 1800 Landcrab here is simple: that squat, four-square stance and super-rigid bodyshell meant that it lent itself to the sort of long-distance endurance rallying events that rely on strength and reliability rather than outright power and agility.

The Hydrolastic suspension allowed the Landcrab to maintain surprisingly high speeds too, because once it was wound up you rarely needed to lift for corners; it drove, in fact, just like a huge Mini and was all the better for being so. In period, it finished second in the 1968 London-Sydney Marathon and did very well in the equally grueling 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally.

Sadly, many ended their lives in the scrapheap, But redemption for some arrived via the endurance rallying crowd, which brings us neatly to our next offering…

The Vehicle

Built by Bob Eaves Jr, the son of the well-known rally driver, MFX 406G is an evocation of MTB 150G, his late father’s 1968 London-Sydney and world cup rally car. With such a sentimental link, an awful lot of time, money and effort went into creating a very credible tribute car, and while the roof-mounted spare wheels and four huge Cibie spotlights are the most obvious signs that this is not a standard car, it is a vehicle that rewards close inspection, at which point the little details make themselves more obvious.

Being offered with a 1968 registration for added authenticity, it is actually a 1974 car. Originally blue and fitted with an automatic gearbox, the finished red, manual car was bought by the vendor from Bob Eaves Jr himself.

The owner now feels that the time has come to pass it on to another enthusiast who has the time to get it fully fettled and campaigning in 2020. Being offered with a low reserve price, this is a chance to acquire a credible evocation of one of the endurance rallying world’s most iconic cars.

On the Outside

The red coachwork is shipshape and workmanlike rather than concours; that’s not to damn with faint praise but rather an acknowledgement that this is a car that has been prepared for a working life rather than as a static exhibit. So, while you’ll find the odd chip and crack, it is solid and designed to be easily touched-up, something its solid colour will facilitate.

While every old rally replica features a matt black bonnet, this car’s owner has gone further still, so the top of the front wings are matt black too. A kangaroo siren sits on the roof, alongside an orange warning light and an aerial as well as an auxiliary windscreen wiper, a feature we haven’t seen before and is, of course, very practical.

Front wind deflectors protect the occupants when the front windows are wound down, and front and rear towing points allow for quick recovery when neccesery.

The bonnet is properly secured with two leather straps, and the headlights are protected by a pair of acrylic covers. 

A solid front mounting bar allows for the secure fitment of more candlepower than we’ve seen this side of a search and rescue helicopter, while the myopic will appreciate the huge spotlight that is mounted on the passenger’s side front wing. This is beautifully done, secured as it is to a massive mounting plate and fitted with a deflector to prevent it dazzling the driver.

Reproduction period sponsors’ stickers add to the retro look, while stick-on number plates and a yellow reversing lamp add to the car’s purposeful air.

The five-spoke black alloy wheels are in great shape and shod with matching Max Sport mud and snow tyres.

The car includes a full front bull bar, which needs fitting, including the heavy underbody sumpguard.

On the Inside

The black, three-spoke, leather-trimmed Mountney steering wheel looks very of-the-period, as do the full roll cage, add-on fluorescent strip light, map light, and the stripped-to-the-bare-bones interior trim.

The front seats are full-blown Cobra Monaco Pro racing jobbies and both driver and passenger are firmly restrained via a pair of Sabelt racing harnesses. While both would be fine for road use, they are time-expired and so will need replacing if the new owner intends to use the car for competition under FIA rules. The status of the roll cage is uncertain, so best to err on the safe side and budget on having to replace that with a full FIA-spec item, too.

If it is to be campaigned in anger then the passenger will appreciate the solid footrest that has been fitted to allow them to brace themselves to. The car itself is protected with a fire extinguisher and an electrical cut-off switch.

The auxiliary gauges that are mounted in the centre have not been connected up, but that would be a lovely job for a couple of dark winter evenings with the space heater roaring, the radio playing gently, and a bottle of something warming within an arm’s reach.

