the final part of this feature, we continue our research
by talking to Lord Strathcarron who raced the half-litre Marwyn
for many years and still recall its many intricacies
Lord Strathcarron, who had been one of
the first Marwyn customers, was engaged as the 'works' driver.
He remembers being paid £9 a week to enjoy himself. That may
not seem much today, but it represented £2 a week more than
he earned from his 'proper job' as a car salesman in London,
selling Rolls-Royce and Bentley motor cars.
He recalls that the early
Marwyn's were not very stable and, indeed, one owner (a man
called Hall, nicknamed 'Binky') was killed when his racer
overturned on him while he was testing it on an airfield.
Subsequently, the motorcycle-type wheels (Strathcarron thinks
they were at least 19in diameter) were replaced by 15in wheels,
lowering the centre of gravity.
He soon realised that
the JAP-powered Marwyn was no world-beater, being outpaced
by more sophisticated opposition. He found it easy to assess
his chances by looking at the opposition in the entry list,
particularly when some of his major rivals began to use vastly
more expensive Norton engines. Whereas the JAP speedway engine
was available 'off the shelf' for £75, the only way to acquire
the Norton unit was to buy an entire Manx Norton 500cc racing
motor cycle, which cost more than a complete Marwyn car! His
Marwyn became regularly outpaced.
The position worsened
further when top '500' contenders had their Norton units prepared
by leading freelance tuners Francis Beart and Steve Lancefield,
both of whom seemed to extract more power from the engines
than could the Norton 'works' engineers.
Even so, Strathcarron
(a wartime RAF pilot and, much later, a leading speaker on
motoring matters in the House of Lords) put up sufficiently
worthy performances to be retained by the Marwyn company for
the 1949 season and accepted the reappointment, despite the
fairly off-putting experience of having his car roll over
three times and throwing him out when racing at Thruxton.
As is apparently quite normal in such circumstances, his feet
came out of his shoes! However, he was deposited on the grassy
trackside, rather than on the tarmac, and escaped without
Another early Marwyn customer
was Don Truman (who, some years later, was to win the very
first race at Oulton Park, Cheshire, in a Cooper-Norton).
He recalls being unhappy with the Marwyn's handling, among
other criticisms. His brother-in-law overturned it, causing
considerable damage, and Mr Martin sent Truman two new JAP
engines as compensation! Truman replaced the big, motor-cycle
type wire-spoked wheels with smaller diameter Fiat wheels
using hydraulic brakes, improving both the handling and ability
to come to a halt.
Before the 1949 season,
the Marwyn company moved westwards from Bournemouth, establishing
new headquarters at North Street, Wareham (by coincidence,
also in No. 55 - like the Bournemouth address - and nowadays
an off-licence), but the 'factory' (actually a somewhat ramshackle
corrugated iron shed) was at the back of Stoborough Garage,
in the small village about a mile to the south.
With the move came a substantial
re-design of the car, with extremely sleek bodywork by the
Gray company of Emsworth, on the West Sussex coast (which
had been partly responsible for the body on John Cobb's land
speed record breaking Railton).
500cc racer (courtesy of Irene Pulliblank).
Having a much better aerodynamic
shape than previously, the new Marwyn also benefited from
hydraulic brakes (two leading shoe at the front), but retained
friction shock absorbers. The wheelbase was increased to 7ft
but the pronounced 'crab track' layout (the rear wheels much
closer together than those at the front) remained, presumably
to reduce the inherent understeer which is a characteristic
of rear-drive cars without differentials.
The price remained at
£445 - the 'kit car' options being discontinued - but despite
the new look and the chassis improvements, it seems the Marwyn
racing car had already enjoyed its best days. Few 1949 cars
were sold and before long the company was in financial difficulties.
Keith Lloyd began working at
Stoborough Garage not long after the Marwyn company went into
liquidation and remembers the proprietor's name at the time
as Pulleyblank and his financial backer as his aunt, a Miss
Burrell. Mr Lloyd, now retired in Corfe Castle, a few miles
down the road (having sold Stoborough Garage as a thriving
Rover dealership quite recently), remembers the Marwyn 'workshop'
well, at one time using it as a repair and paint shop and
having to line the inside of the roof with sheets to avoid
rust falling on his customers' newly sprayed cars!
Lord Strathcarron has
now given up car racing, but only a few years ago. He was
a regular contender in the popular House of Lords v. House
of Commons races at Brands Hatch, winning twice (the last
time when aged 70!) the contestants using teams of identical
Ford Escort race-prepared saloons. His racing career has spanned
nearly 50 years.
Since this feature was written we have learnt that Lord Strathcarron has sadly passed away.
We express our deepest sympathies to his family
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