Other rallying modifications include the washer bottle, which is mounted in the driver’s footwell for easy access, and a third spare wheel, which sits inside the boot alongside the relocated battery.

Speaking of which, the boot features a foam-filled alloy fuel tank. Of unknown provenance, the owner has erred on the side of caution and has been using a separate marine fuel tank.

As you can see from the photographs, the floorpan has been the subject of localised repairs over the years but it is now solid and free of rot and corrosion.

Work to do is minimal, but if it were ours we’d be tempted to invest a little time and money in the wiring, which could do with some tidying and simplification. As a road car it would be fine, but competition cars need to be taken to the next level to avoid leaving their occupants cursing the odd dodgy connection or corroded fuse holder.

Underneath

The attention to detail extends to under the bonnet, where a second ignition coil sits alongside the primary one, there to facilitate a quick swap in the event of a failure. The carburettors are HS6, and they have been fully refurbished. Rare and expensive, they’re a significant upgrade on the original HS4s and a worthwhile modification.

As is the Janspeed exhaust, and while the car drives well (the owner drove it down to us without any problems at all) if the new owner intends to campaign the car seriously then we can see that a certain amount of recommissioning might be necessary if the car is to fulfill its reputation as such a strong and reliable car.

Speaking of strength, the bodyshell if believed to have been strategically strengthened and the rear suspension is upgraded.

Please see the photographs for what is included in the sale of this vehicle. 

History Highlights

The car last had an MOT ending in 2018, and while it is exempt by virtue of its age, we would strongly encourage the new owner to have the car re-MOT’d at the earliest. The cost of an MOT is a small investment when offset against the purchase and upkeep of any classic car, and it gives an independent, third-party assessment of the car’s condition, which not only provides reassurance to the owner (and any subsequent purchasers) but might also be invaluable in the event of a bump when negotiating with the police and any interested insurance companies…

The online MOT history shows nothing of concern whatsoever and confirms the car’s mileage. The car comes with a large number of expired MOT certificates plus a thick sheaf of invoices and bills to confirm the work that has been done to it over the years.

Please visit the documents section of the gallery of this listing where you will find photos of this and other paperwork to support our claim that this car has been built and maintained to a very good standard.

If you’d like to inspect the car prior to placing a bid – something we would encourage – then please use the “Contact Seller” to arrange an appointment.

What We Think

How do you even begin to value a car like this? As a recreation, it is peerless and has an authenticity via its familial links that you couldn’t even begin to emulate without spending years researching the original - and even then we’re willing to bet that the cost would be a multiple of what the owner hopes to achieve for this example.

Which is how much? Well, if we take the £40,000 price of an original ex-works rally car and divide by three then you’ll be getting close. It also means that you could potentially have a fully fettled, completely sorted car ready for next spring at around half the cost of buying an original.

And the benefits to not having an original are substantial, not least the fact that you’ll be able to drive it at 10/10ths because you won’t be worried about having a big ‘off’ and destroying an irreplaceable part of BMC motoring history.

The low cost of entry might be bad news for the vendor but it is very good news for you; our predicted sale price of £9,500 - £15,000 would be amazing value and would provide the winning bidder with a highly cost-effective route into historic motorsport.

Viewing is always encouraged, and this car can be seen here at The Market HQ in Abingdon; to arrange an appointment please use the ‘Contact Seller’ button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

If needed, please remember we have a network of trusted suppliers we work with regularly and can recommend: Classic & Sportscar Finance for purchase-financing, Thames Valley Car Storage for storing your car, AnyVan for transporting it, and Footman James for classic car insurance.

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings of any auction, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles we have for sale. While we use our trade experience to assess every car that comes through our hands (and between us we have bought hundreds of classic cars over the years for our personal use…) we are fallible, and our assessment of a car may contrast with that you might form yourself.

This is why we offer a far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange a professional inspection on their behalf of, each vehicle prior to bidding than any traditional car auction, and we will never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this by coming to see it in person.

That said, we do take a good look at the vehicles delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or those formed as a result of a long test drive.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Video Review

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